Homeschoolers tend to brush off the question of socialisation. And fair enough too because it is flung at us without any due consideration.
People have challenged us on our children’s social skills at the very same time as their teen year old sat sulking on a chair, or as our children have encouraged their shy child to come and play. These people ask the question without thinking about what they are really saying.
Likewise, we brush it off without really thinking it through.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t think socialisation is an issue for whether we should homeschool or not – it is a Furphy* but we are social beings so we need to pause at some stage and ask ourselves – how are our children going with social skills?
First of all we need to define socialisation. People who ask the question seem to equate it with having friends – and yet I think having friends is the result of social skills not the sum total. When I consider this issue I want our kids to:
- talk to people – even people they haven’t met before
- show respect in social situations
- make friends or more importantly can they be a friend
- be comfortable around people of different race or religion
- resolve relational conflict
- initiate looking after the disconnected, unloved, or isolated
- stand up for their own values in the face of opposition
- talk to people of all ages – young to old
and I am sure this is only a short list to start you thinking about what are the important socialisation skills you want for your children.
Our children won’t automatically gain these skills – they need to be modelled, taught, practiced and expected.
Model, Teach, Practice Social skills
It starts with you being a model – how do you treat your spouse? Your parents? Your friends? People you come in contact with – the butcher, the plumber, the person on the phone?
The first relationships our children have where they can apply social skills is their sibling relationships. Do you expect your children to treat each other with respect? To show manners towards each other? To resolve their conflicts on their own? These social behaviours won’t happen overnight – but they can gradually become a part of your family relationships.
Key social skills we have our children practice:
- Greet each other each morning, and say good night before they go to bed
- Make eye contact when they speak to each other
- No yelling throughout the house
- Listening to someone speak, even if they aren’t really interested
- Saying please and thankyou excuse me, bless you!
- Be quick to help each other (without being asked)
- Resolve niggles, before they get to conflicts
- If one has had an outing or activity the others ask questions about their day
- Recognise when a sibling is speaking or thinking, and interrupt with respect
- Recognise and respect each others boundaries and needs
- Recognise good in each other – give each other complements
So when people talk to you about the homeschool S-word stand tall and give them a well socialised response: be calm, gracious and informed. Tell them, yes, your children engage with people and are learning how to be social people.
*Furphy – after I wrote this blog post I realised “furphy” is an Australian word – explained here.
Another post on this issue of Socialisation: The Negative Effects of Socialisation in a Positive Environment
Also linking this post with iHomeschool Network S-word blog hop
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