Friday, April 23, 2010

What About Socialization?

We field this question more than any others. Well meaning onlookers are wondering if, as homeschoolers, we ever get out with other people. I'm not sure if they think we hole up, never needing groceries or library books or visits with relatives or animal feed. I do know that many people don't think of that as socialization. For most, childhood socialization means getting together with like aged kids and doing what kids do: talk, laugh, play games, listen to music, eat snacks, ride bikes, etc. Let's just clarify what socialization means. According to my Webster's College Dictionary socialization is 1. a continuing process whereby an individual learns and assimilates the values and behavior patterns appropriate to his or her culture and social position. I interpret that as being able to get along in the world: knowing how to be courteous to the grocery checker, postal clerk and garbage man, understanding the benefit of asking for help at the library, fabric store and county park and most importantly conversing with all age groups in a kindly fashion. Socialization really isn't about friends of the same age hanging out together. The next word in the dictionary is socialize, 4th definition is to associate or mingle sociably with others. This is what I think most people think about when they ask homeschoolers about socialization. Do they have friends? OR Are they social misfits? I have to stop here without really communicating all I think about this issue because I really wanted to say that yes homeschoolers (the ones I know) socialize.

Another mom and I organized St. Francis Nature Club and we met for our first of 6 gatherings at a local county park. We had 10 kids (age 15, 12, 11, 9, 8, 7, 5, 3, 1, 1) at the first gathering and next week another family will be there bringing our total to 16 kids. We had a great time eating lunch, playing all sorts of made up kid games at the playground and then walking, talking and exploring nature together. Our theme was early signs of spring and the kids found things like violets and drew them in their journals, tree buds, shades of green, frogs, dead crayfish parts, a spider web, poison ivy, stinging nettle, wood ticks, ants and clam and snail shells. They played a bit longer, shared what they found and said goodbye until next week. Three full hours of SOCIALIZING and learning of course, but it seems most onlookers aren't concerned with academics. It's all about the socializing.
Flowers: (top) Spring Beauty; (bottom) White Trout Lily