If you’ve been homeschooling for a while or are just now considering it as an option—chances are you’ve encountered the dreaded question from concerned friends and family. You guessed it:
What about socialization?
When asked this question there’s still a part of me that is tempted to press my hands against my face with a surprised gasp and say, “Well, gee I never thought of that!” But more than likely I begin spouting off my long list of all the things we do to provide our kids social opportunities; Co-op, sport teams, Sunday school, play dates, field trips, clubs, and volunteer opportunities. I suppose my insecurities feed into this in order to prove to the naysayers that our kids aren’t like those stereotyped, backward—can’t have a conversation, make eye contact, get dressed or be in a group without crying– kids!
Socialization is accomplished by providing opportunities for our kids to interact with others.
However, training our children to have good social skills requires so much more!
- Good social skills require training in a variety of settings, environments and interactions with all kinds of people.
So you might ask, Are social environments such as extended family gatherings, errand running in the community, sports teams, organized classes, clubs and co-ops necessary for our children to learn social skills? I’d say, ABSOULTELY! This doesn’t mean they need to be overly involved, but we have to admit, it’s awfully hard to learn how to interact with others if we aren’t allowing our kids the opportunity to interact with others. Many times teachers, coaches and relatives have a different relationship with our child that offers a fresh perspective or keen insight. We as homeschoolers would be foolish not to take advantage of these outside relationships. However, this is only the first step for parents. The training process that comes next is the most crucial step.
- Good social skills aren’t caught. They are taught.
We’d like to think providing opportunities for our children to interact with others will automatically teach them how to take turns, play nice and listen attentively. Unfortunately, these social skills must be taught after observing our children, correcting bad behaviors and training good ones.
- Good Social skills require intuitive parents knowing their child’s personality and bent.
For instance I have three very chatty children. They are the first to throw their hand up to answer questions or volunteer, interrupt an adult to share their knowledge, and talk without taking a breath. Consequently, my husband and I are often teaching them about taking turns, practicing asking questions, and looking for ways to include others in conversations.
Yet my very close friend struggles with a shy child that can’t seem to make eye contact, stay in a conversation or speak up for herself.
While the concerns we have as mothers are different, we must realize our kids have areas that need training. And while an introverted child may always be shy, they don’t have to be rude. And while and extroverted child may never be quiet, they don’t have to be disrespectful.
- Good social skills aren’t acquired by any certain type of education choice or lack of education choice.
This is just a simple observation noted by the fact that there are plenty of well educated (public, private and yes homeschooled) geniuses that can’t carry on a conversation to save their lives. And conversely many uneducated friendly, well-mannered and respectable people who anyone would be glad to have around.
- Good Social skills are a cornerstone and foundation for all humans.
When taught good social skills consistently, our children will be a blessing to our families, their employers, co-workers, spouses, neighbors and friends. Most importantly good social skills pave the way to sharing God’s love with others.
I think we should all be encouraged that our education choices have very little do to with whether our children grow up with the ability to interact socially with others. Yet, as parents we also must press on not only to provide opportunities for our children to interact with others, but to roll up our sleeves and consistency train, correct and encourage good social skills.
How about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! What social skills are important to your family? How do you practically train your kids? Do you provide opportunities for interactions or do you tend to be cautious of the influence of outsiders?
Lorrie Young – Encouragement
Lorrie is a former nurse turned homeschooling mom of three under the age of 8. She adamantly declares the two best decisions she has ever made were accepting the Lord as her Savior, and marrying her best friend and husband Ben. She is passionate about writing, family, flowers and Jesus. She primarily spends her time managing the homefront, but in her spare moments you might find her scouring garage sales for good deals, reading a book on the porch or enjoying a long walk with a friend. She is the leader of the Women’s Ministry at her local church, and she blogs about her life, and the lessons God has taught her along the way at Life and Lessons Learned.