Five Myths about Homeschool Families
I don’t write a lot about homeschooling because I don’t feel like much of an expert on the subject. That may sound funny, because I’ve homeschooled for eight years, and you’d hope that I know a thing or two by now, but it’s true. There are plenty of mom-bloggers out there who write curriculums, create unit studies, and share printables, and I consider them the experts. I homeschool my three school-aged boys with an online program, and my job is simply facilitator, grader, and warden of the classroom.
However, I have had a lot of people ask me questions about homeschooling recently. This last weekend, I had a few friends visiting whose kids are in various schools in California. When we sat down to chat, their questions came at me rapid-fire. I couldn’t believe how interested they were in what we do–what our day looks like, and how I could possibly homeschool my kids, while still maintaining a “normal” family. (that’s what I called us–haha–don’t blow my cover!)
I thought that this topic would be worth a quick post–even if mostly lighthearted–to help dispel a few myths, and give anyone interested a glimpse of what our family’s homeschool life looks like.
I am one of many homeschool moms in Hawaii. Some choose home education because it works well for competitive surfers and their need to travel. Many choose to homeschool because of the fact that Hawaii public schools rank quite low on National Standards. Some families homeschool through a public charter school program, which provides them with a curriculum, weekly access to a teacher, and a laptop computer for the student. I happen to use private homeschool curriculums, for a few different reasons. For one, I like to choose from the hundreds of excellent curriculums that are available, and hand-select what my kids will study based on both our values, and their learning style. This allows for interest-based learning, and opportunities to tap into the fabulous content found on the internet. (I’m pretty sure a kid could get an incredible eduction simply watching Youtube videos, Ted Talks, and utilizing sites like the Khan academy.) Also, homeschooling privately gives us the absolute freedom to schedule our year as we want to. We can work around my husband’s schedule, the surf season, and travel when we want to.
Since I know so many other homeschooling families, I tend to think of it as quite normal. However when I talk to people who aren’t familiar with homeschooling, I am reminded of some of the stereotypes that I used to have about homeschooling. So, I decided to scratch the surface and address some of the things that people associate with homeschool families.
***Keeping in mind that I speak only for my own experience with homeschooling, here is my list of…
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT HOMESCHOOL FAMILIES.
(and please read the very bottom of this post for a final word!)
1. Homeschool kids are socially backwards.
Not (always) true.
We have found quite the opposite to be true! My kids have been raised with a great variety of social opportunities. We have been part of a homeschool co-op that met weekly to do some school subjects together. Our boys have also been involved in team sports, and train on a team with a surf coach. My two older boys go to a youth group, and all of my boys play with friends every chance they get. I believe that being at home for their schooling allows my boys some social opportunities that they wouldn’t have if they were in a traditional school setting. For example, once a month my boys participate in a food distribution to the homeless and needy. This happens midday on a school day, and they work side by side with people of all ages, which is much more “real-life” than sitting in a classroom with 25 + students all of the same exact age. (when else in life will you do this other than in school?) In addition to that, my boys are around to observe my husband and I in our day-to-day life. They see how my husband and I deal with daily challenges, and they learn from it. They have been taught to greet people with a handshake and eye contact. They know how to start conversations with people of all ages, and they are in general extremely comfortable with people.
It is true….That some homeschool families choose to keep to themselves, and perhaps their kids miss out on some social training. Some families who homeschool their kids do so because of their desire to be separate from society and I am sure there are many examples out there of kids coming out of the homeschool lifestyle a little bit “off.” While my kids fill their school breaks skate boarding and climbing trees, some homeschool kids may not be as active and prefer to read books, fulfilling the stereotypical nerdy-bookworm homeschooler image.
I should add...That even if my kids were to lean to the side of being bookwormish or nerdy, quite honestly, I think there are worse things in life. Some (ok, a lot) of the socialization that go on in some traditional schools is much more frightening to me than the prospect of having a nerdy kid. If bullying, cussing, and talking about sex at eight and nine years old is being “socialized,” then I’ll pick nerd-status, any day.
2. Homeschool moms are the “teacher,” therefore creating a curriculum, giving instruction, and in general providing the education for all of the children.
Thank God, no!
Like I mentioned, I use an online curriculum for my boys, which comes with a big stack of textbooks, workbooks, and teacher guides for me. We have tried at least six or seven different curriculums, and quite honestly, I have liked every single one of them. Some require a bit more organization for the parents, some are online, and some are not. We are currently using ABEKA Online, and so far it is the very best fit for our family. It took a little bit of time and effort for me to become familiar with it, but I really love it. The boys’ school day requires very little prep work or involvement from me, which is really helpful since I have three to manage! I have to grade and record the kids work (using a gradebook–easy!) and I try to keep up in my teacher guide with what they are doing so that I can offer support and appropriate nagging. (:))
No–it isn’t easy. But it is not nearly as hard as most people would assume. I’m able to get away when I need to, and kids can carry on with their day independently.
3. Homeschool moms are frumpy women who do little for themselves, and mostly wear the traditional homeschool “frock.”
No way! This momma does NOT rock the frock.
(I mostly add this one because I confess to having had such a stereotype in my own mind growing up. haha, I never would have guessed I would be a homeschool mom one day!)
I happen to schedule my school involvement around working out a couple of times a week, and take time to take care of myself as much as most women that I know. Though I am mostly home with my kids, I have as much interest in clothes and style as anyone else, and do my best to feel good in my own skin.
4. Homeschool families maintain an alternative lifestyle in their homes: They grind their own wheat, sew their own clothes, and drive horse and buggies.
Hahaha…(Was that just MY stereotype as well?)
No. And no.
We do pick our own bananas, and we would love to live off the land, but who wouldn’t? My sewing machine hates me, but I’ll keep trying.
5. Homeschool families don’t have t.v., play video games, or in general, live in the real world.
We have all of the above in our home. Fortunately, living in Hawaii where we are outdoors a LOT, we don’t have a huge battle in this area. We believe in limiting the time they spend on devices, but this has simply not been a big deal for us. We encourage our boys to use the internet for purposes of education, utilizing the amazing free sites that can teach them everything from guitar chords, to fascinating science facts, to how to build a tree house. I am thrilled to be raising kids in such an age as this where they have so many opportunities!
Before I close, please hear this: I would never suggest that homeschooling is right for everyone. Some people try it and find that it isn’t best for them. We may even change one day down the road, depending on circumstances. Homeschooling CAN be done poorly, and it is very sad when kids miss out on a good education OR a healthy social life because of POOR homeschooling. I am so glad for the FREEDOM we have in America to choose what is best for our own family. And for now, I am SO thankful for the amazing experience I get to have while my boys do school at home, and we all do life as a family. I wouldn’t trade what we are doing for anything.
What did I miss? Do you have questions? Do you want to add from your own experience? Join the conversation in comments below!
And if you have found this interesting or encouraging, please share it with your friends! 🙂
As a fellow homeschooling mom of boys, I love this post SO MUCH! I never in a million years thought that I’d homeschool our kids, so when I kept feeling the “nudge” I practically ran screaming in the opposite direction. *I* didn’t fit the homeschool stereotype! (Or the one I had lodged in my head, anyway.) It was only through meeting mom’s like you through our blogs that I felt confident that YES! I could do this, and I should do this.
Thank you for always being such a great source of encouragement, friend.
“If bullying, cussing, and talking about sex at eight and nine years old is being “socialized,” then I’ll pick nerd-status, any day.” Amen!
Really appreciate this one Mon. Today I found myself threatening to send Axel to public school (AWFUL, TERRIBLE moment on my part I know.) He just wasn’t staying on task. AT ALL. Distracted by the tiniest thing & everything. Would just flat out get up from his desk go outside & shoot pucks on the lanai. I was pulling my thinning hair out! Reading what you said about public schools & the socialization the kids get there was a blessing & an eye opener I really needed today! Mahalo.
I LOVE how you found what works best for you and your family in EVERY season… 🙂
This was great, Monica!
We started homeschooling after we moved to Hawaii for an assortment of reasons. In the past my kids have also gone to public school and private school, so I feel like we’ve had opportunity to taste the best and worst of several different schooling methods. We aren’t sure if this is what we’ll be doing for the long haul, but it’s what has worked best for my family during this season of our lives.
I think one of the biggest myths I’ve encountered is that all homeschool moms think everyone everywhere should homeschool. Although there may be some people who hold that position, I don’t believe education is one size fits all. I don’t judge my friends who don’t homeschool and I hope they don’t judge me because I do.
This world is becoming a harder and harder place to raise children and I wish moms would support one another even if we don’t always do things exactly the same way.
Deciding to homeschool was a personal decision of what works best for my family in this season, but it’s not my way of making a political or values statement.
what a GREAT point!! You’re right…I’ll keep that in my head for future discussions on this topic! 🙂
thank you, and keep up the great work!
I was nodding my head emphatically as I read your post. As someone who was also homeschooled all the way through 7th grade, I can attest to all 5 points you make about how people would stereotype homeschoolers especially back in the 90s. We have a few years yet until we have to make a solid decision with our son, but I’m so glad that things are lots different these days for kids. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂
Awesome post, Monica! As a public school teacher and mom, I have always been fascinated by how home schooling “works”. Current thought in education pushes for time for kids to “tinker” with thoughts, ideas, tools, etc.; and to follow individual passions. Sounds like there is plenty of time to meet those goals in your boys’ lives.
If a parent’s goal is to raise well rounded, polite children who are educated in the skills neeed to become competent,independent adults; I’d say you are succeeding and then some!
Love this post!
I’ve been reading your blog for a few months, and I’d been wondering which curriculum your family used. One thing I love about your blog is that your life doesn’t seem to have been completely taken over by homeschooling, so it’s helpful to hear a little about how you balance everything. I’m a single parent, homeschooling my two boys in Maui, and I’m still working out how to give my kids both a great education and a great childhood.
Monica, I found this post fascinating! Thanks for sharing your insights. I have often wondered how homeschooling works, thanks for providing an “insider’s view” from your family’s experience. I really love the way that you describe the freedom this gives you. And the Internet really is such a vast resource. I love those TedTalks programs! I believe that each person learns in their own unique way. It sounds like you’ve found a way that works very well for your family! Thanks again for sharing.
I went to public school through 6th grade, private Christian school in 7th and was homeschooled through graduation. I have three children and am homeschooling them. I was just thinking how do you do it! Thanks for reading my mind and answering some of my questions! 🙂 appreciate your perspective and how to manage it during your busy day. I love that you take care of yourself and leave the frock to someone else. I am sure your husband does as well. I have heard Hawaii isn’t as homeschool friendly as other states, is that an issue?
I am really enjoying you, your blog and reading about your life. I have some catching up to do. Glad I found you through Hawaii Five 0! I saw your boys and commented to my husband that is what our son would look like if we lived in Hawaii. Very tan and bleached from the sun blond. 🙂 What good looking boys! Then you guest blogged right after on MOB on facebook. What an interesting world we live in.
Thanks for sharing!
Dear Monica, thank you for sharing! You are such an encouragement to me. As homeschool became God’s own plan for our family I truly found myself questioning so much about how can I possibly be called to teach my kids. I am still learning English myself, English grammar, spelling? I never heard about homeschool until 5 years ago. In Brasil is illegal such thing. My mom asks me when are you going to let the kids go to a real school? I still don’t have all the answers and actually since July last year I began to have more questions than answers about homeschooling. I heard all those five myths and lots of more comments but I thought I didn’t planned on it so I will receive HIS instructions. I prayed and we finally made a decision to by our first curriculum. I probably won’t follow it again next school year but I confess I needed to start right there with abc, 123 and all because after all teaching a 3 years old boy & another 5 years old boy is lots of fun! There was few times where I wanted to call you Monica and ask you how to do this thing called homeschool. But today you answered a lot of them. You are always being so positive and full of life. I know it’s by the Grace of The Lord. It’s a gift to be able to watch and learn together with our kids. Thank you Monica for who you are! Much aloha!
You make me so happy with this post. As a Home-School “Graduate” whose mom started home-schooling me in second grade I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard one or more of these “myths”.
I think the biggest one is that after so many years of being home-schooled, especially starting at such a young age, many expect me to be “socially awkward/backward”. But you are so right. Not being confined to a classroom for hours upon hours with people your exact same age gives you so much freedom to be around people and experiences you would never experience when stuck in a classroom. When I was about the age of your oldest two I started volunteering in the nursing home near our house.
And I um, have seen way to many of the frumpy home-school mom wearing the shapeless frock. Which I am really proud of you for making points 3 and 4 separate points, cause remember your supposed to make that frock yourself. Oh and your daughters are supposed to have matching ones. And not cut their hair. And NEVER are you supposed to wear pants (unless it’s plain black leggings under that shapeless frock/jumper). Can you tell that a vast majority of the home-schoolers we knew up here were part of the reasons why those myths exist. And that I didn’t fit in even there, I was an “outcast among the outcasts”.