Socialization. The dreaded word that everybody seems to want to dwell on as soon as they learn you’ll be homeschooling your children. “How?” they wonder, “How will your child ever learn to function in society when they aren’t in public school?”
Of course, these well-meaning individuals become even more concerned when they learn you’ll be homeschooling on the road.
The funny thing is there’s really no reason for this concern at all. In fact, I had more true friends as a young homeschooled student than I did when I was in school, and as a family we’ve made more close friends on the road than ever before in our lives.
Socialization shouldn’t fit in a box
You see socialization doesn’t come in a box, and it isn’t meant to fit in a box. But still, our public school system continues to squish it down and force it to do so. The results are a perfectly cube-shaped experience we serve up to kids in schools under the guise of socialization.
Unfortunately, this “socialization” mystery meat is no more whole or real than McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and just like those nuggets, it’s bland and almost completely void of health benefits. Also like the nuggets, school-style socialization may work to satiate a child’s natural hunger for a while — and some kids may even enjoy it — but it will eventually have negative effects that outweigh the positive.
These negative effects will appear as the vast majority of children learn they don’t fit into the narrow definition of a “popular” person. They will become apparent as students long for deep connections, but can’t find time for them in their needlessly packed school schedules. Most of all, we will witness the negative effects of school “socialization” in young adults as they emerge from the classroom and fumble their way through real world interactions.
These are interactions that they rarely had the opportunity to experience as minors because they were too busy eating silently in lunchrooms where conversation was prohibited, fitting into cliques that don’t exist in the real world, and learning facts they’ll never use again. They are interactions that hardly ever happened before because these young adults spent 13 or 14 years of life only with people exactly the same age as themselves, and speaking to those people only when told they could do so.
No, the majority of the time school doesn’t offer authentic socialization. It offers an artificially flavored, processed, and packaged version of what is actually an amazing and life changing natural experience.
Real socialization happens when kids of all ages play together, giggling at their game of tag or building a super cool fort. It happens when a teenager helps a younger kid learn to swing or an older person meets a five-year-old and the two become thick as thieves in a matter of minutes, each one teaching the other something new. It happens on magical nights when dozens of nomadic people gather around a campfire to make music and laugh. These are all real experiences we’ve had and will continue to have on a regular basis during our travels.
Clearly, these are experiences that all children can have no matter how they are schooled. However, the experiences are rarely presented by the public school system and are much easier to seek out in the real world once a person shakes the huge time and energy commitment that is traditional school. At that point, these authentic social interactions begin to happen quite naturally.
You are not alone
Going into an RVing adventure can feel scary. It can feel like you’re in it alone, especially if you don’t meet anybody doing the same thing in those first few weeks.
However, you need to trust me when I say you are not alone. There are hundreds, even thousands of families living the RV dream and more hit the road every day. They are all out there waiting to meet you, and every single one we’ve come across has been beyond friendly and helpful.
Seek those families out! Go to rallies and attend other events. Join Fulltime Families and use the Facebook page and family finder to discover new friends. Doing this may take a little more effort than putting your kids in school, but the rewards that true, deep connectedness bring are beyond worth the bit of digging you’ll have to do.
All of this is to say, don’t worry. Your kids will meet others. They’ll find mentors and friends all over the country and with a bit if planning, you’ll run into those friends over and over, having incredibly valuable social experiences every time you do. Not only that, but you’ll probably find some new, like-minded friends for yourself, and these new friendships will lead to awesome new adventures and opportunities you can’t even begin to imagine.
All you have to do is trust that socialization will happen naturally and dive in!
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**This post is not intended to insult the life choices of anyone. My intention is merely to point out the fact that the famed “socialization” offered by schools in this day and age is not all it’s cracked up to be, and there are much better ways to ensure our children know how to interact with others.