Social skills, although no longer a major issue among the home school community, are still often items of concern among public school officials and those who simply do not understand how normal social development can occur outside a classroom. Although we have been homeschooling for almost ten years, I am still occasionally questioned about the social development of my children. As a result, I have been carefully observing the social skills of the public school children I know, and I have come to the conclusion that home schoolers do not have normal social skills. A field trip we once attended confirmed this theory
About thirty children attended the field trip, and they ranged from very small to very tall. There I was able to witness firsthand the social skills of the home schooled children in our group. Our first stop was the zoo. While touring, the children divided into little groups, talking and laughing among themselves. They appeared to have normal social skills; however, it was soon apparent that these little cliques intermingled easily. From my observations of other students, this is not normal.
The older boys, walking ahead of the rest, were soon joined by the older girls—nothing unusual about that. The older girls had in their custody several babies and toddlers with whom the boys played while they talked. The older boys then joined the younger boys, while the younger girls moved to join older girls and little ones. Soon the younger girls took charge of the little children as they walked beside the moms and the older girls. On and on these children interacted across the age and gender lines usually drawn among socially normalkids.
The trip to the zoo was followed by a picnic at the park. As we ate, I noticed that these family members actually enjoyed being together. Teenage boys carried baby brothers, and sisters walked arm-in-arm through the park. Older girls sat and ate with their mothers. Later, I watched as all the children participated in games of Red Rover and Tag. Many of the older children were paired with little ones to make the teams even. All of this was done without adult intervention.
The Discovery Center, where a rocket demonstration had been arranged for our group, was our last stop of the day. As we all crowded into the entry, our social skills were really noticeable. While moms were busy figuring the entry fee, a very disheveled group of kids (who, after a morning at the zoo and playing at the park, were quite a sight!) waited patiently and quietly. I was quite impressed with the good manners; even my own kids surprised me.
Upon seeing our group crowded in the entry, the instructor promptly moved down the hall and gave the command to line up. What a line we formed! Our children politely meandered down the hall and formed a quiet and orderly group around the instructor. There was not even a pretense of a line. Younger children held the hands of older siblings, and all waited quietly for further instructions. Our instructor, used to dealing with public school groups, looked a bit dismayed. She immediately knew that this was not a normal group of kids. Looking to the moms for help and finding none (We were not lined up either.), she led us to a classroom where the tables were set for rocket experiments. With polite consideration for each other, we made it through the door—no line but no problem.
As the children made their way to their seats, there was no fussing, pushing, or arguing as to where to sit. They simply found places and sat down. I noticed that, as a general rule, siblings chose to sit together. These were definitely notnormal kids. The children were soon divided into groups of two or three to do a variety of hands-on experiments. With older children helping the younger ones, all went well. After “lining up” twice more with the same results—a polite and orderly blob—our instructor was now smiling. She talked pleasantly with the children on the way back to the classroom and commented on how attentive they were. Before we left, several of the children thanked her for the demonstration, and judging from her smile, I think she enjoyed our group despite our abnormalsocial skills.
My observations reminded me of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” In the course of homeschooling, I often have to remind myself why I do this. A quality education is very important, and I want to raise good citizens who are able to interact intelligently and politely with others. Both are goals to which we aspire; however, our first goal is to raise Godly children who love the Lord and want to please Him. This renewing of our minds can only be accomplished by spending time in God’s Word daily. Perhaps I have forgotten to teach my children how to line up, ask for a bathroom pass, or even raise their hands during classroom discussions. (They simply wait for their turn to speak without interrupting.), but more importantly, I want my children to be strong citizens of another kingdom. I believe they can be good citizens of this country and live a life pleasing to God as well, despite the lack of some normal social skills.
Now when someone asks us about normal social skills, we proudly say, “We have none!”