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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 2

The Lost FilesPrologue
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 1
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 2
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 1
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 2
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 1
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 2

Ten days before her final school year had come to completion; my daughter got a good taste of socialization as well. The school held a Bazaar project that all of the first graders participated in. They all made items to sell, which other students in the school purchased. She worked very hard for the last 3 weeks because she was so excited about this project. She had me purchase equipment to make this project. She made beaded jewelry and hair accessories. Other children however did not put as much time effort into their projects.

She sold out quickly and made $52.00 in play money. Other children ended up throwing half of their items in the garbage because they did not sell, and even they did not want them. Many of these children made less than 5 dollars. When it was her classes turn to shop with their play money, the teacher took all the money everyone made, to be distributed evenly among the classmates. I was glad I was there to console my child when she cried. Had I known the nature of this event when she started, a lesson in "fairness". I would have discouraged her from investing so much of her heart, time and my money into the project. At the end of the day, both she and I were just grateful that we were planning to start homeschooling in just two weeks.

On that day, my child learned that hard work is not always recognized. She felt cheated and dejected after she worked very hard on her project, only to see the entire class rewarded for her hard work. Some might say that she was taught to work as a group. She was not. The assignment was not presented as a group. It was given to individuals with no warning whatsoever that everyone would be sharing the outcome. It was unfair, and in her eyes, she was robbed. In essence, she was taught to not do her best.

I have had the blessed opportunity to have many children spend the night in my house. When I decided to start homeschooling, I became more mindfully observant of the differences between homeschooled children and schooled children. One Sunday evening in particular, my husband and I let our daughter spend the night with another family, and we took home two boys in addition to our own. I was actually surprised to find no one hanging from my upstairs railing, and no one is jumping from my sons loft bed. There were no loud thumps coming from my son.s room, as well as no yelling and swearing. The only noises coming from the room were sound effects to match the video game they were playing. I never thought such peace could exist happen with children in the house, not to mention three 8-year-old boys. This was new to me. They were not perfect angels, but they were incredibly well behaved. I believe that was the result of being socialized by adults rather than other children.

Why is socialization of homeschooled children so important to the general public anyway? The way outsiders tend to see it, our children may end up smart, but they will be inept to carry on an everyday conversation with someone their own age. What does it matter if they find a cure for cancer or the common cold? What about their social lives? Will they marry, and hold down long term jobs? Will they be prepared for the REAL WORLD? The last time I checked, homeschoolers were in the real world, every day in fact. They accompany their parents, are witness to how adults conduct business, and relate to each other. Because of this, when they are old enough, they often strike out by themselves and take apprenticeships and jobs long before most public school children are ready.

Nevertheless, just in case you still have doubts about socialization of homeschoolers, check out the study released this year. You can find it at www.HSLDA.org. Essentially, it says that yes, home school graduates do appear to be happier and more content than the average American. The survey could find no grown homeschoolers accepting public assistance; it also found favorable marriage rates. In addition, many people who had been homeschooled, in turn, are now homeschooling their own children.

Whether I believe the whole socialization rap homeschoolers get is valid or not, I do know enough to be sure my children "socialize" with other children their age. It would be irresponsible as a parent deny them of opportunities to have friends at his or her own level. On a regular basis, we meet with other homeschoolers for joint recreational activities like contests and science field trips. Another a perk of homeschooling children in schools seldom get exposed to, are the hours they can spend volunteering to work with the needy, which gives them a better picture of conditions that others live under. Now, that is socialization worth having.

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