The Social Life of Unschoolers
When I first wrote The Social Life of Unschoolers blog post in early 2019 (on a piece of paper I found today as I’m clearing the final paper stuff before we leave), I was in between homeschool and unschool. Today we are transitioning or balancing between unschool and worldschool. Woohoo, because that was always the goal.
This life is so much fun, we are very happy to worldschool. Do my kids miss 'school'? No. Do they want to go back? No. Perhaps my youngest will never go into a mainstream school (unless he really wants to).
I'm putting together a bunch of writing on Futuristic Family Lifestyles. I'll update this list soon, so check back if you're interested in living life outside the box
Here is a blog on one of the most often asked questions about unconventional schooling - unschooling.
The Big Question: How do Unschoolers Socialise with Other Children?
In this blog, I’m using the word ‘homeschoolers’ loosely because we are probably closer to unschoolers than homeschoolers and the goal is to become worldschoolers !
But I want to share something that will make family educators chuckle and hopefully help traditional schoolers to expand their thoughts about this different method of education.
Quite often, the biggest question (and sometimes biggest criticism of homeschooling) is, “how will they socialise with other children?” and I’ve even had, “I’d be worried about my kids social skills”.
Once, I didn’t really know what to say. At school my eldest was never really Mr. Popularity and my second was a social butterfly - if she was in her comfort zone (familiar surroundings).
I had a little fear about it, but it wasn’t my major concern. I was focused on a life of freedom. I didn’t want the constraints of school terms (coincidentally the most expensive times of the year to travel), and so I used my third child’s home-birth in New Zealand as an excuse to step into the world of homeschooling.
Socialising for Unschoolers
Homeschool is not school. We discovered homeschool meet ups very quickly. And something strange (well I thought it was strange at the time anyway) happened. My shy, quiet, clingy child started to find it easier to make friends (not harder – wow). When we met up with others, there was often a different selection of kids each time. There were always a variety of ages with the older and younger siblings there.
After the first or second meet up, my son was no longer this human who didn’t want to leave my side. Instead, he would go out and play with other kids.
My daughter started homeschooling properly a year later. She was always really anxious in new environments (and still can be). It would always take ages for her to settle in. I remember the first meet up we took her to when she refused to get out of the car. But the second or third meet up she reluctantly came out the car and went from “I don’t want to go” to “I don’t want to go home”.
In my experience, homeschool has actually dramatically improved my children’s social skills. Instead of interacting with the same 30 kids day in day out all year long, we have new kids to interact with all the time. Even more so now we are on the road! There is no more tension at the beginning of each year, anxiety at its peak with having a new teacher and the worry about who might be in the class.
Today, my girl still has a bit of anxiety. She still takes a bit of time to relax into new places. But she finds it easier than being at school. She can sit with me and adapt for half an hour, maybe an hour. Eventually, she makes her new friends and things are ok.
Change is Important
I believe this teaches them that real life is filled with change, new friendships, people coming and going. And this is the reality of the world we live in today. Jobs are no longer the thing that keep people in the same place for their adult lives. People won’t be sharing their office with the same people for 20 or 30 years. Building people and relationship skills with a variety of people becomes far more important.
Being adaptable to change is important. I know my kids can make friends and their anxiety is lower than being forced into uncomfortable situations.
Traditional schoolers can relax. Our kids aren’t missing out on a social life. I truly believe their social skills far exceed what they would if they had been in school all this time.
I’m also extremely grateful my kids don’t have to deal with bullying or peer pressure (this one is interesting because I hear lots of validation of this in the world, along the lines of ‘it’s good for them’, or ‘it helps them become stronger’ – but I’d rather not go there with these kinds of people).
I get to watch my kids be kids. They act much younger than children in the school system because they are free to be who they choose to be. I don’t worry about them trying to act older than they want to because of their surroundings.
I don’t worry about my older child being at high school and looking up to or idolising the popular kids. I don’t worry about the influences of drinking, drugs, sex and parties. They have plenty of time for that later, somewhere amazing in the world, when they are older, and more prepared for that kind of life.
For now, that gives me an opportunity to relax. I’m the happiest mum out knowing the social life of my unschoolers is perfect for this century!
Are you thinking about Homeschooling or unschooling? Ask me questions in our World Travel Ambitions Facebook Group - Click here