Home schooled children come with a stigma of being socially awkward and introverted. Although, I do not believe this is the norm across the board, I have witnessed several cases where this would prove true. Mostly from families who created a bubble for their children in the hope of protecting them from anything that might harm them in any way. I believe in a type of bubble, but I believe it must be an expanding and multiplying bubble.
Bear with me please.
The bubble that I believe in is one that is created in the heart. It is one that a child can carry with them out into the world. One that they will use someday to create their own home. To nurture their own children. It is knowing who God is and who they are to Him. It is the security of knowing that if they belong to Him, He will be with them. Knowing their parents love them and stand behind them no matter how far away they are. A bubble that floats.
Children should always feel that home is a safe and happy place that they can come to when they need a haven, but it should not be a place of isolation. Don’t make it a place they feel they need to break out of. It should be a part of their world, but not their whole world. They live in your home only for a time and one of the worst things you can do for your child is to send them out into the world unprepared.
Home schooling has vastly improved since I was a pupil and has become a more socially accepted means of education. Home school co-ops have popped up all over and are growing in popularity. We are being recognized as legitimate groups and given group discounts to events. Resources are available to us that were previously only available to teachers in traditional schools.
We still get the “look” by a few when we go out that says “why are your children not in school, are they sick or are you just a really terrible, irresponsible parent?” However, more and more people are admiring us for our effort and affirming us in our choices. We come under scrutiny for our child’s intelligence and behavior with far more criticism than any other parent. It can be a daunting task to face the public with all these things in our mind, but face the public we must! If we are to prove the stigma wrong, then we must teach our children how to interact with other people and that only happens if we go out and interact!
Taking your children to church is great and I highly encourage you to do so. I also feel that it is not enough. Interaction with children that come from homes that hold the same values as you do is very important and it is from this “pool” that you would hope your children would make friends. But, if your children only ever interact with this group, then when they are old enough to go out on their own, they will find themselves surrounded by people they don’t understand and situations they have not been prepared to handle.
It is not enough to say that there are bad things out there that we should avoid. Age appropriately, they need to know what those bad things are and how to avoid them. As you consider what types of outings you should plan in your year, consider a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, jail, courthouse. Set up an interview with a recovered alcoholic or addict, talk to a war veteran…talk about abortion, suicide, aids, homosexuality… again, age appropriate. I’m not going to talk to my three year old about abortion, but I will talk to her about people in need and help her donate food to a pantry.
Expand their “bubble”! Take your children to places that, while still safe, are able to impact them. While they are still looking to you as their moral guide. What an incredible opportunity and responsibility we have to mold these young minds.
The Bible says that we are to be in the world but not of it. In order to be light we have to go into the dark. We are not called to hide. We are called to shine. Go out and enjoy the world God created. Learn, grow, have fun, make a difference and teach your children to also.