Monday, September 25, 2017

My Rebuttal to PopSugar's "What Homeschooling Gets Wrong About Socialization"

As luck would have it, I recently received a notification from PopSugar Moms. Most of the time, I close them out because I'm busy working or the topic doesn't interest me. This time, however, the notification caught my attention. The article was "How Homeschooling Doesn't Help With Socialization."

"Oh, LAWWWD, what is it now? Which socially awkward kid (who happened to be homeschooled) are they going to complain about?" I thought immediately. *Note that this does not mean that I've seen PopSugar complain about homeschoolers in the past or anything; I just mean I've seen that happen in the other areas on the web.* As a homeschooling mom, you can imagine how I was interested in reading this.

Interestingly, the article was from a former teacher's POV. I find that interesting because teachers in public and private schools don't see the vast majority of homeschoolers...and yet, this one felt qualified to generalize them. You see, teachers don't get to see the homeschoolers for whom homeschooling is working; they only see the failures or "homeschooling dropouts," so to speak. Alas, this person felt qualified to comment on homeschoolers all over. *shrug*

As with any media-drawing topic, this one started out gently offering up statistics (that I have no idea are even true, but let's assume that they are true). And then comes the dagger.

This time, the dagger started by saying homeschooling parents do a great job raising well-rounded kids with "museum trips, volunteer efforts, opportunities to work with local businesses, and playdates with other homeschooled kids." However, the former teacher contends, this is not socialization.

It's not? How is it not socialization? 
The article continues: "Socialization requires that children consistently work with people they're not used to working with. It's about discussing things with people who have a different opinion and challenging preconceived notions."

I wonder why she feels homeschooled children don't get these opportunities when they visit museums and the like...especially when they do so in groups (which is the norm, BTW. It's actually more rare to be a lone homeschooler out on a museum trip with just your own family members.).

According to her, socialization is "...about having to do a group project with people who don't necessarily work the same way as you do, to collaborate on ideas and grow as a thinker." What makes you think homeschoolers don't ever venture outside their families to collaborate on group projects? My twins, for instance, collaborate with different peers every 2-3 weeks in their Chemistry class at our homeschooling co-op. (We go every week, but they change lab partners every 2-3 weeks.) My other two teens have to collaborate with others in their Drama class at co-op. And, in their Fitness, SAT Prep, Music Theory, and Drawing classes, they must learn to collab with others they do not see on a daily basis.

Now, the teacher in this article says true socialization needs to be with kids my kids DO see on a daily basis. I feel the need to point that out before I am accused of not reading the article closely. Nonetheless, to say that children must have this collaboration in order to be properly socialized is just wrong.

It's also wrong to assume that homeschooled children don't get the same type of collaboration opportunities as their public school counterparts. Bullying and other mean things going on are not a part of the equation, of course, and perhaps those are what homeschoolers are really getting "wrong" in our socialization efforts? If so, then I'll continue to be wrong. Dead wrong. Happily.

I don't understand why this teacher (and others) do not support homeschooling. I mean, we make it glaringly obvious that it's not necessary to become certified in order to teach children -- whether that's one's own children or children in co-op settings. But otherwise, aren't we all in this together? Are we not all persevering what we do on a daily basis for the benefit of society and in raising the next generation? Can't we at find some common ground? Why must we throw daggers at each other (because truthfully, it cuts both ways--plenty of homeschoolers have bashed teachers, too...let's just be honest).

Alas, to this teacher I would have to say you are wrong in your premises, and your premises have too much ambiguity (remember you're only seeing a small segment of homeschoolers) to be taken seriously anyway. Furthermore, your premises do not support your conclusion that homeschooled children are not properly socialized.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Post Where I Talk About Gentle Parenting....Again. :)

So, as it happens about once every 3-4 years, I found myself in a "debate" again over gentle parenting. I say this happens every 3-4 years because I've learned NOT to engage in things like that on FB. But, I let myself open my mouth this time and as usual there were the "So if your 2 y/o hits you're supposed to go give him a cookie??" responses. *eyeroll* No, that's not what gentle parenting is about.

Nonetheless, here's my response to those people. (Figured I'd just copy/paste and save my fingers some energy!)

Oh, and "HALT" mentioned below means "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired." It's an acromyn for figuring out why your child is doing what he's doing. It's simply ONE tool (of many, many, many tools) for gentle parenting.

Hi there Liz! So, a lot of what's been said since I mentioned HALT has been negative and assuming certain things. Let me clarify. HALT simply means getting to the CORE of the problem instead of just addressing the action.
Of course you address the actiton (hitting), but get to the bottom line that made him hit in the first place. If he hit "just because," I'd find that hard to believe (and I have 5 children). Generally, children hit for a reason (not counting infants who hit because they've discovered that they have arms and can flail them...).
As for "You hit, so now let's go have fun" and the other comments related - no, that's not how it works. People who feel bad *act bad* and make poor choices. The idea of a Comfort Corner/Positive Time Out has nothing to do with "rewarding" children (though it's commonly misconstrued as exactly that). Rather, it's about redirecting feelings and emotions children are experiencing. If a child is grumpy and acting poorly, let's say, we'd bring him or direct him to a comfort corner where he'd find toys, books, headphones, whatever makes him feel good again. Once the child has calmed down, we'd talk about what made him feel that way, etc.
Of course in the case of a 2-year-old, there is not really "talking it out" but redirection and HALT are the biggest factors that go into dealing with 2 y/o's in the first place. And, 2 is different from 3, which is still different from 4. I recommend reading Alfie Kohn's books titled "Your X Year Old" (example "Your Three Year Old," "Your Four Year Old," etc.)
And, for the "sinful nature" comment - We are all born with a sinful nature, yes. However, gently parenting children means assigning positive intent as well. In other words, we don't assume the worst in our children. Sure, you're thinking, "So my child hit his sister because he loves her, right, is that what you're trying to tell me?" No, that's not what I'm saying... but if he hit her, chances are he's upset and having big feelings inside that he doesn't understand. First, think HALT and address the bottom line.
Next, assign positive intent and assume that he doesn't REALLY want to hurt his sister but would instead just like the toy she has. I'd explain that he can have the toy when she's done but hitting is not the way to go about telling her. He needs to use his words to ask (I'm thinking of a 2 y/o here) and then they will share. We do NOT turn around and smack him back for hitting her!! We address the bottom line issues (plural...) at hand.