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Unschooling and Socialization Again & Again & Again

I got to visit with friends in New Mexico this week.  I grew up in NM, so it was great to be back, to see out over the wide open spaces, and to breath the crisp fresh air.  Oh, and also to get my fill of green chili.  Yum!

As it usually does—especially when I travel with one of the kids—homeschooling and ‘exactly how that works’ came up.  Everything was fine.  I went through the basics of it: how you only have to file a one page affidavit to homeschool in California; how the kids learn new things, how and when the kids hang out with their friends.  I’ve answered these questions hundreds of times at this point, so I have plenty of practice, and it’s nice that our friends are interested in the kids.

Upon returning home I was treated to a tweet espousing how great homeschooling might be if only it wasn’t so isolating.  Bleah, the isolation thing again.  So, without further ado, please allow me to walk through how un-isolating homeschooling is once again.

Let me talk aobut what was going on with eight year-old No One and four year-old No. Three while six year-old No. Three and I were in New Mexico visiting. A few days back I covered the first day of Two’s trip to NM.  What I didn’t mention is that while One and Three were hanging back in San Francisco, Three was meeting people all across New Mexico.  People not his own age, like my high school world history teacher, as well as people exactly his age like the cousins of the person whose graduation we were attending.  He had a blast in every respect, sometimes dealing with adults in airports or on airplanes, “I’d like hot chocolate with no ice.” (Yes, if you’re a kid you have to request no ice on the airplane, don’t get me started), and sometimes with folks his own age playing monkey in the middle.  Far from being isolated, with the exception of our brief camping trip, the kid was around LOTS of people during the entire trip.

Oh, but I set out to tell you about One and Three.  While we were gone, they got to attend the Bay Area Maker Faire.  The experience sounds tremendous!  Next year, I hope to finally get to attend with the kids.  But, that’s not the point.  Let’s talk about isolation and homeschooling.  The kids took public transit down, walking the last half mile into the events venue.  One frequently makes friends on buses and trains.  Whether she did or not on this adventure, I haven’t had time to ask.  I usually find these sorts of things out when I hop on a bus only to have someone introduce themselves to me with “You’re One’s dad aren’t you?”

Onc eat the Maker Faire, One was given the instructions to go look around to her heart’s content, or till the end of the next two hours, whichever came first, (it was the end of the two hours for those who are curious.)  She was instructed to call in after an hour on her flip-phone, but given no other instructions.  Off she went in the megastructure that is the San Mateo Events Center Pavillion.  She discussed a binary adder and multiplier with a group of high school students.  She mentioned she’d made one herself.  She occasionally bumped into Three and their nanny.  She talked to lots and lots of people!  It’s really no surprise to me.  One has been handling a lot of our shopping for over a year.  Same deal with picking up our carryout food, walking the dog with her sibs in our nearby park where she frequently fields questions from ‘concerned’ passersby about whether she and her sibling know where there parents are and if they’re OK.  Four year-old No. Three was given no instructions at all.  As she approached each cool new thing, and asked about it, she only heard, “It looks cool.  You should go ask about it.”

And so it was that Three—at least after the first couple of demo booths—developed the habit of walking into the booth, asking what they were doing, and then asking if she could try.  She had a blast!  She tried so many different things made by makers who attended the Faire that I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard about them all yet!

So yeah, in case I haven’t been clear, homeschooled (or in our case unschooled), kids are not isolated.  They’re out in their communities experiencing and enjoying life.  Just like everyone else!


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