The Solar System and the “S” word

Miss 5 has been involving herself in all things space, this week. She has made a model of the Solar System, which is now hanging from the ceiling in our back room. She has read books, drawn pictures, labeled diagrams, and sung songs. Miss 3 has learned by osmosis and can now also tell me the names of all the planets πŸ™‚ If you follow our facebook page you can find a video of Miss 5 talking about the solar system, and some of the facts she has learned.
We took a drive out to The Gravity Discovey Centre a couple of days ago. We went on a small tour of the centre and then spent some time playing with the interactive exhibits, and going on the solar system walk (as well as indulging in a chocolate ice cream cone πŸ˜‰ ). And while our day didn’t pan out exactly as we had hoped, we are, all of us, keen to go back another day, and next time take Husband too. The space theme seems to be sticking around for now. There are daily questions from Miss 5, that send us to you tube or google for answers. As a unit of study, there are endless avenues to pursue, and Miss 5s curiosity is the perfect motivation.

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There is one thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately, and I wanted to share it. It’s a probably going to turn into a little bit of a philosophical rambling, but I’ll try to keep it at least coherent πŸ™‚ It’s about socialisation. The “S” word is such a big part of homeschooling. It’s the first thing that we worry about when we are entertaining the idea of homeschooling, and we don’t know any better. It’s the first stone people throw, when they don’t agree with our choice to homeschool, and it is the first concern that our loved ones have, when they are trying to support our choice, but don’t quite understand it. There is a phrase that I have heard or read, almost daily, since we have started schooling Miss 5 at home, and that is “forced association, is NOT socialisation” and the meaning behind that is basically, putting 25-30 children into a room together and expecting them to “socialise” with nothing more in common than their date of manufacture, is not necessarily conducive to teaching children how to interact meaningfully with others. I’m still sitting on the fence as far as that goes, after all I did make many life long friends at school. But I have made just as many, if not more, meaningful connections outside of school. And it’s that, that I have been pondering the last few weeks, and it’s that, that I want to explain to the friends and family (hi Dad x) who read this blog. I want Miss 5 to learn how to interact with people in a meaningful way. I want her to be able to connect with people and forge friendships based on trust, and respect and compassion, and common interests. I want these things for her, and at first I was worried that being away from hundreds of children in a school would hinder that, but I have come to the realisation that it has no impact at all.

There is a large number of people, Husband included, who say that school was a place of torture. Full of bullies and mercurial social rules that, if broken, would result in being painfully ostracised. In fact, most people that I speak to are quick to say that they either don’t see anyone that they went to school with, or they only see a few people that they went to school with. I have made some amazing friends over the last few years, and apart from one, the most awesome connections were NOT made in school, or with people I knew from school.

So if we are all capable of forging relationships outside of a classroom setting, why is it so many people insist that this is the only way to learn how to interact with other humans? I’m about to get a little sappy, but here is the reason I’m not worried anymore;
When I think of the people who have touched me the most over the last few years I am floored by how lucky I am to have the friendships in my life that I have. I picture my dearest friend, my go-to-girl when I am sad or scared or lonely or celebrating. The amazing woman who has been in my life for more than half of it, who I can call my family as well as my friend, and who is very much my hero. I think of the funny lady that I met only once, but have been “friends” with for 5 years now, on Facebook. I have enjoyed watching her children grow, and I look forward to reading her posts and love the fact that she always makes me laugh, and I know that one day we will share a bottle of wine and giggle about our friendship as internet stalkers πŸ˜€ I think about the amazing group of women who came to my rescue when I lost my baby. They came with food and flowers and prayers, and held me when I cried, and I can never repay them for the kindness they have shown me. I think of the time when Miss 1 was born, almost 8 weeks early, and I found myself in hospital, with her in NICU, on the eve of Miss 3s second birthday. I remember the wonderful woman who knew how guilty I felt at not having a present or a cake for my little one, and how she baked a cake and bought a gift and left it on our doorstep for Husband to find, so that there was something for our little Miss to open in the morning. There is my lovely friend in Canada, who I have not seen in person for more than 15 years, who put together a box of Canadian treasures and posted it for Miss 5 and Miss 3 to explore. And most recently there is my new friend, who is also embarking on this little adventure with her son. She is smart and friendly and recognises the need for humans to be surrounded by like minded people, and in doing so has given myself and some other equally as smart, warm and new-to-homeschooling families, the opportunity to create a community and a support network for each other. I think of these amazing people and how my interactions with them are watched closely by my daughters and I know that the “S” word is really no big deal. Daily, my girls are surrounded by people who demonstrate kindness, compassion, intelligence, strength, tolerance, love, helpfulness and caring, and what better way to learn than that?
Miss 5 has a best friend. She is a gorgeous little girl with a huge heart. They do musical theatre together and see each other at least once a week. Miss 5 also has a special friendship with the daughters of a long time friend of Husbands. Again they don’t see each other every day, but they do see each other regularly. She has a particular soft spot for the 3 year old son of a friend of mine, who let’s her paint his nails, and is always super excited when she finds out she will be seeing him. And now she is making some real friends within our little homeschooling community, children who she asks after and enjoys playing with, and shares common interests with. I’m watching her forge friendships of her own, that are as meaningful to her as mine are to me, and I’m no longer worried.

I’m not interested in offering her the type of “socialising” that results in 1000 friends on Facebook. I’m not interested in offering her the type of “socialising” that has rules designed to segregate, and humiliate. I’m not interested in offering her the type of “socialising” that teaches shallow behaviour, bullying and spitefulness. I’m interested in offering Miss 5 the type of socialising that will set her up for a lifetime of support, caring, mutual respect and friendship, and she would not be in a better position to witness more meaningful interactions in a school.

And we are very, very lucky people πŸ™‚

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