Most of society views homeschooling as a relatively new and peculiar practice. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling is not new. It has been around almost since the beginning of time. As long as we have had homes, homeschooling has been in existence. As far as the idea that it is unusual, that is probably true. These days we conform to society in so very many ways. Homeschooling is definitely unconventional by today’s worldly standards.
I have been hearing an overabundance of homeschooling myths being spoken or expressed lately. I thought I’d address those in this post today with the hopes of informing those who don’t understand homeschooling as well as those who have some unenlightened theories about the homeschooling movement.
Myth: Homeschoolers are kept at home all day with no exposure to the outside world.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers have many outlets outside of the home. We have just as many activities, if not more, than public school students. Depending on their situation and need, homeschoolers go to the library, bank, stores, church, hair salon, concerts, sporting events, plays, music classes, and more. Homechoolers choose not to attend public school, ONE PLACE, and for some reason folks believe they don’t go anywhere at all. How do they think we worship, get our food, books, clothes, etc.? Contrary to popular belief, we do live and function in society. We just choose to teach our children differently. Unfortunately, the myth that we don’t leave our home perpetuates another myth, and probably the most popular falsehood about homeschooling…
Myth: Homeschoolers are unsocialized.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers are some of the most “socialized” and respectftul people on the planet. You have to know the true definition of “socialize”. Many people believe socialization is conformity and fitting in, popularity, being like everyone else. That is not what socialization is, thank goodness! The definition of socialize is: to In other words to learn manners, respect, and skills to be a productive and beneficial member of society. Children were never meant to learn true social skills through the public school setting. Think about it. How can a group of children all the same age teach each other social skills that they have not come of age to learn? I don’t necessarily want my children learning their manners from strangers because I don’t know what their social skills are, and they probably aren’t any more than what my children might know because they are the same age. They are all generally on the same level.
The first and main place children learn social skills is their parents and home. Then they are to practice those skills in public settings, but public school is only one of a million settings wherein they can practice. In fact, the thought that public school is a “social setting” is actually a distraction from the academics that are supposed to be taught there.
Unfortunately, most parents these days don’t teach their kids respect and manners. I know many public school teachers who are fed up with the lack of respect in the classroom and the fact that they are expected to now not only cover academics, but also deal with social and behavioral issues. Teachers were never meant to parent or baby sit their public school students. They were meant to teach academics. That’s not to say they weren’t meant to support and care for children, but they weren’t meant to raise our children and that’s how most parents treat school these days.
I have one child who is very talkative and outgoing, always has been. I have one who is talkative once she warms up to you. I have one child who was deathly shy, and now she is one of the most talkative and outgoing of the bunch. I have one who is quiet and reserved, who likes to sit back and take everything in, and it is a struggle sometimes to get them to share or express anything. None of these behaviors are a result of homeschooling. They are a result of the personality with which they were created. I know many folks who believe my shy, reserved child is this way because we homeschool, but that’s just not true. One of my other children was the same way until she became a certain age and all of the ways we allowed and encouraged her to express herself began to blossom. Now she is very different, not better because there was nothign “wrong” with her to begin with), but she is different than she was before. God used her gentle, shy ways then, and He’s using her outspoken ways now. Don’t assume because a homeschooler is shy or reserved that they are not “socialized”. My children are respectful. They know when to be loud and boisterous, and when to sit still and listen respectfully when someone is talking. Society thinks they are like “robots” or that they are peculiar because they don’t speak out of turn or talk when a speaker is talking, or they don’t run around tables at a restaurant or up and down the aisles at the movie theater. No it’s the polar opposite. They are socialized and have been taught to be respectful of others before themselves.
As a homeschooler I can attest to the fact that we have way too many opportunities to practice social skills. In fact sometimes it is hard to balance all of the social activities with academics. We are members of a homeschool support group. We have lego clubs, debate, yearbook, community volunteer service, robotics, chess, book clubs, language clubs, Bible studies, field trips, archery clubs, public speaking, sports, band, and the list goes on and on… And our social activities are in multiple settings with multiple types of people, not just staring at the same 4 walls in a classroom with the same 30 kids day in and day out. They are exposed to different manners and ideas. Some align with those in our home, some do not, and that gives us opportunity for lots of discussions and life lessons on what is acceptable and Christ-like. However, my children are not surrounded and inundated with teachings contrary to our home. I would never put my child in that situation, because children are sponges. They absorb behavior and influences. I am their parent and I have a right to decide what influences my child. I don’t want to put them in an environment that competes with what we are teaching at home from a spiritual/biblical perspective. They spend a lot more time in a classroom than they do their waking hours at home. It makes absolutely no sense to believe that a few hours at home will change what they have absorbed all day long in a different setting. God warns us about this:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Myth: Homeschoolers have no friends.
TRUTH: I can’t believe I am even going to address this one, but here goes: YES WE HAVE FRIENDS! In fact, most traditional homeschoolers don’t get caught up in the drama and the social clique types of behaviors in society, although some do when thrown into those types of environments on a regular basis. That tends to be human nature, but most don’t. Since we are exposed to so many different settings, and since homeschoolers are a diverse group of people, we tend to have all sorts of friends. However, having lots of friends is not the goal in life. Lifelong, tight, close, true friends are the ones we look for. God places those in our lives and they are the ones who care about us, help and support us on our homeschooling journey, and have similar values. We hold each other accountable, pray for one another, and they are the first ones there to help in the time of need. Public school is a place to make friends, but it is not the place to spend time hanging out with your friends all day. School is for education. So we get together with our friends outside of our school day just like everyone else. I have to admit that we are just like everyone else in that we don’t feel like we spend enough time with our friends, but it’s not because we homeschool. It’s because we live life.
Myth: Homeschooling is school textbook work at home.
TRUTH: WRONG! Homeschooling is you as a parent being able to exercise your right to choose what your child is taught, how it’s taught, when it is taught. It is your right and responsibility to decide how they are influenced and who is shaping their character. We use a faith-based curriculum that shows God’s influence in every subject. God shouldn’t be compartmentalized, but should be integrated in all aspects of our lives. We teach a Biblical worldview. We also teach about other cultures and religions, but in the proper perspective so our children know what they believe, why they believe it, they receive education in apologetics.
It’s about tailoring your child’s education to their learning style. It is not a one-size-fits-all education. I have four children and all four of them have different learning styles. They would not thrive or learn if I tried to push them into a box in which they do not fit. Textbook work is done in our home, but for most of us it is our least favorite, so we get to engage in lots of object lessons and hands-on activities wherein the children can actually experience what they are learning and not just read about it. This helps them understand and retain what they are learning.
Virtual schools have a purpose, but you have to be careful what you choose. Free programs are typically run by the public school system. They are controlled by the govt and therefore are not considered to be “homeschools”, but are “public school at home”. That means that you do not get to choose what is being taught. However there are some virtual schools that are run by homeschool curriculum publishers that allow you to choose the scope of education, those would be considered online homeschool programs.
There are homeschool co-ops you can join where parents join based on the scope of education. Parents volunteer to teach each other’s children and they meet varying amounts during the week. We are pretty traditional so we haven’t joined a co-op but it works for many families. However, all of my children have taken Sunday School classes, creative writing classes, and science classes in a group classroom setting. They have also taken standardized testing in a group setting. There are pros like a classroom setting, accountability from a teacher rather than a parent, and if a parent isn’t strong in a subject they may feel better having someone else teach it.
There are also cons, such as losing some of the parental rights/control of your child’s education, cost, social issues. I think some of the social issues come into play because many times children are then placed in a situation much like a public school setting where they join cliques, become absorbed in popularity, pop culture, dress, etc. They aren’t necessarily learning the same academic skills as public school, but it can lead to some of the derogatory social skills you don’t want them to learn.
Myth: Homeschoolers get to take it easy and do whatever they want all day.
TRUTH: I roll over laughing at this one. Homeschooling is hard work. Many people think it’s a chance to be lazy, but it’s just the opposite. Now, for most states it is very flexible schedule-wise to homeschool if you don’t use the public school at home options because you can set your daily and yearly schedule to your own needs as long as you teach for the required amount of days. However, it’s not a time to be undisciplined or you’ll spend time catching up or get behind. It’s also more strenuous on a homeschooler. For instance, in our state a homeschool honors course is more rigorous and requires more work than a public school honors course. As homeschoolers we are required to do more. It’s not really fair, but that’s ok because in the long run we benefit.
Myth: Homeschooling is a one-sided, biased education.
TRUTH: As I mentioned before, we inform our children of other cultures, religions, and lifestyles within society. However, we believe in an absolute truth. We know that there is right and wrong, good and evil in this world. We teach our children the truth about what to believe, why we don’t believe certain things, and how to respect and tolerate, but not absorb and accept the lies and wrongs of society. In my experience being a public school graduate, I received a one-sided, biased education. I am giving my children a much more well-rounded and informed education.
Myth: Homeschoolers are restricted when it comes to opportunities offered to them after graduation.
TRUTH: Colleges are vigorously recruiting homeschoolers these days, and we know tons of businesses that are seeking homeschoolers for employment. Businesses and colleges have seen that homeschoolers overcome odds and hold values that society doesn’t believe in or afford any more. We have good work ethics, respectful social skills, know how to beat the odds, endure and overcome much scrutinity from society, which makes us strong and independent.
I hope this helps bring some understanding to the purposes behind homeschooling and dispels some of the myths that surround it. Homeschooling is truly a way of life and a path our family is grateful for every single day. We thank God that He honors us every day with the blessing of homeschooling!