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Field tripping

The response I hear most when I tell someone we're homeschooling is "what about socialization?". The question comes in many forms. In its most blatant it sounds like an accusation, but other times it comes disguised in curiosity "Do you get together with others much?", and I'll be honest, I'm always torn between giving them the rundown of our social interactions and responding that no, we are what's known as closet homeschoolers: we learn alone in a dark closet.

I know most of the queries are well-meaning or simply curious, but if the askers only knew. In fact, the social experiment of homeschooling might be what draws me most. Yes, connect every Friday with a group of like-minded homeschoolers (because there are many different kinds of us out there, you know), and when we do get together the lack of division between age and gender is truly heartwarming. And it's not the only place we see our fellow homeschoolers. A group of us, connected via facebook, band together to earn field trip privileges at various local places. There's more I want to say about the "socialization" aspect, mainly about how an education in how to be social should not come from someone equally as clueless, and about the value of learning the social aspects of community in the community at large, but right now my focus is really on the second homeschooling group and the amazing field trips we get to take together.

There are lots of good reasons homeschooling field trips are great. For one thing, again, there is no divide along age or gender lines. Then there's the high adult to child ratio. But possibly the most wonderful thing about a homeschool field trip is that pretty much everyone who's there wants to be there. This is no obligatory trip. When the leader posts field trip options in the group, everyone decides for themselves if they want to join up or not, and there's no shame in staying home if, for instance, you aren't interested in the art museum or robotics class. There's no limit to the range of options, the group leader is open to suggestions from anyone and everyone, and the list is there for kids to pick and choose.

This year so far we have taken science classes in the park, gone on guided hikes, and spent a night in the zoo sleeping next to the giant aquarium after feeding the nocturnal animals. Today it was a hands-on class about electricity. Next month it will be a tour of the Parade Company's warehouse. 

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