If That’s a Socialized Kid, I’ll Take the Opposite

14

September 27, 2014 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

We’re barely a month into my older daughter’s homeschooling experience, and the comments and questions are coming fast and furious.

“Well, it’s a good thing she had all those early years in school so she’s socialized.”

“She’s a social girl, so you don’t have to worry about her being awkward around other people.”

“Does she get to spend time with kids her own age? Middle school is such a tough time. They really need their peers.”

Socialize: To teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable in society (Merriam-Webster)

My other daughter is in public school this year. It’s a good fit for her, but boy are our eyes being opened to a new world.

Every day it’s a new story. Some I hear from parents, others from my daughter. The other day it was one child telling another to “shut your stupid pie hole.” The next, a child was instructed to shut up, because, “no one cares what you have to say.”

Third grade children are acting out snorting cocaine on school grounds, while others are “humping” the girls on the playground.

These are examples of anti-social behavior. And this type of behavior goes consistently unchecked when a small group of adults tries to oversee large groups of similar-aged children. These stories aren’t unusual, as any parent of a school-aged child can tell you. But really, how can anyone ask if I’m concerned that my homeschooled child is being adequately socialized, when this is what the others are being exposed to on a daily basis?

Don’t get me wrong. I know my kids are going to hear ugly things and witness unruly behavior. But here’s my concern: Why are we effectively brainwashing ourselves and our children into believing that just because these things happen, they are a natural part of the socialization process and we should accept them? Actually, we’re not only being told to accept them; we’re told that if we don’t expose our children to them, something is going to be wrong with them. They’ll be missing out.

Yup. They’ll be missing out, alright. Missing out on middle school oral sex, being physically or verbally assaulted, being bullied. Missing out on cliques, and drugs, and drama. As if kids this age don’t have enough drama in their lives.

Before the advent of compulsory schooling—which started around 100 years ago (Mississippi was the last state to mandate that all children go to school, back in 1918)—people were socialized. It’s true! We were not a group of socially inept individuals. But it didn’t happen in what has become the widely accepted petrie dish of socialization we call school; it happened in communities.

It is still the job of our communities to teach children how to integrate successfully into society. Parents can help socialize their children by actually PAYING ATTENTION to them, not throwing them to the wolves and praying for the best.

Other relatives play a role here, too, as do friends of different ages.

If you’ve ever seen a group of multi-aged children playing together, you likely will have witnessed a very different type of play than you do when a group of similar-aged children plays together. When children get it in their heads to bully another child, this urge is quelled by the presence of older children in the group, who express their disapproval of this behavior. THAT is socialization in action.

I’d argue that school is the place we send children to teach them to fend for themselves, to listen to an authority figure at the expense of following their own better judgment, to learn to suck it up when someone offends, belittles, or otherwise mistreats them.

So if one more person asks if I’m worried about my daughter’s socialization, I just might lose it. Because, frankly, school is the LAST place I’d send anyone to learn how to behave in a socially acceptable manner. And as long as my younger one is in public school, I consider it my job to re-socialize her at the end of each day, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to undo the de-socialization she’s going through every time she rides that bus, sits in that classroom, and steps onto the playground.

As for my homeschooler, socialization is the last thing I’m worried about.


girls

 

 

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14 thoughts on “If That’s a Socialized Kid, I’ll Take the Opposite

  1. Julie says:

    Deep breath, Mama. You’re doing a fantastic job.
    Much Love.
    xxx

  2. This post is AWESOME! I love you KB!

    • Thanks, Monica! Right back at ya!
      You know, I was thinking more about the topic in bed last night, reprocessing things as I often do. I came to the realization that I’m just as annoyed with myself for feeling the need to defend–call it preemptively strike–when someone asks about the socialization issue. It’s all too easy to buy into the culture of “this is how we do things,” along with all the weird feelings and anxiety that come along with NOT doing it that way. Good chance for a little mama therapy!

  3. Kory says:

    I’ve taught at a public middle school for the last 15 years in a district that is considered very desirable. One might think this would provide me some insight into this context. Both of my children are home schooled largely for the reasons presented in this short article.

    • Thanks for sharing, Kory. It worries me that my younger one is exposed to so much. We talk about it constantly, and I know a lot of it weighs heavily on her. The flip side is that she really enjoys the learning process at public school. It’s given her a new confidence as her math skills, especially, have taken off since starting there. She also enjoys being around so many other children. But I find myself holding my breath every day as she goes off in the morning, so trusting and in many ways naive. My husband has a great way of looking at it: people tend to get what they expect, so if she continuously approaches the situation with good expectations, she’ll have positive experiences. Fingers crossed.

  4. Mare says:

    I agree with you 100% . I pulled my oldest from middle school to homeschool this year because of the things that were “normal” in his school. My youngest is still in a public charter which is wonderful but only goes thru 5th grade. I will be sharing this post.

  5. Sam says:

    Excellent! I had to share! God bless you and yours!

  6. A. Murray says:

    Why not home educate both girls?

    • That just might happen! My younger one really enjoys “going to school” and interacting with lots of other children. She has a solid foundation in basic human relations (read: she’s empathetic and kind) that I attribute to her early years in a Waldorf school and interaction with her family and friends. I’m fully prepared to pull her out if I see signs that public school isn’t working for her. Right now, she’s taking most of these experiences and learning from them. It’s given her the chance to see what’s right and act on it, and to encourage others to do the same. I sometimes worry that her sunny outlook will be soiled, but I also trust that we get what we expect, so I’m supporting her enthusiasm for school.

  7. rozanne says:

    Thanks for this article! I pulled my oldest out at the beginning of middle school for all those reasons and we’ve homeschooled ever since (except for one year where she wanted to “try” high school and realized she didn’t want to spend her time doing busy work). She is 16 years old now and both volunteers and works in the community, in charge of her own timetable and what she wants to learn (with mama supplementing here and there when she asks for it.). We are a part of a large homeschooling group where she helps with the littles and also engages with the other mamas, her mentors. Homeschooling has been a beautiful experience for all five of my children and they have a more family-type relationship with their friends who range from baby to pre-teen.

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