by Sally Warren, July 2016
The most common questions Homeschooling parents are asked are about "socialisation"...
"Will your kids be normal if they are not segregated into age groups and only play with same aged children?"
"What will happen if your children don't interact with just one main adult (a different one each year) for the next 12 years?"
"Will it affect their development if they grow up in an environment without a 1:28, adult:child ratio?"
"Will it harm them if they are around many adults, elderly people, teenagers, kids of various ages, a couple of toddlers and babies?"
"Isn't there a correct age where you need to separate yourself from children?"
"Will it stunt your kids' learning potential by NOT having them away from home for over half of their waking hours continuously, between the ages of 4 and 18yrs."
"Shouldn't you leave their education in the hands of qualified teachers, who are following a Govt-approved curriculum, targeted to an average student, designed to teach children to fit into our fragmented society?"
It is sad that we have moved so far away from natural socialisation that people wonder how we would cope without the institutionalised version.
I'm not saying school is the worst and can not be changed, nor am I saying school provides no positive benefits...I am just referring here to the stunted socialisation that is the norm in our society as a whole.
Changing this one thing in the lives of my children has let me witness the difference between children who can freely associate with their parents, siblings, extended family and community, and those who for the majority of their time, are encouraged to associate with children their own age.
Socialising with people of all ages is so important and so normal in a natural society.
By "Natural" society I mean a society that has evolved over a long period of time to best suit its members; a society without imposed constraints; a society small enough that it doesn't need introduced, artificial systems and institutions, because the people collectively provide for their own needs.
When children can freely associate with people of all ages they learn history, social mores, traditional skills and knowledge from Elders.
Being around Elders they also experience compassion, love and a continuity of time and place.
They learn behavioural expectations, skills, modern technology from older children and "Aunties" and "Uncles".
Learning from many trusted adults frees up the Mother and Father from their usual solitary role as sole disciplinarians/ moral teachers/ caregivers and gives them the space to be the unconditional love-givers to their children.
Children learn nurturing and compassion from being with and being partly responsible for younger kids.
When people at all stages of life can freely associate with people of all ages...the society experiences a continuum of knowledge...where not only children learn, but the Elders learn what is new and exciting that the young people are bringing to the tribe.
It makes one realise how unnatural our systems and institutions are once you observe the broad socialising that can happen for your kids when they are school free.
But ours is not a natural society.
We are far from that place and although we can create pockets for our children, eg. homeschooling them to allow a more natural socialisation; we are far from being able to trust in our society to help and nuture ourselves as adults, let alone our children. We are far from a place where we nurture our teeagers through their transition to adulthood, nurture new mothers and fathers.
The greatest activism of our times is to be a part of creating a new society.
One that reflects ancient community that evolved over time.
Yet a new conscious version that is constantly expanding and contracting and swaying to the dance of the people who it embraces.
Each society more locally focused than globally; except it will be a World that is made up of small societies who practice empathy and inclusiveness to each other.
Communities built in understanding and compassion for all people of all ages, abilities, frailties (mental and physical).
Societies founded in LOVE.
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