Socializing across the age groups

We have been ‘attending’ the homeschooling summit this week and have been inspired and motivated by the words of many individuals involved in schooling other than in traditional schools. There are so many like minded people in the world, it was an amazing way to connect with some of them.

One of the most poignant comments was around socialization.

Back as far as John Holt’s time, when he was first interviewed about non-schooling on National TV in the US, the issue around the socialization of children has been a hot topic when homeschooling has been involved.

The question that many traditionalists ask is ‘how will they get the social interactions that they would normally get in school?’

The speaker we listened to, Jerry Mintz, answered it so simply and so succinctly “never again will children be in a room with people who are all the same age as them”. Why then do we call this socializing? Surely spending time speaking to adults, children, siblings, strangers, children at the park, the beach, all prepare children more for the real world than locking them in a room with children all of the same age?

Well, we sure will find out!
One way to challenge the hypothesis is to watch the girls playing across their various stages of age and stage. Each is, as you would expect, where they are supposed to be developmentally for them – where else would they be – they are them. Wherever they were, would be where they should be.

How then, does a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 20 month old play and socialize together?

The answer was explored at length through the Fuller Surgery…

With so many of the toys either having been shipped or sold, there is a lot of play taking place around soft toys.

Flossy decided that the bears were sick and wanted to play doctors.

Freya went about getting pillows and blankets for all the sick toys. With a little nudge from me, food trays were made / found and hospital meals were created. Menus were discussed and orders taken.

Freya and Flossy quickly got into the role play, applying their persobal knowledge of illness and medicine to the toys… he has a fever, get an ice pack, he has broken his leg, can we put a bandage on it, etc.

Initially Fliss watched. Then, without prompting started copying and helping… she found a tray toy, got the toy a plate and proceeded to make a hospital meal for it.

Even commandeering a pillow from another toy. Seemingly accepted for this effort she went on to help the other toys, mimicking the older girls and being accepted as part of the game. Freya and Flossy were more accepting of this than usual and allowed her to take part, even giving her the odd instruction, which she dutifully followed. Her receptive language far outstrips her productive language and she can follow quite complex three part instructions (when she wants to) which amused Freya no end as she dubbed her ‘nurse’ and gave her orders.

The result was almost an hour of role play, rich in technical language applying real life scenarios to a new situation and complete immersion from 20m to 6 years.

Socializing? I think so!

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