Saturday, September 19, 2009

Most important subject?

(The following post is being republished from almost 2 years ago. Sure, it's not the best prose, but it still holds true for me.)

When you mention you plan on homeschooling, the most common reaction is for people to express their concern that your child will not have any social outlet or friends. Why is that the very first reaction? What I'm hearing is NOT "she needs math skills" or "she'll lack in history" but is the most important subject in school recess? Bah! Others have said it better than I probably can, but I'll put my own spin on the socialization issue here.

Growing up, especially at Shannon's age, my closest friends came not from school, but from my neighborhood. My best friend across the street, and a girl further down the street both started attending private school in second grade. Sure, I got along with people in my class, invited plenty of them to my birthday parties and whatnot, but the day-to-day friendship came from the girl who did not go to school with me. By 4th grade, I had a "school best friend" and a "real best friend." My friend Audrey and I would spend more of class time giggling and passing notes, occasionally getting into trouble over it, and spending recesses inside instead of outside. Not that she was a bad influence, not that I was, but putting the two of us together encouraged the naughty in us. ;) At that time, my friend across the street was still the larger influence in my life.

It wasn't until 7th grade and I was bussed to and from school that my school friendships really began to have a larger influence on my life than my neighbor. By that point, I'd been in various drama groups (none school related), the occasional soccer team, tennis, and girl scouts. I'd spent many afternoons and evenings hanging around my stepdad's softball team, or with his teammates' children. And even then, I had more overall fun with ANY group that had kids both older and younger than I was. Sure, you gravitate to kids your own age, but to me, one of the biggest drawbacks of school is the lack of any interaction with kids outside the September to September age range that you fall into.

Being able to interact with kids your own age is limiting. Sure, you need the "pecking order" skill that seems to be the goal of throwing a bunch of kids into any social situation, but what I want to teach is how to interact with kids with DIFFERENT skills and maturity levels, not just the same. In life, that's the more useful skill, don't you think?

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