We’ve all heard the argument against homeschooling, “but what about socialization?”
Typically this argument really asks is, “but what about your kids turning into socially inept weirdos if they aren’t around normal kids all day?” (Go ahead, try to deny that, but that’s what that question REALLY means..)
But what about the SOCIAL BUTTERFLY?
That’s a socialization horse of a different color.
Homeschooling the Extrovert (Social Butterfly)
I recently had a good friend ask, “I am considering homeschooling my daughter, but she’s so SOCIAL, she needs a lot of social interaction!”
“Have you met MY social butterfly?!”
Believe me – meeting the needs of your little extrovert is a genuine concern, and one that I know all too well.
But it’s not impossible, it’s not a reason to decide not to homeschool, it’s not more than you handle. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a few things I’ve learned over the past 13 years with my favorite bundle of extroversion joy.
5 Things To Consider When Homeschooling the Social Butterfly
Your children can and will have activities outside your home.
There will be plenty of opportunities for your children to spend time with other kids and make friends. “Homeschool” doesn’t necessarily mean “we are home all day every day.”
Now, you may need to make some effort to make sure that you get your kids out there often enough, but it’s easy enough. Through church activities, taking dance, doing sports, organizing field trips and get togethers with other homeschoolers, and inviting friends over, they can get plenty of people time in.
They won’t be home *all* the time and they *will* see other people.
You will fill a large portion of their social needs yourself.
Even with all the going and coming, your kids will spend most of their time with you which will make you their most available person to socialize with. You will listen to stories, and jokes, and answer questions, and be asked to play or do things with them a lot.
This is okay and good for a lot of reasons. Spending time with your extrovert and listening to them helps strengthen the relationship with that child. Continually pushing away a social butterfly who is trying to spend time with you and talk with you, weakens it.
It’s not bad for children to “socialize” with their parents, because they learn so much from us during the process. I’ve watched my kids grow up learning their vocabulary, sentence structure, wit, humor, and thought processing, directly from my husband and I. My oldest has picked up my husband’s dry humor, my middle has developed a penchant for sarcasm, and my youngest consistently impresses me with his high vocabulary AND correct usage, just to name a few examples.
However, being available to your child can be challenging when you have work to do or when you don’t feel like “people-ing” right now.
It’s all about balance. Listen for a while, and then let them know you have something you need to work on or a friend you need to call, etc. Suggest that they call one of their own friends if they can, or make/write something for one of their friends, or find away to self-entertain for a while. Because…
Social butterflies do need to learn how to spend and manage their alone time.
Alone time is a fact of life. Managing it is a skill kids will need as adults. It’s ok to not talk to, play with, and entertain your kids all the the time. Really.
I frequently hear “I’m bored,” and with the quick rejection of each activity I suggest, I have come to the conclusion that “I’m bored” frequently means, “I’m not being entertained.”
News flash, my children, it’s not all about being entertained. Something we are currently working on is learning what to do in down time, how to handle not going places and doing things every day, and what to do when there’s no one to talk to.
Social Butterflies are insatiable, they might always want more.
It doesn’t matter how much we have going on, my social butterfly will want more. We will spend all day Friday with people, all day Saturday with different people, all day Sunday with more people, and on Monday morning I will hear, “I’m bored. We never do anything.” This is clearly false but the point is, even if she were in public school I suspect I would hear the same thing. And it goes back to her needing to learn to be ok with down time/alone time.
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that you have to provide so many activities and playdates that your social butterflies never ever feel bored or lonely. They *need* to learn how to be okay with themselves and their own thoughts when no one else is around. Take this from a girl who grew up as the lone extrovert in a family full of introverts, who then married an introvert, who then chose to homeschool, and then had two out of three children grow up to be introverts — alone time is inevitable. (Of course, the older I get, the more desirable “alone time” becomes.)
Extroverts are like social sponges – they soak up every social opportunity, they love it, they thrive on it, and it’s amazing how much social activity they can soak up and “hold” at one time.
Last but not least, being home won’t stunt their social growth.
We’ve all met the stereotype of the socially stunted homeschooler. (Thing is, I grew up with quite a few socially stunted public schoolers, and have met many more since then. I don’t think the schooling is the cause.) Let me be clear: just being homeschooled doesn’t stunt a child’s social growth; there are other factors that contribute to that.
The only “problem” I have with my social child is sometimes being “too social,” believe it or not. She is very comfortable meeting new people, starting conversations with new friends, and she’s good at it. This is a good skill to have as a pastor’s daughter, she very adept at greeting guests and their kids and making them feel welcome.
Sometimes, though, this leads to interjecting herself into conversations between me and other adults. She does great at conversing and hanging out with kids and adults of all ages. She’s so comfortable at conversing with adults she forgets that she is not one, yet.
This very well may be a result of homeschooling, as I’ve noticed that all of my kids’ friends, of all ages, are pretty skilled at communicating with adults. And along with that, comes the homeschool-unique challenge of also teaching your skilled communicators when it’s appropriate to be a part of the conversation and when it isn’t. But that “challenge” isn’t something we can’t handle.
You can succeed with homeschooling the extrovert social butterfly.
You can see that homeschooling a social butterfly isn’t impossible, but not without its challenges. However, my other two kids also have their own sets of challenges. Challenges are part and parcel of both parenting and homeschooling. We’ll dig in to some of those challenges and solutions in Part 2, but for now I want you to see that there’s no need to worry about homeschooling your little social butterfly, even if you yourself are actually an introvert! I’ll give you some tips to help with that in the next part, too.
What worries and concerns have YOU come up against while schooling your extrovert?
Image credit: Creative Commons on Flickr
Wow, this post encourages me so much! My daughter, age six, is the quintessential extroverted “social butterfly,” and it makes for some home school challenges! While she gets to see kids a great deal through the school-calendar year activities: Cooperative, Awana, Wed evening service, ballet class, etc., you are correct when you say that “it is never enough” for that supremely extroverted child. To make it harder, I am an introvert and she is — so far — an only child. I have to be exceptionally intentional in finding her those social outlets. Sometimes I feel like I am failing… Read more »