Have you ever considered homeschooling, but hesitated because you weren’t sure if you owned enough denim skirts? Well, have I got news for you! Take a look at these myths about homeschoolers, because it might make you think twice about them and the whole concept of homeschooling.
1. Homeschoolers Are All the Same
Growing up, my home school was all I knew. Except for 3rd grade, a year in which I ventured into the public school system like an awkward baby bird (luckily it was the year the macarena was cool), I was homeschooled from kindergarten until I graduated high school. At the risk of sounding like a braggart, that makes me a near pureblood homeschooler.
Alright, so this really isn’t anything to brag about, but it does mean that I saw every kind of homeschooler in my time. From the ultra-conservative denim-skirted family of sixteen, to progressive folks wanting an alternative to the cookie cutter formula of public school, my family socialized a lot with other homeschool families due to the huge network of homeschoolers in our area.
2. Homeschoolers Don’t Have Any Friends
This is the biggest myth about homeschoolers—that they are secluded oddballs, voluntarily cut off from society. The truth is that there are tons of resources for families who choose to educate at home. In almost any city, you can find extracurricular activities for homeschoolers including sports leagues, co-ops and groups that offer weekly classes, support groups for educators, and much more. This is the 21st century; we can be as connected as we choose to be.
Thankfully, my mom didn’t want to put up with three kids at home 24/7 and started looking for ways to get us out of the house by about age 12. I met my husband and my dearest, life-long friends in a homeschool activity group.
3. It’s (You’re) Weird
It wasn’t until I grew up and fell in step with what everyone else was doing—got a job at age 15 and began dual enrollment at the local community college—that I realized people viewed me and my experience as different.
“But you’re so normal!”
I heard it over and over and over again when I told people I was homeschooled. Still to this day people think they’re paying me a compliment when they say this, but it’s like an English-speaker yelling at someone who speaks French, “Wow, way to use your voice, good for you!”
By “normal,” I think what most people mean is socially adjusted. People seem to look for awkward, socially stunted individuals to come out of homeschool families. They apparently expect a quiet woman in a revolving wardrobe of khaki skirts and long sleeve shirts layered under short sleeves. Trust me, I know the type. I grew up around a few of these stereotypical homeschoolers, and I’m not denying their existence.
That’s the tricky thing about stereotypes, though; typically, in the time it took for a stereotype to solidify in people’s minds, things change. The 1980s brought a lot of conservative Christian families to the newly developed modern homeschool trend. Homeschooling gave these families the freedom to infuse their children’s education with their own values and beliefs. The truth, however, is that there’s a variety of reasons families decide to homeschool, and even more ways to actually go about it.
4. Parents Homeschool Because They’re Control Freaks
One of the major benefits of homeschooling is to be more in control of your child’s education, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For many, the most aggravating part of public education is the standardized testing mentality.
According to a PDK Poll of public attitudes toward public schools in 2017, almost 50% of public school parents agree that standardized tests don’t measure aspects of their child’s education that are important to them personally. Homeschooling is one option that allows the disillusioned parent to emphasize the things they believe are important in their child’s education.
5. It’s Not a “Real” Education
The beauty of homeschooling is that you can adapt your child’s education to fit his or her learning style and needs. Got a kinesthetic learner that’s acting out and rebelling against the teacher? Not every child is going to easily conform to the sit down, speak-when-spoken-to environment of a traditional classroom.
As long as a homeschooled child is meeting learning objectives for his or her grade—and every homeschooler is held to that standard—you can use Four Square to teach kids about poetic terms instead of the cruel, tinny sound of a red kickball to the face. The sky’s the limit! Even though it might look different, for some kids it could mean the difference between actually learning and the memorize-and-dump routine.
The Bottom Line
Homeschoolers can be an eccentric bunch, it’s true, but thankfully that is something our culture is coming to value more and more. Educating at home is one of many alternatives to America’s struggling education system, and there is no pressure to look, speak, or think a certain way to fit in. Homeschooling creates the space needed for individuals to nurture the ways in which they diverge from the norm, and to thrive in that space.