Did you hear the one about the homeschooled kid who went to Harvard at age 12? Or how about the homeschooling neighbors who live under a rock and only come out on double coupon Tuesdays? Homeschooling has inspired a lot of myths. Let’s get to the bottom of them.
Myth #1: Homeschooled students go straight to the Ivy League
The truth: Homeschoolers consistently perform well above public school students on standardized tests, but homeschooling does not guarantee your child a spot at a top college. As with all kids, many homeschooled kids are just average, some are superior and others are below average. What homeschooling will do, however, is give your children one-on-one attention that they can’t get anywhere else. Homeschooling parents can tailor curriculum and approaches to each child, allowing them to follow their interests and reach their full potential.
Myth #2: Homeschooled children are socially inept
The truth: Unless they are chained to the kitchen table, homeschooled children actually have more opportunities for socialization, but with people of all ages, not just their age mates. They are regularly enrolled in extracurricular sports, classes, Scouting and other activities that provide interaction with other kids. Research has shown that homeschooled kids are as well-adjusted socially and emotionally as private school students, but with one difference: Homeschoolers aren’t as dependent on their peers.
Myth #3: Homeschooling is a Christian movement
The truth: Homeschoolers come from all walks of life and all faiths. For some, not just Christians, immersing their children in their faith is a big part of why they homeschool. But even for those families, it isn’t likely to be the only reason.
Myth #4: All homeschoolers are anti-government types
The truth: Homeschoolers are not anti-American. In fact, research shows that homeschooled adults are more likely, not less, to be involved in their communities. Patricia Lines of the U.S. Department of Education concluded in the 1990s that home education families “… have not turned their backs on the broader social contract as understood at the time of the Founding [of America]. [They are] … asserting their historic individual rights so that they may form more meaningful bonds with family and community. In doing so, they are not abdicating from the American agreement. To the contrary, they are affirming it.”
Myth #5: Parents aren’t qualified to teach their children
The truth: Many, many studies have found no correlation between students’ performance and the educational background of their teachers. But the high school years still seem worrisome. How can a parent teach chemistry? The reality is that the older a student is, the more the homeschooling parent becomes a facilitator, rather than a teacher. Many curriculums for older students are designed to have no need of a “teacher.” And learning options abound for homeschoolers outside the home, as well. Many participate in co-ops or dual-enroll in public school or community college classes. Tutors can be hired for difficult subjects. And online courses or software can be found for just about any topic.
Myth #6: Homeschoolers can’t get into college
The truth: This myth may be rapidly disappearing as colleges actively seek out homeschooled students, whom they find to be motivated, independent and responsible. More homeschooling parents are learning how to create transcripts to account for the students’ high school years, but even without these, and often even without a diploma, homeschooled students are having no trouble getting into college.
Myth #7: Homeschoolers are overprotected and lack real world experience
The truth: Homeschooled kids live in the real world 24/7. They work in home businesses, help with the chores, learn how a house is run, go to the grocery store, the bank, the post office. They live life with their parents every day, and as teenagers, they often have part-time jobs. They can apprentice themselves to an artisan or work at the vet’s office or do any number of other jobs to explore careers before they graduate from high school. They have time to volunteer, to get involved with their communities, to take classes.
Millions of families choose homeschooling for many different reasons. It’s not a one-way ticket to success, but neither is it the primrose path that leads to destruction. Like anything else, homeschooling is what you make of it.