Traditional school settings often impose forced friendships, where children are expected to associate with classmates based on proximity rather than genuine connection. As someone who went to public school (a first generation homeschooler) I know that this not always the case, it is just the vast majority of experiences. Homeschooling offers a unique environment that fosters authentic friendships and meaningful relationships. In this article, we will explore the limitations of forced friendships in schools and highlight how homeschooling cultivates deeper connections by involving the entire family in social interactions.
Association by Proxy vs. Genuine Friendship
In many school environments, association by proxy is prevalent. It is the unquestioned norm, and in many scenarios of life we are in this situation. Children are often assigned to groups based on their classroom seating arrangement, grouping by the first letter of your last name(just me?), or shared activities. These forced friendships lack the organic foundation of shared interests, values, or genuine connection. On the contrary, these friendships paint a sort of veneer on tangible friendships. These friendships hinge on you all agreeing and looking good to the teacher rather than shared values or interests. Again this is not always the case. In contrast, homeschooling allows children to develop friendships based on mutual interests, shared values, and meaningful interactions, leading to authentic and long-lasting friendships.
Building Respectful Relationships
Homeschooling promotes a culture of respect among children and their families. If my oldest is friends with your oldest, then we usually meet quickly after that. Then our younger children meet and often will start playing together. In homeschooling circles, children often interact with one another's siblings and families, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the individuals in their social network. They understand from a young age that each person they meet is connected to an invisible web of community, family, and friends. This environment encourages children to be respectful not only to their friends but also to their friends' siblings and parents. It encourages authenticity and a willingness to develop responsibility. It nurtures a sense of empathy, cooperation, and inclusivity, strengthening the foundation of their friendships and the families within the community.
Authentic Expressions of Emotions
In traditional schools, children are often compelled to apologize or suppress their true emotions to maintain order in the classroom. If students throw a tantrum, usually the entire class is locked down in order to compensate for the child's behavior which could hurt other children. Entire days in classrooms are used this way because the teachers can't give their attention individually to so many students. They may be coerced into making apologies they don't genuinely mean or forced to hide their true feelings. This is usually practiced daily by many children daily. It is not the shortcomings of anyone involved, it is the fact that things need to keep moving, there are classes to be done, tests to be graded, plays to put on. In homeschooling, parents are actively involved in their children's lives, creating a safe space for open and honest communication. There is also the time to foster communication and to discuss how self-expression and doing it well takes time to build. Children are encouraged to express their true emotions, creating true bonds, fostering genuine understanding, and building stronger, more meaningful connections with their peers.
Parental Involvement and Guidance
Okay, you've read far enough. I'm going to ruffle some feathers here. Many of us think that sheltering our kids from the world is somehow doing them a disservice. As if kids need to be exposed to the horrors and sexualities of the world from day 1. Many people are seeing children as little adults and that is simply not the case. Shielding them from the world and allowing safe exploration into it comes with the territory of parenting. Homeschooling allows parents to play a significant role in their children's social interactions and friendships. Parents have a deeper understanding of their child's friendships, offering guidance, support, and facilitating healthy social development. Parents speak to one another about any misbehavior or disagreements their kids may be having so they are on the same page together. They actively engage in organizing social activities, arranging playdates, and creating opportunities for children to bond with their peers and their families. This involvement enhances the overall quality of children's friendships and reinforces positive values and behaviors.
Deeper Involvement with Friends' Families
In homeschooling communities, families interact with one another, fostering a sense of community and connection. They intentionally work to build community with one another to serve as living examples for their children. Children in this environment have the opportunity to build relationships not only with their peers but also with their friends' families. This deeper involvement creates a broader support system and enriches the overall homeschooling experience. This provides support not only to children but it provides support to parents as well. Many parents are doing this as first generation homeschoolers and the support they receive is invaluable. It allows children to learn from diverse perspectives, develop empathy, and create lifelong bonds that extend beyond their school years.
Forced friendships in schools often lack the authenticity and depth that genuine connections require. This creates fracturing that needs repair in an adult. Homeschooling provides an alternative approach, where children can form meaningful friendships based on shared interests, values, and mutual respect. Homeschooled children have the time to spend with friends to discern the friendship and express their gratitude when appropriate. Homeschooled children have the advantage of involving their entire family in social interactions, fostering deeper connections and promoting a sense of community. While homeschooling may not be the only option for families, it offers parents a greater say in their children's lives and provides an environment where true friendship and genuine connections can thrive.