Thursday, July 29, 2004

One Question Homeschool Parents Hate....


The one question home-schooled parents hate to hear involves the socialization of their children. “Don’t you think Johnny should have more friends? How is he ever going to meet friends his own age? Aren’t you afraid that he is going to be an introvert?”

Are these questions valid ones? Absolutely. But I need to shatter my stereotype of the home-schooled child: a child sitting alone at the kitchen table reading books and sifting through worksheets. But, as a public school teacher, I certainly understand that you do not have to be tethered to the kitchen table to learn. A home-school mom or dad can take the child to museums, and other field trips, enroll the child in scout groups, or use the Internet to access virtual field trips and meet friends all over the world. If I were a home-school mom, I would find other families in my area that home-school and schedule outings with them.

Sometimes, as a teacher, I question the socialization of a child in public school. The children are segregated into groups by age in classrooms-- there are studies that indicate that children learn better in mixed-age groups. There are children who are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and drug abuse. There are children who are dirty, hungry, and angry. Of course, everyone needs and deserves an education. But it can be difficult when students are put in a “one-fits-all size” classroom. A home-school parent rightfully questions whether his or her child should be educated in that environment.

Some parents think that a child should be exposed to school society, even if that exposure introduces unsavory elements – because it prepares them to interact with those in adult society. It is a delicate and difficult question and one that educators and home-schoolers will be arguing about for years. As for myself, the jury is still out.

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