"Homeschooled kids don't socialize" and Other Myths
Myth #1. Kids who are homeschooled aren’t properly socialized.
The concern I hear repeated most often is the concern that homeschooling will not allow for socialization. On average, homeschooled kids have FAR MORE opportunities for socialization than their schooled peers. How is this possible?
The average elementary school student has one lunch break and 1 recess period, if they are lucky. Middle and high school students get lunch. The rest of their day is spent being told not to talk, not to interact, not to focus on their friends. How many times were you told, “no talking”, “this isn’t play time”, “focus”, and “this is not social hour” while you were in school? Of course, kids always find ways to interact- it’s what they crave because humans are generally social beings. However, the school system was not, in any way, designed for socialization. Further more, the socialization that happens in a room with 30 children, all born within 12 months of each other, is a limited form of socialization indeed.
In contrast, homeschoolers have the opportunity to interact with as many people as they please throughout the day. They have time and space to interact with children of all ages and adults from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. There is far less limitation of who they socialize with and, as a result, most homeschoolers find themselves better able to interact with varied groups of people because they have been given the time and space to practice these skills, without imposed, structural restriction. There is nothing barring a homeschooler from spending their days swimming, playing, visiting museums, playing organized sports, or attending workshops and classes- all with other people who don’t necessarily look or live like them.
Myth #2. I could never spend that much time with my kids.
Homeschool parents do not spend all of their waking hours with their children. Classes, workshops, “field trips”, meet ups, homeschool co-ops, and general exploration of the world around you are great ways to get a little time and space of your own. The idea is to expose your kids to more and give them more freedom than they might have in a classroom. Often, parents find that spending long days with their kids is actually a whole lot more enjoyable once their kids have been removed from a school system that exhausts them and a rhythm at home is established. But…..If you don’t want to spend all day with your kids, don’t!
Myth #3. I’m not qualified to teach my kids.
If you went through the school system and you feel unprepared to educate your own children, what does that say about the system? Every parent has taught their children lessons of value. No child enters kindergarten a blank slate, having learned nothing from the adults that raise them. If there are areas you feel ill prepared to teach, you might involve other trusted adults to help fill in the gaps. Better yet, learn alongside your child. This makes the process more enjoyable and shows your child that learning is a lifelong process, not something kids do until they grow up. You do not have to be an expert in every subject to create a bountiful homeschool environment for your child.
Myth #4. I don’t have enough money to homeschool.
Homeschooling can cost as much or as little as you desire. There are tons of free or low cost resources in NY that allow any family access to wonderful opportunities for learning. Libraries and parks are a great place to start. Co-ops and parent exchanges abound. For NYC students, the NYC ID is another great way to access a host of opportunities in the city. You might also consider trading services or bartering for classes and activities. I’ve even met a fabulous unschool nanny or two! Of course, simply living in the world presents many authentic opportunities for learning and growing. A trip to the super market could involve math, health, science, nutrition, and reading if planned with some intention.
Myth #5. I can’t homeschool because I work.
Who says learning has to happen between the hours of 9am & 3pm? There is absolutely nothing barring someone from “schooling” in the after hours of work. Likewise, there’s nothing barring homeschool families from counting all manner or learning that happens for children while they are away from a parent. NY does require that a parent be the main driver of a homeschooled child’s education, but that does not bar a parent from working with a co-op, fellow homeschool parents, an unschool nanny, a resource center, or any number of other options to provide supervision and learning opportunities while the panel is working. Working in and of itself is not a barrier to homeschooling. Just ask all the other working homeschool parents!
Myth #6. You can’t get into college if you are a homeschooler.
This is simply not true. Many universities and colleges now recognize what homeschoolers have to offer and actively seek homeschoolers out. Did you know there is a university in Massachusetts designed specifically for young people who want to start college early? Bard at Simon’s Rock actively recruits self-directed learners and has an application process that speaks to their strengths- no standardized tests or diplomas required for admittance, portfolio and interview application for everyone. There are other, similar options.
The overall independence, commitment, and awareness of real world living that homeschoolers exemplify is unparalleled in their traditionally schooled counterparts. Additionally, homeschooled students can take the same SAT and ACT exams as their schooled peers. They can take the TASC exam (formerly the GED) if such completion of high school is required. There is absolutely nothing barring homeschooled students from attending college, if that is the path they wish to take.
Myth #7. Homeschooled kids are “weird”/don’t have friends/are inside and lonely all day.
This is a common concern that often comes from a fear of the unknown. Growing up, most people only knew one or two homeschoolers. Many of us lived in smaller suburbs or towns and just didn’t have a lot of exposure to homeschooling families. Add to the mix several sensational news stories of extremely religious groups and cults homeschooling their young members and you have a recipe for misunderstanding.
In reality, homeschoolers these days are out and about in the world, living as valuable members of society while other kids their age are in school. They have the freedom to take a “mental health day” at will but are also highly likely to be out hiking, going to conferences, studying science in the park, or playing football. Homeschoolers are no more at risk of being “weird” or socially awkward than their schooled peers. They are also perfectly capable of making friends in any of the myriad of activities they participate in. With thousands of families homeschooling in NY, there is also no shortage of potential like-minded friends.
Myth #8. Homeschooled kids “miss out” on normal childhood activities.
“Normal” is a relative term. A child growing up in Brooklyn is likely to have a different type of “normal” childhood than a peer growing up in Scotia, NY. Likewise, a homeschooler will have a different normal than peers who go to school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Normal” in school often includes taunting, teasing, bullying, and anxiety over tests.
Some of the normal activities people worry about their child missing out on include organized sports, musical ensembles, performances, and school dances/the prom. There are plenty of resources available for all children interested in activities like this throughout the city. In fact, homeschoolers have more time to pursue these activities due to the flexibility of their schedules. There are even several alternative options for a prom experience in NYC- The anti-prom at the NYC Public Library is just one option that homeschoolers are welcome to attend.
Myth #9. Going to school and dealing with the tough stuff is a necessary part of growing up.
I don’t know about you but if I could go back in time and avoid the bullying, negative peer pressure, anxiety, and a handful of cruel teachers, I would in a heartbeat. Just because we had a hard time and came out on the other side, does not mean our kids will or that they need to suffer the same. There is absolutely no evidence that “toughing it out” in grade school creates more successful adults. Tough stuff comes at you no matter how you are educated. Forcing a child to remaining an environment that does not serve them based on an unfounded fear that life will not be unpleasant enough to teach them a lesson does little more than teach them to suppress their own feelings about difficult situations in order to appear “ok” and “normal”.
Myth #10. Homeschool kids aren’t prepared for the real world.
Which sounds more real to you:
Sitting in a classroom everyday, surrounded by 29+ other people, all born within 12 months of you. Listening to one person with no relation to you call the shots while trying to focus on something you have little to no interest in. Then, coming home each afternoon to spend 1-2 hours trying to juggle homework and quality time with those closest to you.
Actively participating in the daily tasks and responsibilities that make the world go round, interacting with new people on an as needed basis. Pursuing passions and experiencing the benefits of hard work in a meaningful way. Spending the majority of the day surrounded by people who know and care about you as an individual.
School is not the real world. Homeschoolers have every opportunity to interact with the real world on a regular basis. Nothing is more “real” than living and learning as you go.
There you have it! 10 common homeschool myths busted.
I’d like to admit here that I took some noticeable liberties with generalities about traditional school settings here. Not all traditional school settings are exactly the same but the vast majority do have some pretty glaring similarities so, I admittedly went with that for juxtaposition’s sake.
Have other homeschool myths you wish to bust? Leave them in the comments!