We are a homeschooling family.
Homeschooling has been a controversial topic and one that sparks much curiosity since the 1970s. John Holt, both a theorist and supporter of educational reform, proposed the notion. While laws and policies regarding homeschooling have evolved and changed throughout the years; homeschool remains a popular choice for families of all backgrounds for many reasons. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that 2.5 million families homeschool.
It was long thought that most homeschooling parents were religious and taught their children at home to avoid the secular world. But there are far more reasons that this route is chosen. It’s also widely understood that not everyone can or wants to home school. There are some wonderful private and public schools out there, as well as many educators who are incredibly worthy and more than capable of teaching. A common misconception is that homeschoolers do not value education or public educators – not at all true! Personally, my 10th-grade honors AP English teacher changed my life and helped shape my view on learning.
Reese and Riley, my now 8-year-old twins, went to kindergarten at Little Bay Primary. They had a wonderful year with amazing teachers! This experience allowed them to polish up their reading and math skills. However, we decided that for 1st grade, we would homeschool both the twins and their younger brother, River.
With basic skills now on point for the twins, we moved right into 1st grade. We even eased into some 2nd-grade work in the same year. River, who is now 4, is reading sight words, solving addition problems, and leaning to write.
For us, the ability to move at our own pace, whether fast or slow, is an integral part of why we chose to homeschool. There are days that we completely fail at being productive. Other days are smooth and steady.
I wanted to clear up some misconceptions regarding homeschooling that I’ve heard/read over the years.
- Homeschooled kids are anti-social/have no friends. This common fallacy regarding homeschoolers always makes me chuckle because all three of my children happen to be extremely social butterflies. This is a major generalization and not always true. Kids all have different personalities no matter their method of schooling. Some are introverts, some extroverts. By homeschooling and participating in group classes/co-ops, my kids are exposed to and have friends of all ages. We visit and take classes at parks, the aquarium, museums, the art center, wildlife sanctuaries and spend much of our time volunteering!
- A parent is not qualified to teach. The first mistake some often make is to assume that many parents who stay at home aren’t educated. For example, my husband and I are both college-educated. But, having a degree or core knowledge in every subject matter isn’t exactly necessary to achieve academic success. The key to being a successful homeschooling educator is to be resourceful. There are so many resources at our fingertips and the ability to take advantage of those productively is the key to having fruitful school seasons.
- Homeschoolers cannot attend college. This is a very common misconception. While colleges may have different policies, they are so much more “homeschooler friendly” in 2017. Many universities accept portfolios instead of transcripts. You do not need a GED to apply for or to receive financial aid. And statistically, homeschoolers do very well in college when they choose to attend. There are also numerous high school level online programs that assist with schooling and documentation if that is the direction your child is headed. Explore the options, there are many.
- Parents who homeschool must all have extreme patience. Ha! Some days, this might be true. Others, not so much. Patience is not a virtue that I would put at the top of my own personality resume. It does require that I practice patience more frequently and I feel privileged to be able to regularly practice kindness towards my own children, especially when at my wits end.
- Homeschooled children lack real-life experiences. On the contrary! Homeschooling for us IS real life and rarely separate from living because most situations are an opportunity to learn. From homesteading to sewing to learning how to bake a cake to using a drill or hammer to making a birdhouse – these are all useful skills to learn and practice daily. School for us!
- Kids who aren’t in a public school will miss out on homecoming, prom and extracurricular activities. In many areas, public schools allow homeschoolers to participate in dances like prom and sometimes even sports. If that’s not the case where you live, many cooperatives form their own dances and celebrations. There are often recreational sports and city led ones too that are open to everyone. If anything, homeschooling provides more opportunities to participate in the extracurricular. One of my twins is a cub scout, enjoys track and parkour. His sister is learning to play the Ukulele and speak sign language. She takes online art classes.
There is much more that I could add to this list. Just a start in dispelling a couple of the most prevalent myths I’ve seen out there.