It’s one of the first questions I’m asked when I tell people our kids don’t go to school.
“What about socialisation?”
Some people who home ed get really frustrated by it.
I don’t. I was home schooled myself so I have a lifetime’s practice in answering this question.
I know a lot of you reading this know us well and care about our boys, so I thought I’d answer this here for you and ease your concerns (if you have any!).
By definition Socialisation means “social social
But in the case of home education what most people mean is “What about making friends and learning social skills?”.
It’s a good question. Having good social skills is essential if you want to be successful in life and friends make the ride much more fun. Don’t for a second think we undervalue either of these things. We just don’t think school is the place to learn them.
So what do we do to “Socialise” the kids?
Well firstly, I hate that word. We don’t believe the kids need “socialising” so instead I’m going to break it down into the key parts and explain how we address these needs and why they really aren’t missing out by not being in school.
Part 1: How do they meet new people?
Well that’s easy. They go out. A lot. Because they are not in school the kids get to come out with both me and Alan to all kinds of different places. Pretty much anywhere we have to go, the kids come too. This means that most days they are exposed to new places and new people. These people are usually a wide range of ages and from a mix of backgrounds. Most of us have to work, play and communicate with people of all ages and that’s what the kids are learning to do now.
Part 2: How do they make friends?
Another easy one. The same way anyone else does -just not at school. Both my boys have spent some time in school and therefore have a group of friends already. This helps but it wouldn’t have been a disaster if they hadn’t. There is a huge home ed community in our area (about 300 families at the last count). There are meet ups and activites all the time and we take them to them regularly. Both boys do Parkour classes each week, Jake does Taekwondo, we go to a meet up at Moors Valley weekly and then we pick and choose which one off events we’d like to do too. There are always trips and events available to go to and we could easily do something with a group every day if we wished. The kids aren’t always the exact same age as ours but that doesn’t matter. They play together anyway.
Part 3: How often do they get to see their friends?
All the time. Of course they don’t see them all every day as they might in school but they do see friends often. On top of all the home ed events I just mentioned we regularly arrange play dates, sleep overs and meet ups with the boy’s friends. On average they probably have a couple of play dates each per week.
Part 4: What about their independence?
Some people get concerned about the kids being with us too much. I find that weird. We’re not mollycoddling them and we don’t prevent them from being away from us. The opposite in fact. Promoting independence plays a strong part in our parenting style. We encourage them to take part in anything that life has to offer them and we actively find ways of stretching and pushing them out of their comfort zones. Josh has been on various trips without us (including very feral scout camps and trips abroad). He’s allowed to go out with his friends unsupervised and we hardly ever say no to him going out/sleeping over at friends. Jake is still little (only 6) so it’s different for him. Still, he’s encouraged to do classes/visit friends without us there and he’s very confident in doing so. I dropped him a friend’s house today… I didn’t even get a goodbye.
Part 5: How do they develop their social skills?
Same way other kids do. The numerous events, play dates, classes and meet up we attend offers them plenty of opportunity to develop their social skills and learn how to deal with people. The main difference being that we’re often on hand to guide them if they get stuck!
Part 6: How will they socialise while they travel?
Same way we do. Through our travels they will meet sooooo many new and different people. I imagine it will be different depending on where we are and for how long but I know that in Tenerife (our first stop) there are several families who home school that are keen to meet up. They’ll also keep in touch with their friends here too. Josh has Instagram and Skype which is where all his friends hang out – Facebook is for old people apparently! We’re back in the UK every 6-10 weeks and usually for 5-10 weeks at a time so we’ll be attending classes/clubs/meet ups when we’re here and arranging lots of play dates too!
Part 7: But how will they learn to obey authority and be put in their place?
Ok so if you’re genuinely asking me this question then you clearly don’t know me at all. Their place? Really? We’re not raising placid people who will become a nice quiet cog in society and sit and do as they are told while the world goes to pot. We’re raising leaders. Men that will think for themselves, stand up for their beliefs and make decisions based on their core values, not what the “authority” tells them to believe. I want them to do some good in the world. You can’t do that if you’ve been put in your place!
I think that’s it. I may have missed something but it’s now 1am, I’ve been at the home ed xmas party this afternoon and I have a busy day tomorrow (Jake has Taekwondo and a sleepover and Josh is delivering stuff to the homeless). If you’ve got any questions I’d be happy to answer them. Just leave a comment.