Friday, September 14, 2012

My Very Socialized Homeschooler

One of the main objections I hear from folks about homeschooling is lack of social interactions with peers. This comes mostly from people who know very little about homeschooling and are not tuned into a local HS community. I am of the opinion that M is getting plenty of socialization, sometimes too much of it.

For example, here's how this week went, in terms of all the socializing:

Monday morning we had a much-anticipated tour of a landfill. Yes, I know, we've been there already. But this is one tour M seems to want to go on over and over (ok, another one he wouldn't mind doing again and again would be anything NASA related). Sure, we don't go to a landfill every week, but we frequently go on field trips and outings with our homeschooling friends. I'd say, we go a couple of times a month.

Tuesday we started the new session of the Junior First Lego League. It's super exciting for a couple of reasons. One is M loves being there, building with Legos, playing with his friends and, of course, having a snack. Second, he got his first ever grant! It came from and covered not only all the program fees, but also some nice bricks, gears, and a motor. Awesome, I say! That's 3-4 hrs of socializing, being engaged in cooperative play, problem solving, etc.

Wednesday is our usual get-together with a group of Russian kids. There's usually a short lesson - math, logic, Russian language, and an art activity. Then kids have a snack and go play. And moms have some tea. The kids have been meeting and playing together for over a year now, almost every week. They speak Russian between themselves (so far).

Thursday is our Russian reading night. It's with the same group of kids, but at a different time and the format is different too. There are some language-building activities and a short story time. But then kids have a snack and play together while moms have tea. Both Wednesday and Thursday get-togethers are organized and hosted by some absolutely amazing Russian moms who seem to have boundless reserves of energy, enthusiasm, teaching ideas and patience.

Friday is our homeschool park day. We didn't do it in the summer because it was just too hot. But now that the weather is a bit cooler, we are going to return to the park day. M gets to play with his American homeschooling friends.

In addition to all this, we usually have 2-3 small playdates each week, including weekends. That makes for a very full schedule. Now, we are very lucky to live in an area with so many homeschoolers and such an active HS community. Then again, M has plenty of non-HS friends too.

I realize that the pictures I put on this blog do not reflect any of this. Sometimes it's because I'm not there to take a picture (I'm either chatting with other moms, drinking tea or doing both at the same time; yep, I'm THAT talented). Other times I just don't feel it'd be right to put pictures of other kids on the blog for privacy reasons. But I also know we're not at all different from many other HS families in our area. With all the co-ops, playdates, clubs, park days, and such, kids here seem to get plenty of social opportunities.

Ok, I'm going to get off my soap box now.


  1. I know I sound passionately anti-HS, but when is the time when your son is actually separated from you? To me socialization is not "real" if parents and other adults are always on hand to help out in difficulties and mediate conflicts. I am not saying that this is necessarily bad, especially for younger kids, but homeschooling "bubble" does exist even though many parents try to make it as thin as possible.

  2. This is a very valid question and I get asked this a lot. At first, when my son was very young, I didn't have an answer to it because yes, I was always there within an arm's reach (it also had to do with his gross motor difficulties). But now that he's almost 6 and things have changed a lot, I do have an answer.

    My son is actually separated from me every time he has a playdate, goes to his Lego club or spends time with friends at a park playdate. He runs around with other kids and I'm a good distance away chatting with other moms (I need some socializing myself, lol). If he does have problems, I let him solve them himself. A lot of times I don't even know until he tells me after the playdate about the issues (or successes) and how he dealt with them.

    Furthermore, it's not like when a child goes to school or after-school activities, he's there just with other kids. There's always at least one adult present. If your YMCA is like ours, you have at least 3-4 adults who supervise a group of kids. And in the classroom, there's always a teacher (and sometimes an aid) present to mediate and help out with difficulties. So I don't see it as being very different from homeschooling situation. Sure, there are cases of helicopter parents, but I do see those both in HS and in non-HS circles.

  3. Hmm, good points :) I guess to me it's an awareness issue - like remembering to take care of your belongings or buy your own lunch. Still working on the first issue - jackets just seem to grow legs and walk out of a locked classroom here.

  4. Oh, I can totally relate to this :) My son usually leaves his belongings in the car. I used to remind him all the time, but it was getting us nowhere. Now I just let him forget (especially if it's a toy). Then when he asks for it, he has to go and get it himself or deal without it. It's not a 100% solution and we're still working on it.