Bonjour friends! Happy Tuesday! In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.
I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.
Published April 28, 2015
YOU ASKED FOR IT, HERE IT IS: THE WORLDSCHOOLING AND SOCIALIZATION POST.
Disclaimer: This is our journey. We do not endorse this for everyone, nor do we presume it is the only way.
Ah, the socialization + worldschooling question. It is always the same. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!
Me: …oh, we live in Costa Rica.
Other person: So what do you do about school?
Me: One of our kids is in an international school and the other is worldschooled (aka homeschooled).
Other person: Really? Are you worried about socialization?
Me: For which child? (I don’t ever say this line, but I always think it)
At this point in our worldschooling journey, I don’t get upset when asked this question. Ask me in 10 years and I might be tired of it, but for now I see it as an opportunity to challenge what we have been conditioned to believe which is that socializing only happens within the four walls of a classroom. I call bullshit. I am not denying it now, nor will I ever deny that socializing takes place in a school setting. Yes, it absolutely does. What I am denying is that the school setting is the BEST and ONLY setting in which socialization can happen.
As parents, I don’t think any of us can dispute the fact that we want our children to socialize. Right? You and I both want our kids to find their tribe of friends. I want them to make lifelong connections with people they can always count on. I want them to laugh a lot, cry hard, and dance like mad with these friends. I want them to learn what makes a good friend and how to recognize when someone is not worthy of their friendship. I want them to understand how to give and take in a relationship and how to be there when a friend needs a shoulder to cry on. Socializing is key to our existence. And worldschooling and socialization are not mutually exclusive.
WE ALL WANT OUR KIDS TO SOCIALIZE. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS HOW WE PLAN TO ACCOMPLISH THIS.
When someone asks me if I am concerned about Avalon socializing, my answer is yes. Yes, we take socializing very seriously in our house. ONE of the many reasons we chose to homeschool was because of socialization. Unfortunately, some of our goals for socialization were not being fully met in a traditional setting. The distribution of our social goals was very heavy in certain areas and non-existent in others. We want our children to:
- Socialize outside of their genders
- Socialize outside of their religion
- Socialize outside of their race
- Socialize outside of their grade level
- Socialize with adults
- Socialize outside of their comfort zone
- Socialize outside of their first language
Not all at the same time, of course.
We were very fortunate at our International school in Boston to have all but three of the above met. As we travel, we’re able to allow our children to socialize outside their comfort zone, outside their grade level, and with adults. Our goal for them socially has always been to prepare them for the adult world, which consists of a melting pot of varying ages, genders, cultures, religions and languages. Worldschooling and socialization go hand in hand, in our eyes.
HOW DOES AVALON SOCIALIZE?
She socializes virtually with kids in her classes and friends back home in the states. She socializes with the girls in her dance troupe. She socializes with Largo and his friends. She socializes with us and our adult friends. She socializes with her teachers. She socializes with other travelers who are passing through our city. The girl definitely has a variety of socialization going on.
Do we feel that Avalon is getting enough socialization? Not yet. We are still a work in progress. We honestly don’t feel that any of us are getting enough socialization now on a regular basis with consistent friends. Life has been busy, the adjustment has been challenging and we are only now starting to get into a groove. As a family we have a lot of spontaneous socialization with other travelers. Unfortunately, these face to face relationships are short-lived and quickly develop to online friends because everyone is traveling. On the flip side we DO NOT feel Avalon is getting less of our desired social time than Largo is. Largo is in school all day, but he is in a forced socializing situation that occurs during recess and lunch only with kids within his school and grade barriers. I find that he gets more of the bulleted items above when he is out of school, hanging with us and socializing with local families.
HOW DOES AVALON FEEL ABOUT HER SOCIAL LIFE?
“I have plenty of socialization. I have my dance class friends, Largo, and my friends from home that I email and FaceTime with.” We have conversations about this often and I am mostly met with a “don’t be ridiculous mom” kind of look. She is happy, thriving, and has no complaints in this area. I would be the first to address it if I felt she was unhappy and lonely. Avalon loves her alone time to read and create. She also loves to be social, but she has stated that she likes that the two are separate from one another. I find this to be a very interesting perspective.
Some of the questions I have been asked regarding socializing are:
- Are you worried she will not understand pop culture?
No. Pop culture does not make the world go round. As she travels, she learns about pop culture in different countries, as well as when we visit the States. Learning about pop culture is unavoidable in today’s media-driven world, but if she never learned about it at all, we don’t believe her happiness or success would suffer.
- Homeschooled kids are freaks and not normal!
This is my favorite statement. First, “normal” is not our goal. And what is normal anyway? Second, were you educated in a traditional setting? Did you know freaks? Freaks are everywhere. Don’t even get me started on all the freaks in an office setting. Were they all homeschooled?
- Isn’t that too much time together as a family?
No. We are a team. Before we know it she will be off adventuring and we will be left with only memories. A family can never have too much time together. If we accomplish the goals that we are attempting, I would guess that we only have about five or six more years with Avalon before she’s completely independent. We will quietly be in the background encouraging her to fly. So no, we do not have too much time together.
- How will she ever cope in an office?
The skills she learns through travel and adapting to different cultures will only prepare her for the multitude of personalities, cultures, and religions in the work place. But we’re not educating our children for an office environment. We are educating them for a passion driven life and if that happens to be in an office then they’ll have the necessary skills to cope.
- What about prom, team sports, (fill in the blank)?
Prom is a long way off and who knows what path we will be on then. I had a great time at my prom. I would hate for her to miss that, but I don’t believe her life will be destroyed if she does not attend one. By the time she goes to high school there may be a virtual prom for homeschoolers. I’m joking. We are not concerned about team sports at all, unless of course one of the kids expressed an interest and then we would explore it. There are many ways to learn team building skills, sports is not the only way. Our focus has always been on individual sports that they can easily carry into adulthood and that we can do together as a family. We are not against team sports and their benefits, they are just not inline with our goals at this point.
Until recently, I had only seen statistics regarding performance for homeschooled children. The following article talks about the social aspect surrounding homeschooled kids. It’s an interesting read if you have a couple of minutes.
Larry Edward Shyers completed a thesis at the University of Florida called Comparison of Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students. This nearly 300 page thesis explored the self-esteem of eight to ten-year olds. He looked at 70 homeschooled children and 70 children in traditional schooling using the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale. He found no difference between the groups. He also looked at how children treated one another using the Children’s Assertive Behavior Scale. He found no difference between the groups. He also participated in an observation using Child Observation Checklist’s Direct Observation Form and found that homeschooled children had less problems than traditionally schooled peers. He went on to conclude that interaction with adults is more important in developing social skills than interaction with children. When you step back and think about it, his conclusion makes complete sense. Children best learn social skills from an adult who has fully developed social skills instead of a peer who is still learning how to get along with others. Children model behavior of those they are around the most.
I struggled with whether or not to include the above link because the only way to support the stats is to compare a traditional education to a homeschooled education and I don’t like the comparison game. I have always said that we all chose our different paths for a reason and we’re entitled to make those choices without criticism. However, I do wonder whether a parent sending their kid to a traditional school has ever been asked the following question. Do you worry about socializing for your child?
Do you homeschool or worldschool? How do you give your child social interaction with people outside the family, especially if you are a traveling family?