Saturday, October 12, 2013

Scaled Down Version of "Lord of the Flies"

I read something on Facebook about homeschooling and socialization this morning. It made me realize I have a fairly unique perspective regarding conventional school after having homeschooled a child until age 11, sent him to conventional school, and then homeschooled him again.

People are always worried about the 'socialization' of homeschooled (hs'd) kids. Even the parents of those kids worry about it... and any who tell you they don't are lying... unless their child has finished hs'ing and is out in the world, doing fine, which they invariably do... or unless they've had the life experience we've had.

Even my biological Dad, a fairly individual outside-the-box thinker, who has grandkids (not mine) in the system who have suffered, gets all caught up in the whole idea of raising children in an institution for the sake of 'socialization'. In fact, we just had a discussion about it a few weeks ago, and by the end of the discussion he realized that kids actually are better off at home if possible... particularly young kids who don't, by virtue of lack-of-life experience, have a well developed sense of self.

The statement I read was on a friend's page in response to something she posted about a family who had homeschooled their children. The children were passing college entry exams at age 12 and graduating college by age 18.

"It's kind of rough on kids socially to not let them grow in a peer group.

No it's not. What's rough on kids is being stuck in a peer group where they cannot truly be themselves for the risk of being ostracized (or worse).

My 11 year old went to school for the first time in grade 6. By the end of that year, he stopped playing outside. I'd send him outside and he'd come back in saying there was nothing to do.

He wasn't ostracized. He was lucky enough to be very well liked by everyone - he is actually a quirky yet very charismatic kid who has never had trouble being 'liked'. Still, he learned very quickly that recess was more for standing around, being bored and looking cool. There were other things too of course... stresses about not being 'normal' and fitting in that worried him. They worried him a lot, I thought. Enough to make me start worrying about him.

When he hs'd, he did not worry about those things at all. Other hs kids seem to thrive on differences. Eg. one boy we knew, age 12, painted his room pink and everyone just thought he did a great job. The fact that another boy occasionally wore his sister's old pink rain boots never fazed any of the other kids. My son also wore his sister's old pink rain boots. I could go on. Hs kids easily accept personal choices that are not the norm. In fact, they almost thrive on what makes them an individual who is different and unique. Conventional school kids do not.

The next year he chose to stay home again. It took him almost a year to figure out how to have fun outside again. Now, at 13, he goes outside and messes around for hours and is very happy, whether he's with someone else or by himself.

It took him until about 6 months ago to stop worrying about being 'normal'. I am happy to see him so comfortable with himself once again. I no longer worry about his worries of 'acceptance' because he no longer has any. It's a relief! Conventional school (and I'm not criticizing the school, it was awesome, had great teachers, etc.) is like a scaled-down version of "Lord of the Flies". Frightening really.

I wonder how this family affords all these tuitions. Also, how did they get the universities to allow the young children to be tested? I wouldn't be interested for my kids, I think that's too much pressure. (After starting the school year late, my boy tested higher, in provincial testing, than his class average in everything but math. We do only about an hour of sit down work a day, the rest of it is unschooling and free time. So I can see how a parent focused on a lot of sit down time could get their kids to advance fairly quickly. I like my kids to have a lot of free time just for the sake of personal discovery.) But I'd still be interested just for the sake of knowing.

Oh, and my 7 year old son is now wearing his sisters old pink rain boots occasionally too...  if he chooses to wear shoes at all... because sometimes things are actually pink in the Gray Zone.

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