Musings on how lucky we are to have homeschool friends
We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: “I would homeschool my kids, but I am worried they won’t get much socialization.”
I won’t bore you with all the reasons homeschoolers are socialized. You already know that. You are a homeschool parent. What I will do is share with you an “ah-ha” moment I had recently after hosting twenty-five homeschool kids at my house this summer.
Yep. I said 25!
It all began innocently enough. Both my boys have summer birthdays and in an effort to avoid organizing two parties back-to-back I suggested we do things a bit differently this year. On their birthday weekend, each of my sons chose an overnight trip for our family. On his birthday weekend, my oldest chose to visit the Orlando Science Center and stay at a hotel with a Disney breakfast. Alternatively, my youngest wanted an afternoon at ChuckECheese in Orlando and a hotel with a lazy river. Done!
I scheduled the birthday party in between and was instructed to invite all the kids from their co-op, all the kids from their gym class and all the kids from their homeschool play group. Wow. That’s a LOT of kids!
I did it. I invited forty kids and twenty-five kids were able to attend.
I only freaked a little when I realized how many homemade Minecraft gift bags I had just committed to making. Only just a little. In our household preparing for the party is half the fun so I had lots of help from the boys.
The day of the party was perfection. We had rented a dual lane waterslide, cooked all the food in advance, and made two Minecraft pinatas so everyone got a chance at bat. My job was simply to relax and participate in the fun.
I love homeschoolers.
If prior to homeschooling you have ever been to a large, group experience with kids, such as a field trip, dance, or class party, then you know that kids can can get rowdy. Sometimes they get defensive. Sometimes offensive. Sometimes they’re just plain insensitive or even down right mean.
So I must have been out of my mind to invite so many kids to my home, right? Wouldn’t toys get broken, carpet become soiled, feelings become hurt, and tears shed?
Nope. Not a one. In fact, these twenty-five homeschool kids were far from unruly. They took turns on the water slide, passed out plates of food to each other, and giggled and laughted with each other, never at each other.
Some of the kids were 3 years old. Some were 14. It didn’t matter. Age and hierarcy are irrelevant for most homeschool kids. I believe that most homeschool kids view ALL kids as equally important, regardless of age, and homeschool kids see EVERYONE as a potential playmate.
How rockin cool is that?
As the party wound down, without a single tear shed, was my home dirty? A little. Were any toys broken? Nope. Did anyone cry or tattle tale or bully another child? Not that I saw.
As I reflected at the days events that evening, I appreciated even more what homeschooling means to me. My kids aren’t unsocialized at all. They are surrounded by kids who understand the value of empathy, consideration, and cooperation because my kids’ friends aren’t trying to one-up each other in a forced competition to be best in class or gain popularity at school. As a community, I find that we tend to celebrate children as the unique, talented individuals they are, each with their own quirks and gifts, all without judgment or shame.
My boys make mistakes, as do I. Sometimes we hurt our friends’ feelings. Sometimes we say something insensitive. Yet, what I love about homeschooling is that there is a cadre of parents ready and willing to redirect those actions with empathy and love. As a homeschool parent, I can take the time to pull my boys aside and explain to them how their particular action might have been insensitive. You don’t get the luxury of time to do this in a school classroom all that often. As a homeschool parent, if another child is hurt or angry, I can kneel down and offer a hug or helping hand if that child doesn’t know how to express his or her anxiety – and I know that another homeschool parent across the way is going to do the same for my sons.
Wow. Now how’s that for a socialized society? Can you imagine what life might be like if the entire world lived this way?
So I salute all you unruly, unsocial homeschoolers! I can’t think of a more beautiful community to raise my kiddos within.
PS: Speaking of cooperative play and socialization, check out this awesome cooperative game introduced to me by Gainesville homeschool mom, Jessica A.: Community