Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeschooling an Extrovert

Iain is an extrovert. From what I can tell, his sisters are introverts. While I have seasons of life where I am more or less introverted, this is most definitely an introverted season. I'm peopled-out by the 24/7 responsibility of motherhood. The idea of socializing beyond that is exhausting. Having people over for dinner gives me anxiety attacks (No joke. Ask my husband).

For a variety of reasons, Mark and I decided to give homeschooling a try. The school part is going really well. I think this is largely due to the fact that I started Iain in "kindergarten-lite" last year, so he's already up-to-speed on what a lot of kindergarteners are doing (I think). On the other hand, the gleam in his eye whenever he realizes he's going to see other people, other kids, is undeniable.

I've tried to plan the year so he does things 1-2x a week with other kids. He's part of the Good Shepherd program at our church, we're part of a homeschool co-op, he's involved in the Kindergarten program with the community we're part of, etc. ...and yet, part of me still feels guilty, every time I see that gleam in his eye, that he's not in a daily Kindergarten program.

I guess when I thought of homeschooling and the ridiculous comments, "But what about socialization?" I only thought about it as avoiding turning your child into one of those homeschooled kids, you know the socially awkward ones. I don't think Iain is going to have that problem. And yet, here I sit, asking myself "But what about socialization?" Not because I fear he'll be awkward, but because I can see that he craves it. He needs people.

And then there are my own fears. I know, I'm a mom. I'm bound to have fears for my children. Some real, some imaginary.

Iain is a child with a lot of labels. We all are, but his are perhaps more obvious: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty.  To him, these things are part of who he is, and as unexceptional to him as being a boy, or an oldest child. As "tolerant" as our society likes to think it is, labels invite teasing and bullying. And Iain's an extrovert. My heart weeps at the thought of this people-loving child opening wide his heart to "All these friends!" only to have a small number of them make him wish he'd never done that.

I know I can't protect him forever, and doing so is not a service to him. My role as a mother isn't to shelter him from the world, but to teach him how to interact with it. So here I am, hoping that by starting him out in the shallow-end of the wide world of people, I can introduce him slowly, as he (and I) can handle it. There are bound to be disappointments, even in the shallow end, and as much as I hate to say this, I hope there are so that we can navigate them together. And he will discover that he has labels and that they make him who he is. And my hope is that he will learn to embrace them, rather than learning to be ashamed of them, so he will grow to be a confident, kind, extroverted young man: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty and more!

So right now, for this and many other reasons, we're homeschooling. Perhaps this will be a short-lived venture with Iain, or perhaps not. We'll see...

Please feel free to share any insights on any of the above. I'm an eager learner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We pray year for direction.

After twenty years of homeschooling and still with grade schoolers we felt called to send the youngest two to Catholic school.

It is a cultural adjustment but we feel encouraged by the daily Mass and strong faith we see here, too.