As a proud homeschooling mama, one of the things that always gets to me are the homeschooling myths or generalizations made about this growing method of education. I too once believed many of the myths when I first heard people mention that they knew someone who homeschools. I had the first thoughts of it being very strange and that these families must be different, and not in a good way.
Three years into my homeschooling experiment, I find myself the subject of these generalizations and I find myself struggling to make people aware that these myths are anything but true.
Myth 1 – Homeschoolers are very religious and the basis of their homeschooling is founded on strong religious beliefs and values. Untrue. While there are many homeschool families that do so for religious reasons there are many many more that do so for educational reasons. Homeschoolers run the gamete on reasons for homeschooling and include things like better educational opportunities, allowing a more child centered focus on education, strengthening and honoring the family bond, and instilling a love of education. Homeschoolers come in all varieties but to generalize them all as religious zealots is incorrect.
Myth 2 – All homeschoolers are super smart genius-like kids. Untrue. Just as you will find a wide variety of intellects in a classroom, you will find the same variety in the homeschooling world. What is true is that those few genius like kids you occasionally see winning a national spelling bee or science fair is that they are often able to flourish while homeschooling in a way that would be difficult in a classroom of 20 or so other children who do not possess the same academic giftedness.
Myth 3 – Homeschoolers are lonely and have little social interaction with peers. If there is one myth that will get any homeschooling parent going—it’s this one. Incredibly untrue. To say so is a complete misunderstanding of homeschooling. Homeschoolers are not shut-ins. Most belong to homeschooling organizations and groups. They spend their days interacting with wide ranging groups of people- varied in age, socioeconomic status, culture, and geographic location. They are not bound to socialize merely with the same group of people located in a small geographic setting that all go to the same school. Many homeschooling organizations hold co-op classes, have frequent field trips, plan park days and play days, and network together in a very proactive and pro-social way. Many homeschooling parents can attest to the occasional feeling of being too busy at times. Additionally, most homeschool families participate in the same extracurricular activities as schooled children, be it softball or karate.
Myth 4 – Homeschooled children have limited social skills. Untrue. Building off myth 3, homeschooled children usually have excellent social skills because they are around a wide ranging group of people throughout the week. They deal with young and old and get a true education in socializing with various types of people. They have a better perspective on social interactions in real world applications.
Myth 5 – Homeschoolers do school at home by sitting in desks and writing in workbooks. Untrue. The term “homeschool” is a general catch all for any child who does not attend public or private school and instead is provided their education at home. There are many subsets of homeschoolers- unschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, traditional curriculum based homeschoolers, and on and on. These subsets range widely from free learning by experience to full curriculum based “school at home”.
Understanding homeschooling begins with the understanding that not all homeschoolers are the same—or even similar for that matter. Generalizations are nothing more than rumors based on one person’s experience. Get to know a homeschooler and start debunking the myths on your own.