When people consider homeschooling, one of the main concerns is socialization. How will the poor mites make friends? How will they learn to behave appropriately? In reality, the socialization question is one of the biggest non-issues around. Homeschooled kids are involved in countless activities with peers. Because they spend a lot of time with people much older and younger than themselves, they, in fact, are arguably more socially aware than their school friends. As we discovered this week, though, they definitely are babes in the woods when it comes to school socialization!
Fahbio thinks it is hysterical that our kids are going to school on the one week that school kids are off for March Break. Four of my five are taking a March Break camp at an art school downtown. They are each in different classes, divided by age. How school-like. Every day they set off with a nut and seed-free lunch (with two snacks) and indoor shoes.
On the first day, when I picked the kids up at four, Lastborn exclaimed, “Well that was a LONG class!” When we got home, she immediately disappeared. We found her, in bed, fast asleep. I’d like to point out that out of her class of 16 kids, she is the only one not in before and after care so her day is actually 2 1/2 hours shorter than that of her little buddies.
The second day she told us that you have to raise your hand if you want to ask a question. Apparently she keeps forgetting to do that at camp. Yet at home when Venice asked what was for dinner, Lastborn barked at her, “If you were at camp you would have to put up your hand to ask that!”
The art camp students are mostly from fairly affluent families. They would all be from fairly affluent families but we came along to drag down the median income. Anyways, the teachers were very clear in asking the parents to ensure that kids were wearing clothes that could get ruined. In other words, leave the North Face fleece and tiny Tom shoes at home.
Lastborn found a stained art shirt and wore it. To keep things easy for herself, she has been sleeping in the shirt and then just wearing right back to camp the next day. Every afternoon, she comes home a little more crusted with paint, clay, applesauce, chocolate. On day three, I told her to change her clothes but she refused. I told her that her clothes were filthy to which she replied, “It doesn’t matter. I’m an artist.” I was concerned about what the rich families would think but a dear friend pointed out that because Lastborn doesn’t do before and after care, she’ll never be seen by the Star Belly Sneetches. And I get away with a heck of a lot less laundry this week!
I told Venice that I was packing juice in her lunch. I thought it would be a special treat. Confusion written clear across her face, she asked, “How will you do that? What kind of container are you going to put it in?” I laughed and told her that juice could be bought in tetra packs. You could have knocked her over with a feather. “YOU?! You bought juice boxes????!!!!!” If I had had my wits about me to film the scene, it would have gone viral for sure: Grade Four Homeschooler Discovers Drink Boxes! Faints On The Spot!
When she came home the first day, she told me that she had thought the first recess was the only break so she wolfed down all of her lunch in those 10 minutes. Then she had no food at lunch or for the second recess. Her teacher told her that she should bring more food the following day. Venice told me that her teacher was nuts: “Did you see how much food you packed me? Why would I need more? I was stuffed all day!”
The third day, she was supposed to draw a picture of her school. Venice asked what about if you didn’t have a school. For example, she didn’t go to school. The little girl sitting next to her gasped and said, “That is like SO illegal.”
In Paris’ class, the kids had to introduce themselves and talk a bit about their hobbies and likes. Paris gave a little synopsis of the kind of art she liked and what she did in her spare time. Then every other 12 year old in the class, blazé as could be, said their name and that they like to go on Youtube. They each just repeated the exact same thing. She was stunned and told me that for artists, they sure lacked imagination. That’s one thing about homeschoolers – they aren’t familiar with the concept of hiding enthusiasm. You would think that would mark them as targets, but it often seems to work to their advantage (see Onlyboy’s popularity, below ;-).
I asked Onlyboy how lunch was on the first day. As a teen, he’s allowed to leave art camp at lunch. He told me that he went to Starbucks with his friends. His friends? Yup, apparently he has five new pals and they all went to Starbucks. Then he told me, “I would be good candidate for school. I’m really popular!” Clearly no self-esteem issues there!