A common perception of homeschooling is that it shelters children. That as homeschooling or unschooling parents we’re narrowing down their worldview, deliberately or not, to something that sits inside our own little walls. Socially isolated, these home-bound children fall further and further behind on the social development required to interact with people out in the world.
These children are, judging by the way they’re spoken about, actually suffering quite severely. Their chances of becoming functioning adults contributing to society have been all but dashed.
If you share this concern – and I think I hear it even more regularly now than when we first took our kids out of school years ago – know that you’re far from alone. But also know that it’s a myth.
I want to ask you a favour:
Stop picturing home educated kids spending their lives at home.
Stop picturing them inside the four walls of a house, day in and day out.
Instead, start picturing them at the library, a skate park, a swimming pool, an art gallery, a street market, at the beach, at the park, exploring a museum.
Picture them interacting with all the different people in all those different spaces – librarians, skaters, lifeguards, gallery curators, market stall owners, surfers, park rangers, museum staff…one on one, often, about things that specifically interest them at a pace they set.
Picture them in a karate dojo, a gymnastics hall, a dance class, a music or drama school. Picture the interactions they’re having in those spaces with kids passionate about the same stuff they are.
Picture the varied ages, backgrounds, cultures and worldviews of all those people they’re engaging with throughout the week, the natural environments in which that’s happening.
And now…now picture kids at school. Picture them inside those secure gates. Inside the same building and room as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. Picture them there from the start of the day to almost the end of it. Picture the set, mandated group of people the bulk of their social development happens among.
Home educated kids aren’t sheltered from the world – far, far from it – and today is the day we shed that myth.