Bringing meals to families at Christmas
Volunteering at FLL State
Robotics season is about to begin so my nights waiting in tea/coffee shops begin. The twins have their permits but have another 8 months until they can get their drivers license so I am still their chauffeur. Due to the time spent drinking tea and waiting in coffee/tea shops, blogs may get written.  I have had notes on several different posts for a couple of months now but haven’t had the time to slow down and write them.  Now I might.

I have been ruminating and pondering about this topic for awhile.  As a mom and particularly as a Homeschool Mom we often wonder if we are doing “enough” to socialize our kids.  Lately, I have been thinking that socializing our kids isn’t what we should be focusing our outside activities on.  I think, instead, we should be building communities for our kids and our family.

Just look at the definitions of the two-

Community – a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.

Versus

Socialization- a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate to ones social position.

A child should be socialized at home.  They should be taught social norms, appropriate behavior and especially acquiring a personal identity with a family who loves them not with a peer group who are also struggling to learn what is appropriate.  Socialization is best taught by those who already know appropriate and acceptable social behavior.  Generally, when kids get together the last thing they do is teach each other appropriate social behavior.  My kids learned how to scream, “mine!”, at the swimming pool, how to bite at the park and how to tell Mom, “No! I don’t want to!” at soccer.  None of which is socially appropriate behavior and they had to be retrained in acceptable social skills.

We should, however, be building a community for our kids.  Communities are important, they are vital, they are who we do life with. We should always start by building a faith community for our kids.  It should include kids their age but also kids of all ages as well as as older and wiser adults.  When Connor was 10 we realized that while we had a church we loved, with people we loved, it had no community for Connor.    We left that church because we knew it was  time to build a community for our kids.  After making sure the churches we were looking at were Biblically sound, our number one priority was to find a church that made families and kids a priority.  We looked and evaluated children’s programs, Bible Bowl vs Awana’s,  researched the children’s curriculum, and asked if there were any other homeschool families.  After a ton of prayer, and a lot of research we visited one church and fell in love.  We were purposeful in looking and searching for a community of faith for our kids.  We are still purposeful in building that community.  It didn’t fall in our lap, we didn’t stumble into it, and it took several years but God was faithful and we have a community of faith for our kids. We are purposeful in going out to lunch with ‘our people’ every Sunday after church along with inviting new families fairly regularly. We have homeschool families, public school families and private school families, but all of us love Jesus, have similar parenting philosophies (partly because we have all taken the same parenting and faith path classes our church offers) and believe that building community is important. We do game nights, parties, trips and lots of meals together.  I also host a weekly co-op at our home which has had several families involved through out the years.  Our kids serve, play  and even teach younger children together and they have a community that they support and are supported by.

Kids also need communities that are based on their passions and interests.  In a perfect world, these communities would overlap with their community of faith.  My oldest had an online community of friends based on his interest in Scratch.  We were purposeful in meeting the mentors of that group (as a matter of fact, we had his main mentor, a Professor from Berkeley spend a week at our home), taking Connor to meet them in person and watching and monitoring that group daily.  I didn’t understand the majority of what was said as it was mostly computer jargon, but I knew it was a safe and healthy place for him.  All of the adults involved also knew either myself or my husband.  The twins main community outside of their faith community, is their Robotics community.  They are part of a great team that meets through out the year, mandates that they do at least 30 hours of community service, has team building activities (oh and builds really amazing Robots that are very competitive) and they learn amazing skills that will help them in the future.  I think the key to having a healthy, safe community of interest for your kids is for parents to be involved.  I know that can be hard and time consuming, but it’s vital to protect our kids and to make a healthy, encouraging community.  I go to all the competitions, I make sure to volunteer often, meet the adults involved, and generally make myself known. If I can’t make it, my husband does.  We helped coach three First Lego League teams from Up a Creek alongside the twins to help further that community for our kids.

I think we need to stop looking for opportunities to socialize our kids.  We should be doing that everyday in our homes. “No, son, it’s rude to interrupt.  Let’s try using the interrupt rule.” “No, sweetheart, we don’t take a toy away from others.  You need to say sorry and give it back.”  We need to teach social graces, how to introduce ourselves, how to introduce others, how to answer the phone, the door, how to speak politely, how to eat with proper manners.  These are all best taught by parents not by peers who are also still being trained. We need to be finding and building communities for our children to practice those social skills  with love and grace.  We need to build communities where our kids feel that they belong, that they are challenged and where they will grow.

The next time anyone asks if I am worried about my kids socialization, I think I will tell them, “Social graces and social skills are best taught by adults, not by peers.  We are, however, continually looking for communities for our kids.  Would you like to come for lunch?”

 

 

 

2 comments on “Community vs Solicization ”

  1. Dawn, every time I read one of your articles, I am inspired and often feel empowered! Thank you for your time and the energy you put into your blog, I find myself looking forward to the next one. Happy New Year to your lovely family.
    Toni

    • Thanks, Toni. I appreciate hearing that, it helps to know that I am not just writing to myself although I often am reminded of things I need to follow through on by reading my own blog.

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