One of the most common questions that homeschoolers get is “But don’t your kids need the socialization that school provides?” I’m not going to go into that because that question has been addressed 8 ways from Friday. I’m here to talk about the socialization that homeschooling MOMMIES need. Especially Mommies who fall very far into the E section of the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum. And especially Mommies who are in foreign countries in a new culture and foreign language. Yeah, I’m talking about ME!
We do this thing called “Worldschooling” and there’s even a crazy big Facebook group of other people who do it, are thinking about it, want to be inspired by others who do it, etc. If I let myself I could spend all day reading about others’ experiences or chatting about ours. It’s definitely a black hole of time if you fall into it, but it’s also a really extensive network of people a lot like us. Honestly, how did people do this before the internet? I’ll have to ask my mom because she did it! I do remember when I was 11 and living in Spain we got to have one or two phone calls (in 4 months) home to our friends. The call was difficult to hear, there was a delay, it was stilted and it was expensive. We did letters, of course, but they took a few weeks to get back and forth. It’s very nice to keep in close touch with friends and family via the internet now. And it’s even more critical because Panama had no real mail system and so far Mexico doesn’t seem to have a reliable one either! But I digress.
One of the reasons we decided on Mexico as country #2 on our journey is there was a Worldschooling “Family Summit” planned here in this area. We thought it’d be interesting to meet others face to face so we coincided our stay in order to attend. We just finished 5 days of the summit and I’m here to say that socialization is so important for moms (and even introverted teens!) too. My cup runneth over with social and I am a happy camper. Even our introverted teen had a fabulous time, which she will be writing about shortly.
The summit was planned more than 6 months ago and the organizer was expecting it to be a very casual get-together of 5 or 6 families. Well, it grew to about 40 families and over 120 people once you add in all those kidlets. It was held in the small town of Puerto Morelos which was a lovely little town but when 120 extra people show up and the kids take over the town square for 5 days, and this being high season with a lot of tourists (who take over most of the available rooms), well it felt like we kind of overflowed the town. Since we only live 25 minutes away, in Cancun, we didn’t stay overnight there and just commuted each day. It was nice to have a chance to relax and still sleep in our own beds (read: mattresses on the floor of our unfurnished house – but comfy nonetheless).
The summit had a lot of interesting speakers. We chatted about homeschooling, getting homeschoolers into college, challenges we face that “normal” families don’t and successes we’ve orchestrated. We shared stories and country experiences and we talked endlessly about our (mostly unfounded) worries about our kids’ future. One of the most interesting parts was the Teen Panel where the teens of the group (mine included) fielded questions from the parents. The parents of younger kids were very interested in how our teens felt about everything from missing friends, missing traditional school (or not), limits on video games (or not), going to college (or not) and everything in between. I have one of those teens in my house every day but I was still so interested in all of their answers.
While the adults were having their parent time every day from 11 to 6, all the kids were being cared for by the older kids of the group led by a group of teen volunteers who had been charged with the organization of the kid’s camp. They had no indoor place to meet so they played outside at the town square all day for 4 straight days (about 200 feet from the beautiful, aquamarine ocean). These kids made so many friends and had a ball. And they slept like champs every night. My introverted germaphobe teen came out of her shell and rocked that camp like I’ve never seen before. She sang, she danced, she got goofy. One of her jobs was running kids back and forth to the bathroom and when we were done for the day I would frequently find her with a kid on her hip or her lap. Who is this girl who doesn’t even like to touch doorknobs???? Out of all of us I think Haley really got a lot from the week, which was not at all what I expected going in. It just proves my motto of “You just don’t know what you don’t know”. Profound, I am.
Here are just a few of the things that came out of the week for our family personally:
- I met a gal who is helping me arrange art lessons (in Spanish) for the girls.
- I connected with someone who connected me with a few Mexican homeschool families who live in Cancun. We are already friends on Facebook and planning to get together this week with our kids! Yay for Spanish speaking friends!
- Haley reconnected with a teen from Chicago who has a lot of similar interests, and thus our two families have become fast friends. Zoe is loving having a “little sister” who adores her.
- We met a really interesting family of 7 (five kids) from a town about 5 hours away here in Mexico. They are from the USA but have lived here for 9 years. We are planning a road trip to go visit them.
- We learned more about some 2-3 week teen retreats put on by the organizer of the summit. Haley is very interested in participating in one in the future. This type of retreat would blow her comfort zone out of the water. That’ll be an amazing growth opportunity for her.
- We got some great information about a co-living and co-learning environment in Bali that seems like a great stop on our world journey.
- We learned about a few more things we should start to do for Haley in order to prepare for college, if she chooses to go. It’s good to start now, as she is almost of the age when she would be entering 9th grade.
- We made more new friends than we can count and will likely meet up with many of them again at some point somewhere in the world.
- The girls had a really interesting week playing and learning new games and making friends.
- Haley really pushed past her comfort zone and matured more in one week than I’ve ever seen. I’m so impressed with her.
- We renewed our commitment to this lifestyle and built up our confidence that we are doing the right thing. We are new to this but we still had a lot of experience to share with others. We really feel that we are on the right track.
After a very busy week we are now enjoying some down time, connecting with our new friends and preparing for our next visitor… Nanna. Who has time for homeschool!?