One common concern people have with regards to homeschooling is about socialization. Most times, we tend to think of homeschooling as regular school, with tables and texts and set periods of time to do math. Except everything happens at home, and you don't have friends to play with, except maybe your rather annoying sibling who keeps taking your pencils to use, or messes up the beads on your abacus.
However, it has been the opposite: homeschooling has actually freed up our time so that we can meet up with others in various places, and our schedules have never been fuller! Homeschool is not a lonely, sad affair, and you don't need to be in a class of twenty other children to be able to find friends:
"Children need friends. Children do not need to be surrounded by the large groups of peers who inevitably follow the strongest personality in the crowd."
- Susan Wise Bauer, "The Well Trained Mind"
We have the freedom to arrange play dates, and meet on weekdays at varying locations. We visit the zoo with friends, and do not need to jostle with the weekend crowds to feed the goats. Home-schoolers usually rely on co-ops (groups that meet together for a common purpose), which are often run by the homeschooling parents themselves. The groups meet to learn various subjects, and span various age groups.
We've been part of a Chinese co-op for a couple of weeks, and it has been most heartwarming to see how the boys have started playing together with the rest. They get to learn a little Chinese through story-telling and songs, and then get to have a fruit party:
They each get to contribute a fruit and learn its Chinese name, and they sit around a table and serve themselves the food. It's wonderful to see them gathered and heartily eating (and sometimes fighting over the popular fruits), as a lit candle casts a warm glow on the plates of fruit. They then get playground or pool time.
I am so thankful for these times where the boys can get out and learn together with friends, where the group size makes for cozier gatherings. There is more time for interaction and play, simply because the group is smaller, and not much time is wasted trying to maintain order or give instructions. These meetings suit our boys better, since they tend to get intimidated at larger gatherings. I love seeing how they play together with their friends, and I must say they have learnt how to get along better with others through these group gatherings!