The “socialization question” is one of the things people ask when they find out you homeschool . Normally, I go into my spiel about how is not an issue for my children and that school doesn’t provide a realistic view of socialization anyway. I mean, when in the “real world” are you in a set environment with people of your same age and relative stage in life, learning the same thing for years at a time? Then, I throw in that we belong to a local co-op and my kids have tons of fun at the park with whatever kids that are there. Blah, blah, blah.
But, the other day as I was looking at them play with another set of new kids, some thoughts popped in my head…
“My boys are excellent at making friends, however temporary, but it’s kinda sad to see them perpetually meeting new kids. If they were in (a physical) school they’d get to see the same kids every day and would most likely develop real friendships over time. I still know a lot of my friends from school and love the memories from growing up with a lot of the same people I met there. Will my children have that same opportunity if they’re not in school or some place else where they see the same children all the time?”
This question had me all up in my feelings, y’all. Until then, I’d never thought about the possibility of my kids not having a chance to develop long-term friendships because they are homeschoolers. In my mind, socialization had to do with being around other children (and adults) to learn how to interact with the world in a socially acceptable way, all the while maintaining who you are in the process. As I look at my children, I can honestly say that they’re doing well in that department. However, because they are homeschooled and not consistently around other children who are not their siblings or cousins, I wonder if I need to create more opportunities for them to find and/or hang out with the same friends in order to foster those friendships. Basically, way more playgroups and meet-ups should be in our future, right? Or, is what they’re doing enough? Is my Type A personality showing? Gah.
Here’s the thing. Whether you homeschool or not, we all want our children to have friends, real friends, with friendships that are healthy, encouraging, and offer lots of fun, shared experiences. Does that happen only under certain circumstances? If so, does a homeschooling family have to go above and beyond to make sure we cover those bases? Maybe. Maybe not.
As I look back at all the friends I had growing up, I don’t really talk to any of them now, unless you count Facebook, and even then our interactions are brief and superficial. Turns out, being around the same kids at school (some all the way through college) didn’t guarantee a friendship that could stand the test of time. The fun was real at the time, then it faded away only to be replaced by fun with new friends. That happens more times than not. It’s life. When it comes to real friendships, it’s about quality, not quantity, and not limited to only those who you played with at school, in your neighborhood, or at church. As an adult, I’ve been blessed to have a small number of real friends/sisters; some I grew up with, some I didn’t. I’m connected to these wonderful souls on a deeper level that wouldn’t have been able to been reached as child, homeschooled or not.
In the end, I know that since the right people remain and/or come into my life at the right time, the same will go for my children’s lives. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about them developing life-long friendships that started in elementary school. If that happens, fantastic. If not, no biggie. So, I’ll continue to take them out in the world to see what it has to offer and what they are willing to share with it. Everything else will take care of itself.