only help my unbelief


Homeschooling and Socialization
January 21, 2009, 10:34 am
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One day in eighth grade, I opened my locker and a folded up piece of paper fell out. To: Chelsey, From: Bobby. Bobby was in my homeroom. He was one of the “cool” kids.

I anxiously opened the note. Ten years later, I don’t remember what it said exactly, but it was something to the effect of “I really like you.”

My heart was racing for the rest of the day. I would never have thought that he would like me, but why would he have left a note in my locker? The thought that he was too embarrassed for his friends to know occurred to me, but I didn’t care. Someone liked me, 13-year-old awkward me!

That night, I wrote out a long note back to Bobby, telling him that I was so excited that he liked me and that I was really looking forward to getting to know him.

The next morning, I handed him the note in homeroom. The look on his face was completely confused, as though he had no idea why I was even talking to him. This was the response I would have expected if it were any other situation, but he had written me a note. He liked me.

If you’ve ever seen Never Been Kissed, remember the scene where Drew Barrymore’s character gets asked to prom by the most popular guy at school and then the night of the prom he drives by and throws eggs at her? That was me.

Turns out some of the girls in my homeroom, who were friends with Bobby, thought it would be funny to write me a note pretending to be Bobby, then watch me crash and burn as I confronted him and he had no idea what I was talking about.

I’m telling this story now because, first of all, God heals wounds. It still pains me to see myself at my locker that day, so excited over what I was reading, but there is redemption at the end of the road. The other reason I’m telling this story is because I want to talk about people who say that one of the problems with homeschooling is that you don’t get proper socialization.

My eighth grade year was the first year that I went to public school, after being homeschooled for my entire school career. Some might say that my lack of socialization was the direct cause of what happened, and that may well be true. My teeth were crooked until I got braces at the end of the year. I didn’t have cool clothes. My interests were specific and obscure. I made good grades. I was the epitome of The Uncool.

But I’m not willing to place the blame entirely on being homeschooled. When I told my friend Emily about what happened in eighth grade, she regaled me with stories about her experience in elementary and middle school. She had gone to public school her whole life.  (I think that if we had gone to the same school, we would have been good buddies, because she was just as awkward as I was.)

Little boys who made a list of girls they wanted to have sex with. Little girls who spread fake rumors about girls who were less popular.

I don’t really think the issue is socialization at all. If socialization is what you learn by going to a public school, then here’s what I “learned” about interacting with other people in eighth grade:

  • People will like you if you make fun of people who aren’t as “cool” as you.
  • It’s OK to completely ignore people who aren’t like you.
  • There are no consequences for bad behavior toward other people.
  • The clothes you wear matter more than how you treat other people.
  • You can’t trust anyone.

Those aren’t exactly the principles I want to instill into my children.

If you want to send your kids to public school, do so in the grace of God. Some parents can’t homeschool their kids, and I understand that.

I think most Christians my age who went to public school would say that they were OK with the experience, but sometimes I wonder if that’s not just because they didn’t know that there were other ways to do it.

When I think about the years that I was homeschooled, I remember memorizing Scripture. I remember reading to my younger sisters. I remember going to the zoo in the morning and being the only kids there who weren’t being marched around in two straight lines. I remember building snow forts, climbing trees and working on my bug collection. I remember the children’s choir at church, the water slides at the community swimming pool, and countless hours playing with my American Girl doll with my closest friends.

Public school wasn’t all bad, and I don’t think you can – or should – shelter your children from anything and everything. But at the same time, I want my kids to grow up knowing they are secure in my love for them, and that Jesus is the all-satisfying lover of their souls. I don’t want notes stuffed in lockers or comments made in whispers to get in the way of that.

God can heal middle school wounds, to be sure, but if it’s at all within my power, I’ll be happy to raise an awkward kid with not-so-cool clothes who loves Jesus and doesn’t have any of the painful memories I do. And I won’t worry about if they’ll have friends or if they’ll ever get married.

Speaking personally, I’ve come a long way.

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2 Comments so far
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[…] haven’t written anything in a very long time. Just too busy. But I stumbled on this blog entry written by Chelsey at Only Help my Unbelief about homeschooling and socialization and I thought she […]

Pingback by This must be what the critics mean by ‘Socialization’ | Senor Parrot's Perch

amn sister :)I’ve never been homeschooled but I would like to homeschool my children. I had my fair share of experiences in middle school and highschool I too was an akward uncool kid. I spent recess at the library reading books, I was teachers pet in a lot of the classes and because of my interest in music and other things people called me names a lot. The first time I got my period everyone found out! yikes!

Comment by Rita M.




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