Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homeschooling and socialization: a mom's story

Things I've discovered about homeschooling:
1. It's not for everybody. It takes patience, dedication, and patience, patience, and more patience.
2. Each family is unique. It also follows that each child is unique, even in one family. Whatever your reason is for considering or actually practicing homeschooling, it is probably a result of unique circumstances.
3. We homeschool because we believe God has led us to this decision. The decision to homeschool comes with a lot of faith, because you will probably question if this is indeed the best decision for your family and child. Having faith in God doesn't excuse your actions, it makes you more accountable to a higher power that you are doing what is best for you and your child.

On that note, yes, not many people will understand your decision to homeschool. In fact, you're lucky if anyone supports your decision at all.

What's important for our family is that my husband, my child, and I have all agreed to do this together and that we believe God supports our choice.

So let's get to the all-important concern most people, who have NOT tried out homeschooling, bring up as a major concern for homeschooling - SOCIALIZATION.

I cannot account for every homeschooling family out there. As I mentioned already, the decision to homeschool, and how it is practiced in each family, is pretty unique.

But let me just share what it's like for my family.

My husband is in the airline industry. Our decision to homeschool came from 3 major reasons:

1. We had a horrible experience in toddler school. Not only did Matt get physically hurt, he was changing into a person we didn't know. Yes, at 3 years old, your child can be influenced negatively by friends, in his case, bully friends, and by a lousy school that couldn't hold on to a decent teacher.

2. My husband was going to be away from home for a month. Which meant my son and I would be alone at home, just the two of us, for 30 days. Now, for anyone else, that might not be a problem. But, to me, I cannot and do not trust my patience to last that long with anyone for 30 days. I need my me-time. I need someone to take over at night, so I can be refreshed for the next day's responsibilities and chores.

And, yes, I have mood swings and a bad temper. It took a lot of time for me to control and become mature enough to handle homeschooling. Oh, and did I mention, homeschooling is just not for teaching your child, but learning a lot on your own, not just on academic matters, but personal growth as well.

3. Economics. We are not a rich family. And we could not afford all the crazy tuition fees of the international schools. But we could afford a world-class, read: US-based, curriculum for an affordable price, thanks to homeschooling.

Right now, we're in between homeschool curriculum providers. But that's part of the experience as well, you try out as much as you can and figure out what works.

So where does the problem of socialization come in?

Yes, my major concern, as someone who grew up in classrooms, and has 2 brothers, was was that my only child would be isolated and unfriendly, unsociable, and socially-awkward.

Anyone who knows my son Matt knows NONE of these words describe him.

He is friendly, sometimes too much, sociable, polite (when he remembers), and is super nice. He's the nicest kid I know (for that, I don't brag about our superior parenting skills; that's a gift from God alone).

He travels a lot. More than any 7-year-old kid I know. No, it's not because we're rich. But we are lucky enough for my husband AR to have a job that requires him to travel, and we're lucky enough to be able to tag along sometimes.

Then, the picture above, which was taken in Hong Kong Disneyland, was only possible because my in-laws are such crazy generous people. We had zero budget for this trip, and they paid for everything.

Matt is friendly and sociable, not just to kids his age, which would be the limit of his socialization in school, but to ALL people he meets. He's friends with staff at hotels, EVERYONE, from the cleaning ladies who clean the room to the doormen, to kids at the playground here at home, ANYONE, kids both older and younger than him, including their parents and yayas. He will talk to anyone. He's such a chatterbox, and will talk about Star Wars, cartoons, his travels, his toys, anything.

Yes, despite all that, I'm scared he doesn't speak Filipino at all. (Blame it on a Theresian mom and an Atenista dad). Yes, I'm scared how he's going to get used to a classroom later on, because we do plan on him going back to school in the latter part of grade school, so he can get into a traditional high school and a good college/university.

I am worried about a lot of things. Because I'm a mom and a homeschooling one at that.

So that's why it always comes down to faith.

It helps that most homeschooling programs are so grounded in Christian or Catholic backgrounds, thankfully because they were established, in the Philippines and worldwide, by pastors or ministers who wanted their kids homeschooled so that they can bring them along when they went on their missionary work.

I hate the fact that people talk down to me as if I don't know what I'm doing. I hate it that people always suggest I'm ruining my child. I have a brain and a heart. I'm a mom.

But, well, that's part of homeschooling too. You have to be in battle gear, and tend to be silent or defensive when it comes to defending your choice. You repeat to yourself that it was God who led you to this decision and you smile politely and affirm that their concerns are also your concerns. And you reassure them that your child will be integrating into the traditional classroom later on. (Sadly, homeschooling can only go so far. You do have to seriously consider traditional schooling in high school and college/university).

So, for now, this is where our family is. And I guess I just wanted to shout out to the universe that we are making the best choices for our family right now because of our faith, our financial situation, and what we think is best for our family.

As God guides us.


  1. This is a fascinating subject for me as I have the same concerns. NYC public schools aren't very good and I worry my kind and thoughtful baby will turn into a cursing, hitting, angry brat. I also worry about scheduling and being able to work while she goes to pre school for only 4 hours a day. Thank you for posting about this. I would love to know how you are tackling the socialization issues- to me that should be easy if you go to sunday school or have play dates right? My Lola is n only child and I noticed she tends to take charge in the playground- I'm thinking of putting her in a playgroup so she can learn to play with others- so far she just likes to tell them what to do- it's all she sees from me! :)

  2. Amen to everything you've said, Nina.