I took my son in to get his ears checked after he had complained that he couldn't hear very well. After telling me that children don't mention when they can't hear, they just start turning the TV up louder and things like that, the doctor asked me what his teacher thought of the situation. I informed him that this child had mentioned it and he was homeschooled so I was his teacher. His response was why? I told him because I wanted to. After he asked why again I said because I thought the public schools were not a good learning environment. He said, "Well yes, but we encourage it so that your children will learn to socialize so that they will learn street smarts."
There were so many things wrong with that statement I don't know where to begin. First of all that he thought that it even mattered what his "we" think. He was meeting my child for the first time and yet he thought he knew enough about him to set his whole course of childhood. Next that he could admit that the schools were not good learning environments and just dismiss it out of hand. And then the whole socialization thing, which we all know is a very weak argument. Children learn to make friends based on age and popularity, which are not very worthy requirements as far as friendship is concerned. And far as street smarts, I can only assume he means things like how to deal with bullies, name calling, being picked last, how to defend oneself, get in someones face, make fun of people and the like. No thanks I'll take the other kind of socialization.
The problem is that most people have forgotten that there is another kind. Let me describe it to you. We go to co-op on Fridays, it is at a Bible Church which is on about 20 acres, so there is lots of room for the kids who are not in classes to play. Aubrey takes an art class and Kamron plays outside with other children that range in age from 2 to 13, a game of knights is going on. Kamron has brought along his wooden sword and sheild and is at the center of the battle. There is a big hill and a large rock and the kids are defending the rock and some take prisoners up to the rock. As the little ones go up an older boy leans down and takes their hands so they won't fall. The sword play gets more energetic and Kamron's wooden sword gets broken. He is obviously distressed. One of the older boys comes over and tells him that he has wood working equipment at home and will make him another sword and bring it next week-even though he was not involved in breaking it. The children break up into different groups some to play hacky sack and others to run races. The younger children who want to play hacky sack are given a try, the older children smile at their attempts but don't tell them to go away. Aubrey and another girl come out of the art class they help the teacher carry supplies and are busy talking with her. Brennen is running around me pretending to be a wolf and the other mothers all smile at him which only encourages his antics.
In this type of socialization there is acceptance and encouragement for everyone. The children only see each other for a couple hours once a week so the family bonds are still stronger then the friendship ones. Adults are always present to nip anything inappropriate in the bud and this keeps the activities pleasent. There is no age segregation in fact many of the kids play with the adults just as enthusiastically as the children. Many of the parents climb the big rock or go down the slide and seem to geniunely enjoy being with their children.
I'll take this kind of socialization over lessons in street smarts any day.