Monday, November 14, 2011

The Homeschooling Elephant

When the topic of homeschooling comes up, there is always an elephant in the room. That big bad word, socialization.

Many people have already written plenty about socialization of homeschool kids. Whether these children are "socialized" or not, what that means and whether they even SHOULD be socialized. The topic has been covered many times over and google will point the way if you want to delve further into it.

I'm here to share my own experience of coming to terms with the socialization issue.

I always thought I would be a co-op homeschooler. Co-ops are groups of families who get together and share the workload to a certain extent. Parents will teach a class either by themselves or with another parent or two. Their students will be a small class of kids who are about the same age. It all made sense to me. I had something to offer in my science and math knowledge (and lack of fear about teaching those subjects) and I thought it would be good for the kids to learn from someone other than myself and get experience in a somewhat typical classroom setting.

As it turns out, we have not joined a co-op. Not because co-ops are bad, but just because we don't fit there. We are somewhat atypical homeschoolers because we are liberal leaning and have chosen to stick with secular curriculum in our school lessons. Gasp! Shock! Horror! If you don't get just how odd the combination of liberal, secular homeschooling is, then you haven't tried to find a homeschool co-op in central Texas. There are some co-ops that absolutely won't have us. There are some that I wouldn't leave my kid alone with. I've yet to find one we'd fit into at all.

This really bothered me at first and I felt a drive to "Find The Co-op!!" It was making me crazy and a little panicky until I finally took a step back and thought about what I was wanting from a co-op. And when I really thought about it, it wasn't the education. I'm perfectly capable of teaching my children by myself. I did want them to learn that almost everyone had something to teach them, but I've realized they are picking that up by talking to family members, friends, the librarian, the museum docent, the park ranger, the checker at the grocery store. I also wanted them socialized. There's that word again. I'm finding they're well socialized though. They get that bit of independence and interaction with their peers when they go to the park and theater class and any other activity that comes along.

So I've decided to chill out about the co-op. Should a compatible group suddenly show up, I'm not opposed to it, but I've decided we don't really NEED one. We can stay home and stick with the curriculum that works for us. We can meet up with one group of homeschool friends one day and another group another day. We can play with our "regular" school friends in the evenings and on weekends. We have all the education we need and we have all the socialization we need. So co-op? We don't need no stinkin' co-op!


Karen said...

The funny thing is when I think of homeschooling my kids it's your type of curriculum that I think about. There are a couple of people in my ward that home school and they each do it very different and I one I like a little and the other I think is just plain weird! I mean a 13 yr old should KNOW how to read whether they like to read or not, that just seems unacceptable to my soap box now, sort of.

Lori said...

I'm glad I read this. We are a conservative family and are not members of a group. We allow our son to attend 4H with public school kids. We don't have a problem with that. I know many who do, but my son is at the age where he needs to learn how to socialize with non homeschoolers and choose the right kind of friends. He is not always going to have me there with him and he needs to know who is out there.

I love reading about your girls and what they are learning. I agree with you ~ there are learning experiences everywhere.

Keep doing what is right for your family and hopefully a group will present itself soon.


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