Any parent that has ever even expressed (out loud) a vague interest in the mere possibility of home schooling their child(ren) have inevitably heard the exclamation, "But what about socialization!" This is generally from some well-meaning friend or family member. But, they might be looking at you with an inexplicable fear in their eyes, like your child might become the next Unibomber or any other depraved lunatic you can think of, if they are not trained to "socialize" in the public school system, like most others are.
You know, I'm just going to say something that crosses my mind a lot, but I only say out loud to Chad. Here's the thing about me and Chad: we have thoughts and views that are not always the most common, or popular, especially in our tiny part of the world. We don't go to church, we love Obama, we support gay marriage. We don't do Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or any other made up holiday character. We don't follow ANY professional sports, even though Chad is in fact a man! And, we don't plan on sending Lu to school full time, and maybe not at all. But most importantly, we believe in taking our time to think things through before we make a decision, so we know it is what is best for our little family, not just what people expect us to do. We believe it is really important for everyone to be able to make their own decisions in life without feeling pressured to fit into that round hole that I detest so much.
With that being said, I also feel very strongly that the big old public school system is just not the best place for children to learn socialization. I read an article one time where a man talked about how he didn't feel that being in a room full of peers all day, who also do not yet know the best ways to "socialize", was going to be the best way to teach his children to become caring, responsible members of society. AGREED! Another phrase I have heard several times from homeschooling advocates is, "I socialize my dog, not my child!" Ummm...right on. I believe more in quality interactions than quantity. I believe that Lucy learning to interact with the world in positive and meaningful ways is way more important and effective than when she was in a busy classroom with other children her age who are just not developmentally ready to slow down and talk with her and wait for her to respond.
In the past week, like I said in my previous post, Lucy interacted with a group of grown-ups that she had just met. How often are four year olds shy, hiding behind their parents, and not saying a word? And many of those children probably go to preschool or day care, or some type of organized place where so-called socialization is said to take place. Well, then why isn't each and every child who attends public school an expert at socializing? Why don't they all step forward politely and introduce themselves to new people while shaking their hands and smiling? I will tell you why: because public school is not the be-all and end-all of socialization. It is not the only way that children can learn to socialize. In my personal opinion, not only is it not the only place, but I don't feel it is the best place.
Lucy has a small group of friends and a bigger group of loving cousins that she interacts with regularly, and by "regularly" I don't mean every day, and sometimes, especially in the winter, not even weekly, but I still think it is enough. She has initiated conversations on her Tobii with the librarians at the public library. She talks to her therapists, grandparents, and me and her dad all day, everyday. We go to story time at the library. When she decides to part with her own special purse money that is hers to spend, she pays for her own purchases. Oh, and SHE IS ONLY FOUR.
You know what, Lucy slept with us for awhile when she was a baby, just whenever she seemed to need to, and I never worried about it even though people would act like we were creating a problem. My view on it was always, "When Lucy is 20 she won't still be sleeping with us." I always feel confident that with time things will work themselves out and that we don't really need to get ourselves in a panic when something might be taking longer than is "expected". I didn't go to preschool. Many people my parents age didn't even go to (gasp) kindergarten! The compulsory school age in Pennsylvania is 8! Finland is consistently ranked one of the best countries in the world for their education system and they don't even begin formal education with their children until they are 7. They take one standardized test when the students are 16, and their scores are consistently among the highest in the world. So, not only does Finland not believe that they need to start formally educating their children from the womb, but they also obviously do not think that a lack of formal "socialization" is detrimental to them, specifically in the early years. My thoughts on our educational system could be another post on its own, and the point of this one is not to even address it other than to point out that other places in the world let children "be" longer, and do not act as if the world is ending if they are not enrolled in preschool when they are three.
My main point is that Lucy doesn't go to preschool, and isn't going back to preschool, and Chad and I feel like we really aren't that interested in sending her to school ever again... and she will be fine. We are pretty competent people and we will make sure that she learns to interact and socialize with others. There doesn't need to be a mad rush for it to happen immediately.
Look, here she is socializing in the comfort of our own home with her sweet cousin Ava! And we didn't have to go to school, get a cold, worry about pneumonia, and take two weeks to get better. I don't think it looks like she is suffering from her lack of preschool time, and I think she will be fine.