Before I had personal experience homeschooling I had a lot of preconceived ideas about homeschoolers. I wanted to take this time to address some of the myths I believed and some issues I’m hit with the most (from clients, family, friends and even strangers).
Myth # 1 “Homeschool parents hate public school.”
First of all, just a hard stop here. I’m a former public school teacher and let me tell you how much I loved teaching. Some days I miss it (and some I don’t) and when I was in it, I gave 110%.
It just is not the right choice for my family at this time. Will that ever change? I honestly don’t know because only God knows our family’s trajectory. I do know there are pros and cons to every decision (public, private or homeschool- nothing is perfect).
I have clients and homeschool peers who have some kids in public school and some who are homeschooled because they are catering to the needs of their individual children.
I have some who have chosen to homeschool for:
-flexibility due to traveling spouse or one who has odd work hours (and would not otherwise have quality family time)
-some who feel their children will excel academically (dual enrollment is pretty common where I live if you homeschool)
- some who have a special needs child and this allows for slow, steady progress and daily therapy
- some who just want more time for their children to play outside and explore the world around us
Yes, some also homeschool because public school was not working for their child, they disagree with topics, or are worried about the current virus.
But, I will tell you. Most of the homeschool families I know don’t sit around bashing public school.
This is not an us vs them issue. You don’t need to take a side. My two best friends and I all school differently. I homeschool, one sends her children to public and the other sends her to private. Guess what? Our kids adore each other (and the moms feel the same). Don’t let this be a divisive issue because there is truly no need. We are all making the best decisions for our families.
Myth #2 “Homeschool kids are doomed to be socially awkward.”
Questions and concerns about socializing are normally first in line when I’m meeting with new homeschool parents (first in line for “concerned” strangers, friends and family as well).
Have you ever gone to an event, dinner, work meeting, or school event and met an adult who has zero filter or social awareness? Did you say to yourself they must be homeschooled? Chances are you did not and they were not.
As a former classroom teacher I ran into plenty of situations where children needed social coaching (and many parents did as well). You can be around tons of people every day and still not know how to interact with them.
Can homeschoolers be social awkward? Yep, just like any other human.
But the large majority I have evaluated, taught, and spent quality time with through co-ops and homeschool events are far from socially deprived. In fact, most homeschoolers can hold a conversation with not only their peers but a variety of other ages because they aren’t confined to one particular age group.
In co-op my kids are paired with similar aged children but we also have family lunch each week, recess twice a week, family events, and field trips where they socialize with children older and younger within our co-op. It is amazing to watch their interactions and what they learn. Older homeschoolers in the group tend to guide the younger homeschoolers and it such a heartwarming sight!
Homeschoolers play sports, are in co-ops, take classes, join clubs, and interact in the world on a daily basis.
Personalities will vary and children will all go through awkward stages. What really makes a child socially awkward is when a stranger or acquaintance starts quizzing them on facts and homeschooling. I mean, would you want to be put on the spot about your job and have to defend yourself? Yikes. But most will comply because they are taught to speak with adults (don’t be this person though- be thoughtful).
Myth # 3 “If you don’t have a background in education, you cannot properly educate your child.”
I get the comment, “oh well you were a teacher, so yes you can homeschool” from the peanut gallery often.
Yes, having a background in education certainly gives me an advantage sometimes but (like any teacher) this does not mean I know ALL. THE. THINGS.
I do not. No one does. There are concepts and skills I didn’t need in the classroom but I do at home. There are questions my children ask that I do not always know the answer to. So guess what? Sometimes we learn together and that is what we call modeling. Even as a classroom teacher there were days where I had to say, “I made a mistake, let’s backtrack” or “I don’t know the answer, let’s find it together.” My education background is sometimes a hinderance actually, as now I’m attending to three kids not 30 and I have to remind myself I have flexibility to spiral, go on tangents when they are interested, or move full steam ahead.
Maybe some parents don’t have a teaching degree but they do have experience in other fields which prove helpful in teaching. We had a woman at my last co-op that was a scientist before children. Talk about an amazing biology teacher! Another who was an artist and therefore taught our art classes. A dad who was a mechanic, life skills anyone?
There are also countless (no really- so many options it makes your head spin) curriculums with training and scripts if you need them. The resources for parents when it comes to homeschooling honestly outweigh what I had access to when I began teaching. Special education programs and technology (software and hardware) are now available to homeschool families. Then you have consultants (like myself), conventions, and homeschool groups. The support in the homeschool community is so rich and encouraging.
Parents who choose to home educate their children do not do so on a whim. It takes a LOT of hard work and dedication. I’ve seen success with a variety of backgrounds in my business and it has been eye opening.
Myth # 4 “Homeschool kids don’t have friends.”
Raise your hand if you are a homeschool parent and someone has said this to you or expressed concern on this topic. It certainly has happened to me and, quite frankly, was a concern of mine when I decided to homeschool.
People assume children have friends in the traditional public school classroom because they are grouped with at least two dozen children whom are the same age. As a former teacher I will tell you this absolutely does NOT guarantee your child will have friends. There were countless occasions where I had to orchestrate friendly encounters and help children develop friendships (I’m referring to fifth graders not kindergarteners).
Just as public school children have to work at friendships, homeschoolers too have to put in effort it and it doesn’t always happen automatically. I mean does it for you as an adult?
Homeschool children tend to have friends in a variety of places: sports team friends, music lesson friends, co-op friends, neighborhood friends, Trail Life or Boy Scouts. The list could go on.
Most homeschoolers I know are extremely social and friendly. I know my kids are (as am I) and we actually have to make sure we find a balance and do not attend all the social opportunities for homeschoolers (and where we live there are many).
So, YES, homeschoolers do have friends. Many of which are within a similar but maybe wider age range.
As a homeschool parent part of your job is to find a community connection which will help foster friendships (co-op, classes, sports, Trail Life, etc - unless you live somewhere that happens to have a plethora of kiddos rig out your front door) because they need to be given the opportunity.
Myth # 5 “Homeschool families have at least one parent who stays home full-time.”
While this is true of many homeschool families, many also have two full time working parents or one who works part-time and one full-time. There are single parent homes as well.
I know some families where both parents work shift work type hours (a couple days on and off) and they schedule it so their shifts alternate as best as possible, so they can homeschool.
Some families have one parent who works in the evening, from home, or just one or two days a week and they still homeschool. I even have witnessed several families where both parents work full time or a single moms who homeschool. They split school work into chunks many times (early morning, lunch, evening, weekend) or hire help for their children. Others have grandparents come in or form a co-op with other homeschoolers and pay a teacher. Some families use online homeschool programs with live teachers.
Some dads stay home and some moms. This is not Little House on the Prairie. There are many part-time or full time stay at home dads. There are plenty of families that split the responsibility. I work part-time and have one particular season that gets busy. My husband steps up a lot during that season. It works for us.
I am not here to tell you working part-time or full time is easy to do while homeschooling because it is (like many things in life) a huge balancing act but it can be done. Part of my job as a consultant is to help set up schedules and get families on the same page. It is possible!
Myth # 6 “Teens who homeschool miss out on special events.”
This is a big one for parents who thoroughly enjoyed their high school experience and would relive those glory days in a hot minute. Often parents express concern that their child may miss out on some of the typical milestone events: homecoming, prom, walking at graduation.
Do not fear! There are many homeschool co-ops and organizations which put on those milestone events. Some statewide homeschool organizations produce a spectacular graduation ceremony (Virginia’s HEAV is one example) and we have several local co-ops who put on homecoming or prom dinners and dances.
Many homeschoolers choose to participate in the aforementioned and some would rather not. One huge perk of homeschooling: there is NO pressure to attend these events if you do not want to (which I would have been so happy about growing up).
It’s also good to remember that homeschool teens get to participate in other activities: a plethora of field trips, internships in a field which interests them, collegiate level courses or dual enroll at a younger age, community service opportunities, sports (so many are able to utilize gyms and practice times during the day), and fine arts (another area they can utilize studio times and take lessons at length while others are in school).
As with with any decision there is give and take. It really depends what you (and your child’s) priorities are. Homeschooling as a teen can allow them to focus on academics and extracurriculars they have a passion for in a way that many other teenagers just do not have the time for. It can also take off some of the social pressure many teens face.
Myth # 7 “Homeschoolers stay at home home all day doing school.”
As a homeschooler you may have been asked, “what do you do all day?” Many assume we are sitting at a table with curriculum the majority of the day.
While this may be true for some, I have found the majority of homeschoolers get out of the house, minimally, a couple of times a week.
How your days are scheduled really depends on the age of your children and what type of homeschooler you are. Some homeschoolers go on hikes, field trips, and take many classes during the week. Others have music or sport practice during the week. And don’t forget about co-ops (both parent involved and drop off). Many teens will take dual enrollment classes both in person or online.
Personally, we have one day a week with zero scheduled activities, where we do focus on a lot of new concepts but we also incorporate cooking, art, science experiments, and plenty of outdoor time. Other days we may have music, a sport, co-op, or a field trip. We “do” school for a couple hours, either spread out over the course of the day or in a morning chunk on activity days.
We actually have to say NO to many activities in our area or we wouldn’t have enough time for schoolwork. It is all about balance.
Homeschooling is not a perfect solution and is not the right choice for every family but it is the right choice for many. I am just so thankful we have the freedom to make this choice in the United States. ~ Jenna