My son Ammon just graduated from home school plus high school! It has been a joyous time for us, and a time for reflecting. He is my fourth and youngest son—I am all finished homeschooling my boys. That is a sobering feeling. As a mother, I hope with all my heart that I have done a good job, and given him the academic and social skills he needs to succeed in life!
Ammon took a couple of classes at the high school each semester, such as Pre-Calculus, Biology and Orchestra . The rest of the subjects he did in homeschool and earned high school credit for them. This was a joint project for him and I together, studying and discussing, working together for his high school diploma and college entrance. Ammon graduated with highest academic honors, plus was awarded the “Most Valuable Player” in his orchestra. He earned entrance into the university of his choice. It has been a happy culmination of 12 years of homeschooling!
As I sat in the graduation ceremony and scanned the program, I was amazed to notice that the “stars” of the show were all homeschoolers! The speakers, the Valedictorian, the recipients of the highest academic honors, the choir members, the band members—homeschoolers were shining in every area. These kids have been my children’s friends in support groups growing up, have come to our house for teen parties, have been part of our homeschool experience. What fine people they have become!
I read in the news that a new study has proven that the mother* in a family has enormous power to socialize the children. It’s not the school, it’s not the parents’ education or income level, it’s not the opportunities that child has for extra classes or summer camps that matters. It is the way the mother interacts with the children that makes a difference—a difference that lasts a lifetime. The results of the study show that mothers who point out to their children, from as young as 2 years old, the way other people are feeling in any circumstance helps that child to think of others, become more compassionate, more sensitive, and more “socialized”. A child who has been taught to say “you go first”, who has been taught to think about how his actions affect others, grows into a caring and compassionate adult. By age 12, children who have been trained by their mother to perceive the needs of others are already exemplifying adult levels of socialization! This confirms that experience that I have had in my homeschool. It seems by about the age of 12 years, homeschooled children are socially capable, able to handle themselves confidently around adults, able to befriend the lonely and watch out for the needs of other people.
When I was a girl on a family vacation, while driving through the forest I saw a billboard that had been put up by a Christian camp. The word “J-O-Y” appeared most visible, but as we drove closer, the message became clear: J for Jesus, O for others, Y for yourself. In that order. It made an impression on me. I realized that was the formula for joy! That stuck with me through the years and right into mothering. I had never been taught that directly, and it was like a revelation to me!
“Socialization” is usually the main concern others express when we tell them we are homeschooling. I know my mother still worries about it. I think as homeschooling moms, we innately understand that the socialization of our children really lies within us, and how we approach life, and how much the “J-O-Y” formula is a part of our daily living.
On Sunday at church, my 19 yr. old daughter and I were walking alongside an elderly lady with a cane when a teenage girl rushed hurriedly past. My daughter quietly remarked to me that if she herself had done that, even at age 3, she knows I would have pulled her out of the way and told her to think how frightening it must feel to the elderly lady to have someone rush by, threatening her stability. I am sure that teenage girl didn’t even have a clue. If your children are at school all day around children their own age, you have less time and opportunitity to teach them to think of how others feel. If you don’t talk to them about caring for others, the result is that they are less socialized.
Academics are one part of homeschooling, and we rejoice when that goes well. But socializing our children to be caring, sensitive and wonderful people is far more important. Thank goodness homeschooling gives us the time, and the mindset to do so.
Hurrah for homeschooling!
*Note: unfortunately the study could not research the effect of a father on the socialization of his children, because they could not find a sufficient number of fathers who spent enough time with their children to make a significant difference.