Image by Tulane Public Relations
My kids are just barely old enough to homeschool now — the older two are 2 1/2 and 4 — but we’ve been planning to homeschool since they were born. Plus, my husband was homeschooled from third grade (I think) through twelfth grade. So, with his background and our plans, we’ve certainly heard our share of comments about homeschooling! It always amuses me, the mainstream perspective on the matter. And for the record, I support a parent’s right to choose the type of schooling that is most appropriate for their family — homeschooling is what works for us.
1) They won’t be socialized!
This is the first thing most homeschooling parents hear, but also one of the silliest. Have you met my children? (Or many other homeschooled kids like them?) They’ll walk up to anyone, of any age, race, gender, etc. and start showing off, telling their life story, asking for help, etc. They’re constantly out at museums, church, stores, playgrounds, etc. and they make friends everywhere they go and enjoy talking to a wide range of people — not just people in their peer group (though they have that, too, at church). This is a lot more “authentic” socialization than the same 30 children sitting in a classroom everyday, or even children within 2 – 3 years (say, 1 – 3 grades) on the playground together.
2) They won’t get to do extra-curricular activities.
These days, many local schools allow homeschooled children to participate in their extra-curricular activities for free! Score. Also, many parents sign their kids up for art classes, intramural sports teams, dance classes, music lessons, and all kinds of other activities. In my area, we have several children’s museums plus a nice zoo, and we have memberships to all of these. They’re not missing out.
3) The parents are Bible-thumping Christians.
Maybe. But this is a stereotype of homeschooling parents that often doesn’t pan out. Being a fundamental Christian isn’t the only reason that families choose to homeschool. There are plenty of people from all different faiths and backgrounds who choose to homeschool, especially these days, as it’s gaining popularity.
4) The parents can’t let go of their children.
So silly! There is a perception that parents literally must have their children close to them all the time and control every single thing they do, and this is why they homeschool. It can happen — I did know one mom who had just one son, who did act this way — but typically it’s not true. A lot of larger families homeschool. They simply can’t keep track of every child at once if they have 4, 5, or 8 of them! (Not that they “lose” them, but they’re “on top of” them either.) Parents homeschool because they believe their children will receive a more individualized and superior education if they are at home. It has nothing to do with being unable to let go. (And if that is a reason for homeschooling…carefully examine your motives again.)
5) The kids don’t really learn anything.
Still silly. Kids can’t help but learn. When they’re small, just playing and helping with everyday activities teaches them a lot. We go grocery shopping and we do math. We cook and that’s science and math. We sew and that’s more math (measuring). Crayons and scissors and paper is art. And so on. With older children, there are tons of curricula that you can buy; there are online homeschools; there are college courses; there are even co-ops where parents with particular skill sets teach “their” subject to children from several families! Most homeschoolers go on to college and do quite well. So yes, they learn a lot!
6) The parents aren’t qualified to teach if they don’t have a degree.
Oh my…now, this, more silliness. Parents know their children the best, and know their child’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. And presumably even the largest families are dealing with a maximum of 10 – 15 kids at once; most nowhere near that many. That automatically makes the “student-to-teacher” ratio quite low. Any parent who’s had a reasonable education knows how to read and do basic math (and, since they know their children and have curricula available to them if they choose, do not need a formal education in pedagogy to know how to teach their children). With older students, it’s true that a parent may not be qualified to teach, say, calculus. This is a situation where a parent typically recognizes his/her limitations and sends the child to a college course or other method of learning.
7) They’ll never learn to compare themselves to their peers.
Probably. But I’d consider this a good thing! Why would I want my children to worry about how they measure up to others? I want them to worry, first and foremost, about always working to better themselves, to “beat” their own best! Whether they’re strong or weak in an area, I want them to always work to improve. I don’t want them to feel that they “can’t do it” because others can; or feel they don’t have to work hard because they already do better than most. How is that useful? By not making them compare at a young age, they’ll have the self-confidence not to need to compare so much when they are older.
8) They won’t know how to fit into a group.
Again, very silly! Most kids do participate in homeschool groups or different types of classes. They definitely have group activities. My kids participate in AWANA, which, at my daughter’s level (she’s 4) is a large group of perhaps 50 or 60 kids. She learns through this how to handle herself in a large group; they also break down into tables of 5 – 6 kids each, so she learns how to handle herself in a small group there. Not to mention that since kids aren’t in a group everyday for 7 hours, they don’t worry only about the group. They also learn how to work well individually, and don’t worry about “fitting in” and other useless nonsense.
9) They won’t have access to all the materials/experiences that public school affords.
This is up to the parents, obviously, and the area in which they live. I’m lucky — living in a major city, there are no fewer than 3 children’s museums within 45 minutes, plus several libraries, a zoo, and many other amazing resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way. My husband grew up in a very rural area where you had to drive at least an hour to go anywhere. They managed to provide him with books and computers and all kinds of needed resources. Parents might need to get creative, and definitely have to be “on top of it” but they can certainly do it. Even parents with limited income could barter with other parents — “I’ll work with your child on science if you help mine with math,” or “I’ll sew something for you if you help my child with French.”
10) They can’t “graduate” from home school.
Tell that to my husband. Kids can get a GED from homeschool, which colleges will accept no problem (usually along with ACT or SAT scores). They don’t need to go to a “regular” school in order to actually “graduate” or as a necessity for college or career. Homeschool students are known to be so successful that some colleges and companies actually enjoy having them!