One of the things I panicked about when we started homeschooling was this one loaded word:
I'd heard that homeschooled kids didn't get enough of it, didn't know how to do it, were deprived of it, couldn't assimilate back into school because of a lack of it, and suffered in general because of not doing it properly. It sounded drastic, dreadful, dire.
Our first week of homeschool (with just my daughter at the time) saw me enrolling my girl in Scouts and searching frantically for a homeschool playgroup. I knew I wanted and needed to homeschool my daughter, but I couldn't figure out how we wouldn't be lonely. It was quite terrifying, this concept of isolation I had—my girl stuck in a friendless world with just me for company.
Well, we got lucky. We found a homeschool group in the second week. The kids (and parents too!) were lovely people—intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, amusing, independent, engaging, articulate, lively, unique people. How fantastic. (And kind of unexpected—weren't they all supposed to stare at the ground and mumble?)
At first we only met homeschoolers once every two weeks. I would ask people how they dealt with the S-word—and they'd say, "Truly, it's nothing. It's a non-issue. You'll see."
We began to see families at other times; we were invited to come see how they homeschooled, to have tea, to get to know each other better. They introduced us to other people who introduced us to more people. We were welcomed, with kindness and generosity.
When my son joined us, a term later, the embrace was just as warm. The first family of homeschoolers we ever met are now our great friends. The second family, great friends. Family after family, awesome kid after awesome kid—friends. How lucky we are! (And kind of blessed, which I've said before and won't stop saying until someone comes and hits me on the head with a thesaurus).
The kids are busy outside Homeschool Land as well. They see their old school friends, often. They have found the activities they love, and let go of things they don't.
My daughter does art class, because she adores art. My son plays in a band and jazz combo, because he loves music. The kids take tennis lessons, because the teacher is fun and friends come too. Once upon a time I would have said, "Here, look! Good, solid examples of Socialisation!” Now I think, “Wow. I love how my kids are having fun.”
(And you can be sure the kids aren't gazing about themselves with satisfaction and saying, "Oh Lookit! We're Socialising! How Grand!" To them, they are just playing, and being, and being true to themselves.)
How empowering. (And kind of eye-opening as well)
But I've noticed something else, something important:
Sometimes, we have become too busy.
Sometimes we feel full of seeing people, and actually want to stay home—hang out, just family, together.
We have rainchecked invitations, and not gone to some excursions or get togethers. We have sometimes chosen each other's company first, and not seen other people for days.
We love those days at home. We love having hours to finish a project. The kids are best friends and truly almost never argue. We have fun together. We delight in each other. We talk. Just us. It gives us serenity. Those days feel like a gift.
How extraordinary! (And kind of delightful, to find we like each other so much).
I have seen my children become social, empowered, independent people, outside of the schoolyard. I have seen them like themselves more and more, every day that passes. That is wonderful.
We Socialise without caring we're socialising. In fact, "Socialisation" is a complete non-issue, just as my friends told me it was, over a year ago.
I actually think "Socialisation" (or Lack Thereof—and all the stigmas and judgements attached) is the greatest fallacy about homeschool there is. If people use that word to argue against homeschool now, I think, “Ah, but you don't know what I know. You haven't seen what I've seen. How I wish you had.”
How satisfying it is, to figure this out. (And kind of lovely, to find we aren't lonely at all)