Monday, December 29, 2008

Homeschool Gym and the Social Experiment

We have homeschool gym up to twice a week. It is 3 full hours of time in an open gym filled with gym equipment and other home-schooling kids. The kids, the same ones critics of homeschooling worry are "unsocialized", play games with each other for all 3 of those hours, typically with complaints of it being too short a time. Anyway, at gym a few weeks ago I looked over at my shy Blueberry and she was crying on the slide. I went over to see what was wrong and she told me through her sobs that she was missing "E", her "very best friend" because "E" always helps her "play with the kids [she] doesn't know yet."

This makes me consider so many layers I am not even sure where to begin. First, I can scarcely imagine a situation including multiple children that provides healthy "socializaion" for every child. For Bluenerry, for example, being thrust into a large group of new people is truly torturous. She was born shy; it is who she is. Tossing her into a school yard and asking her to socialize is like tossing a bleeding person into a circle of sharks and telling them to get along with the sharks. Give her time to get to know someone one-on-one, however, and she is a lovely, warm, enjoyable friend. Come to think of it, I , don't know a lot of people, children or adults, who thrive when thrust into a large group of people and are forced to socialize.

It is very interesting to me that "socialization" is even such a tremendous concern for kids. I write this as a person who has expressed concern regarding this very issue, of course. But the more I consider it, the more I wonder why we are so obsessed with it. It is not as if we are hermits. The kids have siblings and parents. They have best friends. They have classmates from homeschool classes, extra-curricular activities and classes, and Sunday School. They have extended family. They have community, people of all ages with whom they regularly "socialize". Why all the fuss? In all honesty, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people I was supposed to know when I was in school.

"Socialization" was more a race to claim ones place in the hierarchy of popularity than it was about learning to get along with others.

So, is my shy girl some sort of mutant because she wishes her best friend were there to help ease her into a room full of kids? Or is she, maybe, just a little shy? And that's okay.

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