For home-schooled kids, ‘socialization is not an issue’People who un-school their children say they get a range of reactions from others — from incredulity to curiosity to thinly veiled disdain.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
People who un-school their children say they get a range of reactions from others — from incredulity to curiosity to thinly veiled disdain.
When Janet Gerla of Climax, Minn., started un-schooling her children in the late 1980s, she would hear comments like, “I could never do that. That would be way too hard. My kids don’t listen to me,” she said.
Five of her six children have since “graduated” and are doing well, she said, noting that among them are a sales engineer, a physics teacher, a law student and an animation artist.
They are all “sharp kids,” she said, “and I maintain it’s because they were given the freedom to learn what they wanted on their own timetable.”
“I’m so glad we did it,” Gerla said of the family’s decision to un-school. “We had so many years of quality time with our kids.”
Jenna Muiderman, 15, of Thompson, N.D., who’s been un-schooled her whole life, said her friends “have always been positive as far as I can remember.”
Other students her age have been “curious about what my typical days are like and sometimes seem to be unable to imagine how un-schooling is actually accomplished.”
A common notion surrounding home schooling is that children lack the benefits gained from social interaction, proponents said.
“Socialization is not an issue,” Muiderman said, “because we’re out a lot.
“My kids interact with other parents and people they meet out in the world. That’s a huge plus.”
Jenna said one of the “downsides” of home schooling is that she has “fewer social interactions… However it seems to work out fine for me.”
A self-described introvert, she said, “I still have friends that I get together with when I want, though.”
Gerla’s children are all “quite social,” she said. “We took them everywhere we went.”
They were involved in activities such as Scouts, their church, gymnastics, piano and 4-H.
“They had no trouble talking to old people and babies.”
Kirsten Skrydlak-Simlai, of Grand Forks, is founder of the Greater Grand Forks Homeschoolers on Facebook, a group that has grown to 62 members, she said.
They get together for activities, such as field trips and picnics, and post information on Facebook on how to get started with home schooling, curriculum materials and events of interest to the group.
“My children are very social,” she said. “We’re out all the time with others — at gymnastics, the park, Tae Kwon Do, the library…”
They “have no problem communicating with adults and kids alike.”
She’s noticed that some “public schoolers” are more hesitant than home-schooled kids to speak to adults.
“With homeschooled kids, I’m their peer. With public schooled kids, I’m an authority; they see me in a different light.”
She has encountered negative reactions, she said, recalling an incident when another mother found out that she home-schooled her children.
“She said, ‘CPS (Child Protective Services) must be all over you.’”
Mostly, Skrydlak-Simlai said she’d like people to know that “we’re just people who care about our kids, like everyone else.
“We’re not telling others what to do. We’re doing what works best for us.”
Muiderman said some think those who choose to home-school are doing so in order to avoid responsibility.
“The idea is out there that people home-school to get away with something,” she said. “Why would you keep your kids at home, so they can do less?”
A lot of homeschooling parents have high expectations for their kids, she said. “It’s a lot of work to home-school.
“In general, home-schoolers are really invested in their kids. That’s why they’ve made that decision.”
Call Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1107; or send e-mail to email@example.com.