Will homeschoolers always be misunderstood? With the growing popularity of home education it is a wonder why so many people still have outdated negative misconceptions of homeschooled children and their parents.
Its frustrating, as a homeschool parent to constantly be fielding uneducated questions, criticisms and other peoples doubts. Are you frustrated too?
This article delves into the nitty gritty of the myths and stereotypes and tackles 17 common but persistent misconceptions of homeschooling.
1. Homeschoolers Can’t Go To College
Many people believe that because homeschoolers never went to public/private school that they will not have the credentials to go to college or have a very difficult time getting accepted. They also argue while there has been a lack of socialization throughout their youth, homeschoolers have a harder time transitioning to college life.
There are no statistics that show how many homeschoolers actually attend college, however they are absolutely welcomed and accepted. In fact, due to the growing number of homeschoolers across the country many colleges including ivy-league schools have admissions officers dedicated exclusively to homeschoolers, sometimes giving them preference since they have been known to be more motivated and have higher academic skills then their schooled peers .
Also, homeschool graduates don’t always need a GED to apply. They will need are strong SAT/ACT test scores, SAT subject tests, letters of recommendations and transcripts. Taking duel credit classes at a community college while in high school is another great way to show they are college ready. It provides a ready record for colleges AND the students get a head start on completing their major. Win/Win!!
2. Homeschooling Is Illegal
As of 1993, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. However, laws vary form state to state ranging from not restrictive at all to highly restrictive. You will need to become familiar with the requirements of your state and follow them accordingly in order to stay on the right side of the law.
States like Michigan, Texas and Alaska are very homeschool friendly states. Their requirements are low and offer a ton of freedom and flexibility. If you live in one of the less restrictive states, consider yourself lucky!
These states usually have a compulsory age when instruction has to begin but parents are probably not required to notify a district of their intent to homeschool or have their curriculum approved by a higher authority. They also usually do not need to keep attendance records or portfolio examples.
However, states like Vermont, New York and Massachusetts have very strict regulations. Parents must comply in order to homeschool legally. The restrictive states generally require parents to give notification, keep attendance records, maintain portfolios of their children work, have their curriculum approved by their school district, and have their children evaluated on a continuing basis.
For more information on exactly what is required in your state visit the HSLDA website.
3. All Homeschoolers Are Fundamentalist Christians
While a very large majority of homeschoolers do so to include their Christian faith in their child’s education (64% site religion as a major reason for homeschooling), secular homeschoolers are on the rise. More and more families are choosing to homeschool not because of religion or to teach creationism but for many other reasons such as concerns over the school environment, wanting to provide a higher quality education, because of the freedom and flexibility it offers their family or because public school didn’t quite work for their child.
That’s not to say all secular homeschoolers are atheists but rather they choose not to teach to a specific religious worldview and tend to separate their religion from academics. World religion becomes an academic subject and science is taught from a scientific perspective, not a biblical one.
While secular homeschoolers are on the rise, they are still in the minority. It is HARD to find non-christian curriculum, material and groups to join.
4. Homeschooling Isn't An Effective Form Of Education
What better way to educate a child than with a completely individualized, tailored method? Any child that is receiving a one on one education from a dedicated adult based on their level, their pace and their learning style will benefit.
Mass education cannot be effective for every child. Advanced students become bored while dealing with material that is too easy for them while students who aren’t ready for the material presented become labeled, embarrassed, teased and discouraged. This form of education really benefits the average students in the middle. There is simply not enough time and teachers to make sure every student gets exactly what they need when they need it.
And that’s where the beauty in homeschooling lies. Our children receive individualized instruction, time to master difficult concepts, freedom to jump ahead or stay put, and flexibility in what they study without labels or even grade levels to hold them back.
Homeschool statistics have been showing for years what homeschool families already know…it is an incredibly effective and valid form of education even if it is out of the mainstream.
According to NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute):
“The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015). Also, home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
Research has also shown that adults who graduated homeschool go on to be more active in their local communities, vote more, and have higher college graduation rates than their public schooled peers.
5. "You Must Be Very Patient To Homeschool"
If I could get a piece of chocolate for every.single.time I’ve heard this misconception….well, you get the idea. This is literally what everyone who doesn’t homeschool says to me when they find out I do. The idea that I’m some kind of patient, zen-like, perfect super mom is seriously laughable.
Homeschool moms are no different than moms who send their kids to school. We get irritated, yell, and say the wrong things at the wrong times. Daily, we want to pull our hair out at the mess, the fighting and the general everyday chaos. We struggle to remain calm and not respond in anger and we struggle with being around our kids ALL THE TIME (even though it was our choice).
After all, we are human parents too and kids are crazy.
Now, if only I could learn a little patience.
6. "If You Homeschool Your Child Will Have Huge Learning Gaps"
Most homeschool parents fear learning gaps. “Am I doing enough?” “Am I missing something important?” Pinterest and Instagram photos show us that we should be doing more, better and with a beautiful, spotless house.
Grandparents and other well-meaning people quiz our children to prove that they know the facts while we cringe in the background unsure of how they will answer. The fear of gaps is real and is not only brought on by our own doubts but also constantly by the outside world.
The truth is EVERY student no matter how they were educated will have gaps in their education.
Nobody can learn everything there is to know.
Learning is a life long process for all of us. As long as children are taught HOW to learn and SEEK answers, to FOLLOW their curiosities and passions and to LOVE learning, then they will be equipped with the ability to fill in any gaps that they will need in the future.
After all, learning doesn’t stop as soon as they graduate and the ability to learn doesn’t expire at the end of “school”.
7. Homeschooling Is Only For The Rich
With the high cost of curriculum, activities, materials, sports teams and everything else our kids are involved in *times* how many kids we have, it may seem like homeschooling is only for those who can afford it.
In particular, the image is of a high one-income earning family with a stay at home mom who can pretty much afford to buy and do whatever is necessary for their kids education.
The fact is, it is simply impossible to generalize homeschoolers. We come from many income levels and socio-economic backgrounds. From the ultra-wealthy who can afford private tutors to the family barely above the poverty line who are homeschooling as frugally as possible.
You don’t need to have X amount of money to be able to homeschool your children effectively. You only need commitment, dedication and the willingness to facilitate your childs education.
There are plenty of ways to homeschool on a budget or free and there are now a million free resources on the web brought to you by other amazing homeschool moms. Its an awesome time to homeschool no matter how much money you make!
8. Homeschoolers Never Learn To Play With Other Kids
Perhaps having the word “home” in homeschool is the root to all of the socialization misconceptions. I would argue it is, since it implies that children are home and isolated with only mom and dad for company. Critics argue that they are deprived of recess, lunch time and other school like activities where friends can get together and play (even though free play isn’t happening during those times either.). Constantly isolated, they lack the social practice to build and maintain friendships.
Although homeschoolers are not being isolated at home away from other children and adults, this is an annoyingly persistent myth that every homeschool family has dealt with.
One of the great benefits for homeschool is that there is so much TIME for friends and activities with other children as well as with adults and the greater community.
Since we are providing individualized instruction, homeschoolers get through their academic work faster and are usually done within a few hours vs. being cooped up all day. This leaves a massive amount of time for co-ops, small homeschool groups, sports, extracurriculars, enrichment activities, 4H, scouting, play dates, playgrounds and just plain old free play with other kids.
In fact, there is so much opportunity to socialize that homeschool parents quickly have to learn not to do too much or there would be no time left for academics. Parents do find that they need to be more intentional with getting their kids involved and helping to foster any budding friendships.
9. Parents Are Not Qualified To Be Teachers
When teaching a government sanctioned classroom with 20-something kids or more then YES you need the proper credentials to do so.
However, homeschooling is not school. They are profoundly different and a parents education level has shown to have no effect on the educational outcomes of their children.
Take heart parents! You don’t need a Phd in mathematics to teach it to your kids. You only need to be able to find the right materials, help them with challenges, set the time aside to make sure learning happens, have a willingness to learn alongside your children and be ready to outsource when needed.
Which is exactly what parents with certificates or college degrees would do anyways.
10. Elite Colleges Will Not Accept Homeschoolers
My husband and brother-in-law went to West Point and so did 4 of his cousins. You could say that his family is building up a legacy there. I wanted to make sure when we started homeschooling that I wasn’t closing the door for my children to have the opportunity to be a part of the long gray line…if they chose that path.
I did my research and found that my concern was unfounded. When they get closer to high school, if they express desire to go to Harvard or West Point, we will focus on the steps needed to be competitive there. It is absolutely possible.
Some people criticize homeschool or choose not to pursue it because they are afraid it will block their children from being able to go to an Ivy League college such as Princeton, Harvard, MIT or Yale.
This misconception is not true. In fact, homeschoolers have just as much chance of being accepted because Ivy League colleges view homeschool applications no differently then public/private schooled applicants. Thus, homeschoolers are admitted on the same competitive criteria and are not considered at a disadvantage when applying.
“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Susan Berry, who researches and writes about educational topics like the fast growing rate of homeschooling. “Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers.”
Homeschoolers must start records early, excel in all their studies, take rigorous classes, ace their SAT/ACT, show leadership through extracurriculars or sports as well as show that they are intrinsically motivated and stand out in some way, either through talents, drive, learning, and achievements from their peers.
Go straight to the source! Each page will take you to the schools homeschool admission requirements.
11. Homeschoolers are Awkward
Kids are awkward. All of them. Even the ones in school. Kids have that in common. However, the heart of the myth is that homeschooling in and of itself makes kids so weird and unsocialized that they are doomed as adults.
Do schools have a leg up in helping children learn how to act, converse and tolerate people who are different?
Is schooling a determining factor in how one acts when they are grown?
Homeschool kids are weird, but in the best possible way. They are taught to be individuals, to follow their passions, to read for fun, play an instrument, enjoy life, question and research to find answers. They do all of this in a safe environment without care or concern as to what their peers think of them or their activities.
They are allowed to blossom into their own without peer pressure, popularity contests, teasing or bullying. They just get to be themselves.
If this makes them weird, then I want my kids to be weird.
Now will they grow up to be awkward? Who knows as many of the traits that society considers awkward are personality traits that a person is born with. Their form of education has nothing to do with that.
As homeschool parents, we do need to make more of an effort to get our kids involved in the outside world. Thankfully, there are so many options for socialization that it truly becomes a non issue. Between enrichment classes, 4H clubs, scouting, park days, recreational sports, art classes, music lessons, library homeschool days, science centers, museums, co-ops, volunteering opportunities, theater groups and community activities you may find the need to start limiting their socializing so you can get some academics done!
12. It Is Hard To Find Curriculum And Resources For Homeschooling
This was true for the first generation homeschool parents in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Most had to cobble together their own material and curriculums or use very expensive mail order catalogs. Since homeschooling was so far from the mainstream (and even still illegal in many states), homeschool materials didn’t really exist on a large scale at that time. Plus, with no internet or blogs, sharing these resources were done on a very localized basis. IT WAS HARD!
Thankfully, this has all changed. In fact, it is so easy to find curriculum and resources that the hard part is making the choice of what to use.
The world of homeschooling in regards to materials, curriculum and resources for teaching have EXPLODED. There is so much to choose from that one of the first steps in homeschooling is to learning how to filter all the options and decide what NOT to do. In fact, other then trying to find a routine and method that works for your family, I find that deciding on which materials to use to be a major cause of overwhealm for most new homeschool parents. There are just so many options.
With Google, homeschoolers can go anywhere, learn anything, solve any problem, find any resource and support that they need. Blogs abound offering their own curriculum and free or cheap resources to help facilitate the understanding of any subject. The home education world is at our fingertips now!
13. You Can't Homeschool High School
Once we informed our families that we were going to homeschool our children, one of the first comments we got was “Elementary is fine but what about high school?! How are you going to teach the upper level classes?”
While I put the implication that I’m not capable and the ding to my ego aside, the heart of this question comes down to the stereotype that high school is too hard for average parents and can only be taught by experts.
In some respects, homeschooling high school can be easier then the early years. For example, your children will most likely be at a point where they can handle independent study. You’re role will be of supervisor, facilitator and record keeper.
High school will be different on other levels, and in some cases more challenging. Students who want to pursue college will have to begin keeping detailed records, become more involved in their community, focus on testing, and hone talents, passions and skills they have that set them apart.
Don’t let high school scare you away from homeschooling. You will most likely have many years to find your homeschool groove before having to tackle it. Once you get there you will be ready and so will your child. Plus, you are totally capable of handling it regardless of what the critics say.
14. Homeschoolers Are Deprived Of School Experiences
Riding a bus, field day, the lunch room, school dances, valentines boxes, pep rallies, prom and graduation. For most of us, these conjure up idyllic scenes of what we experienced in school. Since these were all a break from sitting at a desk all day, they are usually positive memories. We become a bit nostalgic.
When compared to the rituals other students will participate in at “school”, homeschoolers simply will not be a part of all of them. Deprived however, has negative connotations. It implies that we are stealing these moments away from our children. Thats not really the case though, that’s just the fear and doubt talking.
They aren’t deprived in that they are missing out on something important and necessary, it just means that their experiences will be different in the long run and that’s OK.
If your child is really interested in something, chances are they can be recreated or found in the local community.
Riding a city bus is an awesome experience for young children who have never, many co-ops and homeschool groups offer dances, graduation ceremonies and even PROM, students can play sports through their local public school in many states, and parents can create family rituals around certain school holidays like Valentines day to their children have their own memories instead.
If you are homeschooling for the long run, the positives will eventually outweigh the fear of missing out and you will realize that your childrens opportunities are not worse, just different.
15. Single Parents Can't Homeschool
Single parents can’t homeschool! How would they work and take on the responsibility of education at the same time…impossible! Would their kids be left alone all day? How can they juggle it all?
This misconception misses the fact that homeschoolers come from a wide range of backgrounds. In reality, single parents as well as duel income parents homeschool too. It may be easier for the family who has one parent that is able to stay home full time without working, but that scenario is not a requirement.
While homeschooling as a single parent is a huge challenge, it is done by many. They are generally experts at thinking outside the box. They creatively plan when to homeschool. Depending on their work schedule, single parents can homeschool in the evenings, on the weekends or have assignments for their children to complete when they are away. Schooling at home doesn’t take as much time as public school so many single parents are able to get it all done in less time.
It usually requires an available support system (reliable babysitters/nannies or family willing to watch children while the parent works), flexibility, creative planning and outsourcing when necessary.
When a single parent chooses to homeschool, naturally things get more complicated. If you are a single parent and want homeschooling for your family, there are ways to make it happen. Single parenting doesn’t always shut the homeschool doors for you. Every homeschool family is different and it is hard to box us in. You can pave your own way!
16. Homeschoolers Are Isolated
This misconception of homeschooling is another variation of the socialization myth. In that, because homeschoolers are home ALL . DAY . LONG (they aren’t) children grow up isolated from the outside world.
Sheltered, alienated and without friends, they are lonely and don’t know how to interact with others. This will socially handicap them as they become adults, and they will be incapable of living a normal life because of their isolation at the kitchen table. After all, every single awkward adult you have ever met has been homeschooled right? I don’t think so.
While every family is different, most homeschoolers are incredibly busy outside of their home. There are co-op classes which sometimes are all day learning events with a group, art and music lessons, foreign language immersion classes, sports and extracurricular activities, nature study and travel, library days, science and math clubs, museum visits and enrichment classes, lego clubs, robotics, scouts, 4-H and volunteering.
There are some families who school on the road. Either they car school between activities or travel full time or part time with passive income streams (like blogging!) or the parents are able to work from anywhere remotely. They are known as “road-schoolers” or “world-schoolers”. They take their children on amazing adventures to learn by experience instead of books. They travel the US in an RV or live abroad and let the world be the teacher.
Homeschoolers are not isolated. We are out and about interacting with children from different backgrounds and ages as well as many adults. We are busy letting life be our guide and don’t spend our time confined by 4 walls, a desk and children of only our same age groups.
In fact, most homeschool parents aren’t the ones worried about isolation at all (although we do care about socialization very much). We can see that our children are developing quite well with the mix of experiences they are receiving on a regular basis.
17. Homeschool Isn't As Rigorous As School
When critics say that homeschoolers aren’t receiving a rigorous education what they are really saying is that homeschool falls short of the “excellence” that the public school system provides.
Statistics say otherwise and are on the side of homeschooling families. Since, homeschoolers have consistently outscored their public peers on standardized test including the SAT/ACT, as well as continue to outperform once they reach college, it is safe to say that their education is just as relevant, challenging and rigorous, if not more so.
Of all the studies on homeschooling, not one has shown homeschoolers underachieving their public school peers. Thats hard to argue with.
Does that mean homeschoolers need to spend 7 hours a day drilling math and filling out worksheets to accomplish this? Do they have to sit through curriculum that bores them and doesn’t challenge them just because that curriculum is at their “age level”. Do they need to be labeled and segregated when they have trouble keeping up, humiliating them and making them feel like failures?
No! There are many ways to achieve academic excellence and homeschoolers have an edge by having very small class sizes, individualizied studies, being able to work at their own pace, trying out curriculum until one clicks and having more time to work on subjects they excel at as well as the more time to improve on the ones they struggle with without it being tied to their self esteem.
It can look VERY different then the traditional school model. So different that critics argue learning isn’t rigorous or even happening. However, statistics show that different is working and working VERY well.
That’s a lot of misconceptions! Sadly, there are more but that will be for another post.
Whats the craziest you have heard and how did you respond?