“So, are you sure your kid is doing okay?”
“But it’s just not the same.”
“Did you really have to do it this way?”
There are people who are met with these questions everywhere they go: parents who homeschool their children. Many of us take school for a granted part of our lives, which is understandable- in the 2011-2012 school year, only 3% of U.S. children were homeschooled . But being such an overwhelmed minority gives rise to the problem of being highly misrepresented, while they take up a very real part of society. There is a need for greater awareness on what it is actually like to be homeschooled and to clear away the misunderstandings.
Before trying to discern between fact and myth, many are misinformed on the basics of how homeschooling works. It is a battle of preparation, needing multiple steps to build and fortify- parents who homeschool usually begin the process with vast amounts of research, having great caution to ensure their child receives the best education possible. They often join local homeschooling support groups or online forums for extra help from others who are more experienced . Then they either choose an available homeschooling curriculum, or derive their own based off of other resources. Towards the end of the child’s homeschooling education, they will likely take the same standardized tests that other students take, and obtain a parent-issued diploma.
Perhaps the most prevalent myth to address is the misconception that students who are homeschooled never get the chance to develop their social skills. Contrarily, they have plenty of chances to interact with various groups of people- having positive family relationships at the core, they often attend group activities such as local sports teams or religious organizations, as well as regularly socializing with friends and neighbors in the community. Additionally, with the rise of the era of internet and technology has also altered the dynamics of “social skills”- there is plenty of connection to be found from online peers. Some even claim that homeschooling exposes children to a more positive social experience and eliminates negative influences, but this is debatable. What is clear is that any homeschooling that does not enable the child to socialize is homeschooling done wrong, not representative of the lifestyle itself. A traditional school is not the only place where a student can meet people.
Another common concern is that homeschooled children will not receive an education that matches the standards of a traditional school. In fact, figures suggest that homeschooled students are more likely to attend college, the percentage being 74% as compared to the 46% of traditional school graduates . Homeschoolers also receive higher GPAs in college, and outperform their traditionally schooled counterparts in standardized tests. Of course, figures alone cannot argue that a certain educational style is better, but they do prove that homeschooled children perform better by standard gauging methods. Even apart from the numbers, homeschooled children often have more opportunities to base their learning around their interests, optimizing the flexible quality of their curricula so they get the most out of who they are as students.
One last myth to shed light upon is that parents are not qualified to teach diverse or advanced subjects. This is, in fact, true: no one can be an expert on everything. But the misunderstanding is that homeschooled children learn everything from their parents. Often, specific course material designed for homeschooling makes a wide spectrum of subjects accessible with only the assistance of a guardian. But more importantly, the entire world around them functions as a classroom and teacher for homeschoolers: whether it be a museum, a local park, or simply a community of people. Options for homeschoolers extend far beyond just the parent. Many families hire tutors for specific help in certain subjects, and it is also common to attend community college classes or form study groups. Various sources of learning can come together to create a unique, combined homeschooling curriculum.
But apart from clearing these large, factual misunderstandings, perhaps what society really needs is an elimination of the cultural stereotype placed onto homeschooled children. The image of a conservative Christian mother sitting with her sheltered and antisocial child at the kitchen table from morning through afternoon with stacks of textbooks and a bible, while extreme, is not uncommon. And it is even more common to subconsciously accept at least one part of that extreme stereotype. It is time to wipe the soot off what is now a changing, dynamic definition of homeschooling: not a school confined to home, but a simple deviation from a standard, public education system- a school that can be built with no limits.
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