So, how do I plan to socialize my children?

On our recent discussion on the ever-popular topic of socialization, Stan of Winging It made an important point that can be easy to forget.

To point to the etymological origins of the word and explain why I don’t want that for my child is fine, but it doesn’t actually engage the intent, does it? Most people, when they say they are concerned about the “socialization” of children who are homeschooled, simply mean, “Will these kids learn how to get along with other people?” They worry that homeschooled kids are cloistered away from interaction with society.

As I pointed out in my response, there is a difference in what I will say in discussion and what I will say to a stranger. The grocery store checkout is not really the place for lengthy histories of American public education and the etymology of words. Some possible responses, variations of which I have actually used:

1. Socialization? What do you mean exactly? My children are involved in group activities at the Y, in church and have friends in the neighborhood, not to mention the other homeschoolers I know. There really are a lot of opportunities out there if you think about it.

2. You know, I might have worried about that more back when schools still had recess and did not assign so much homework! (To a casual acquaintance who was upset with her school for these very reasons.)

Still, if we take socialization as essentially meaning enculturation, it is an important aspect of education that should be discussed. How do we plan to teach children about their culture? Public school is not the only place to learn culture and it was not until relatively recently that it even began to undertake such a task. So how do I propose to “socialize” my children?

  1. Through the family.
  2. The family is the primary unit of society. In the family, the child learns to trust. He learns to love and be loved. He learns basic values about right and wrong in a loving environment where those in power have his best interests at heart.

  3. Through the study of history.
  4. We will study the history of our nation and the highest ideals it has produced. Were our Founders perfect and their motives ever true? Certainly not, but that does not detract from the noble ideas enshrined at our founding. My children will learn that the great men of our history were but men, prone to sin like the rest of us, but that will not take such a prevailing position in our studies as to overshadow the high ideals of liberty and self-government they birthed.

  5. Through the study of literature and the arts.
  6. Literature and art exist as a medium of communication. We will look to those Great Works which uphold the good and the true. Will we ignore all others? Certainly not, but our study will concentrate on “books that are books” as Charles Lamb describes them and not “twaddle” as Charlotte Mason describes the opposite. The same selection will exist for our study of art.

  7. Through tradition and etiquette.
  8. We will foster a general respect for tradition as a connection to the past to develop a sense of continuity among our generations. Learning the manners expected in a variety of social situations will also help our children to engage themselves in our culture productively and effectively.

  9. Through the development of godly character.
  10. Hopefully, the education our children receive both through “book learning” and the model of their parents will produce in them a genuine faith and an understanding of the Christian walk.

Although it is last, point five is the most important to our family. It is the purpose which directs the preceding points. As a Christian, I desire neither to have my children isolated from nor wholly adapted to our culture. I wish for them to engage the culture, which requires sensitivity, compassion and understanding.

The problem with “socialization” as it affects homeschoolers is not about us desiring to isolate our children or otherwise keep them “cloistered away from interaction with society.” It rests solely on who is in control of this socialization.

[tags]homeschooling, education, socialization, homeschool[/tags]

0 thoughts on “So, how do I plan to socialize my children?

  1. I have been thinking a lot about culture lately. One of the questions people commonly aks around international adoption goes something like, “How will you develop and maintain your child’s awareness of his/her cultural/racial heritage. I am always confused about how to answer that question. Because culture is more than learning about holidays/traditions, food and history. Your addition of family and language art hit the nail on the head and lines up with what I have been concluding.

    How do I keep a person cultural Haitian when I intend to teach both children to speak English. Language brings values with it; I cannot teach my child a different language without teaching the values of the country that uses that language. Isn’t that why I prefer to use Webster’s 1828 Dictionary?

    How can I take a child from an environment with little government infrastructure, poverty and industrialization and keep them culturally Haitian. I would have to assume that the technological advances (from cars, TV, computers, etc.) has had absolutely no effect on our country’s culture.

    In my family, my children will learn through observation cultural norms regarding modesty, personal space, non-verbal communication, etc. These are all part of culture that are caught rather than taught.

    Great post ~

  2. Thank you, Christy.

    And you are right, Julie. There is a lot about culture beyond food and dress. That is only external. There is an entire worldview behind it as well.

    This always strikes me when I think of missionary work. I cannot imagine the challenge it is to bring the message of Christ into another culture. How do we introduce Christianity and not American Christianity? For many, their is little difference. I am not sure everyone would necessarily even see the problem with that notion. Or maybe I judge too harshly.

  3. This is beautifully put. In the world but not of the world is the goal and f our children are in Public school it is very difficult to keep them from becoming OF the world.

    Amy Charmichael is a wonderful example of a missionary who brought Christ without the trappings.

  4. Good job.

    My wife and I watched RV with Robin Williams the other day. If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy it. One thing that was striking was this “odd” family who lived in an RV and homeschooled. The Munro family avoided them; they were weird. But in the end the writers of the movie went out of the way to point out that they were bright, well-mannered particularly good kids. Not what one might expect from today’s media.

  5. Very true, Heather. I am not one who says it is impossible. After all, I was raised in a nonChristian home and went to public school. Somehow, I still ended up Christian.

    Stan, that is surprising. You know one thing I wonder? If public school socialization is supposed to be about getting along with diverse groups of people, why is it that so many public schooled people think homeschoolers are “weird” and unsocialized? Shouldn’t “they” be able to accept and appreciate the differences?

    Instead, it seems the same tendency to label and dismiss entire groups of people based on perceived differences or isolated encounters.

  6. Dana, you are so awesome…I just though I’d let you know! I learn so much from you…

    And I love the new look…I take a little break, come back for a visit and WOW!

    Anyway, great post, as usual. I look forward to getting caught up on all my PD reading!

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