Socialization and Homeschooling

When you tell people you’re homeschooling, you get so much shit about socialization. And to some extent I get it. Some people homeschool because they want to isolate their kids from negativity or from un-Christian influences or whatever liberal evils they perceive in our society. They want to make their kids’ world smaller. And I’d think people who know me at all would know that’s not my intent. I want to make Soren’s world bigger. The world is our classroom and we’re free to do things you can’t do within the confines of a traditional school.

When I try to explore this concern with people who voice it, what comes out is about something more than just basic social skills. They think it’s important for kids to have to deal with people and situations they don’t like, which is not as likely to happen in a homeschool setting. They think it’s important for kids to have to deal with people and situations they don’t like so they can grow up to deal with people and situations they don’t like. My addition to this is: It’s important for kids to have to deal with people and situations they don’t like so they can grow up to deal with people and situations they don’t like when they’re a cog in the machine of a job where there’s nothing but people and situations they don’t like.

And look, I’m just going to call bullshit on that right now. Of course I don’t want my kid to turn into someone who runs around parties like a feral cat swishing its puffed-up tail in fear and confusion because he doesn’t know how to interact with other humans. But I strongly disagree with the idea that it’s my job to raise him to be a cog in a machine. I mean, if that’s what he wants, I hope to give him the skills and education he needs to make that happen. But I think, as someone who has the amazing privilege to opt out of traditional employment and homeschool my kid, I have a duty to aim higher.

Although I think socialization is important, my main question about homeschooling isn’t about socialization — it’s about how much of the huge world and how many possibilities we can explore as we try to find out what else is possible in life.


What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

When I decided to homeschool, the first thing I did was try to figure out how I’m going to homeschool and what type of homeschooler I’m going to be.

The approaches to homeschooling you often hear about are classical, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, and unschooling. Then there’s an eclectic approach, which takes bits and pieces of different approaches to formulate something that works for your family. I’ll talk about these soon.

For now, here’s a quiz, which, if you’re interested, will let you know where you stand on these philosophies, which might be cool to do before you know much about them, assuming you’re not a seasoned homeschooler already: What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

My Results:

Score for Waldorf Education: 1
Score for Traditional Education: -17
Score for Unit Studies Education: 14
Score for Montessori Education: 21
Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 12
Score for Unschooling: 16
Score for Classical Education: 21
Score for Charlotte Mason Education: 18

I’m glad I took this quiz because, oddly, I’ve always been interested in Montessori but never thought about incorporating it into our homeschool. I’d been planning to do an eclectic (and secular!) mix of classical and Charlotte Mason, with some unschooling thrown in (as much as you can throw unschooling into a mix of such non-unschooly things), but now I’m going to learn more about Montessori and add that, as well. Formulating your homeschooling approach is like making a quilt — take a piece of this and a slice of that and wait no, move this one over here and add that and okay cool, this is starting to look like a big picture that makes sense!

Of course I’m going into homeschooling because I think it’s the right thing for Soren, but from a purely selfish perspective, I am SO excited about this. After being at the same job doing the same thing for 10 years, it’s freaking awesome to be learning something new and taking my life in a totally different direction, one I never expected to even consider.

And this doesn’t really fit in a discussion of homeschooling approaches (or maybe it does, because an eclectic approach can and should incorporate stuff like this) but I’m so stoked I have to mention it. Last night I remembered that I’ve been wanting to see In Bloom at the Denver Art Museum. There’s a book — Working Among Flowers: Floral Still-Life Painting in Nineteenth-Century France (available from the DAM store or Amazon or wherever) — that goes with the exhibition. I realized that I can get the book and Soren and I can look at it and I can read parts of it to him before we visit the museum. Then we can go to the museum to look at and discuss the paintings, then come home and do our own floral still-life paintings. That can be a school day for us. And I seriously cannot imagine anything being more awesome than that!


The books are here!!

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I wasn’t expecting them until Friday, but our profile books arrived today!

Seeing them in person is kind of . . . intense. I’m doing what I do and second guessing this and that. Is it okay that they’re smaller than the profile books we’ve seen? Are they too simple, design-wise (We strictly obey the “only two fonts and one of them is Helvetica” rule.)? Not cutesy enough? Are the plus signs with our names terrible? I wasn’t trying to be plus-signy but I didn’t like the look of a serial comma, which I use religiously (seemed too stuffy), or an ampersand of course without a serial comma (seemed inconsistent) on the cover. Should I have upgraded to even fancier paper? Are the books too this or too that? Wait, are my eyes too squinty in that picture?! Every decision had the potential to take forever to make, so eventually you just have to trust your gut.

And anyway the real question is: Do these books show what it’s like to be a part of our family? And I think they do. I mean, there are two pages of animals. I have to trust that we can release these into the wild and eventually a woman (and I hope a man, too, because we’d love it if the birthfather is involved and we can get to know him) will look at a copy and think yes, this is the family I want for my baby. And that’ll be the coolest thing to ever happen.

After I drop these off at our agency next week, we’ll officially begin patiently waiting for a match!

And now that I’m done with the book I can get back into the homeschool preparation zone! Soren and I are stoked about that!


Living Room

Here’s a picture of our living room!

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I hope that looks somewhat inviting, although I should’ve removed the two scratching posts nobody uses (one cat scratches this sofa despite the fact it’s almost completely surrounded by tables, baskets, and scratching posts, and the other three cats have completely destroyed a couch in the basement) and the pinwheel out before taking this photo.

This is but one of many, many, many photos for our adoption profile book, which I’ve been seriously working on for the past couple weeks. It has been hard and has taken almost every ounce of creative energy I have. There are three more photos I want to take and add and then we’ll do another round of proofreading and checking everything and it’ll be done! Maybe later today!!!!

After the book is done and in the hands of our agency, we’re ready to begin waiting for a match. It’s a weird thing to say, but I’m so excited to start waiting. I mean, I don’t love waiting, but we’ll be waiting to find out who our new family member will be, and that’s going to be pretty freaking awesome.


The Last Carnival

Every summer Soren’s school puts on a little carnival, where everybody can hang out, do fun stuff, and meet some of the families and teachers. He’s been at this school for 3 years, and this was our last carnival now that he graduated and is moving on. Moving on is exciting but also a little sad, another bittersweet thing about watching your kid grow up.

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