Monday, August 18, 2008

Everything My Kids Need to Know About Socialization (started in July)

Everything My Kids Needed to Know For Socialization They Learned at the Beach

I admit to having a teeny tiny internal checklist of all those things that probably shouldn't, but actually do, concern me regarding homeschooling. I further admit that a good majority of these concerns are directly related to the taboo homeschoool topic of SOCIALIZATION. Since I am being so brutally honest, I should also include that a majority of the majority of these concerns have been implanted in me by relatives and friends who are also teachers.

Here in the middle of summer, though, I am seeing more clearly. Basically, everything my children need to learn for socialization, they are learning on the beach.

Concern #1: How will they ever learn to make friends?

I checked this little gnawer off a few weeks ago as HotNerd relayed that he watched Eggplant, all of 6, walk straight up to a boy around his age at the beach, extend his hand for a shake, and introduce himself. After the shake was returned and the niceties completed, Eggplant and his new friend played frisbee in the lake for a good hour or so.  He also works on this one each and every beach venture when he offers rides to any child willing on the sled we use to transport our stuff.   Eggplant: CHECK

Rhubarb got her pass when a family we had never met showed up at our homeschool beach day and Rhubarb suddenly disappeared. The mother of said unknown family asked me if our daughters had ever met. When I responded that they hadn't, she pointed to the girls in the lake, heads together like long-time bosom buddies. Rhubarb: CHECK

Soon after watching Rhubarb master the art of introductions, I noted that Blueberry was playing happily on the shore with a little girl who could have easily been the mini-me of Rhubarb's new friend. In fact, in some ways she was, since the 2 sisters shared their beautiful bright red hair. As Blueberry and her new friend exchanged relaxed conversation, all the while digging yet another beach hole, I searched my little one's face and body for any sign of her usual shyness. It had apparently dissipated in the face of potential friendship. Blueberry: CHECK

Concern #2: How will they ever learn to deal with relational conflict?

Eggplant has had to face a lot of potential conflict this summer, each time another little boy spots the rather intricate tracks he digs in the sand and wants to join in -- usually with their own ideas.  When a little boy tried to walk on his bridge, Eggplant kindly responded, "Would you mind not doing that? I am trying to make a bridge. Here, do you want to go fill up this bucket and bring water?"   This is pretty much his consistent response.  If they are interfering in his process, he gives them another job to do that still contributes to the track.  If they are not interfering, the transition from 1 player to 2 or more is pretty seamless.

Rhubarb: Rhubarb struggles a bit more with conflict, but I am seeing improvements by leaps and bounds -- like when a boy yelled at Blueberry to get out of his sand hole.  Rhubarb responded, "Excuse me, but that's my sister. Would you please speak to her kindly?"  I have to say that I was pretty impressed with this because Rhubarb has a bit of a temper.  There have been a few times when she has upset a friend by becoming possessive.  Once when this happened, the girl physically pushed her away.  Oh how I wanted to intervene.  I didn't.  I think she got the point and we discussed her feelings about it later.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but an important one nonetheless -- no schoolyard needed.

Blueberry: When Blueberry is involved in beach conflict with an older child, she appropriately clings to her big sister or brother; when the conflict involves a younger child (usually because said child has absconded her bucket), she kneels to the child's height, speaks in a higher, sweeter voice, and requests the item back.  If all else fails, she mutters under her breath her new favorite insult: "Poopstew".  I can't say that's one of her finer moments, but man is it funny!

You get the point: they are learning socialization in their favorite place, doing their favorite things, without the use of a yard duty or principal.  Go figure!

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