By Denny Mather
People always ask, "What about socialization in home school?" Ha! One reason Vincent hated public school was the other kids. You didn't hear me saying the F word at home. You didn't see us cheating at games, nor did we have class punishment. He wasn't getting beaten up on the playground.
(As an aside, we'd moved when Vincent was in third grade. The first day in the new school, one of the kids knocked Vincent down and was kicking him – alpha male…? Vincent managed to punch him hard enough to give him a black eye whereupon the kid started to cry. The fight was stopped and the miscreants brought to the office. I was called in by the principal who, while sympathetic, HAD to punish both boys because the school had a no-hit policy. Vincent gave up two recesses but the other kid was "sick" for two days and was never properly punished. The playground supervisor later told me that the mean kid was the son of a teacher and was a real bully. She, personally, was happy that Vincent had defended himself and hurt the brat in the process… And that was a school we really liked!)
Anyway, back to home school. The home schooling community in Sumtown was a decent size and had kids of all ages. People set up field trips, classes and sports. Vincent started taking karate. We joined 4H. When the weather was nice, we had playdates in the park, and once a month we had a "Mom's night out." Vincent and I also went to all the tourist attractions around town. It took awhile but we eventually made friends.
Age is not much of a factor when you home school. Vincent has friends that are a few years older and younger as well as the ones his age. There aren't the cliques you see on playgrounds due to the kids being together for years. New kids are welcomed instead of being outsiders. The classes offered by some mothers were based on ability, not age.
The barter system is alive and well in our small community. Some mothers charged for the classes they taught but most would trade for baby sitting or meals or other classes. I was lucky enough to have an English professor from the college teach a creative writing course, she accepted free range chickens and eggs as partial payment!
As is the case anywhere, it seems, there are the bullies. I wish now that I had let Vinnie loose on some of them. Instead I advocated peace. Maybe if Vince had punched a few of them he would have been left alone. (He did elbow one kid that was cheating at Frisbee. I I heard a few years later that he had broken the kids arm!! Good grief.)
My husband, Dale, and I have noticed over the years that most home schooled kids are more poised and polite than public schoolers. Recently Dale was in charge of a training course for young trappers. He pointed out three girls to his colleague Kirsten and said that he would bet that they were home schooled, due to their manners and the way they were communicating with the adults. Kirsten asked the girls where they went to school and, sure enough, their mother was teaching them.
I guess I kind of got off track for a bit! Socialization is NOT a problem but you do have to work at it.