These days, humans attempt to evaluate situations quickly and with minimal background information. This is helpful for decision making in a world where an overabundance of information can both confuse and overwhelm us. Because of this, it can be tempting to form opinions about topics we know fairly little about from sound bites, headlines, or from the opinions of others. Hence: the myth. I have to admit I had some preconceptions about homeschooling before joining the club, and I can positively say I would see school-aged children out and about on a Tuesday and think, “why is that child not in school?” Well, they probably were in school, and little did I know they were just on one of many field trips! Here are some of the more common misconceptions about homeschooling:
1. Homeschooled kids (and their families) are totally weird.
This has to be the biggest one I had heard before coming to homeschooling myself. Some people have a picture in their mind of a homeschooling family with eleven kids that all live in some sort of compound, make all their own clothes, churn their own butter, and plot against the government. Let’s just say that homeschooled kids (and their families) are not necessarily weird. I have indeed met some weird ones. But I have met some weird public schooled kids, too. And I have met some very normal, otherwise-traditional homeschooled kids. Besides... what is weird, anyway? We are all a little weird in our own, often wonderful way. No one wants to be boring!
2. Homeschooled kids are anti-social.
This one is just plain ‘no.’ In any circumstance, there are kids that lack social skills. But I actually see less of that with homeschooled children! Many times, they are easy conversation starters, great at engaging the shy kids, flawless at chatting with adults, and are strong-but-flexible leaders. So many of the homeschooled children I have encountered have shown themselves to have a level of maturity that surprised me. While I do attest that socialization is a definite consideration for homeschooling families (especially those who instruct at home), I think it comes down to a quantity vs. quality debate; while the quantity of social incidents may be fewer, they do tend to be of a high quality. Working together on long-term projects, learning alongside other like-minded kids in co-ops, furthering interests together in clubs, coming together for instruction in a field trip setting, or just blowing off some steam at a playground are experiences that are common in the homeschool world. In these scenarios, the kids have elected to be there, making the experiences they share very meaningful. This enriches their connections with one another and builds strong friendships... the very opposite of anti-social.
3. Homeschool families are all super religious.
This one is another not necessarily. In my travels thus far, I have met some very religious families who absolutely infuse their faith into every aspect of their homeschooling. I have also met families who either are not particularly religious, or who are regular church-goers but keep their homeschooling secular. Additionally, recent surveys have indicated that more and more secular families are coming to homeschooling each year. There are so many reasons why families choose to homeschool: social, academic, medical, situational, and yes, religious. It’s a mixed bag, so it is definitely a myth to say homeschoolers are all very religious.
4. Homeschool families have lots of extra income.
I think because typically one parent stays home full-time and tends to the schooling, it is assumed that homeschool families must have a very comfortable income with tons of wiggle room. I’m sure some do. But in my experience, homeschool families run the range from financially comfortable to downright strapped. I’ll tell you one thing, many homeschooling families know how to get creative and stretch a dollar, and I am guessing it has more to do with the need for it rather than for the fun of it. Having extra income may help, but a lack of it is by no means a barrier to homeschooling.
5. Homeschooled kids can’t get into college.
Oh my gosh, so not true! In fact, homeschooled kids are just as likely to go to college as their traditionally-schooled counterparts. About 85% of colleges have specific policies in place to facilitate the admittance of homeschoolers, and several recent studies have indicated that homeschoolers are very well-prepared to take on the responsibilities of college, both because of the type and range of academic skills and content they have mastered as well as the level of independence they acquire while homeschooling. College is just as much on the radar of homeschooling families as it is public schooling families, and those parents care just as much about the process. So while paths may differ, they can all lead to college!
My grandmother used to say there was more than one way to skin a cat. Maybe not a pretty image, but the message resonated with me. Homeschooling is not for every family, but for those who desire it, choose it, and commit to the ideals they have associated with it, it can be very fruitful, meaningful, and successful. When my husband and I made the jump to homeschooling our kids, we were shocked to realize that so many people we met in “regular” life also homeschooled their kids... that mom at soccer... the checkout guy at the grocery... several librarians we encountered... our new neighbor down the street... the list went on and on! So homeschooling families are everywhere! Get to know a few and you’ll likely find that they will bust these and other myths we have come to believe about homeschooling.