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! 🙂