In the world of homeschooling, there is a question that arises all too frequently and can bring with it a host of negative emotions. For new homeschool parents, it can be especially challenging. Of course, you probably already know what question I’m referring to. What about socialization?
Having been asked this question myself many times and often repeatedly by the same people in somewhat different ways each time, you would think I could answer it easily and with confidence. Unfortunately, that has not been my experience. It has always seemed to me that there is something about the question that implies wrongdoing on my part. Consequently, I have always felt that I needed to justify our homeschool and offer evidence of my kids’ socialization in order to answer the question. Perhaps if I just carried around a list of activities, it would be easier.
It is difficult to leave emotions aside when someone asks you about socialization. It really is an idiotic question and it can become increasingly annoying the more times it is asked. When my kids were young and I was new to homeschooling, I would purposely not go to certain places during public school hours because I did not want to get questioned. I don’t like to admit that, but it’s true. Fortunately, God has opened my eyes to another way.
So, how can you respond when someone asks you about socialization? Do you have to offer up a list of your kids’ activities to support your position? Do you need to be on the defense? How about responding out of love? That is sometimes hard to do, but that is exactly what we are called to do. In John 13:34, Jesus instructs “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
How do you respond out of love in this situation? Instead of assuming that the question is meant as a personal attack, assume ignorance. Perhaps the person asking about socialization doesn’t really know what goes on in public school or homeschooling. The person might not even know what socialization means. Instead of answering the question, ask questions: What do you consider socialization? What types of positive socialization do kids experience in public school? What types of negative socialization do they experience? Where do you meet your friends? Where do you socialize? I suspect that after the questioner has answered your questions, there may be an enlightenment. At this point, you could offer some examples of socialization in the homeschool world if you want to continue the conversation.
Most people probably do ask the question out of ignorance and it is helpful to remember that. You can get annoyed and offended. Or, you can respond out of love by assuming ignorance and questioning the questioner. The way you respond may just cause that person to reevaluate his or her opinion. Perhaps your response will change how that person interacts with another homeschool family in the future.