what does it mean to be socialised

My son is nearly 12 years old and is home educated or home schooled (depending on the continent). This statement gains several common responses but all are coupled almost universally one common objection – Socialization.

While I see this as an understandable reaction it is really quite tiresome to have to explain it again and again. So I thought I would write something on the subject, after all, I have had it a number of times.

But the kid can’t get proper socialisation!!

OK so firstly rather than even starting this – could you just interact a couple of sentences with my son – then decide if you need to have the discussion to satisfy your issues. If you follow this simple process most people comment on how he is very eloquent and able for his age. While this has always happened I usually responded with the pride of every parent. However the first time I really had someone check me, stop and clearly reinforce the comment about him interacting with maturity, was a teacher on a one day summer course. She had just had a lesson from him about the fact the universe was expanding and the distance between objects can be measured in the speed of light. He was 5 at the time.

How does the child socialise? If like me you went to school you went through years of knowing a numbr of people who were aged within about 6 months of you and you spent time with them year after year. Those older than you were scary and those younger were too stupid to spend time with, this meant you did not socialise outside the peers within your age grouping. These systems are great for helping the teacher, it gives them the ability to follow a syllabus that has been agreed by others and present to a group subject matter they are all in the right bracket to hopefully be able to follow.

I have now got that other blog post song in my head, we place the children in  little boxes and when the child is too bright or not bright enough they must conform or the child is at fault.

Contrast that with the home educated child. One thing I consistently hear when adults talk to my son is that he interacts with adults very well, he is comfortable with and socialising with adults and has the confidence to ask even when he thinks the question is probably a question others may think stupid. I could never do that as a child, I was brought up to let the adults do the talking and taught at school that the teachers in primary school did not have time for irrelevant questions.

But does he get enough socialisation? Well – I don’t know to be honest – how much is enough?

He does socialise with a range of kids at the youth group we run for ages 4-14. They all come from a few different schools and from what I have been told interact more and look after each other better at the evening club than they do in school. He has over the years done gymnastics, archery, canoeing, athletics (only a few sessions though), swimming – eventually joining a lap club and kung fu which he still attends after nearly 5 years. Recently he became a volunteer at the local Narberth museum where he is the youngest volunteer and has blogged on their site and woo-ed the judges in the museum of the year competition.

I would like to look back on the questions of him getting enough socialisation as he could have more, but I am sure a lot of kids would say that who go to school. Lets see how he turns out…..