One of the first question unschoolers get, time and time again, is: what about socialisation?
Often when families start out unschooling or home educating we try to replicate what we know. We think of structure, classes, activities, play time and try to recreate that in a home type environment. It’s not a bad thing within itself, but it can make it a slow road to unschooling.
Having our minds set on how things should be makes it hard for us to see how they could be. We look in the wrong places and as a consequence we are unable to see and understand what would be best for our children.
I’d be lying if my doubts all too often crept in, especially when I was first starting out. I was constantly concerned whether my kids were getting the right amount of ‘exposure’ with other ‘similar aged’ kids. I was often looking for things to sign my kids up to, getting them to trial out stuff. Do stuff. Meet people. And so forth.
The truth is that it was all a bit of a failure. Not completely, but mostly. If I were to look back, I really wish I hadn’t tried so hard to seek these things out. As I was doing that, I failed to look properly at what my kids wanted or needed.
They didn’t need all the extra stuff. They didn’t want the forced and often awkward social meetups. The activities mostly felt like a waste of time and money.
Really, they just needed time together, as a family. Of course, they didn’t know they needed this. Just like as parents, we didn’t really know either. But in hindsight, this is what helped make us stronger. Make us understand each other better.
Over time we grew to understand each other better. You may think you know your kids, but really you don’t get to know them until you break down the rules and re-build them together. For us, this is when things started to get real good.
By looking at them as a whole and letting them guide us, we learned to better understand their needs. Sometimes their needs were to get out with other kids. However, most of the time it wasn’t.
It doesn’t mean we don’t socialise. We just do it on our terms and with a more open view.
As adults, we’re not expected to socialise every single day. Why has it become this expectation that kids should do so, and only with people the same age? Kinda bonkers if you think about it.