Monday, February 6, 2012

12 Homeschool Myths BUSTED by Homeschoolers

The other day, after English 1 class at my home, the kids participating in my class got to talking about the "usual" myths associated with homeschooling. I decided, right there and then, that the words from this remarkable, and typical, group of teens could respond to the usual homeschool criticisms better than I could.

I went online and found umpteen lists of criticisms and myths of homeschooling. We sat and talked about each list, point by point. I am paraphrasing much of the responses. Where possible, quotations will be used.

So, without further ado:

  1. Homeschoolers are super religious. "Some are, some aren't.  We're totally NOT." Within our homeschool group, about half of the families claim some religious affiliation from Christian to Wiccan to Quaker to Muslim to Mormon. I don't know if this represents most homeschool groups, but it does ours. 
  2. Homeschoolers sleep late and do their lessons in pajamas. Well, OK, yes. Sometimes we do sleep late. This totally depends on how late we were up the night before. And, we admit, we do stay in our pajamas when we can. Actually, we leave the house so many days a week, days like this are a treat to us too. 
  3. Homeschoolers don't have any friends. "Insulting!" "I have lots of friends!" "Some homeschoolers somewhere might have no friends, I don't know. And I'm sure that there are kids in schools who don't have friends." 
  4. Homeschoolers have fun all of the time. "It can be fun...OK, it is fun, but not all of the time." "I still have to get lessons done. That takes me anywhere from one to three hours or so each day. After that I get to choose what I do." It depends on each homeschool family. Some people really have learned to find fun in life. Some people never really do!  
  5. Homeschoolers are not social. "Of course I'm social!  Many homeschoolers are very outgoing." "I know people who homeschool who are very social, some not so much. I've also met regular school kids who are social and some who are not. I don't get why we get this one!" "Every child is different!" Some kids admit to times when they feel like being home alone. All of the teen respondents also report wanting more time with friends when they have no scheduled activity. 
  6. Homeschoolers play video games all of the time. "Of course not! I have to earn time and then I have to play when the little ones are in bed." Many of the participants report having favorite video games and many other activities that occupy their time. No one claimed to spend "hours" on video games daily. All claimed to play them "occasionally" or "not every day". 
  7. Homeschoolers stay at home and are isolated.  "NO! Sure, we stay at home sometimes, but we leave alot too. We go on field trips, day trips, and we go to co-op activities every week." "I have at least two days with outside activities, sometimes more." This group of kids listed almost twenty different activities between them. I should also mention that most of these myths were met by laughter...this one especially. 
  8. Homeschoolers have no boyfriends. “What?! NO! Not true!” That depends on the family. Two of the teens claim to have boy or girl friends. Most report having had boyfriends or girlfriends in the past. All report having long-term friendships with people of the opposite sex. A few of the kids admit to having no interest at this time. 
  9. There aren’t many homeschoolers. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!  “There are so many! I laugh at that!” We find that, when we go out in public, we can almost always find other homeschool families wherever we are. 
  10. Homeschoolers are either super smart or  they have ADD. “Well, we tend to be smart because we spend a lot of time on subjects.”  “Most of us are in the middle.” “I admit that people often call me ‘mature’.”   It’s different for everyone, but most of the students are “average”. "I know we keep saying it but it depends!"
  11. Homeschoolers can’t play organized sports. “WRONG!  I play hockey!" Other sports played include:  softball, soccer, tae kwon do, and baseball. Many sports are able to be played without being associated with a school. “But I play for a school." 
  12. Homeschool parents can't teach high school. "WHAT! Parents can teach anything. They can read!" The kids all laugh at this one. "I guess most people don't understand what homeschooling is all about."

 Overall, the kids were surprised, a bit insulted by the claims that non-homeschoolers make about homeschoolers, and entertained by the misconceptions. And then we moved on. 

What do your kids think about school?  Have they had good or bad experiences?
What experiences have you had with public schoolers' opinions on homeschool?

Interestingly enough, I have more to this post. After this conversation, I asked the kids what stereotypes that THEY have about public school kids...
THEN I asked a good public school kid to reply to those...
More to come!
Stay tuned!



  1. I wish we had more friends. It seems that the religious thing gets in the way in these parts. But that being said, we are not lonely due to being unfriendly. Many people assume we are religious and cut us off before even getting to know us. Some people are disappointed that we are not religious and have done the same.

    Super Smart--that is code for *That kid actually likes doing homework and learning things. Remember in public school it is not unusual for kids to be bullied if they excel too much in academics by other children.

    WE sleep late all the time. But we also stay up late with our books and sketch books reading and drawing. We are night owls. Good thing we home-school too. Our natural tendencies in this regard would affect grades and performance in a normal school setting because their schedule would clash with ours.

    Parents can't teach high school? Oh my dear--well maybe some can't or perhaps they believe they can't. There are no such issues in this household. If anything teaching the early grades is more difficult. But as the children catch up with the adults, it gets easier and easier.

    I am tired of people who saw Bachman talk about home-homeschooling one time on the campaign trail, and then just, jumping off of that cliff trying to conclude that all home-schoolers are just like Michelle Bachman.

    1. In my house, two of us are total night owls and I am SO glad we homeschool. My daughter would have such a difficult trying to get up mornings and such...I oughta know! I remember, back in the day, wishing I could be in school at midnight instead of at 9 am.

      Also, you are SO right. I was a smart kid and I totally got teased for raising my hand, answering the teacher's questions, and PARTICIPATING in class. I'm glad you pointed that out; I'd forgotten.

      I think that the major point of the post is that the kids answered "that depends" to nearly everything. Basically saying, Don't Stereotype us!

      Interestingly enough, I have more to this post. Then, after this conversation, I asked the kid what stereotypes that THEY have about public school kids...
      THEN I asked a good public school kid to reply to those...
      More to come!
      Stay tuned!

  2. Homeschooling is such a huge adventure. I am almost always astounded that there are people who believe that public school is the norm. It wasn't until the late 1800's that the school building became known to some. There are a ton of variables in the homeschooling adventure.

  3. The whole idea of asking homeschoolers what their stereotypes are of public school kids are like is so awesome! I can't wait to read what you learned! Of course, many families don't homeschool for every grade, so many homeschoolers have truly informed opinions. I've noticed my son's ideas about what school is like overwhelmingly come from children's literature, where school is often the source of the conflict in the story- bullies, cliques, peer pressure, unsympathetic teachers, uncaring or completely oblivious parents... Popular media has a lot to say about school, and not much of it is positive. This scares me. I'd love to say we'll always be able to homeschool our son, and that's definitely our intention, but no one can ever tell what life will throw at them. I don't want my son to have a completely hostile view of public school, just in case he really does have to go there someday, so I don't regard these portrayals as helpful! And where are the homeschoolers in children's media? They are all but nonexistent.

    1. You made a great point. My son's only perception of public school, despite my efforts to clear up his misperceptions, comes primarily of the media. He believes that all schools have terrible bullies, uncaring or hostile teachers, and LOTS of singing and dancing.

    2. It's funny that this topic came up. I bet we could make a a small play list of popular music about schools:

      From The Wall, Another Brick in the Wall -"How Can You have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" We were listening to that song in the car the other day, and my eldest commented on how the person who wrote it must have hated school immensely. "No Dark Sarcasm in the Classroom, Teacher leave those Kids Alone."

      It's a pretty dark song. Unfortunately it rang true with my public school experiences for the most part. It must resonate with a lot of people--seeing how that song is 40 years old and still gets air time on contemporary radio stations.

      I also recall Harper Valley PTA song.

      Now I have to get on MOG and make a play list and see what I can find --positive and negative.

      Don't Stand So Close to me by Sting-about a teacher attracted to his underage female students [yikes!]

      This will be an interesting exercise.

      Movies and books too. Hmmmm. I sense fodder for many new blog posts and conversations :)

    3. While my kids were still "school-aged" (they're all 20-something now), they used to have a very bad impression about school kids-in-general (although of course they all knew and liked particular school kids) because of the behavior of school kids on field trips. We would be at a museum, say, or park or beach with our homeschool group, and when school buses pulled up, the kids (not the adults) were heaving huge sighs of "Oh, no!" The school kids seemed like an unruly, noisy, physically rough mob. I tried to make my kids more tolerant by pointing out that school kids were normally SO cooped up, it was natural for them to freak out when given freedom.

    4. OH, I've heard many a homeschool kid heave that heavy sigh and say "Oh NO...bus."

    5. That has happened to us. We have our cameras and our binoculars and we go on hikes at local parks. And we have learned that schoolkids cannot be quiet at all. They sound like a herd of crazed buffalo running through the woods and scare every bit of wildlife off for miles. This has happened to us several times. It has gotten to the point that we just leave and go somewhere else. Because if the whole point of being out is to observe and record, then when that happens, then achieving that goal becomes highly improbable. And it's not like the kids talk to us. So there is no play and there are no animals.

      I have to say, we aren't very sympathetic at all. When we watch them tear up the trails and pull green wood off of trees and rip flowers up, it just plain pisses us off.

    6. This one gorgeous spring day, a few moms and I had our kids at this little pond park. We were checking out the wildlife with our field observation instruments, including this kick ass little microscope I have for "the field".
      We were observing about a dozen little frogs that would just hang there in the water. It was COOL. We were observing lots of other stuff too...

      Well, this pond has a middle school next door. At some point, a teacher walked about a hundred kids over (OK, maybe it just seemed like a hundred) to study life at the surface of the pond, the middle layer of water, and the bottom of the pond.
      This LOUD bunch of kids tromp over the bridge, laughing, pushing, yelling, running, ETC, totally running the wildlife off.
      The teacher yelled loudly to be heard, reminding the kids of their lesson for the day. She kept looking at me sideways, smirking! LOL Like she was so proud to be TEACHING the kids something.

      After about twenty minutes, they all tromped away, leaving us to the quiet and active little pond.
      Our kids learned SEVERAL lessons that day...

  4. As you said, the answer to many of these myths is "it depends." Several of the myths (maybe #2, 4, and 6) point to unschoolers rather than to homeschoolers who use curricula and do formal academics--and if these stereotypes are seen as negative, even accusations, I believe they spring from jealousy more than genuine concern. My kids unschooled, and there was quite a bit of pajama-time, fun, and computer gaming during their childhoods--and those are some of the very good things about homeschooling!

  5. What you say is true Cathy. My kids are younger and sometimes they just cannot get their ya yas out. So I pull up an educational computer game and let em rip! And in their PJs too.

    I don't know why people get so upset over that. I see people in their PJs at the store. At least we keep it in the house!

  6. I agree with Cathy that "it depends," which seems to be the whole point of the questionnaire. "One size fits all" assumptions about homeschoolers just don't apply. :-)

  7. Isn't it funny how people think they know so much about homeschoolers but have usually never met any. Great post. It made me chuckle.


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