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Friday, October 4, 2013

Is Lack of Socialization the Same as Shyness?

She said it!  In a recent phone conversation I had with our new dance instructor.  She said it.  The word that makes me cringe.

Suggesting that her children are not properly socialized is enough to get up the ire of any parent, but to a homeschooler, these are not words you want to hear.  But, she said it.

Oh, the teacher was not trying to be offensive.  In fact, she was trying to be nice in a round-about way.  But, she said it; and, I'm having trouble letting it go.

If you have followed my blog, or know me, at all then you know how hard it was for my girls to transition from a long-time dance instructor to a new studio.  We would never have switched, but the life-long instructor retired and moved onto a career as an administrator at her own daycare center.

She was a wonderful teacher, and I shed probably more tears than my girls when I discovered almost a decade of dance instruction, as we knew it, was coming to an end.

We managed, by the grace of God, to finally land at a studio we really like.  The instructor is also very nice.  But, she said it.

In the phone conversation, this new dance instructor was saying how happy she is that the girls are seeming more relaxed and happy around her.  She was complimenting them.  But, she said it.

She went on to say, "Because your girls are homeschooled..."


There's the intro right there that made me cringe.  And, it continued...

"They're not used to having many different teachers, like children who attend 'regular' school.  And, they were - because of that - perhaps, a little more shy to open up to the other girls in the class as well."


Socialization and Shy in the same sentence.

So, what do I do with that?

Of course, I will deal with it - Even try to forgive this comment.  But, it digs deep and makes me feel as if she will always see my girls through glasses that paint them as socially awkward, shy and not in with the 'regular' group.

This does more than trigger a hurtful nerve in me.  It makes me realize that she is not educated in the benefits of homeschooling in regard to socialization.  However, if it is beneficial to homeschool a child for reasons of socialization; then, why isn't it evident in my girls?

It makes me sad.
It makes me wish I had never ever mentioned to her that they are homeschooled, but she point blank asked.
It makes me question if my girls really are shy.  See, to me they are far from shy.  As I told her, once she finally gets my youngest to come out of her shell, she will want to stuff her back in.  This child is hilarious, bright, clever, and often becomes full of unspun energy and chatter.

My older daughter appears to be sweet, quiet and perhaps even shy.  However, this is the same girl who doesn't stop talking at times.  Most recently, we timed her words on the way home from a family gathering:

240 words spoken in one minute!

So, is that the works of shy children?

Shyness hits a personal nerve for me, because growing up I was often mistaken for being shy.  It hurt for one reason, and one reason only - Because the person who would call me shy really thought it was an inferior trait.

In my growing up and maturity, I discovered that there is a difference between being shy and being quiet and being reserved and being thoughtful and gentle.  I soon determined that while I am usually a quiet person, I am far from shy.

I don't want my girls to be wrongly perceived in this way either.  And, it bothers me that homeschooling is associated with shyness, awkwardness, immaturity and lack of socialization skills.  Yet, if my children really do lack confidence, I need to address that issue.  So, when a dance teacher reminds me that she sees my children as being shy and that this, in her mind, is because they are homeschooled - I'm not sure what to do with that.

1 comment:

  1. UGH! I feel your pain. There are PLENTY of socially awkard shy kids in school! It is a false stereotype to put on homeschoolers. Clearly she does not understand different personalities and that not everyone has to behave just like her. If you are like me you will not rest until you can come up with something to say to the dance instructor. Think it out carefully. You might enjoy this book and maybe you can loan it to her. It does not consider homeschooling [which irritated me!] but school is a minor point in the book. It main focus it that we do not all have to act like extroverts. Being something different is okay and valuable too. hth http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153