the holiday programme was OK, just in case you were worried…

One of the things people worry about homeschooling is whether the kids will be socialised… double whammy for me having – oh no an ONLY child.

Guess what.. they worry about kids socialisation skills at school too. I remember there were a couple of kids at school (I’m talking primary school here) who other teachers worried about because they didn’t play with other kids. I remember these kids as the best ones to walk around the school on duty with, really good conversation, really good skills with adults… like the adults they were going to grow up into and be for most of their lives. I know they went on to have friends at high school and their own niches – which certainly weren’t the run of the mill niches. The one I occasionally still see is still great with adults, er her peers…

Fear not though research has been done – it’s easy to find and says in a scholarly way that the kids will be fine if you homeschool…

But think about it, do you want a 5 year old teaching your 5 year old social skills? Or for that matter a teenager teaching your teenager social skills? Do you want a teacher teaching all the children blanket social skills -the one size fits all that time allows? Now if a class had a large range of ages in it there might be a big kid to pass on skills, unless of course they were that kid who’d learnt how to control the game by using “you’re not my friend anymore” “x said you said I was mean” etc. What about if there is a high needs kid in the class and the teacher doesn’t teach the other kids how to work round this, doesn’t teach them how to help that kid (who could be your kid)… Lets not forget that being a certain age doesn’t imply a uniformly of skills. I confess “Socialisation” is one of the things that makes me not want school for my kid!

I’ve been fortunate to have a varied career and I can’t say that all the adults I’ve worked with had good social skills and they all went to school (bar one who was er normal, within a normal range… what is normal?).

And what is the goal of socialisation? to be popular at school? that big group stuff? or is it actually having a few good friends?.. perhaps it’s working with people you don’t like? getting a thick shell? knowing if someone is a meanie? All stuff I for one would prefer Helena to learn when she’s older and more emotionally mature and stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable about society in general. Helena has friends now to fight with, to make up with (me perhaps).. friends to practice on and with, friends that she will have for years and she knows they are friends for years and there is safety in this.

“The Nurture Assumption offers just a few concrete pieces of advice, and this is one of them. Know who your kids spend their time around. Know their character and culture. While you may not be able to directly instill values in your kids — because your membership in the parent club will always make you persona non grata — you can certainly choose your kid’s neighborhood, their play buddies, and their school group (or homeschool group)…at least until they’re teenagers and begin socializing more independently.”  Judith Rich Harris

The Nurture assumption also says how little influence parents have on their kids – it’s all peers…. I am pleased I’m around to observe and help?

So we did a school holiday programme. Socialisation condensed version… I was “teaching” and Helena got to come. She wasn’t even momentarily nervous. She had good friends there on some days but mostly she just found another kid who was interested in the same thing. The mud party for example. Get 6 kids, 5 to 8 years old all in gumboots and add some mud. There was the joint stomping to make the puddle bigger, then the slightly varying projects to dam and direct the flow of mud. Those not interested in the flowing nature of the mud made a bridge and did random singing and bashing sticks stuff. There was negotiation..  of activity, space, and time. Helena knew one kids name before and one kids name after but loved it. She made a friend who’s name she learnt, weirdly or maybe not weirdly it turned out they had a good friend in common. He persisted in thinking Helena was a boy.. so often the details seem unimportant to friendship. I was able to ask Helena to look after sad kids – do quiet emphatic parallel play next to them. Helena participated in the ‘briefings’ – of course she wasn’t into the hand up thing for me only for visiting ‘teachers’… she learnt the lunch box rituals. She actually had very little to do with me – except  a couple of times when tired. I got told about the complicated games she played with kids who’s names she didn’t always remember, ages yes, names no.. mostly it was about a common goal, the game/fort/thing being made was the focus. Helena played by herself a bit but by choice. In the whole two week holiday programme there were very very few child relationship problems between anyone but siblings -only on the inside day! Coincidence… na. Very little “he said”,” she said” rubbish!

Helena totally fitted in, adapted her play, was independent and happy. It was interesting to me the children who were at a loss and required help to start something… I heard “is the activity over?” “where are the toys?” and “is it morning tea time”  (to which I would reply, “I dunno, are you hungry”. Helena has no problem finding her own play.

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