I wanted to write about home educating and socialising, as I often get questions about how Violet socialises, and even concerns about her being quite lonely. Well, the reality is quite the opposite, so hopefully writing about it will reassure anyone considering home education that you are not on your own.
Home education like being self employed
I think of home education as being a bit like being self employed. You aren't part of a big organisation with lots of other people, you choose your own working hours, you work the way thats best for you, you choose what you want to do, you have to be self motivated and you know the harder you work then the more you achieve. Home educated children are similar in that we don't go to a big school, we choose how, when and what we learn, and we know the harder we work the more we learn and achieve. I have never heard anyone worry about being self employed and not socialising. They all find people to talk to, work with and still have a social life away from work.
How do we socialise???
We attend activities that other home educated children attend. Home educating is growing rapidly and the amount of social activities, groups and advice on offer is massive. You can be as big, or a small a part of this as you like. The bonus for us is we can go to places during term time whilst it is quiet, we can socialise as long as we want to without a bell going off to interrupt our conversations, and we can socialise in the real world.
Violets attends a teenage art group, she spends time with a friend painting (which she loves), she enjoys doing science experiments with her siblings and friends, trips to the library, swimming, museum visits, national parks, sporting activities, the list is endless. Home Educating isn't about sitting at a table for 6 hours a day and not seeing anyone else.
We socialise with everyone.
We get to socialise with many different age groups, Violet spends time with adults who teach and do activities with her, she spends time with children her own age and she spends time with smaller and older children. Some weeks there are so many activities going on it doesn't feel like I see her very much. She has mixtures of friends, some are older than her, some are younger, some that are home educated and some that go to school. Social situations happen everyday, and although Violet might sometimes lack confidence in talking to new people, she watches me talk to people and learns from me. Confidence comes with time, and she is learning and growing everyday.
Lots of time for socialising.
People think that you need to sit down and learn for 6 hours a day when home educating to keep up with the schools.
There was a calculation done on hours spent learning at school by a teacher. On an average 6 hour school day, you can deduct time for lunch time, play time, switching from one lesson to another, time taken getting ready for p.e and getting dressed again, assembles, packing away etc, we are left with 3 hours of curriculum learning done in a school day. Now over a school year deduct school holidays, inset days, a few sicks days, school trips, end term activities, the odd snow day/school closure etc, we are left with a
1 hour a day of actually learning the curriculum. As we are home educating we learn all year round. We take time for breaks and holidays but we can use everything as an opportunity for new learning. On average we try to spend around 2 hours a day on either online lessons or using workbooks, learning math's, science and english which then leaves lots of time for us to learn about whatever she is interested in.
We have lots of time to socialise and meet new people.
She won't get to deal with conflict
I think, thank goodness, that if someone is bullying her she shouldn't have to face them everyday. Let's be honest, if we worked at a place where people were nasty to us we would probably look for a new job. Why should a child have to deal with other children being nasty to them and just accept thats part of life, she is just a child after all.
But the reality is, she will still meet others that she doesn't quite gel with, but the bonus for her is she doesn't have to face them everyday. She will come home from a home ed meeting saying someone wasn't very nice but she will just ignore them and keep away knowing that everyone is different and we can't get on with everyone all of the time. That's life.
What i learnt from socialising at school.
I don't think its important to gain the socialisation skills from a school environment where you are sat for 6 hours a day with people exactly the same age. You can gain social skills anywhere. I had a positive school experience but here are some of the lessons i learnt from socialising at school:
* Not to ask questions in class, in case I got it wrong and was laughed at.
* Not to sit next to the 'uncool' people.
* People liked you if you looked the right way
* Being bad a sports meant you wouldn't get picked for a team and felt rejected.
* If I didn't understand something you would get low marks and be classed as stupid.
* Being different or unique was not cool.
* I learnt that defending someone or telling on someone would make me the target of bullying.
* To be cool i had to copy others even if I knew what they were doing was wrong.
I am not anti school and my son, who attends a school, has an amazing school class but unfortunately this was not the case for Violet. I want her to learn to treat people with respect and appreciate everyone's opinion, even if it doesn't quite match hers and to not judge a book by its cover. We wanted her to grow into her own person and find things that she enjoys.