As the fifteen passenger van swings into the parking lot, everyone stops to stare. You’ve all seen them – bearing twelve-inch-thick Bibles, library books and math joke shirts, they march up, a mini-herd swelling around you. Dressed from head to toe in pajamas, with the exception of a Yoda-costumed child, Mom strides next to them wearing a “Super Mom” shirt. These are the few, the proud, the homeschooled.
Everyone has misconceptions about homeschoolers, both the humorous, the ignorant, and the completely insulting. Regarded as a separate species by many public and private school students, as well as adults, volumes have been written on homeschooling and its pros and cons. Like other students, there are variations of homeschoolers, ranging from those who memorize Latin roots for fun and teach themselves physics, to those who believe their age determines their grade (nine years old – ninth grade!) and consider their birthday an official school holiday. Homeschoolers often experience awkward pauses and awed looks when asked what school they attend – homeschooling isn’t like other school, of course! We get extra credit for doing the dishes, are baffled by locker combinations, only watch cable on vacation and study outside under trees. We never do real school… that would be too normal!
Continue reading to discover the truth about home schooling myths I’ve debunked, so that the next time you see a group of children wandering around the mall as though they’ve never been outside their house, you’ll know what to think.
Myth 1: Homeschoolers never do school.
Contrary to popular belief, learning can happen in groups of less than thirty students and many homeschoolers do the same amount and caliber of work (if not higher) and study the same subjects as that of other students. We’re just able to finish school faster because we’re not held back by time constraints – in the typical home school environment, you’re never under lockdown due to bomb threats or bathroom murders. Additional benefits include being the salutatorian, valedictorian and in the top ten percent of your class.
Myth 2: Homeschoolers have no friends…
..or, their best friend is their pet rock. Everyone considers them “quiet” simply because they are knowledgeable and able to talk about more mature subjects than who Justin Bieber is dating. While some homeschoolers are antisocial, many just simply abide by the proverb: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Most homeschoolers have friends just like everyone else, which are made through extra-curricular activities, clubs, sports, co-ops, and the like. However, be forewarned when befriending a homeschooler – we will spell out every word, use abstract literary quotes, and will openly correct your grammar.
Myth 3: Homeschoolers don’t learn as much as private and public school kids.
Homeschoolers learn the same basic school subjects as everyone else: Math, English, Science, etc., but they have the opportunity to take unique classes and electives (because of the variety of courses offered), and have the opportunity to dabble in a variety of subjects while learning new things because they’re not confined to the standard public and private school classes. They are free to pursue their individual interests and passions. As a homeschooler, I have experienced opportunities that other students don’t necessarily have access to, one of them being my internship at the Good News newspaper, which I pursued because of my interest in journalism. Other students don’t have time to pursue many extracurricular activities because they have to be in school during a certain time and have to choose from certain classes; homeschoolers can complete school and home work simultaneously.
Myth 4: Homeschoolers can’t make it in the real world.
Although most homeschoolers aren’t around multiple students and teachers every day, studies show that they have an easier time adapting to college and life after high school, and that their graduation rate, GPAs, and standardized test scores are higher than those of the typical college student. A classroom might be a drastic change from studying at the kitchen table, but studies show that homeschool graduates are more likely to have voted and participated in community service when compared to other adults. Homeschoolers have the opportunity to learn basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning, balancing a check book and more because they’re at home and around their families more. One of the biggest advantages of Christian homeschooling is establishing a biblical worldview in your child’s life that will help them remain rooted in and able to defend their faith when they leave for college.
Myth 5: Homeschoolers are a threat.
Not all home-educated families have ten kids, and the life expectancy is so much lower since we don’t vaccinate (just ask any pediatrician that has to deal with homeschooling mothers), although this might be offset by the organic food supply coming from our backyard gardens. Only 2 percent of the U.S. school population is homeschooled, so we’re not about to strip the teacher’s unions of their power. We are too busy supporting creationist institutes and building robots to bother with world domination, and, after all, we never leave our homes.
This article is not written to assert that homeschooling is right for everyone, or that all homeschoolers are exempt from these myths; just like other students, not all homeschoolers are driven enough to stay on pace and resist laziness, and many are truly strange (you should meet my siblings). There are pros and cons for all types of schooling, but keep in mind that the stereotypes people have of homeschoolers aren’t always true. The next time you meet a homeschooler, think “normal.” We’re just like everyone else – although, if you offer us pie, we’ll ask how you can give us 3.14 (just kidding!).
Are you a product of a homeschool environment? Tell us about it! Please e-mail us at NicoleO@goodnewsfl.org!