While I am not worried about the “socialization” myth about homeschooling, my husband has expressed concerns about making sure that our boys make friends so they don’t grow up with the social awkwardness that we both have. Sending them to school isn’t a solution in my mind and I could go into a long winded rant about the lack of socialization in public schools but that is a topic for another day.
I don’t believe that you can fix shyness or introversion with forced socialization. However, I do want to give my sons the opportunity to interact with other kids and make friends, on their terms. My husband and I agree with wanting them to be involved in activities where they spend time with other kids but this is very difficult to accomplish when you don’t have access to a vehicle most of the time and thus miss out on all of the homeschool co-ops, field trips and playdates opportunities.
I am not a comfortable host so just inviting people to my home isn’t usually my idea of fun but I do try to plan the occasional playdate at a park that we can walk to. Given that there are much nicer park choices in town, very few people, if any, ever show up. While the kids may find someone to play with for an hour, it doesn’t seem to evolve beyond that and that’s ok.
We take the kids out on weekends to story time, building workshops, Lego community builds and swim lessons. At a lot of these events there is little opportunity for interaction amongst the kids; they arrive, listen to the story/complete the activity/take the class and leave. So we try to take them to the Children’s Museum and playgrounds, it may not be as often as I would like but at least they have absolutely no problem playing with whoever is friendly when they do go.
Shammy is now enrolled in an “afterschool” robotics class because we didn’t have access to a car to attend the “homeschool” session. He is loving the class, but again, so far he hasn’t had the opportunity to really interact with the other kids. The course description talks about building team work skills so I would imagine that will change soon. This class has a mixture of public school and homeschooled kids and from my observations so far the publicly educated kids are really lacking in the social skills department, more than I would have expected.
We are looking at enrolling him in Martial Arts when we come back from vacation and I expect that it’ll be the same as his swim class, he’ll be in the same place with kids his age but not have much opportunity to socialize as everybody just leaves as soon as the class is over.
If I were to plan a birthday party the guest list would be very short as their friends are the kids of my friends who have many other friends and aren’t close to my kids. But I am not worried, they are young and at this age they are getting a lot more social interaction than I did when I was 5 even though I attended a private school and had the forced socialization. While they may be shy to approach a strange kid, they warm up quickly if the other child takes the initiative. I was a LOT more socially awkward at their age.
My goal is to expose them to a wide of a variety of people of different ages as backgrounds as possible while being mostly homebound. I am doing the best that I can and feel optimistic that over the years they will grow to develop friendships without me having to force the process.