This is the first question people always ask when they hear someone is homeschooling. But for my family, “socialization” was actually one of the biggest reasons we chose to homeschool.
I am mom to two amazing kids who are currently 12 and 14 years old. I have never given birth. I first met my children when they were 5 and 7 years old and was fortunate enough to adopt them a year later when they were 6 and 8. My kids early lives were traumatic and they never got a chance to form a close attachments to their parental figures.
Attachment is the word used in the mental health world, not socialization. Many people take attachment for granted, but it’s a very big deal, and when it’s missing it causes a lot of problems. Both of my sons started school before they learned how to trust other humans, or felt what it meant to be loved without condition. Not surprisingly, they struggled in school.
Academically they were fine. They’re both really smart kids. But socially, it was a nightmare. One of my sons did well in the classroom, when the teacher was there to keep everyone else in order, but recess was another story. He wanted to go outside and laugh and play with all the other kids, but he didn’t know how. For an entire year, my son had a panic attack on the playground every single day.
My other son build walls around himself. He didn’t trust anyone and lied enough to make sure nobody would trust him either. He held people at arms length and rejected others before they had a chance to reject him. When people tried to break down his walls, he just found new ways to push them away even harder.
Every time I got a phone call from a principle or a note sent home from a teacher I thought the same thing, I should homeschool. But I’m a single mom, with a full time job. Homeschool never seemed like a possibility. I worked with the system. My boys were put on behavior plans and given special accommodations at school. They worked with their school councilors, and saw other councilors and mental health professionals outside of school.
Things did improve, slowly, but the phone calls from the principle never stopped and the voice in the back of my head whispering homeschool never went away either. When 2020 happened, it felt like a huge gift to my family. My boys didn’t get endless hours of family time when they were babies, but they’re getting it now.
Just a few weeks into quarantine life, my son who feared recess above all else told me he never wanted to go back to school. He is without question, the happiest I’ve ever seen him. For years, this sweet boy has seemed incapable of smiling, and now he laughs and smiles almost every day.
And my other son, the juvenile delinquent in training, he’s learning how to trust other humans. Old habits die hard and he does still struggle with opening up to other people, but he’s been lying a lot less. He’s also been laughing and interacting with his brother and me a lot more.
My 12 and 14 year old boys have learned a lot in the past year. They have learned math, science, and history. But also they have learned what it feels like to be constantly surrounded by people who love them. They now, for the first time ever, don’t have to worry about how other people are going to treat them.
But what about socialization? Children need socialization. You’re right, they do. And sometimes, spending time with loving parents and siblings is socialization. At some point in the future, my kids will leave our cloistered house and reenter society. But they won’t be the weird homeschool kids. They’ll be self confident young men, finally able to trust other people.
A global pandemic is the thing that showed me it was possible to homeschool my kids, while simultaneously working full time. But socialization, or more specifically attachment, is the real reason why I am homeschooling my kids.