Day 5 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – ‘SOCIALIZATION’ – Something I am very happy to not have ‘done’ to my kids!

When people talk about ‘socialization’ in terms of the many criticisms levelled at home educators, I have to admit I squirm at the term and want to ask them if they want their kids ‘socialized’ too because it’s a term that sounds like something straight out of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ – something DONE TO kids by Society in order to make sure they fit in and do what they’re told to do when Society wants them to do it. It sounds like a term used by a Society who wants worker ants/drones/compliant robots. So I’m very happy, in this respect, if my kids aren’t ‘socialized’! But even with respect to the way they mean the term, I still have strong feelings about why they think it’s such an imperative for my kids to be ‘socialized’.

Yes, I want my kids to have friends they can play with most days of the week. But I’d like those friends to be kids that they don’t have to play with because they’re in their class. I want those kids to be friends because my kids genuinely get along with them whatever their age and gender. I’ve read some lovely home education stories about kids having genuine friendships with geriatrics who have started off perhaps mentoring them and these friendships being very nourishing. Ideally, one has a variety of friends in terms of age, gender, social, economic, racial and cultural background. At school, we parents had to get our kids together outside school in order for them to learn to get on better inside the class and playground. The school encouraged this (I am sure all schools sensibly do) because it made their lives easier. Naturally, they’d prefer not to have to deal with kids having power struggles with each other whilst they are meant to be sitting in silence doing Maths worksheets! Although to be fair, if they have hearts, they also feel sorry for the kid wandering solo in the playground ‘looking’ for friends. They may never find genuine friends in their class but to at least have someone who will play with you through artificially cultivated home play dates is probably much better than nothing. So, ‘friendship’ through school always seemed to me to be a bit forced and not a recipe for lifelong, deep and meaningful friendships.

The friendships between mothers were much the same. Most mothers at least tried to be friendly to help keep the peace for their children. But many of us had entirely different values and I found it very hard to be friends with people whose values were so opposed to my own and who were so smug about it! Neither my son nor I had much in common with the families in his class. But because they just happened to be in the same class as him they were meant to be friends. I’m looking forward to meeting a whole community of home educators/home education sympathizers who, for a start, share at least this very strong learning/education value with us and so probably share a number of other important ones too (although some, religious values for instance, may be very different).

Home educated kids and their parents are not isolated. “Homeschoolers take responsibility for learning back to the family realm but do so in the context of a large community where each child grows whole and strong within a vibrant network.”, ‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon. My kids will have a greater selection of friends to choose from, of various ages. My son’s best friend is already not someone he went to school with, nor is his own age (this nice boy is 2.5 years older than my son. They don’t even share the same first language. So, we’re used to socializing and making friends with a broad range of people and their children and since my kids are extremely outgoing I don’t expect it to be too long before we’ll make a nice new group of friends who are much more in tune with our values and interests and with whom we can therefore share our lives more profoundly. Isn’t that what friendship is really about, sharing time together in a meaningful way; neither party being afraid to be who they really are? So, no, maybe my kids won’t be ‘socialized’ after all. But they will, I fully expect, have in the natural course of time a great group of friends and so will I! And we will treasure each other, the way I do the real friends that I am so lucky to presently have (more traditional educators as they mostly are!)

Please always feel free to post comments on any of the days you read, however old they are. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate. If you’re busy but enjoyed that day’s blog, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. It would be much appreciated as it helps encourage more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Any comments about Maths teaching is especially appreciated and suggestions about resources warmly welcome!


About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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6 Responses to Day 5 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – ‘SOCIALIZATION’ – Something I am very happy to not have ‘done’ to my kids!

  1. lavina says:

    Hi Penny,
    You are not alone in Bahrain and we are looking forward to meeting you and your family tomorrow. I also found Free Range Learning to be quite inspirational and motivating. For me socialization is an understanding of how to successfully interact and engage with others in the extended family, neighbors and community and not only peers. Because ultimately, that is what needs to happen in the ‘real world’ after our children graduate from school/college.

  2. Hmmmm, Penny you have striken chords by your thoughts! Although I am not yet decisive about homeschooling my kids for a lifelong journey, the first to hit my mind is ‘are they going to have friends?’ My problem is different, since I am Egyptian, I bet I am of very few Egyptians who knew the term ‘homeschooling’ and are willing to proceed with it. At some point, I know I will be back to Egypt and that would be a real shock to me and the kids. Imagine getting into a society who will see what you do with your kids ridiculous! Also, keep in mind that all families go for normal schooling so the pattern of their days is known (half of the day school, the other half doing homework). I am always fearful I might be harming my kids by following this. Don’t know!!!!

    • Hi Imane, The reason why I haven’t answered your comment until know is because I’ve been thinking about it all day. I would love to try and get time to ask my husband for his views because he’ll understand your predicament even better than me. One thing I would have thought you would benefit from in Egypt is lots of ‘instant’ friends in terms of cousins etc… My kids don’t have that. They have each other and that’s all. Anyone else, they have to meet through activities, people I meet and so on. If we knew more homeschoolers that would be fantastic but given the size of Egypt I bet there are many more in Egypt than in Bahrain. They may be expats but between your relations and the homeschooling expats I would have thought your kids might have a very reasonable chance to make good friends.

      It’s very, very tough going against societal norms but for me, it’s always been so much more satisfying living a life that’s true to my values. You get a great sense of spiritual well-being doing what you think is deeply right. You might find your relations thinking you’re crazy but then as they see how happy your kids are and how well they are learning (although be careful not to force them to eg learn to read faster than they are comfortable in order to ‘prove’ you’re doing the right thing) they might join you! My husband’s family’s first reaction was ‘You are totally mad!’ They work so hard in order to pay for private schools for their kids. Yet, they are very unhappy with the quality of those schools and are pondering doing it themselves now. We don’t think they will, but they don’t think we’re so crazy any more! A real change in attitude in a very short space of time!

      If homeschooling ends up being very important to you, your passion will help you overcome all the obstacles. As Ghandi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, model for your kids the importance of living your values – whatever they are. Good luck and keep in touch! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. So many people will benefit from it because they are feeling exactly the same sense of trepidation!

  3. Pingback: Day 28 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – Will We Let Petra Go to School If She Wants to? | homeschoolingmiddleeast

  4. shauilee says:

    I guess I am also the same as others. My first question is how about socialization? I have a different case though. My son was diagnosed with mild autism spectrum disorder just over 2 weeks ago. He doesn’t socialize with other kids his age unless he met them for many times already. New environment makes him very nervous too. Academically he is average, it’s just his socialization skills and speech that we have a problem with. We still pursued with mainstream school though because we have already enrolled him but on the first day of school he cried for so long and because of nervousness, he threw up all over his shirt. It was heartbreaking for me to see that and still said to myself that he will get used to it. Second day was a bit better but on the third day, as he was about to ride the bus he threw up again because he was so nervous to go to school again. I took him back and now I’m thinking again if it’s the right thing to do to put him in mainstream school that is putting a lot of pressure or just to homeschool him where he feels safe and secured. I am really confused right now and I don’t know if I should pull him out or just try for more days and check if he will be able to adjust to the school environment.

    • You know what I’m going to say….pull him out!! Happiness trumps academics especially since you’re not going to flourish academically without it. He might learn to cope but that’s not the same as happiness. Did you say you lived in Bahrain? There are some great homeschoolers in Bahrain. Do you want to email me on and I can put you in touch? Very best wishes during this really difficult time, Penny

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