Monday, February 18, 2013

Homeschool Mondays - Real Life Skills

When homeschooling moms talk about socialization, we almost always mean something to do with their peers. We organize playdates, sign them up for sports teams, and find dance classes. We work overtime to make sure that our children's out of school time looks like other kids' our of school time. While it's completely worth the effort to make sure they have friends and social experiences, it's really easy to completely overlook the valuable social lessons that traditionally educated students are getting during school hours.

I'm not talking about the nasty parts of the school social scene which we are all grateful to avoid. I mean the part where they get to be responsible for themselves and their own choices. One of the benefits that kids in school have over ours is that they learn to speak up for themselves. A child in school has to interact with teachers, the school librarian, coaches, the lunch ladies, etc. He has to speak to authority clearly and be able to articulate his wants and needs to adults who are not members of his own family. If he wants to play a sport, he puts his own name on the sign up sheet. If his homework isn’t turned in on time, he’s got to face the music by himself. If he doesn’t want the gross green beans for lunch, he has to say so himself.

Our kids don't get the chance to do these kinds of things very often. If you're a mom who likes to be in control of what's going on (like me!), it's almost alwayseasier and faster for me to just take charge and run with it. I used to be the person who reserved their library books, called coaches for practice times, and talked to the waitresses in restaurants. Most of the time, I even told the little ones what they were going to eat.

It took the snarky comment of a soccer coach who quipped that only my daughter needed her mommy in order to be able to have a conversation, to stop my over-helping in its tracks. It forced me to look around and see that my intervention in every area of their lives was actually hamstringing them. Now I'm singing a completely different tune.

Instead of being the girl always in charge, I let the kids step forward whenever it's appropriate and possible. I let the littles pick what they want to eat on the rare occasion we are at a sit-down restaurant, and tell it to the waitress themselves. It's hard for an active 6 year old boy to be polite and make himself clearly understood, but food has proven to be a good motivator. If they want to play sports, it is their responsibility to make the phone call to get more information. If there are try-outs or sign-ups, they have to put their own names on the list, make sure it's on the calendar, and find out what kind of equipment is necessary. When we go to the gas station, I hand one of them cash and send them inside to pay. Standing in line, handling money, and clearly stating what we need are all skills they will need as adults.

I have found that the more my children step out in the world and learn to talk to adults with respect and authority, the more confidence and assurance they gain in themselves. Our children need the opportunities to learn to interact in a grown-up world, and the confidence to move easily within it.


Abigail said...

Love this Rebecca!

Abigail said...

I also want to say, that I have trouble sometimes as the Mom of many "aged" kids. You know when you go around the dinner table cutting up everyone's meat, and then realize that you've cut up the meat on your husband's plate too?

It's like that with socialization. My 9 year old can make her own play dates and handle Swim Team on her own. While my 8 year old needs some quiet support during the overwhelming rush of 150 kids getting their lane assignments --and my 5 year old needs tons of help during Swim Team Meets.

So remembering that my kids don't all need me to "cut their meat" in socialization is hard when I'm going on automatic pilot sometimes.

Beth said...

I had M order her meal at Steak n Shake tonight ;)

Ashley said...

Nice post!.....but um, cash at a gas station??? So you are the one holding up the filling station line!! ;)

Lisa said...

My family stopped at McDonald's after church for Sunday lunch. I STILL remember the first time my father handed me the money and told me to order for the family.

Packrat said...

I can see where being "controlling" is almost necessary when there are several children involved. Otherwise, you could have total bedlam. (I remembering being irritated at my MIL for being that way, but now that I'm older I understand.)