Public schoolers used to look at me like an exotic zoo animal while extended family tended to question my parents’ sanity or turn their noses up at the quality of my education. Over my 12 years as a homeschool kid, I learned that these four knee-jerk reactions were grounded in some common myths about homeschoolers.
1) Homeschoolers are unsocialized.
This generalization is the number one objection to homeschooling made by outsiders. They assume homeschoolers lock themselves inside all day, every day with only textbooks for company. In reality, homeschoolers are only as unsocialized as they allow themselves to be.
My mom always made a point to keep me involved with homeschool support groups, AYSO soccer, and church youth group. She signed me up for field trips and classes with other homeschoolers, and she used homeschooling’s flexible schedule to fit in visits with out-of-town family. I also always had my younger siblings to keep me company. With all of these different social avenues, hardly a day went by that I didn’t interact with peers or have to manage interpersonal relationships.
2) Only weirdos homeschool.
Okay, yes, some of us are a bit strange, but there are outliers to every population. Besides, there are still weirdos at public school. Maybe they learn to hide better, or they find their click of weirdos easier, but they’re still present.
Some of the so-called “weirdness” of homeschoolers comes from the tremendous freedom it offers. Homeschoolers get to pursue their interests and learn at their own pace. For example, a junior high boy might develop an obsession with the Revolutionary War, or maybe a high school girl falls in love with chemistry.
For me, this freedom manifested in my reading habits. My curriculum exposed me to dozens of brilliant novels from under-appreciated historical fiction to obscure fantasy to the classics everyone knows and loves. I became a voracious reader who devoured any novel I could get my hands on. In hindsight, I’m immensely grateful for the freedom which allowed me to be a little weird.
3) Homeschool parents need teaching credentials.
They don’t. In practice, the best teaching adjusts to fit the learning needs of individual students. Who better to do this than a child’s own parent? Attentive parents know their kids better than any official teacher ever could, so they should have the best insight into how to get their kids to learn. At the end of the day, a teaching credential may certify that someone has been through official training, but it doesn’t assure teaching success.
Over the years she homeschooled me, my mom continually made adjustments to curriculum or found new ways to teach difficult topics. When I got to high school and she realized I needed more help with writing than she could offer, she signed me up for an essay writing class with a teacher who had a reputation for whipping kids’ writing skills into shape. Now, this teacher didn’t have any credentials either. Her only qualifications were based on word-of-mouth, yet I largely credit my writing success in college to her teaching.
4) Homeschool parents hand their kids good grades no matter their actual performance.
Only bad homeschool parents do this. Those that truly wish to see their kids succeed won’t set their kids up to fail later in life. Parents should offer assistance when needed, but kids must meet pre-established standards to pass their classes. Tests and study guides often come with textbooks, so parents can objectively evaluate how well their kids perform. For subjects which parents feel under-qualified to grade, they can sign up their kids for classes offered by more qualified teachers.
Usually, homeschool kids with attentive parents actually have a much harder time pulling one over on their teachers. I know this because a few of my homeschool friends’ parents made their kids repeat a class because they either didn’t do the proper work or didn’t understand the material. Unlike teachers, parents know what their kids’ home lives and hobbies are; they know exactly when an excuse is unjustified.
Despite having to constantly explain away these common homeschooling myths to people unfamiliar with the homeschool community, I am forever grateful to my parents for choosing to homeschool me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to capitalize on the freedom it offers.
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-By Elise Ozanich