However, the problem in my mind, is not really one of speaking to strangers, but one of intent and pre-conceived ideas. For example, I had a house full of policemen yesterday because I'm concerned about my elderly neighbour whose post is mounting up and who I haven't seen for days. I didn't expect them to come in (I hadn't actually thought about it) and the house was a mess with fimo on the floor mid project, lego in another corner, mid project, my son on the laptop doing maths in his pj's and messy hair, my daughter had just finished her flute practise, so the music stand was out with music everywhere, plus the general chaos of the house because I hadn't got around to tidying yet.
I asked the police officers to excuse the mess as we're a very busy household. They came in, and eventually commented on "oh, do you teach the children at home?", and I replied that I did. Then one said "all the time?". Which I thought was a very funny question. And that led onto the discussion of homed ed, which the police officer didn't know was legal. (Here we go again right!) She asked about socialisation, so I handed her over to my daughter to fill her in while I went and sorted my son out on the pc.
Eventually my son piped up, "enough about us, what about Pat next door!" Now, both children had no problem speaking to strangers. One child is gregarious, one child is more reserved. My son didn't say much, mainly because he was busy and had better things to do, and thought that the police officers should deal with the more pressing matter at hand than waste their time talking to us.
I had no problem letting them into my home, although I confess that I'd hate to let an LA officer come in the way the house was at that moment in time, even though that has no bearing on my educational provision, nor on their attainment. In fact, it's precisely because they had been busy all morning on 'educational' activities that caused the mess! (My daughter hastily tidied it all up when the policemen were in the back garden looking for a way into the neighbour's house.)
But, the police had no agenda with regard to home ed. They didn't come to judge me. (Although they may have made some judgments in their minds, but they didn't say, and they appeared to be favourable.)
However, had I appeared nervous and worried that they were in my house, or refused to let them in, this may have set off alarm bells for them. Had the children appeared nervous and worried, instead of naturally interested in what they were doing and why, I think it would have looked strange. Children normally are fairly chatty and interested, at least after initial shyness. Besides, I thought home educated children were supposed to be far better socialised and able to deal with a wide variety of people and age ranges. That's what we're always told.
So I think most children (although there are exceptions) would cope very well with a local officer visiting, IF they had any real idea about the diversity of approaches available to a home educator.
HOWEVER, the problem is the pre-conceived ideas about what education should look like and complete lack of training in different educational models and their efficiency. Many families HAVE been harmed by ill-informed and school biased local education officers and until these officers have been fully trained and they understand that we are not all doing 'school at home', I'd be a bit reluctant to meet with them to be honest. I think I'd spend most of the meeting asking them questions about what they know about home ed and verifying their credentials before I would be telling them anything about my provision.
And besides, given that we are given no money to home educate, what exactly are they trying to assess? Against what criteria? Are we told what this criteria is? What if we disagree with the criteria? Where is the money to help us attain this criteria as it seems a bit off to expect us to provide anything to their expectations without resources.
The question is far deeper than letting our children meet strangers or not, but rather, what is the intent of that stranger, and is it safe for the protection of our children, to do so.