There are some commonly-held misconceptions about homeschooling. Some of these misconceptions are funny, some are annoying, and some are flat out dangerous. In this post we’re going to talk about 10 of the most pervasive homeschooling myths and I’m going to let you in on the truth about every single one of them.
1. Only religious people and hippies homeschool
Not anymore! Sure, the foundation of the homeschooling movement can be credited to religious families and those who wanted to escape government oversight of education, but today you’re just as likely to run into secular homeschoolers as you are religious ones, and conventional homeschoolers as well those who embrace more “Bohemian” tendancies.
There really aren’t a lot of reliable statistics out there because homeschool reporting laws vary by state, but one look at Facebook will show you just how large the secular/academic homeschool community is. Some of my favorite Facebook pages are Secular Homeschooling with Netflix & Digital Media and Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers.
2. Homeschooled kids aren’t socialized
This is possibly one of the biggest homeschooling myths out there. Perhaps this one sticks around because in the beginning homeschoolers had to stay underground, they had to hide from truancy officers and nosey neighbors…but we fought for homeschooling to become legal and mainstream. The socialization myth may be based in truth but it’s no longer a legitimate argument against homeschooling.
-First of all, there is a big difference between the act of socializing and being socialized. Socializing refers to interacting with others and socialized means the ability to connect and communicate with many different kinds of people in many different kinds of situations. Neither of those things require school attendance.
-Secondly, not every person has the same social needs and it is a huge injustice to the child to require them to socialize in an unnatural manner. Yes, our kids need to learn how to interact with their environment but sitting in an age-segregated classroom, with children of similar ability, arranged in alphabetical order isn’t actually the best way to learn those skills.
-Thirdly, the homeschooling community is massive with conservative estimates of over 2 million children currently being homeschooled in the United States alone. While the numbers are still smaller than those who attend traditional schools, it’s foolish to assume all 2 million homeschooled children stay inside 24/7 and never see the light of day or interact with others.
Yes, you do have to be aware of your child’s needs and you may have to go outside of your comfort zone to provide for them, but that’s what parents do. If you are worried about socialization I suggest joining a local support or field trip group, attend park days, encourage older children to volunteer or dual enroll in college courses (which are much more varied than normal school settings). If your child is one who dosn’t understand socialization, that’s OK! I have several children like that. If this is the case you’re probably already trying to help them navigate the world, and it’s so much more natural to do it safely and slowly with people who understand than to throw them into a classroom with neurotypical children.
What it comes down to is this: school socialization isn’t natural, it’s forced. Homeschooling allows parents to provide a safe, natural method of learning these important skills that often leave homeschoolers vying for top positions at universities and in work environments. Why? Because they can communicate with people of all ages, all abilities, and all backgrounds.
3. Homeschooled kids cant go to college
Wrong. Wrong. And wrong again. Not only can homeschooled children get into every single college in the USA, most states allow them to dual enroll in community colleges for high school. My older two children began dual enrollment in high school, giving them the chance to transfer to state universities as full time students for their last two years. Not only were they given the opportunity to graduate college several semesters early, we didnt have to pay for those dual enrollment classes!
Not every child is college bound, however, and this is where homeschooling can really shine. Homeschooling allows children the privilege of time. Time to explore different paths, to find a passion, to determine how they best learn and if a college classroom is conducive to that. Homeschooled children are sought out by many universitites, but also by tech programs and apprenticeships and interships…and quite a few go on to become entrepreneurs too!
4. You have to be wealthy to homeschool
I won’t say that being wealthy will hurt, but you don’t have to be rolling in dough to give your child a solid education. In fact, the two kids I mentioned who started dual enrollment in high school? They did that despite the fact that for the majority of their childhood we lived well under the federal poverty level. You learn to adjust, to prioritize, to reuse materials as often as possible. For more information on how much homeschooling costs, check out this post I wrote about the cost of homeschooling a few years ago.
5. You need the patience of a saint
I think this is one of the more dangerous homeschooling myths. Why? Because it sets an impossible standard. None of us have the patience of a saint, and I seriously doubt the saints themselves had more patience than any of the rest of us. And how many of us had a teacher or principal that wasn’t saintly? All of us. It’s ok to be human. It’s ok to apologize if you lose your cool. It’s actually a really good thing for your children to see you blow up and then calm down and apologize. This is another example of how your children can be properly socialized at home.
6. You need to be a stay-at-home parent/living in a dual parent household to homeschool
I founded a homeschool support organization in Central Florida in 2001. We’ve grown exponentially and now have five admin who take care of the daily needs of the group. Of those five people, three work full-time outside of the home, one is a stay-at-home mother, and one works full-time from home. Our children range from 2-married with children. It does add a level of complication, but it is doable with some effort and the use of tools like virtual classes, day programs, and babysitters. There are quite a few Facebook groups for working parents who homeschool, perhaps one will provide some help.
The same goes for single parent households, you aren’t alone. There are groups out there to help you. It can be done, single parents are rock stars! Here is an article that you may find comforting and helpful. I’ve never homeschooled as a single parent, but if you want to comment below I’m sure readers can help you find your way.
7. Homeschooling doesnt prepare kids for the real world
I call this particular homeschooling myth the “raise your hand to use the restroom” myth. As I said earlier, school socialization isn’t real socialization; and it follows that the traditional school system cannot prepare children for the world nearly as well as homeschooling does. Homeschooled children particiapte in the real world far more than traditionally schooled children do. I firmly believe that most people end up in the same spot developmentally, but that traditional school delays children’s ability to navigate the real world because they are constantly supervised and told what to do. The real world works totally differently, and homeschooled kids are often more prepared to deal with it.
8. Most parents can’t teach advanced math and science
Let me tell you a little secret: math and I aren’t friends. I feel comfortable teaching until pre-algebra and that’s it. So, what do I do? I purchase curriculum. I hire tutors. I enroll the kids in co-ops. I ask family and friends to help. I teach my kids how to use online resources like WolframAlpha to teach themselves. Sometimes I even take classes with them so I can relearn what I didn’t actually learn in high school. There are endless tools available to homeschooling parents, and we know how to find and use them. We’ve got this.
Remember this if nothing else: If your school education didnt prepare you to teach your child math and science, why on earth would you want them to have the same education?
9. Homeschooled kids are weird
Dude, have you met any children at all? They’re ALL weird. All of them. They do weird things we don’t understand because they’re kids. We did weird things too. Remember that kid in kindergarten who ate glue? The kid in second grade who ate ants? The kid in 5th grade who ate banana peels? (Why do kids eat such weird things??) All kids are weird in their own way. Some of them outgrow it, some of them embrace it. Being homeschooled doesn’t change this, aside from the fact that homeschoolers are usually encouraged to be their weird selves because there isn’t the peer pressure to conform.
10. Homeschooling is a cover-up for child abuse
And here you have it: the number one most incorrect and dangerous of all the homeschooling myths.
I will say this only once: homeschoolers abuse their children at far lower rates than families who send their children to traditional school.
Don’t believe me? That’s ok, there actually are some recent statistics on this. The truth is that the media is responsible for this myth. When a family is caught abusing their homeschooled children it makes national news, when a family is caught abusing their traditionally-schooled children it only makes the news if it’s an extreme case because it happens so often that it’s not considerd news. Unfortunately the media does such a good job of sensationalizing the few cases of abuse in the homeschooling community that there are outcries to regulate us. Give me a break. These abusers are abusers first, not homeschoolers. We’d never shut down public schools because 10% of traditionally schooled children are abused, so why are homeschoolers held to a different standard?
And there you have it, my list of the top 10 homeschooling myths as drawn from my multiple decades of homeschooling. Did I cover everything? What would you add? Leave a comment below or join us on the Facebook page and in the Facebook group to continue the discussion.
Meg Grooms (she/her) is a decades-long secular homeschooler, mother of many, writer, Florida ex-pat, and all-around swell gal. Meg & her partner have raised their kids all over the USA, finally settling on Southern California. For now, anyhow.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool. Meg is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and gameschooling classes, please see the About Us/Contact Meg page for more information.