From Our House to Yours
Why homeschool? Be socialized by family of multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!
Are all of your friends your exact same age, or even within a year or two of your age? I am 47 years old as I type this, and right now the ages of my closest friends range from 26 to 78 years old. Not one of my closest friends is my exact age or even within a year or two of my age. Moreover, my best friends are still my sisters and my mom, along with my husband. When we homeschool, our children are socialized by family of multiple ages. This is in contrast to the usual grouping of children by one age in public school.
Socialization in a Homeschool Setting
Socialization in a homeschool setting encourages interaction of multiple ages. Every age is considered worthy to exchange ideas with, to talk to, and to play with. No one is left out in the cold. In fact, age is something that rarely comes up. Siblings of all different ages consider each other friends. When ‘recess’ time rolls around, games are made to work for all different ages. During lunch, everyone talks freely, and shares all sorts of things without fear of judgment. During school, every person has something meaningful to share, and not everyone has to be learning the same thing. When grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins stop by, everyone stops to enjoy their company. People are not grouped solely according to their age in any other setting outside of public school. Socialization in a homeschool setting is much more like the ‘real world!’
The Impact of Socialization in a Homeschool Setting
Our children have only ever been homeschooled. As my husband often travels, my sons have had to help with many things. They answer the door and visit with the mailman as he delivers our packages. When the fireplace repairman needs tools, they find them and hand them to him as he needs them. If the propane truck stops to deliver gas, they introduce themselves to the driver and show him the path my husband prefers he takes to fill the tank. When the contractor is redoing one of our closets, they help him hold shelves and hand him tools as he asks for them. If our trees are being trimmed and sprayed, they head outdoors to help load the trailer with the trimmings. I share these specific stories because every one of these men have commented positively about our sons’ interaction with them. In fact, many have offered them jobs.
The Impact of Socialization of Homeschool Children Outside of the Home
Our children don’t really consider age when socializing outside of our home. When assigned random teams when playing dodgeball at Skyzone, they are happy to play with any age. Younger children are seen as assets, as they are quicker, but they are also seen as little ones to protect. Older children are seen as assets, as they can throw farther, and it’s okay to throw harder at them. When assigned random teams to play basketball at our fitness center, they are happy to play with any age. Older men are seen as assets because they are great at setting up plays, but they are also seen as prone to injury, so they don’t guard them as hard. Younger children are seen as fast and fun, but they are also seen as little ones to mentor. Everyone is someone to get to know, and age just doesn’t enter their mind.
Socialization of Homeschool Children Within the Family
Our children (who are currently 11, 15, and 19 years old) do consider one another best friends. They like to come up with games they can all do together. In our basement, they have 2 mini-basketball hoops. Countless games have been played with all sorts of different rules! They’ve found card games or board games that work for all ages. They have also made outdoor obstacle courses, nerf gun bases, basketball games, snow forts, and 3-wheeler races. Everyone can play because they make the games fit all ages. Whenever we have friends or family over, they blend in just fine. If two of them choose a movie to watch, the next time they choose a movie to watch all together. They each have their own hobbies, music playlists, books, and outdoor interests, but more often than not, they find ways to enjoy time together.
Socialization in Brick and Mortar Schools
When I used to teach in brick and mortar schools before I had children of my own, I had recess duty with multiple ages. I was always sad when children refused to play with students who were not their same age. However, I was even sadder when children who were siblings refused to play with one another. I also saw older siblings walking home with their classmates, with their younger sibling trail far behind. Their reasoning? The younger sibling was embarrassing to be around when they were with their same age friends. Of course not all students behave this way. Some children in school really do try to take care of their siblings, stand up for them, and hang out with them. Unfortunately it is just harder to do, as for most of the school day, they are separated from their siblings.
Worried About Socialization
One of the reasons families worry about homeschooling is often due to socialization. I find this ironic! It seems to me the opposite is true. Homeschooled children are not used to being separated into groups by age. When they see an elderly person, they talk to him, assuming he may have something interesting to share. Or if they see a young person at the park, they think it’s great because they have one more person to join their game. This way of thinking more naturally aligns itself with life in general. As long as we expect our homeschooled children to socialize with their siblings, their family, their neighbors, and other people they meet, they will be just fine. In fact, they will probably be better socialized when it’s all said and done, because they will be used to being around people of multiple ages, all the time.