This summer I learned what my kids don’t need from a school: socialization.
What I don’t provide my children at home (but schools can): marimbas, of every size, shape, or number.
I don’t lead a children’s choir (nor could I). I don’t have a drama club (though I probably could). And I don’t oversee two hundred children at a time (& I definitely wouldn’t want to).
So we registered our oldest daughter in a summer music school for a few weeks in July, instead.
She loved it.
She loved the class offerings: marimba, choir, backstage prep, and piano lessons.
Her gregarious nature loved to meet new people, watch kids her age mix with different ages, see how they think, and learn what they value.
She loves dancing and performing and singing at the final pep-rally-like party.
She had a grand time.
And I loved it too. These music school people knew what they were doing.
Since I’m unwilling to purchase, or even rent, a xylophone for my home, or teach my children to stay on pitch (I don’t even really know what that means), off to summer music school she goes.
It was an experience like nothing I would provide at home.
But what I didn’t sign up for, though I should have known that I would have signed up for, was the incredible drain it would be on my daughter.
- It wasn’t just because she had to be up early, by 7 am at the latest.
- It wasn’t just because she needed to have her chores completed before she left, or pack lunch (she kinda liked having cheese strings and pre-packaged food, though).
- It wasn’t because she needed to do her paper route after her full day of school.
I saw that she was drained because she was surrounded by people.
- people that demanded her attention,
- people that indirectly, or directly, suggested how she must be, act, dress, or talk.
She didn’t have time to process all the information rushing at her.
She didn’t have someone to process that with. She didn’t have a quiet moment to just think, to be lost in her thoughts (like she could be at home).
You might say these experiences are normal.
The school experience is normal.
In our culture, it is the norm.
Most people go to school. (I did it myself for twelve years, plus six years of post-secondary school.)
But normal=healthy, I’m not convinced.
Attachment theory, Gordon Neufeld’s attachment flavour, has cemented my belief that when kids hang around kids for long periods, they become dependent on their peers.
Dependent to ask them:
- what should I wear?
- how should I act?
- what should I do?
- what should I value?
And that’s not normal. Not human-history normal, anyway.
I’m not against my kids hanging out with other kids, of course.
They love their friends, love meeting new friends, and love to chitter-chatter with friends of all ages, from babies to seniors.
But when their little hearts look to other kids to determine whether something is a good thing to do, whether something they do is valuable, whether they themselves are a person of value, then, nope, I don’t support that kind of social structure (a social structure, by the way, that will never be repeated in their life again).
I believe that kids were meant to primarily look to their parents as guides, affirmers, and leaders in their developing lives.
The ideal place for kids is alongside their parents.
So I’ll keep my kids home and you can keep your marimbas at school.
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