When you homeschool, and your kids have a shy moment on the spot, or don't handle direct attention from a strange adult instantly.... it's so easy to feel judgment from people that your kids are the stereotypical "unsocialized" homeschooler. That your child is socially awkward. Here's the thing though: as long as you continue to guide them through social graces in those circumstances and are patient with them, they will learn and find their security and confidence. The more you push or pressure them, to kind of -- on demand "perform" -- you are using them as a reflection of you, instead of respecting your child's pace and growth. Should we work with kids who are shy to come out of their shells? Absolutely. But there are shy public school kids, too. And a child who may be shy or quiet in one environment can be perfectly comfortable and outspoken in another. Quiet observation is not a flaw. Careful, sensitive temperaments can be strengths. They look before they leap. They put thought into what they say and what they share.
Our children are not monkeys who should perform on cue the way we expect them to, because our hearts are prideful. Somehow, as a society, with children, we synchronize "outgoing" with "well-adjusted." Do we treat shy or introverted adults this way? I can’t remember the last time I heard someone think it appropriate to tease an adult if a cat had gotten their tongue if they paused before responding.
I have to remind myself what is MOST important. If I am teaching my children compassion, mercy, service.... and then they fail in a passing moment to speak up when spoken to? Whew.
Sometimes, depending on the person in front of us, I can almost “feel” their unspoken thoughts of, “see? This is why homeschooling is…”
It can be hard to swallow. Luckily, I am not doing a work for the approval of men, but striving to live in obedience to what pleases God.
So, I try to concentrate on how to help them practice better next time, rather than if my pride is dented. My response to my kids in those instances had better be with mercy and compassion, otherwise I am not responding to the child God has given me, but rather to the pressures from the world on what I want my child to be. I am not homeschooling for the esteem of others. Let us not project such burdens on our children. Let us not label or humiliate them. Instead, continue to cultivate authentic relationships with them in various settings. And, be thankful that you have opportunity to help them work through their shyness in securing, nurturing ways. Be intentional, and help them grow.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” –Matthew 5:5