So yes, you read that correctly- I do not want my homeschooled children to be socialized. No, that does not mean I want them to have no friends, be nerdy and lead a naive and over-sheltered life, which is typically what people seem to associate with the term “unsocialized” that is so often slapped unwittingly on any child living a homeschooled life.
The truth of it is, my children's lives are full of “social” experiences. They participate in a weekly co-op, do extracurricular activities (which were always where I made my best, most like-minded friends anyway), have play dates, sleepovers and even best friends. They interact with adults regularly and naturally at stores, appointments and constantly in our family setting. They don't blink an eye at hanging out with kids of all ages and are truly becoming each other's best friends. They are much like their father and me, and (for the most part) we're not socially weird!
I mean, let's be honest, there are just as many socially awkward “schoolers” as “homeschoolers.” If someone is going to be awkward it is probably more genetic and family-driven than anything else! It doesn't really matter if you spend the majority of your time at home or in school, if you want to talk about science all day long, where your pants up to your armpits and have trouble picking up on social cues, you're probably going to be that way wherever you are. The only difference is that if you are that way in school you'll get made fun of, where if you're at home you can pleasantly indulge your science loving ways free of wedgies!
How did we socialize growing up?
Now, let's take a second to reflect back on how we socialized in school when we were younger. What did your “social life” look like as an elementary schooler, middle schooler and highschooler? Well, let me tell you a little bit about what I remember…
(imagine dreamy harp music and a wavy screen as you're whisked a away to my memory thought bubble Full House-style)
In my youngest school years I was intimidated by the older kids, even if they were just one grade ahead. And well, let's not even mention the younger kids- they were totally uncool because they were, well… younger! Where did I test out cuss words and naively learn foul songs, hear about indecent relationships and even experiment with ouiji boards? You guessed it with my school friends and much of it happened at school.
How about bullying? Yup- I had a heavy case of that, at two different schools! It was so bad (even back in the 90s) that I wasn't even allowed to go to recess because the school was fairly certain that I would be beat up (and that they would be facing an impending lawsuit), so I got to tutor 1st graders when I should have been playing on the monkey bars. As my 7 year old has told me, that is AWFUL! And that was before the true internet age, my friends, it is much worse now.
Boys? Yup- there were a lot of them. Most of my ideas about relationships, what they should look like and how many you should have, were attained by watching other kids and listening to my peer's ideas on the matter. Stellar advice, I assure you. Dating a senior when I was just an extremely naive freshman, awesome idea- NOT!
My faith didn't come until I was 10, but my family didn't follow until I was in junior high. I always felt that I was struggling to weigh my beliefs against what I was constantly confronted with in the rest of my life- especially at school. Being told over and over that what you believe is ridiculous and untrue was incredibly difficult to sort out. While I still believed, I didn't know why or how to defend it, and having to defend my faith against adults at a very young age was an even greater challenge than doing so with kids. The struggles against this in schools today are even greater, obviously.
When I was looking for advice I went to the people I spent 8+ hours a day with- my friends and teachers. While I had a good relationship with my parents, they weren't who I was mostly with and I didn't really have much value for their thoughts because I didn't think they were all that smart, to be honest. My mom always told me how I smart I was but greatly undervalued herself which caused me to undervalue her and look to the people who showed me their smarts all day long, every single day.
And I just can't get over the fact that today things are much worse. Morals have only further decayed. There is very little respect for elders. Manners and discipline have fallen by the wayside and the value of hardwork is a rare find. This is, generally, what socialization looks like in our culture today.
My Vision for My Family
But I am on a mission to raise counter-cultural kids. We are, after all, a bold little family. Faith, manners, respect, hardwork- these are all the things that are of utmost importance and priority in our journey to educate our children. I want to maintain the inocense of my children as long as I possibly can and be the one who introduces all the issues of our society through our family's worldview, when they are ready. I want their identity to be centered with our family, not a school or group of misguided friends. I want to be the biggest influence in their lives and teach them day in and day out why we believe what we believe so that they can defend their faith in the real world.
I want them to stand out. I want them to be different. I want people to notice that they are different because they were homeschooled- in a good way! And when it comes right down to it, that difference that people will notice will be Jesus, because He is the center of our homeschool.
Being noticed because your life is filled with Jesus is never a bad thing!
Just think about it, they call them the formative years because they are the years that form you- they help make you who you are. Who do I want my children being formed by? Certainly not their friends and definitely not a secular school system!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So, let's hope they're not socialized! Let's hope they're Jesus-ized.
There are lots of mamas weighing in on this topic! Check them all out over at iHomeschool Network!