What are your social skills like?

The age old socialisation question raised its head the other day.

“What are your social skills like?” a home educated young person was asked at a job interview.

What kind of question is that F*S!!!

There are several irrational things about this (the question – not my response!):

  1. Couldn’t the interviewer tell – he’d been talking to the interviewee for over half an hour by this time?
  2. What on earth does he mean exactly – I doubt he could answer?
  3. How the heck could you – or any of us – answer such a question?
  4. Would he ask a school leaver the same question?

I always think it’s rather weird that the most pressing thing on people’s mind in relation to home educated children has little to do with learning and education – it’s about social development. And even more weird to think that ‘normal’ social development would take place within the abnormal social setting of a school.

Anyway, what are ‘social skills’? How would we answer? We’d better think about it in case any of your children get asked! By ‘social skills’ is it meant:

  • That we are polite and articulate?
  • That we can converse and interact in an appropriate way?
  • That we can assess and make suitable responses to people’s (sometimes weird) questions and behaviour?
  • That we’re chatty and articulate?
  • That we show empathy, consideration and respect when with others?
  • That we can pick up social cues?
  • That we are mature and act responsibly in company?
  • That we’ve got friends?!
  • Or that we are just nice people!
  • Maybe all of the above!

Every home educated child that I’ve ever met is all of those things anyway – and more.

I wonder sometimes how many parents, when they send their children to school to mix among a population of socially inept youngsters, how they think this is going to ‘socialise’ them. How many children or parents even know what that is? How many school using parents think about it? Yet bizarrely they are the ones who challenge home educating families with such doubts and sometimes accusations.

So I’ll say it again – and home educators will probably need to go on saying it until there are so many choosing this option others begin to notice how socially unskilled many school children are – home educated kids:

  • are sociable,
  • have friends,
  • do talk to others,
  • do get out with others,
  • can mix appropriately,
  • can hold a conversation,
  • are very socially mature
  • and are usually nice people!

And they are like this because they don’t go to school; because they mix with many others out in society in the natural social clusters found in society (not the unnatural one found inside schools), with a high proportion of adults who do have social maturity.

Perhaps if you’re home educating you should go about asking ‘what are your social skills like’ to everyone you meet? This way we might get some answers that would prepare the children for bizarre and ridiculous questions like these.

Or maybe just prime them with the answer; ‘excellent thank you!’ And that will be the end of it!

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6 thoughts on “What are your social skills like?

  1. Great post, given that most people, neighbours included lack the social skills to even say hello or good morning. Or if I see a group of school going teenagers who you often here speaking about their teachers with such contempt and assuming that every adult in society too must be the same (we’re not!), the social skills of home educated kids who are out in the community mixing with a range of people young and old, should really be the least of people’s concerns! Our children can speak to anyone, rather than shying away scared to answer in fear of answering incorrectly like their school going peers.

  2. I love the idea of a lanyard! Might have to pinch it, Kevin :-). Great article, Ross. I was told by another Mum at ballet yesterday evening that my son and daughter “don’t seem like home educated kids-no offence”. Wish I could have just referred her to the above. Oh well…there WILL be a next time. Guaranteed.

  3. It’s very frustrating I know as pretty much everyone brings this up. I guess though, 6 months ago I would probably have asked the same question to a new homeschooler. There’s a deep seated concern in all of us I assume, that wants our kids to be ‘normal’ and ‘accepted’ and our unspoken assumption is that school and clubs are the way to do that because that’s what everyone does. Added to that visions of Amish kids locked away in some introspective sect in the deep south (or the Isle of Wight! 😉 ), it’s perhaps understandable why they ask this question. I’m just getting used to saying they do loads of clubs and their social life is better than mine (which is quite true!). I guess perhaps one way is to side with them and say something like, ‘obviously socialisation is a big concern, so we make sure they go to lots of clubs, church youth group and see friends etc.’ I haven’t tried that yet, so thanks for making me think. That I would assume would diffuse the situation for most people. The other thing I’m going to try is getting lanyard badges made up so my wife and I look like teachers, so if anyone asks what we’re doing, we look like teachers on a school trip with the kids! 🙂

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