Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Back to Homeschool Week: Getting Out There

Today's question: how do you "get your kids out there?" As in community opportunities, volunteering, extra-curricular activities...

And today's answer is going to be short and sweet: I detest the idea of "out there." "Out there" seems to say that "in here" is surrounded by walls, locks, maybe even bars. The truth is, even if our kids don't play organized sports or go on a lot of field trips (they don't), they're not locked in either.

Please understand: I don't avoid getting the Squirrelings involved in anything that's useful, fun, and possible for us to get them to and home from. If you want my list of what different Squirrelings have been involved in, it would include (at one time or another) Pioneer clubs, other church activities, dance lessons, voice lessons, summer library events, a homeschool social/crafts/gym club, homeschool bowling. ..The Apprentice has also had job-shadowing experience at her dad's office.

I just don't like differentiating between "in here" and "out there." I know exactly what's meant by the question, and it's not meant to be controversial or guilt-inducing. We're just supposed to share ideas we've used for getting our young ones involved in the bigger world. The image is something like Wombles leaving the burrow for the day with their collecting bags, to bring back what they can find or (sometimes) to give something back instead.

However, I still have an issue with what that's all about--not the giving back or exploring, but reasons some people would like to see homeschoolers do as much wombling free (and away from home) as they can. A lot of it has to do with that dratted Socialization thing, which was trounced very nicely in something that went round a few years ago:

"What people refer to, as socialization is NOT an issue! I think it has become a word made up among the official home school naysayers. When someone asks you the question (”What about SOCIALIZATION?”), I begin by asking him or her, “What do you mean by socialization?” They will more than likely proceed with some variation on the following theme: “You know, having your kids spend time with other kids their age. Hanging out with their friends, stuff like that.” At that point I will no longer respond with the usual, “Oh Kelsey can get plenty of socialization while being home schooled! She can be in 4-H and Awanas, and Sunday school and Home School band and she can volunteer at the nursing homes etc.etc. In fact she has so many opportunities for socialization that she never had before that I would probably be “socially” busier than I am now. YaDa YaDa YaDa.” Why not? Because I did research on what socialization was and believe me that is not what socialization really is!"

To those who can manage a lot of clubs and activities--I often envy you, and I salute you and your minivans. To the rest of you--try not to sweat it too much. The right opportunities will come along (especially when the baby doesn't need to nap any more). Our Squirrelings may not have a long list of "socialization opportunities," but they're quite adequately sociable, thank you.


Randi said...

I knew this topic would be a "hot-button" question! I know that there a number of non-homeschoolers who will be reading posts this week, so I thought it would be good for them to see that we homeschoolers do engage in society on a regular basis. Homeschoolers are among the busiest people that I know!

I am glad you posted!

Mama Squirrel said...

Well, not to push the issue, but those are the same kind of words again: "engage in society." As if we somehow led a cloistered existence simply because our kids don't spend the majority of their day in a classroom--whoa, wait a minute, now who has the cloistered existence? See what I mean? I know I'm not the first person to bring this up, and again I don't mean it as a criticism of those who innocently ask the question--but I don't like being treated as though we're *not* part of society simply because we've chosen a different method of education.

ComfyDenim said...

Thank you!
I really enjoyed reading your essay. I am not someone who is able to manage clubs and the like to the BENEFIT of my house and family. You made my day.

Birdie said...

Well said, Mama Squirrel!

Dana said...

I agree. For me, it isn't so much about the activities but the relationships. We are involved in some things, but I would really like more opportunity for my children to really develop relationships rather than merely pursue interests.

Believers have a need for fellowship, and we don't have as much of that as I would like.

And I don't want to engage in society. I want to engage it. I don't want my children "socialized" because I want them to actively engage to change that make it better, not merely accept it.

But that is just me. Subversive Christians can be dangerous like that. : )

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