The social life of kids

This post has been in my drafts folder for days now.  Its obviously feeling as sluggish as I am!

John Holt was widely considered to be the most influential expert on the positive benefits of homeschooling and his books are still regarded as the main turn-to texts for those considering home education; trust me, I had to wait an age to get my hands on ‘Teach Your Own’ through our library!  We returned it yesterday afternoon.  Reading it has helped me consider how to best answer the most frequently asked questions from those who query your plans, or think you’re just plain bonkers!  It’s also helped me firm up in my own mind that I’m not completely mad to be seriously considering it.

last week at school there have been some emotional ups and downs amongst more than one family,and concerning people I know and care about.  Thankfully we’re not involved at the sharp end, but it has made me question again how well schools are equipped to deal with problems  Problems of children who don’t fit neatly into insitutionalised boxes, educationally or socially, and for those who might suffer from bullying or being treated aggressively.  And yes, we’re talking about 6 and 7 year olds who attend a small chocolate-box rural village school of about 100 children.    So its curious that the first thing, always the first thing, that people say when I talk about taking Boy 1 out of school is ‘but what about the social side of school?  Surely he’d miss out?’.  Here’s what John Holt has to say about it. When put into context with the past week at school, it makes perfect sense:

If there were no other reason for wanting to keep kids out of school, the social life would be reason enough.  In all but a very few of the schools I have taught in, visited, or know anything about, the social life of the children is mean-spirited, competitive, exclusive, status-seeking, snobbish, full of talk about who went to whose birthday party, and who got what Christmas presents and who got how many valentines cards and who is talking to so and so and who is not.  Even in the first grade, classes soon divide up into leaders (energetic and – often deservedly – popular kids), their bands of followers, and other outsiders who are pointedly excluded from these groups.

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, John Holt & Pat Farenga

I’ve asked Boy 1 about this in a round about way, usually when he’s been moaning about going to school.  I’ve asked ‘but surely you’d miss your friends if you didn’t go to school?’.  Astonished, his reply was, ‘of course not.  I’d have play dates with them plus I have friends at drama club and Beavers anyway’.  True.  He’s sociable and so I am.  I don’t see it being an huge issue.  Interestingly, I met unexpectedly with his Headteacher and it was his first question, too, when  explained my concerns and possible intentions.  People really do worry about it but really, can socialisation only happen (or even really happen) when you’re in a room of 28 people the exact same age you are?  Surely mixing with a range of people and ages is of greater benefit to overall social confidence?

There are no guarantees that we will establish out Reggio School (this week’s forthcoming budget may even axe the freeschools initiative fullstop).   And even if we do there are no guarantees that we will open with a class for Boy 1 to attend, as he will be entering Yr4 by then.  Homeschooling may be a stop-gap or it may be a forever thing.  Its a major decision.  So my brain is working overtime on thinking about that and plugging away with the Reggio School project.   And being ill with a cold.  Again.

Amongst all the heavy duty thinking over this past week, these have made me smile:

archie's girls

monkey and gorilla
#1 Archie spotted ‘Archie’s Girls’, Fenwick dept. store
#2 My primate-loving little monkey hanging out on the kitchen floor with his gorilla cuddlies

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4 thoughts on “The social life of kids

  1. Amen to.that post girlfriend . School can.be wonderful place but it can also be a mean place. When i hopefully qualify as a teacher.I will be in a school that shares my beliefs.
    You have to do what’s right, its not as your going in.blindfolded whatever your final decision is i am sure it will workout for the best.

    • I know no decision is final but its such a fundamental one to make because if it doesn’t work for me or our financial situation changes, Archie might hate having to go back to school. Its so tough to know what to do. Maybe I am bonkers considering it, but at least I am doing my research as well as listening to my heart 😉 x

  2. I agree with bubsiekins…it’s not like you’re going into this lightly and I know you’ll do what is right for you and your family.

    I must admit, my 2nd thought when homeschooling is mentioned is “what about the social side of school?” but I’m coming from a background where I was never bullied, love, love loved school and missed being there with my friends on weekends/holidays so I can’t imagine childhood without it. I also went to Brownies, Guides etc so had different friends away from my school friends. I think there’s plenty of opportunity to socialise away from school….like Archie says, he’ll still have playdates and has Beavers etc. The only area I can see that might not be covered is when we grow up and have to get along with work collegues….times when you’re unable to choose who you are spending time with. Already at school I’ve had to explain to Thomas that sometimes you have to just ignore someone if they’re trying to wind you up whereas until he started school, if he didn’t get along with someone a playdate we just wouldn’t meet up with them again. I suppose you get a bit of that at Beavers etc but not to the extreme of being “stuck” in a class with them 6 hours a day. However….saying that….there’s plenty of time to learn that lesson by the time they all start work without forcing them into that situation when they’re 5-6. All I can think is if YOU don’t think that it would be a problem for Archie then that’s all that matters….you know him better than anyone and I think you’re looking at every aspect of homeschooling closely enough to work out that any benefits outweigh any negatives…and maybe the negatives other people see aren’t actually negatives at all!

    I say that’s my 2nd thought….because my 1st thought is “I would go mad” 😉 I am in awe of anyone who even considers homeschooling…the discipline required and we all know there’s no one who can wind you up as much as your own child. I can see how you could actually teach a child a much more rounded academic and life-based education than they get at school when you work with their interests and abilities….but yes, we’d end up at loggerheads….a lot 😉

    Andie x

    • Thanks Andie x And I’d always considered myself the same as you; loved school. But when I think about it, I did love primary school, and I liked learning at secondary school but behind it, in those anxious teen years I was a paranoid bag of nerves regarding the social side of things but I kept it incredibly well hidden. I’m not sure that prepared me for life. Possibly quite the opposite. Its hard to know what to do for the best! And yes, my kids drive me mad at times too, but mostly when I’m trying to get them out of the house in time for school!! x

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