Today was our homeschool co-op’s annual picnic. Five hours. 100+ families. Digging in the sand, volleyball, organized games and relays, impromptu games of tag and duck duck goose. Hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and two tables groaning with various sides and desserts. And to top it all off a giant squirt gun battle that went on for about an hour and a half.
As I’ve said before, I don’t think socialization is a non-issue for homeschoolers. However, days like today are good examples of how silly the image is of poor little homeschoolers with their faces pressed against the window watching the school bus go by. And yes, some people do still have that image. I don’t think homeschool co-ops are necessary, but ours has been wonderful for the entire family.
One of the best things about homeschooling is the interactions between different ages. A teenager in the line for lunch found a salamander and showed it to his kindergartener brother and my kids. John and a group of boys roughly 7-12 easily welcomed David into their squirt gun battle along with some of his kindergartener friends. At the co-op the high-schoolers have their own classes and some separate activities. They eat lunch in a separate area where the younger kids aren’t allowed. However, it’s a fairly common sight to see a teenager walking his younger sister to preschool. Or a pick-up game of football involving kids from age 5 to 15. Or a sister who goes to her brother instead of her Mom to have her shoe fixed.
Some of this is because a lot of homeschoolers also have large families and the older kids are used to helping with their siblings. And certainly, non-homeschooled kids play with and take care of their siblings. However, I do think that homeschoolers are uniquely used to getting along with multi-ages. They think it’s normal to be with and play with kids who are older or younger. If a baby or toddler needs help it’s normal to help.
It’s not all rosy. Homeschooled kids are still kids. John’s two closest friends were leaving him out a little bit and I watched him figure that out. He kind of hung back for awhile and then found someone else to run around with before they all ended up together. A girl who has a little crush on David followed him around for a long time much to his distress. I had to talk to him about being polite to her. Some kids broke the no lemonade in squirt guns rule. (Yes, there really was a stated rule. And it really was broken.)
You can call it socialization. Or you can just call it life.