I recently made the decision to put my four youngest (ages 9-16) in conventional school. It was a really difficult, painful decision because I had been homeschooling for the past 24 years.
One of the things people invariably asked me about as a homeschooler was if my children were getting enough socialization.
Have you been around teenagers? Socialization is not a problem unless maybe they live somewhere above the arctic circle and have no Wi-Fi access.
Robert Epstein, author of The Case Against Adolescence states that the average teen is socializing with her peers on some level on an average of 65 hours a week. He is concerned that they learn too much from their age group and are kept from maturing normally.
I tend to agree. My experience with teens, and keep in mind I have four times the children most people do, is that they are much smarter, much more capable, and much more responsible than their parents and other adults give them credit for.
I am of the opinion that when we lock kids up with 28 other kids that are the same age and in a similar stage of maturity, then everyone begins to think alike. Priorities become a group thing rather than an individual thing.
When kids are exposed to a large, diverse social group, then they tend to develop their own ideas and opinions, as well as mature at their own rate.
I am looking at kids that are coming out of college and seem to me to be less mature than I was when I got out of high school. I was married and had two kids by the time I was 25 and yet honestly, most 25 year olds I see are in serious need of a reality check.
If a teen is in a classroom situation with a group of other teens and then comes home and Facebooks/texts with friends as she watches a television show that is created with a teenager in mind, when is she going to pick up on adult thought patterns? It certainly won’t be on the weekends when she is at the mall hanging out with her friends.
Teens create a sort of family unit within their peer group and it exerts the influence on them that family used to. In turn, they tend to pull away from their families.
I guess some people think this is normal and healthy. I don’t tend to agree. I don’t think there is any problem with kids having friends and spending time with them, but they need to spend time with family as well. Maybe school systems should go back to a small, multi-age classroom type situation.
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
Things like family dinners and activities keep things balanced. It is a hard season, these teenager years. It’s difficult to know when to rein in and when to loosen up. If my kids start getting distant, I know that it’s time to plan a family night of some sort.
What do you think? Do teens spend too much time talking to peers?