One of the primary reasons many of us homeschool is to model healthy relationships and behaviors to our children. This is why we laugh at the idea of the "s" word being a problem in this current generation of the home education choice. Our reply to this concern may go something like this...
"Socialization? We modern homeschoolers are not worried about socialization because we know that homeschooled and homebound are NOT interchangeable terms! In fact socialization is one of the important reasons why we are homeschooling. We want to make sure our children interact with different groups of kids throughout the week and that they become comfortable in communicating with younger ones, adults, and seniors alike. We want them to experience a variety of social circumstances in real world settings."
Yet sometimes there is an interesting dynamic in the homeschool community when it comes to the involvement of other adults in our children's lives. We are sometimes all too quick to drop them off at a community center class, sports club practice, co-op learning group, church class, or private music lesson when we may not even know the name of the adult in charge. Remember that these types of adults are influencing our children in a significant and usually regular way. So it is important that we connect with them eye-to-eye before making a decision to enjoin our children to them for a season.
I have made sure to do this with our boys' soccer and physical education coaches as well as the folks who work with our boys regularly in their various church activities. While you want your children to gain the benefit of working with a variety of personalities and learning the skills that they have to offer your children, it is vital that you are leaving them in the care of people who will support your efforts and come alongside you in reinforcing the principles of life that are important to you. We don't want to just be interested in our kids having their time occupied, but that the time they spend there is an extension of what you are reinforcing with them in the home.
Recently, I went through a two-month long journey to engage a new piano teacher for our boys. Our beloved "Miss Cindy", their piano teacher of nine years, had retired and was just helping us along until we could find a new situation. I interviewed several potential teachers and the boys also had several sample lessons with four different possible instructors before we made a decision on a new teacher who is not only excellent at the technical aspects of teaching piano, but also connects personally with the boys and understands the struggle that they have had with long breaks in their practice history. They are being challenged, rather than penalized, in a nurturing environment as they move from one methodology to another (i.e. Suzuki method to traditional) in a way that acknowledges their strengths while identifying their goals. Most of all, their new instructor is a Christian who empathizes with their unique situation of having just lost their older brother to cancer. Now we can move ahead with confidence that we are creating a bond with their new teacher that will complement our familyâ€™s goals for the long term. I must also mention that Cindy, their former teacher, has grown to be one of my very closest personal friends. Even though she does not formally teach them piano any longer, she has been, is, and will continue to be a huge part of our life. So, it is a win-win all the way around when "adult enjoinment" is intentionally planned.
Bottom line: Where we are so careful to make sure they have healthy peer relationships and social interactions with a variety of individuals and friends, we need to be just as prudent to the other important adults that play a role in our children's lives. Pastors, coaches, tutors, and private instructors can become long-time partners with you in your child's journey into adulthood. Even close friends can play an important role in your child's life as surrogate "aunts", "uncles", and "grandparents", when blood relations in these areas are lacking or nonexistent.
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.