Sunday, March 4, 2012

Autobiography (Part 2): [Un]Socialized Homeschooler

     Socialization is always a touchy subject when it comes to us home educated types. When I was younger, one of the first questions out of adults mouths was "Oh... do you have [m]any friends?" Even now, I still have professors and coworkers ask how my family arranged for me to meet other people. The question is so loaded, it's hard to know where to begin. The query assumes that in order to be socialized a child needs to spend a minimum of eight hours with people specifically his or her own age. It discounts relationships with siblings, parents, and adults outside the home entirely.

     While I'm not a sociologist, I can tell you through my observation and personal experience that homeschooling better prepares a student for the post-high school world than public school does. Realistically, the workplace is going to require a person to be able to effectively communicate and build relationships with people beyond his or her age bracket. If you're planning at being a stay at home mother, this becomes even more vital. Whether you're dealing with an irate customer or a toddler a in full blown tantrum--which look remarkably similar in some cases--the skills are equally precious.

     Stepping off of my soapbox, I'll admit that I've always been one of the more timid set of the homeschooling tribe. This, unfortunately, also led to a rash of antagonists who mistook the signs of mildness as indications of weakness. I cannot count the number of groups I was involved with--often Christian--that I learned to dread because of one kid who set out to make my life miserable.

     I'm told these experiences build character. I suppose in a way these episodes did, but it was more in "bringing the dross to the top" to be skimmed away. I reacted badly many times, but slowly God did work in my heart to bring me around. I have learned to stay out of verbal sparring matches, at first through the broken pride at oft losing, and eventually through conviction of the Holy Spirit that my job is to build others up.

     A few strong friendships growing up served to lift me out of the other mire sufficiently to get out of grade school and  into Bible college without any serious mishap. All of those came through church and various other activities, no public school involved. Who knew highly educated teachers could sometimes be wrong? :)