Lessons from a Teacher on Social Skills

One of the nice things about homeschooling is the fact that during the day, Squirt and I get to do all kinds of things that regular classroom students don't have the opportunity to do.  We can go to the park and explore the trails.  We can go to the park and play on the swings virtually undisturbed by "the bullies" of the playground.  We can go for walks around our neighbourhood and examine every crack and crevice in the sidewalk and discuss how the freezing of moisture in the ground causes the pushing up of the ground which causes the cement and pavement to crack over the winter, leaving these cracks and crevices when the ground thaws again in the spring.

It was during one of these walks this week when we witnessed a fight on the school ground just as the students were being dismissed for lunch.  Once the fight had broken out and the kids all sent on their way - home or to the office - I happened to overhear the teachers talking...

"Why don't the parents teach these kids any social skills?" was the main question they were asking as they dusted off their hands. 

Then, one of the teachers noticed us and noticed that Squirt was not one of the students at the smallish school.

"Are you wanting to register him for school?" She asked.

Squirt said "No.  We homeschool.  We're out for a walk because it's a beautiful day."

The teacher looked at me and honestly, the first thing out of her mouth was "Aren't you worried about socialization?  How is he ever going to learn how to behave with other people if he doesn't attend school?"


Yeah, I was dumbfounded.  They had JUST broken up a fist fight between a 70 pound kid who was being beaten by TWO kids who were almost twice his size and I am supposed to be concerned about my son's LACK of socialization???

AND they had JUST said "Why aren't these parents teaching their children any social skills?" while I am doing exactly that by teaching my son that fighting is NOT something he does to fix a problem and I am supposed to be concerned that I am not teaching my son enough to "survive in the real world"?

I just looked at her and smiled and said "If the socialization you speak of is the fighting we just witnessed, then no, I am not concerned at all because in our house and in our yard, my son knows he is not going to be beaten up and bullied.  He knows it is safe to say what he wants, when he wants and to whom ever he wants because we discuss things.  He knows he does not have to raise his hand to use the bathroom and he knows he does not have to raise his hand to ask a question.  He can speak to an adult as easily as he can speak to a seven year old, and the topic is often the same."

"Yes, but there are skills children need to know that they can only learn from their peers" she tried to push.  "How is he going to learn how to play with children who are different than him?  After all, not all people in the world are white and middle class." 

She did say this with a sneer...and it made me want to laugh...

I am part Native.  And while we consider ourselves middle class, the Sask government has just informed us that we are low income.  Didn't know that, Mr. Wall...Thanks for telling us, Mr. Wall...

"He has peers," I answered.  "He plays regularly with the kids in the neighbourhood.  Not just for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon, but for 1-3 hours a day, sometimes longer if he wants and if the kids are able.  He plays with children who are white, who are brown, who are black and who are yellow.  He plays with children who are 4 and children who are 14.  He plays with children who are Christian, he plays with children who are Jehovah's Witnesses.  He has friends who are Jewish and friends who are being raised agnostic and those who are being raised athiest.  He has friends who have Down Syndrome and friends who walk with braces or are not able to walk at all.  He has a friend who is unable to see, and a friend who is hard of hearing.  And he has family members who are Mennonite, and family members who live on reserve.  And all of his friends and family he looks at as that...friends and family.  He does not look at them and sees white or brown, religious preference or abilities.  He just sees friends and family."

Of course, she started in on a rant about how I am the downfall of the education system because "people like me" think we can do better than the "trained professionals" ...

But it was Squirt who made her go quiet when he said...

"Mommy, were all teachers like this when you worked as a teacher?" 

(Yes, my son is a pro at the subtleties of language and he did put a little more emphasis on the fact that I was once a teacher!)

I just smiled and said "No, Squirt."  and we went along our little walk.

Hmmm...Maybe she was homeschooled and never learned the social skills she would have at public school...
3 Responses
  1. Oh, this is truly priceless! You really had the presence of mind to reply in detail in that sort of situation???

    You and I are mentioned in the same paragraph in the current Carnival of Homeschooling. I had thought I had done a pretty good job discussing the "dependency" issue, which is of course closely related to socialization, in the post I submitted to the CoH. But, I yield to you: your post illustrates the socialization issue in a perfect narrative.

    I'll put up a short post this evening on my blog linking to your post.


    All the best,

    Dave Miller,
    The Homeschooling Physicist

  2. FANTASTIC! LOVE IT! So glad you had the clarity of mind to rebuttal. I don't know what I would have done.

    Love that Squirt was able to end the discussion. That's just, well, fantastic! :)

    Came by via the CoH.


  3. Henry Cate Says:

    "Mommy, were all teachers like this when you worked as a teacher?"

    That is priceless. You are doing a great job of raising your son. He didn't add to the fight. He didn't escalate the fight. He helped you make the point in a kind way.

    Keep up the good work!