Though perceptions about home education have changed over the years, some of the most nagging myths about homeschoolers themselves persist to this day. As a homeschool mom for many years, and an evaluator for homeschool families in my state, I have heard more than my share of these misconceptions over the years — I have even been the victim of such thinking myself.
Amusing as these may sometimes be, I think it’s high time to clear up all remaining misconceptions about homeschoolers once and for all. Tales like these deter some families from trying homeschooling themselves. They paint an inaccurate picture, often a negative one, and distort what has grown into a very popular, acceptable and effective educational choice.
How about we all help end these common misconceptions and fairy tales about homeschoolers? Make the choice to forward this post to the uninformed, the story-tellers and the nay-sayers in your life. And as a favor, please add any I’ve forgotten in the COMMENT section, too.
Misconceptions about homeschoolers:
We’re rich. False. Though some of us might be, on the whole, most of us are not. Demographic studies are easy to locate. Read one. If anything, some of us actually have a little less — since only one of us works for pay. Overall, we’re pretty much the same as everyone else. Just homeschoolers, that’s all.
We’re really, really smart. False again. Well, unless you’re talking about raising our kids well, then you’d probably be correct. But in the educated, professionally-trained, rocket science and IQ kind of sense, we’re not all that smart. We may be a lot of other things — resourceful, organized, tenacious, able to research what our kids need to learn – but we ourselves are mostly not super geniuses. Again, research comes to the rescue here, showing we’re all fairly equally smart — at least no significant differences between us and you.
We’re really, really dumb. True, some of us may be dumb, but lots of us are college educated, too. We might have a slight leg up in this area, too, or at least we’re no dumber than anyone else. So, false.
We’re fanatical about something (religion, homesteading, whole foods, permissive parenting, pro-life, gender neutrality, or something equally semi-far out). While this could have been true in the early days, when homeschoolers literally stood against compulsory government education and fought off authorities for the right to educate children at home, it is not any more. Though religion may have played a part in early choices to avoid an otherwise moral-less education, it is not so as much any more. Are we guilty of fanaticism? Perhaps. But no more than any of you doomsday preppers, pageant moms, Instagram users, or anyone else. False.
We spank our kids. Obviously! That’s why they behave so well – NOT. If our kids behave, it’s because they actually behave. False.
We’re really, really nerdy and so are our kids. I admit, this depends on with whom we are interacting (a/k/a the reciprocating level of nerdiness) and the definition of nerdy itself. If nerdy means intelligent, curious, masterful, confident, helpful, inquisitive, thorough, a good citizen, and so on — then, guilty. But if nerdy means something else, then yeah, this is false.
We don’t test our kids. They don’t really do much schoolwork, either. Not sure where this comes from, as many people also think the opposite (we overwork our kids). Be that as it may, rest assured that lots of us actually do test our kids and that our kids do rather well, thank you. As for school work, though our kids may not spend as many hours “in a school” as yours do in a classroom, they learn at least as much. So, false and false.
We’re not qualified to teach our kids. But your district’s worst school teacher, you know — the one that received the lowest marks on evaluations last year – is. Apparently, so are all the first-year teachers, too. And the ones who hardly know your kid. Plus the ones who barely passed the teacher certification exams. Don’t forget the career-changer — who may have been great at his first job but, turns out, isn’t so great as a teacher. And let’s not leave out the one who comes on to the girls in gym class. This one is a big false.
We are freakishly overprotective of our kids. False. Though some of us don’t ever leave our kids, the truth is that lots of us do. We drop our kids at learning centers, college campuses, sports practices, theater groups, friends’ houses, pack meetings, youth events and many other places, too. Just because we keep an eye on our kids doesn’t mean we don’t let them grow up. Even though we choose activities wisely, this doesn’t mean we don’t allow them to do things they want to do, either. This claim is an exaggeration and a generalization all rolled into one. It isn’t exclusive to us, either. False.
We never leave the house. What? Get to know us and you’ll find out we can be some of the busiest people you’ve ever met! Sure we stay at home — sometimes. But, we also bring our children to museums and clubs, classes and parks, on field trips and to libraries, too. We stay active to supplement what we teach at home, to learn things we cannot (or prefer not to) teach at home, and to gather our children together with other people in the community, too. False.
We all <fill-in-the-blank> (raise chickens, read Latin, sew our own clothes, cut our own hair, etc.). I’ll never forget the time a homeschool parent bragged, “We roll our own oats”. I still don’t know what that means, but I do know that I’m not doing it, and neither are my friends. To think we are all alike is preposterous. Are you exactly like all of the families who send their kids to public schools, too? ‘Nuf said — false.
We think we’re better than you and/or we don’t like you because you send your kids to school.
This is a big one. But, believe it or not, we don’t think everybody should homeschool their kids like we do. Do we think a lot of you would love homeschooling? Sure, we do. But do we push it on everybody we meet? Absolutely not. The truth is, some people just aren’t cut out for what we’re doing, and we recognize that. We know you’re a good parent doing your very best to raise your kids the best way you know how. This is just the way we’re doing it — but we’d never dream of pushing it on you if it isn’t something you think you could do.