The homeschooling movement may be growing, but homeschooling misconceptions still abound. The more I talk to people about it, the more I see how prejudice and misconceptions have kept many from looking into homeschooling. Here are seven misconceptions about homeschooling I have encountered:
- Homeschooling turns children into social misfits. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. The homeschool graduates I met when I went to college in Virginia were more polite and respectful of their peers than those of us who had attended public school. They knew how to play games, came up with wonderful, clean party ideas, and could cook healthy crowd-pleasers for any occasion. A shy child will remain shy no matter where he goes to school. There’s no account for personality.
- Homeschooling turns children into prodigies. Homeschoolers who go to college by 12 may garner a lot of media attention, but they are hardly the norm. Most homeschooling families who are brave enough to stay the course through high school graduate average or above average learners who go to college or learn a trade. There’s nothing extraordinary about their academic achievements. They are not ready to be inducted into MENSA any time soon and they are not the bottom of the totem pole either. They are just average and, in some cases, above average.
- Homeschooled children who join the public school system at some point are behind their class level. Public school and private school teachers have complained to me that homeschooled children who have joined their classroom were woefully behind in academic skills. Apparently, the parents of these youngsters homeschooled them in kindergarten and first grade, maybe even second grade. By third or fourth grade, when the decimals and fractions show up in math, the desire to homeschool goes away and these parents enroll their children in the local public school. Sometimes the child cannot read or recall basic math facts. While this may be true in some cases, there are also homeschoolers who join the public school system and thrive. One of my friends whose daughter attends public school said that the questions this homeschooler asked in their class were so advanced, they could not even understand how he got there to even ask the question. It really depends on the child and the family. Some families will do their job and teach their children well, others – not so much.
- Homeschooled children cannot function in the real world as adults. The homeschooled children of the 80s are now adults with jobs and children of their own. I personally know helicopter pilots, nurses, teachers, CEOs, business owners, TV show anchors, lawyers, orchestra support staff, musicians, lab technicians, Navy personnel etc who were homeschooled. They are doing very well in the real world, holding down jobs and thriving in the market place. They make a difference in their community and enjoy a great social life.
- Homeschoolers are spoiled brats and their parents give them everything they want. A few years ago, this girl wanted to graduate with her class at the local high school in my county even though in her senior year she decided to be homeschooled. Of course, the administrators refused her request. The mom made a big deal out of it, but I have to agree with the administrators on this one. Once you are out of the system, you are out of it. The sad thing was that it got a lot of attention in the local newspaper and it created the image of homeschooling parents as “giving their children everything they want.” What I see in most homeschooling families is exactly the opposite. Homeschooled children have chores and learn a trade before they turn 13. They are raised to work with their hands and read long books. And they are never given “everything they want.” Only an irresponsible parent would do that.
- Homeschoolers come from super-conservative Christian families, the kind with 15 children and long skirts. There are so many secular homeschoolers out there and so many families with two children who homeschool, this misconception has to stop, once and for all. But it does not help if the TV-watching crowd only sees shows about conservative families who homeschool. I have personally met families with one, two or three children who homeschool. And they are not that conservative.
- Homeschooling is only for child actors or athletes. If your local school is the breeding ground for drugs, drinking, and deviant behavior, you owe it to your child to homeschool them. You don’t have to have a star athlete on your hands to decide to homeschool. If you feel called to dedicate your life to the education of your children, they don’t have to become Olympic champions (like Simone Biles, who was homeschooled in high school) or tennis super-stars like Serena Williams or her sister, Venus (who were homeschooled all the way). Homeschooling allows for the development of superior skills because of the time it frees in a child’s schedule, but not all homeschooled children have a six-figure contract with a sponsor.
I hope this list helps to clarify some aspects of the homeschooling world. What misconceptions about homeschooling have you encountered?