Remember some of this the next time you get the 'homeschooling' questions:
Two women meet at a playground where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching and eventually begin to talk.
Woman #1: Hi, my name's Maggie. Those are my three kids in the red shirts - it helps me keep track of them.
Woman #2: I'm Patty. Mine are in pink and yellow. Do you come here alot?
W#1: Usually two or three times in a week, after we go to the library.
W#2: Wow! Where do you find the time?
W#1: We homeschool, so we do it during our day most of the time.
W#2: Some of my neighbours homeschool, but my kids go to public school.
W#1: How do you do it?
W#2: It isn't easy. I go to alot of PTA meetings and work with the kids everyday after school and stay really involved.
W#1: Don't you worry about socialization? Aren't you worried about them being cooped up all the time with kids their own age? What if they never get the opportunity for natural relationships?
W#2: Well, I work hard to balance that. They have some friends who are homeschooled and we try to visit their grandparents once a month.
W#1: Sounds like you are a very dedicated mom. But don't you worry about the opportunities they're missing out on? I mean they're so isolated from real life. How will they learn what the real world is like -- what people do to make a living -- how to get along with all different kinds of people?
W#2: Oh, we discussed that at the PTA, and we started a fund to bring real people into the classrooms. Last month, we had a policeman and a doctor come in to talk to every class. And next month, we're having a woman from Japan and man from Kenya come to speak.
W#1: Oh, we met a man from Japan in the grocery store the other week, and he got to talking about his childhood in Tokyo. My kids were absolutely fascinated. We invited him to dinner and got to meet his wife and their three children.
W#2: That's nice. Hmmm. maybe we should plan some Japanese food for the lunchroom on Multicultural Day.
W#1: Maybe your Japanese guest could eat with the children?
W#2: Oh, no. She's on a very tight schedule. She has two other schools to visit that day. It's a system wide thing we're doing.
W#1: Oh, well maybe you'll meet someone at the grocery store sometime and be able to invite them to dinner.
W#2: I don't think that is likely. I don't talk to people in the grocery store -- certainly not people who might not speak my language. What if that Japanese man you met hadn't spoken English?
W#1: Well, I never had time to think about. Before I even saw him, my 6 year old had already asked him what he was going to do with all the oranges he was buying.
W#2: You let your children talk to strangers?
W#1: I was right there with him. He knows that as long as he is with me, he may speak to anyone he wishes.
W#2: But you're developing dangerous habits with him. My children never talk to strangers.
W#1: Even if you're there with them?
W#2: They're never with me. Except at home after school. So you see why it's so important for them to understand that talking to strangers is a no-no.
W#1: Well, yes. But if they are with you, they could get to meet interesting people and still be safe. They'd get a taste of the real world, in real settings. They'd also get a real feel for how to tell when a situation is dangerous or suspicious.
W#2: They'll get all that in the third and fifth grades of their health courses.
W#1: Well, I can tell you're a very caring mom. Let me give you my number -- if you ever want to talk, give me a call. It was good to meet you.