No, this isn't a post about the massive debt bill that Congress passed on Friday the Thirteenth. It's about the number one question that homeschooled parents tend to be asked. Nine times out of ten, when we tell a non-homeschooler that we're homeschooling our kids, the questioner's initial reaction is to furrow his/her brow seriously and ask, "But are they able to meet and learn to interact with other children?" (The second question is usually some variant on "Are they able to play sports?")
We have a battery of responses we've developed to reply to such questions, and my readers doubtless can add many more of their own. I won't bore you with the whole list, but a few quick ones:
- Spending 7 hours a day in the company of 25 other people, all of whom are approximately the same age as oneself, is an extremely unnatural form of socialization that does not prepare a person for the real world;
- By contrast, our children are making friends with and learning to interact with children from other homeschooling families --- the ages of whom range from infants to high school;
- We don't want our children "socialized" into the prevailing youth culture that thrives in and infects even the best Catholic schools;
- Homeschooling allows our children to go places and do things (often involving interacting with other people) that are impossible for kids in institutionalized educational environments.
Today's events provide a good illustration of this. Our church was originally a Polish parish, and still has many older parishioners who are of that ethnicity. One tradition they have is the annual "Paczki Bake," held each year before Lent. Volunteers get together in the parish hall's big kitchen, and over the course of three days and organize the ingredients, bake about 800 dozen paczki, and take orders for them. It's a huge fundraiser for the parish, and draws a large crowd of volunteers. (And, incidentally, is a big tradition in many other Polish communities.)
This morning, everything got underway after Mass. It was remarkable how many cars were in the parking lot, and how many volunteers were streaming toward the parish hall. Mrs. Yeoman Farmer and Homeschooled Farm Girl joined them, and I drove home with the two yeoman farm boys. HFG had been looking forward to this day for quite some time, as it's not just a break from the regular school routine --- it's also a chance to do something "hands on," and to spend hours working and talking with the adults and other homeschooled kids of the parish. As she explained later, I got to do something that was fun, and I got to play some, too.
And no doubt she and MYF will be back down there again tomorrow for more.