Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How My Children Learned Social Skills

Home is the training ground for raising good citizens. We parents need to teach our children manners and how to interact with others. Homeschooling gives us plenty of opportunity to "socialize" our children. I would like to describe how we've done this over the years.

When my children were very young,we would go to the supermarket, church, post office or library. I would tell them to say, "Please," and "Thank you." They learned how to answer questions by holding their heads up high and smiling. This was simply good manners.

As they got older, I gave them more responsibility. Nicole (at 10) would get in line at the post office and hand the clerk our card to retrieve our mail. I would tell her, in advance, what to say, and how to answer questions. There was one situation where Rachel (then 12) asked a clerk for tape, to secure a package we were mailing. He handed her a sharp, strange looking contraption and told her to do it herself. She ended up cutting her hand, but didn't say a word until we got into the car and saw the blood. This was an opportunity for discussion. Everyone in the car, from the 3 year old up to the 11 year old had an opinion of how Rachel should have handled the situation. We came up with responses for her, in case it ever happened again. Here are some of their ideas (good or bad):

1. When the clerk said to "do it yourself," She could have said, "Ummm... No! It's your job. That's what you get paid for." (Yes that is a bad response, but it got the children thinking,talking and laughing!)

2. She could have said, "Okay. Thanks. But could you show me how to use this?" (Good response.)

Another situation, we found humorous was Nicole's shoelaces. The girl loved to walk around with untied laces. She never seemed to care about her shoes. But she was the CUTEST thing in the world so none of us minded. That was just her quirky way. (smiles). She was probably 11 years old when she went through this "phase." She was always smiling and making everyone laugh. She talked all the time. She was our little actress/ entertainer. Well, we had to think of "come-backs" for strangers we bumped into in everyday life. We would walk up the stairs into a store in town, and an old lady would see her laces untied. She would point this out, with concern, to Nicole. My bratty girl would shrug her shoulders, smile at the shocked woman, and say, "I know... I like it that way." Then walk on with her head held high and a spring in her step.

You know what? Now that I think of it, maybe it is because my children were homeschooled, they can pretty much talk to anyone since we've had to constantly analyze and brainstorm about what they would say!

When the children got older, in their mid-teens, we bought a store. Nicole and Rachel worked there every single afternoon and on weekends. After a short time, they became "managers," and worked independently. They would run the store, with only one employee working in the back kitchen. They were taught about our policies, goals and plans. So they carried out our wishes and interacted with all kinds of customers. They got so good at customer service and handling different personalities that they started to teach me stuff!

When my oldest went off to college several years ago, and her classmates found out she had been homeschooled all her life, they were shocked. Their image of a homeschooler was a quiet, shy, awkward person. This was the exact opposite of her.
My second child got the same reaction when she started working for other companies and started college. She didn't seem like the "homeschooled" type either. She was talkative and friendly and helpful. She can talk to an elderly man, a little child, an irate unreasonable stranger, a happy hippy, etc, etc. No problem for her. It's pretty amazing.

But the final "graduation" point in my mind, when it came to socialization, was a few years ago. I went into the city to visit Rachel and her Fiancé at a restaurant. I was meeting the future in-laws for the first time. I arrived first and we were seated with Rachel. Before the other parents arrived, Rachel "briefed me" in etiquette. She said, "Mom, when they walk in the door, I want you to stand up and wait for them to come over here. Then shake their hands, say hello and then sit back down." I was just amazed at her grace and wisdom. And I was grateful.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

For the Tough Times - How the Old Time Mothers Survived Poverty.

It Does Not Have to be Difficult - The Basics of Lovely Housekeeping.

Remembering my Childhood - Manners Learned at The Finishing School.

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Why Momma Loves the Maxi Dress said...

Hello Mrs White! I can see we have MUCH in common! I have 5 children also, homeschooling etc...and I heart Thomas Watson, He is my favorite!

Anonymous said...

OH Sweet Words of Wisdom! Is it wonderful to see stero-types brought down by the Hand of Yah!

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said...

The student became the teacher - a true sign that the student actually learned the lessons being taught. :)

Heather said...

I love hearing the stories of your children! And, I totally agree that Homeschoolers get lots of socialization!!

Tonya @ The Traveling Praters said...

It really surprises me that people are still concerned about homeschoolers and socialization. I don't think I ever socialized as much as I do now that I homeschool my children! Complete turn around! Stopped by from the Carnival of Homeschooling- enjoyed your post. Blessings!:)

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hi Mrs. White,
Came from the Carnival and enjoyed the post. It's amazing how people can't believe it when you tell them your children are hs'ed because they know how to hold a decent conversation and actually have manners. My perspective is the exact opposite.

Debra said...

Oh, the story of Rachel is great! Thanks for sharing!!

Sennie said...

Wonderful stories! The myth about unsocialized homeschoolers is such baloney!
Here from HHH!