There is often a perception by people that homeschooled youngsters are being cheated out of the socialization that is so vital to their development. We have already discussed the common view of what that socialization entails.

 

There is another way. By exposing our children to people other than their peer group, we help them to be more at ease in a variety of situations.  Since there is much to socializing our young, this post will focus on one aspect of that process, and later on we will explore other vehicles for socialization.

 

The primary vehicle for socializing the young is the family.   Therefore, we have always made it a point to spend time with other families.  That means that our children have been around not only their peers, but also the younger siblings, the parents and the grandparents and assorted relatives of their friends. In those settings, they experience a microcosm of society. They have been taught to speak with everybody and to help with the little ones and the elderly. Our family loves karaoke, and when we have a karaoke party, the kids of all ages are right in there singing with the adults. The same holds true for large dinner gatherings and picnics in the park. While the youngsters may cluster together for games or chatting, they are still part of the larger group and interact with everybody present.

 

Talent shows in conjunction with birthday or Christmas celebrations provide the perfect opportunity for those who are so inclined to perform for the others.  Even the youngest children can recite a poem or sing a song, and they gain self-confidence by doing so in a safe setting. The older kids or adults may put together an instrument ensemble, or one may accompany another in singing, or they may do a skit. When the children see the others participating, they naturally want to join in. They also learn how to be attentive to the efforts of others, giving the same courtesy that is given to them when they are “on stage.”

 

Before our daughter got married some friends offered to teach the family to dance. We gathered together on our deck, invited other families, and had a wonderful time learning the polka, waltz, tango and a variety of line-dances. Again, the children learned along with the adults and by the time the wedding came, we were all confident in our ability to dance with anyone and not feel awkward.

 

When families interact with other families, children are provided with natural and unselfconscious opportunities to practice a variety of social skills. The environment is safe and the families are supportive and united in the same goals for their children. If problematic situations arise, the parents are never too far away to intervene and provide guidance. Their example helps in the socialization of the young, and it helps to impart the skills necessary for getting along and respecting others.

 

 

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