Another thread has me mulling over something my kids have told me recently. They say they don't like school kids, mainly because they're too loud. We don't interact much with school kids, except when a massive school group is on a field trip the same place we are, and the experience on our side is that a slew of wild kids come in and take over the place, screaming and yelling as often as not. The behavior of school kids on field trips in our area is not terrible-- they don't push or intentionally break things (usually) but it's bad enough that when a school group arrives, we will often leave fairly soon afterwards. These experiences are real, but the result is that our family is developing a bias against school children that I know is unfair. Intellectually, I understand that a field trip is a special day, and that the kids are more excited than usual and the teachers/chaperones may be inclined to relax their standards of behavior because the kids are out of the classroom, and so it's not fair to judge them based only on our experiences. However, it's really hard not to sigh when a school bus pulls up to the museum or playground (yes, I know that yelling on the playground is ok, but 30 or 40 kids yelling all the time is pretty darn unpleasant to be around, playground or not.)
There is a homeschooling subculture, and I know part of what's happening is that our family is more comfortable with other members of our subculture than with the mainstream culture, and that we tend to be blind to the flaws of our own group because it's all normal to us-- also, we have been treated like freaks by school families in the past (the intolerance goes both ways), and that makes us less inclined to reach out. However, I don't want my kids to believe that homeschooled kids are better than school kids.
Does this sound familiar to anyone else, or am I alone in this?
We don't enjoy school groups at museums, either. Not all the kids actually are interested in being there. They are just glad to not be in school. And there is usually only one adult per ten kids. But ds has been friends for years with one girl who goes to school. So ds doesn't think school kids are loud across the board. His cousins who have homeschooled are loud so he usually compares loud kids to them rather than school groups.
With the school groups, I explain to ds that they are just excited to be out of school, which he understands. Then I try to go to museums on group free days (Mondays for many museums) or after 3 if it's someplace local and we are ok only being there 2 hours (if we have a membership so aren't paying full admission).
i also think the school kids are just glad to be out of the classroom. I remember from when i was in school feild trips were more fun because we didn't have to stay in our seats all day. :)
My kids have a similar reaction. They hate being at the science centre or the zoo when there are school groups around. They also get the option to participate in events and field trips at our local school and it drives my 9-year-old to distraction how loud and obnoxious the kids are. But we know a lot of school kids personally, and they're totally different when they're out of that large-group environment. So it's been easy for my kids to conclude that it's the structure of their large-group environment, and not the kids themselves, that is the problem. And honestly, I don't mind them having that bias against the structure of school.
My kids still hate school groups at the science centre, and that's perfectly understandable. They're present in large numbers that clog up the exhibits, they're excited to be out of the classroom, so their behaviour is a little wild, the noise level is irritating... but it's not the individual kids' fault. It's just the result of the situation they're in.
Do your kids have any neighbourhood friends or cousins or tae kwon do friends or anything who attend school? If so you could point out that those friends are nice and reasonable people, but likely come across like those wild packs of kids at the museum when they're out on a school field trip. Try to build empathy for the liberating, exciting novelty of being out of the classroom for a day and how that feeds the crazy behaviour ... and also talk about how large group behaviour often snowballs into negativity. Point out how homeschooling avoids these pitfalls, and express sympathy for the schoolchildren whose lives are structured in such a way that this type of behaviour is almost inevitable.
Yes, my kids respond much the same way. I don't think there is anything wrong with them pointing out the behavior in others that is unappealing. In fact, I am quite proud when my kids see the difference. Those kids just feel pent up! We often talk about what it must be like for them.
Now, to balance it out they also have some criticism of homeschool kids. We have found in our interactions that homeschool kids are often not very competitive. I used to be a scout leader for a homeschool pack and I was constantly discouraged by how non-energetic the homeschool kids seemed. I tried hard to get them to want to win a race or push themselves physically, but many of them were not interested. So, there seems to be some sort of perfect mix between a too-mild kid and one who is bouncing off the walls!
I have kids without a competitive bone in their bodies (well, one of them has maybe *one* competitive bone) but they are all very physically strong, adept and energetic. They much prefer non-competitive or self-competitive individual sports, practical physical activity and self-propelled travel and exploration to team sports where there are likely to be winners and losers. I live in a rural area and the homeschoolers I know tend to be outside busy with their bodies a lot ... way more so than schoolkids.
What I notice about groups of homeschoolers is that they are not easily herded or organized into cohesive activities. But, to be fair, groups of homeschoolers tend to contain a very wide range of ages, abilities and expectations for group activities. So it's no wonder organizing them is tough.
I think that part of homeschooling is that kids compare themselves less to other kids, and that can mean they don't think to look around during a race and speed up if they're going a lot slower than everyone else. My daughter was on a very low key community-based basketball team, and it was kind of funny when they started doing relays as a way of drilling skills-- all the other girls were focused on going as fast as they could while ours was taking her time and working on other things (ball control during dribbling, staying exactly on the line, etc...) There was a strong contrast, and she never gave it a second thought (we did talk to her about trying to go faster because that was the point of the exercise, and the coach didn't know what to do with a kid who didn't intuitively get that).
Going back to the original topic, I'm going to start looking for things to admire in school kids. We don't know very many kids who attend school-- the neighborhood kids are almost never home and when they are they stick to their bus stop clique, and we're so busy with homeschool activities we don't do much that isn't for homeschoolers and even when we do, the activities don't tend to be especially social-- like the basketball team, most of the time the kids are too busy to chat. But I'm unhappy with my attitude toward the school lifestyle, and I want to turn it around before it gets any worse.
I haven't read all the replies yet but this particular issue seems more like a group thing than a school thing. I know several home schooled kids who are unbearably intense and out of control all on their own. I'm willing to be that a group of 30 or 40 or 60 of these kids would be just as overwhelming and unpleasant to be around as the same group of traditionally schooled children.
To be honest, I don't enjoy crowds at all. Depending on the size of the space, I would be overwhelmed by a group of well behaved adults of this number.
That said, I do believe that generally speaking, the way school children are allowed to act out at museums and such is appalling and I have no problem at all telling my dd that their behavior is inappropriate and rude. That's not a bias against them being schooled. It's a comment and observation regarding the particular behavior they are displaying at that moment.
As a former public school teacher, I would agree that kids in large groups sometimes are more out of control and louder than kids in small groups you find with homeschoolers. I kept my class very well under control while allowing them to interact and learn, and some people thought that I was too strict, but those kids in particular mostly really needed to learn how to behave in groups and in public, and they actually took pride in praise from the principal and in overhearing that someone thought they were from a pricey private school but couldn't understand why they were dressed down so much and not in their uniforms.
All that to say that the kids one on one are not necessarily loud or rude. Those kids are cooped up in classrooms all year and barely get to go anywhere, so it's exciting. It's also a reflection of the fact that in the halls it can be loud and they might have to raise their voices to be heard. And, the staff tolerates that behavior, having a low standard just to get through it. There really are so many kids who come from neglect and abuse or from subcultures that include a lot of loud talk that it's hard for the teachers to get all the kids to be quiet and orderly all the time at school. Mind you, I did, but other teachers told me I was going to wear myself out, and they were right actuallly.
I would recommend that you begin to find opportunities for your kids to spend time with individual kids who attend public and private schools, one on one at first. There is so much prejudice between schoolers and unschoolers, homeschoolers and public or formal private schools, and it just creates unnecessary barriers and keeps teachers in all forms of education from teaming up and sharing what will help kids as well as admitting when they have things to offer each other.
One day your kids may go to college, and they will be among kids who mostly went to either public schools or for some high end schools a mix of high end private schools and highly academic magnet schools. Those kids who weren't homeschooled form their opinions about homeschooling based on how the homeschooled students behave. If they are very shy and withdrawn, even suspicious, it doesn't create a good impression. If they are snobbish, same thing. If they are clueless about popular culture, ditto. Better that your child be the cool kid who can be natural and effective among kids with varied backgrounds and who is both normal and very unique due to his or her custom education and gradual familiarity with the basics of how the rest of the world thinks, lives, interacts, etc. When your kids have their own values and habits, they tend to hold onto them. Some may divert a bit in college to test their boundaries, but they generally will gravitate toward what they were taught if it was healthy and positive. That makes a good impression on others, and that's important. Not to do everything to please others, but to be aware of what you are doing and what you are communicating.
I would just gradually add in friends who have nonhomeschooling backgrounds and get to know them as individuals. Talk to your kids about why they think what they think, stereotypes, understanding what others face and why they do things, etc. That doesn't mean you endorse those behaviors or replicate them. Doesn't mean you invite the behaviors into your home. Just realize that if your child were in public school, they probably would act that way on field trips too. And, to be frank, sometimes homeschooled kids benefit from being a bit more bold. Boldness sometimes comes from the freedom to express without someone right there to stop you.
I have known of several homeschooled students who didn't get into top universities not because they couldn't do the work or hadn't proven themselves. They didn't get in because the interviewers felt they were so sheltered that they wouldn't make a good transition to college. They also lacked boldness and were reluctant to openly state their views due to excessive politeness or a need to please I guess. When kids are at public school, due to the student teacher ratios, the kids simply have a lot of loosely supervised time to communicate.
There is trash talk, gossip, and other negative behavior, but the kids usually learn to hold their own. Participating in select outside activities with kids from different school backgrounds can be very helpful. The focus is on the focus of the activity and not on the kids, so they have that in common. Yet, they are away from school and can be a bit different, adjusting to the group a bit. Keep in mind that there are many fantastic, polite kids in public and formal private schools. We can learn from them too.
I have had public school kids at my house and simply told them if they were too loud or rude what I expect. I said it politely and offered them some cookie or something, and they sort of paused and then complied.