"So how about socialisation? Don't they miss out on that?" - Almost everyone who finds out we home school our kids. And I mean EVERYONE.
So, here it goes...every home schooler I have met, and indeed even our lovely dept of ed rep acknowledges that this is the MOST frequently asked questions by non home schoolers. And it would seem from examining the quote by Seligman, for good reason. We humans are not solitary animals. We thrive on community, group play and social interaction. But why people think this disappears when you home school, I don't really know. You don't suddenly hole up in a cave and silently study all day! (Well we don't anyway!)
My kids socialise with neighbours, with old school friends, with home school friends, with adults, with teenagers, with animals, with grandparents, cousins, bike shop owners, each other....you get the picture. I admit that some days here on the farm, when we are a 45 minute drive away from the nearest available 'friend', Flex can get a little maudlin and bemoan the fact that he's 'bored' and there's 'nobody to play with', but I can tell you that occurs much less often than the deep sadness he experienced at school when overwhelmed with the constant presence and pressure of people with whom he found it difficult to get on with. And it's fleeting.
And I have to admit - I can relate!! When we first moved here I was really scared of getting 'lonely'. Of 'missing people'. Of losing my conversation abilities. Duh - I have felt lonely in the middle of the city, and surrounded by people. And guess what! There's this great thing called a telephone! And this even greater thing called the internet! And this truly stupendous thing called neighbours/community!! I can still talk!
It seems like the biggest difference is that now we have a choice about when and with who we socialise, and that in itself brings true joy. We really enjoy our days to 'ourselves' here in the bush, and we equally thrive on our goodtimes with others. And the boys still have to practice sharing, taking turns, listening, compassion - this doesn't change - only the pressure to 'perform' socially is diminished.
For example, on the day the photo was taken, the boys did gymnastics with a group of about 25 home school kids (and yes, they lined up!!! and took turns!!! and listened to their instructors!!!), played with about 12 newish friends - girls, boys, toddlers, teenagers, parents as well - picked up their bikes and chatted at length with the awesome guys at the bike shop, then went swimming at the pool with two older (not in age, in time known) friends. Phew! A social banquet!!! Followed by two rainy indoor days here at the farm with 'just' the family.....aaaaaah.....balance is achieved.
Which brings me back to the quote at the top of this entry. Seligman goes on to examine the reality that this statement is fraught with variables. His book on the science of happiness is really interesting and his overall theory seems to be, rather than 'fixing' your weaknesses, FOCUS instead on your strengths. It seems obvious, but was a real revelation to me, especially in the realms of parenting. You can do an online quiz to find out your 'key strengths' - google 'authentic happiness' and go for it! Enjoy the self discovery.......and there's a quiz for kids as well.
So, lets catch up for a coffee (or vino) and a chat soon!!