Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Are Homeschooled Kids Like?

What are homeschooled kids like?
I've heard EVERY ONE of the stereotypes.  
Some are actors
Every stereotype that people feel comfortable hanging on a homeschool kid, though most of those labels can, in all fairness, be hung on any kid on the planet, and often are.
  • Homeschoolers are Weird.
  • Homeschoolers are Unsocialized.
  • Homeschoolers know nothing about the real world.
  • Homeschoolers are Fundamental Denim-Wearing Christians.
  • Homeschoolers are Poorly socialized.
  • Homeschoolers are ADD.
  • Homeschoolers are Over-Protected.
  • Homeschoolers are SUPER Smart Geniuses.
  • Homeschoolers can't make it in "regular" school.
  • Homeschoolers only befriend other homeschoolers.
  • Homeschoolers are Hippies.

Why is it OK to stereotype homeschoolers?  

Some are ZANY
Why does the world feel it is their right to criticize a lifestyle that they, clearly, do not understand?  
In the media, homeschoolers are often portrayed with these same stereotypes.  It's boring, frankly.  Can't anyone THINK for themselves?  Have you taken the time to actually speak to some homeschoolers to find out about their lifestyle? 
ACTUALLY, the media portrays ALL school-aged kids as shallow stereotypes.  So, yeah, we should ALL be aware of that.  I dislike the shallow nature of the media in general anyway, and avoid it at all costs.
Some are CHILLY
The homeschool stereotyping has happened to us recently and, frankly, I'm annoyed by it.  
PO'ed really.
Every single child and adult in the world could be "labeled" if one were so crass as to do this.  Which I am NOT.  Why are homeschoolers fair game?  Why do people actually think they have the right to comment on this major lifestyle decision?
Reading an article, knowing a couple of homeschooling families, or seeing a homeschooler on TV does NOT make you an authority.  Dang, I have been homeschooling for almost TEN YEARS and *I* am not an authority.  I don't have the unreasonable desire to stereotype anyone, EVEN if I see people who could fit into a stereotype easily. 

Some are curious
Some are adorable!
For example, the other day I was at the park and we identified a homeschooling family.  The first thing we noticed was that the mother was on the field playing too as the family members hit and fielded balls.  All of the kids were playing together, young and old.  Lots of laughter and tons of joyful energy.  As it happens, the mother was wearing a denim skirt.  Had I stopped there, I would never have approached her. 
Yes, she is a Christian.  But, no, she was not sheltering her kids, nor were her kids socially awkward.  If she had been wearing denim shorts, I would have not known any more about her than the fact that she was cool, in the know, and very active in the community.  Her kids were very engaging and not even remotely protected from the real world.  I completely enjoyed meeting them.

Some are sporty
Stereotypes are LAZY, generally NEGATIVE, SHALLOW, and, in general, REINFORCE One's Own Opinion.  It reduces people to simplified caricatures.  It makes it highly unlikely that you will ever actually get to know a person that you have stereotyped.
YOUR use of a stereotype speaks more of YOU than it does of any other person.

At lunch today, I asked the six homeschool kids there how THEY would describe themselves, or describe homeschool kids at a whole.

They answered me with this caveat:   
Well, we'll describe KIDS, not just homeschool kids!

Devilishly handsome!
Adu Able!
Fro-Tastic, even!
Extra Ordin Harry
Clue Listical!

Have you experienced any negativity for your homeschooling?
What do you do when that happens?
How has it effected your children?


  1. Absolutely! I liked what you said about stereotypes telling more about the person making the judgment than the person they are judging.

  2. So many kids could benefit from homeschooling if only people understood these benefits. I’ve seen homeschooled kids do amazing things. Other children do extremely well IN school. I've seen countless children grow and bloom while going to school. School does not cramp their individuality. It doesn't make them mindless robots. They don’t learn to hate learning. They aren’t slaves to the popular culture. (These are stereotypes that homeschoolers have of schoolers.) But honestly, what I've noticed in just about everything I’ve read is that homeschoolers condescend to schoolers and schoolers condescend to homeschoolers, evenly. I think it’s because parenting is such a delicate issue. No one wants to be told they’re making bad decisions for their child when in reality they are doing the best they can, homeschoolers and schoolers. It’s a shame there can’t be a more open discussion about education because we could all learn from each other. But emotions are a powerful thing, especially when it comes to our children and how we each decide to educate them.

    1. You are absolutely right. I couldn't (and didn't) say it better myself!

  3. Hi, I'm coming out the woodwork! I've been reading your blog for a while now, always nice to touch in with another h'schooler.

    It surely does work both ways, and I've been guilty of pigeon-holing the institutional school experience myself. But then again, sometimes stereotypes exist because there's some substance behind them.

    But the one that gets up my nose most? Homeschoolers are "brilliant". Because, nope. Just the ordinary brain-power. The "brilliant" stereotype is waaaay to much to live cope with!

    1. I'm THRILLED you have come of of the woodwork!
      There is NO DOUBT that people all around the world stereotype one another.

      My secret goal is for more parents to be willing to accept and support parents from other lifestyle choices...then we are REALLY passing on some good lovin'.


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