Trivium Pursuit

Socialization and Shyness

Mrs. Bluedorn,

I had emailed Nathaniel regarding the topic of homeschooling and socialization. He suggested that I write to you. I have faced some ‘opposition’ to homeschooling from two close friends, as well as from my parents. Do you mind sharing a bit on this topic?

Of course, the main objection that my friends and family have to homeschooling is the infamous ‘socialization’ factor.

For instance, my friend and I had lunch on Monday. Our daughter (age 3) was with me. It wasn’t long before my friend asked, “When are you going to start her in preschool?” I told her that we weren’t going to put her in preschool. This opened the door for her to share unsolicited advice about how our daughter needed to be with children her own age, on a much more frequent basis than the play times we have now. I explained that we have three families who we get together with regularly for play. She insisted that outings 2-3 times a week were simply not enough.

“That child needs to be around other kids,” she insisted. She then pointed out that she was shy about speaking to the waiter who served us our lunch. I thought her shyness was quite normal for a three year old. She called her shyness ‘cowering’. I call it shy.

Frankly, in the crazy world in which we find ourselves I’m not concerned with the fact that our daughter is shy or hesitant around strangers.

She also insisted that it was insufficient that she spends most of her time with her family; myself, her father and her grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins. She insisted that a much more broad exposure to other children her age was crucial.

I just don’t understand where this idea came from. I keep asking myself, “What possible benefit could there be for a child spending 5-6 hours a day, surrounded by 20-30 other children of the same age? Who decided that it was ‘healthy’ for kids to be surrounded (inundated) by other kids for the majority of their day?”

How would you address this? I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks. A.J.

Children will pattern their behavior after whoever they are around the most. Most children today are institutionalized from a very young age — 2 or 3 in preschool — till age 22 when they graduate from college. For the most productive part of most every day, they are in the company of a group of children their own age, most times their exact age. Of course, most children who are institutionalized during those years will have many days where they socialize with others of differing ages and walks of life, but the majority of their life is spent with kids their own age. Is it any wonder that whatever bond which the child formed with Mother or Daddy in the first couple of years of his life begins to weaken, till at about age 8 or 9 it becomes so weak that it takes little pressure to break. In the meantime, a strong bond begins to form between the child and his peers, and even between child and school teacher.

I suppose that one of the reasons you chose to homeschool your child is that you would like that bond, which started to form the day she was born, to continue to grow and stay strong until the day she marries and her affections are transferred to someone else.

“Your daughter needs to be with children her own age.” You’ll hear this quite a bit over the next several years so it might be good to have some ammunition — some good hard facts — to counter this argument. My favorite answer to this is: “How do you know that? What proof do you have that this is true?” And they don’t have any proof. It’s just one of those pseudo-science factoids that has been perpetuated by the NEA perhaps. On the other hand, there is an abundance of studies to the contrary. Here is something I just read in the PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter (July-August 2005): “Few parents have heard about the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care, an ongoing $100 million survey of 1,100 children. It’s the largest and most rigorous examination of day care in history, taking into account family income and the quality of day care. Recent evidence from the study shows that the total number of hours a child is without a parent, from birth through preschool, matters. The more time in child care of any kind or quality, the more aggressive the child, according to results published in “Child Development.” Children in full-time day care were close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those cared for by their mothers at home” (excerpted Psychology today, Vol. 38, No. 3, p. 18).

That’s just one item. There’s lots more if you look.

It doesn’t sound like she has any evidence to back up her statements, but since she is your friend you might be hesitant to confront her on the matter. Perhaps she is feeling a bit guilty that you have decided to homeschool and she is taking the easy route. Or perhaps just a few words here and there on why you want to homeschool will get her to thinking outside her box.

Concerning shyness, I think I can speak to that subject with some experience. I had some of the shyest kids in the world. They would hide behind me when we met up with strangers or even people they knew. I’m sure our relatives thought we were ruining our children by homeschooling them. But today, I doubt anyone would call our children shy.

2 Responses to “Socialization and Shyness”

  1. Perla Sarmiento de Adams Says:

    Hello:

    Socialization! I am against socialization.

    That is the answer I give when friends ask me about the consequences of Homeschooling.

    Off course, I give them my reason of why I am complete against socialization, here a couple of them:

    1) To be socialized children need to adapted to the social environment, to get this point children need to learn how to survive in that environment, most of the time learning the behavior of the strongest ( physical strongest), but the strongest are not necessary the best models to follow. In opposition I want my son be Civilized, this mean acquire the custom and behavior of his ancestries, it is to learn how behave based in the experience of succeed not just is prove and mistake. The more close ancestries that any children have are they parents and grandparents. Be Civilized is opposite to be a barbarian.

    Until now, all my friend I had having this discussion agree with me that they also prefer their children be Civilized better than Socialized.

    2) There is nothing a three year old (or fifteen three years old together) can teach to my son, he is already an expert in being a three years old child, so what he needs is learn new things, and since in this early years the most important is the foundation of the moral principles, I prefer he get those from my and my husband and not from a kindergarten teacher.

    3) Children do not need be with other children, children like to be with other children, between need and like it is an important difference. Children like to be with other children because they like to play with, but, do the parents send the children to the school to play? I do not think so, no schools will accept that they student spend all day playing. A kindergarten teacher will feel offended if you say that children go to the preschool just to play! I do think children need to play, and maybe can be with other children sometimes; and there are always children around to play in the neighborhood, in the same family etc.

    Homeschooling a child mean dedication from the parents, I feel that more in the first years when we parents must to prepare our self, investigate and read. It is very sad but most of my friends do not want take the time to do it, maybe they love their children but they are not an important priority, to be close of homeschoolers shows this difference, and make them feel bad, then they invented arguments, excuses, give opinion without any fundament, all like a defense mechanism to not be doing what is suppose must be doing as parents.

    My son also is shy sometimes, he hides behind my abaya when he sees new pepople, but, Are not shy other children that assist to the preschools too? Are not all the three years old children shy sometimes? To say that a three years old child is shy because is being in homeschool it is just another desperate argument.

    Bye for now

  2. Christine Masloske Says:

    Socialization definitely *IS* a problem for my children!!! They can’t stop talking to people! Young, old, in-between, they seem to know EVERYONE!

    We’ve also noticed in our small-but-growing town that we know people from all over, not just limited to our neighborhood or school. We are not bound to “the box.” Since we are right at the border of Illinois & Wisconsin, it’s even crazier because the kids socialize with kids from both states. Not to mention the jillions of pen-pals my older daughter has, anywhere from Alaska to New York, down to Tennessee. She also gets letters from all over the nation from her magazine. The mail lady must be amazed that one child could possibly receive so much mail!

    So, you see, socialization *IS* a big problem for us…maybe I should take some of your ideas, Laurie, and velcro them to a wall or hide them in a closet somewhere to end this terrible problem!!!

    Love in Christ,
    Christine

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