Did you know that across Canada there are approximately 60,000 to 80,000 children who are homeschooled? That number is on the rise. Despite the fact that homeschooling has become much more mainstream in our society, there still seems to be an underlying misunderstanding and prejudices surrounding this method of schooling in the general population.
Here's some of the most common myths:
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1. Homeschool students aren't socialized properly.
This is one of the most common misconceptions of homeschoolers. The reality is that instead of being separated in groups according to age, these kids can interact with many different people in many different settings on a regular basis.
Homeschool groups and activities typically are filled with a wide age-range of children involved. Extra-curricular clubs and sports or other similar activities offer the opportunities to learn how to work under a leader in a group setting. Volunteering puts kids into new settings with people they might not have encountered before.
Socialization is much more than just spending time in a classroom with other kids -- it's a skill learned and taught when allowed the opportunity to interact with other people.
2. Parents aren't qualified enough to teach their children.
It is easy to understand this concern, but it's actually rather insulting to most of us. We might not all have teaching degrees, this is true, but we typically are skilled enough to be resourceful in our education plans. Even teachers don't know everything about every subject -- but they can find tools, lesson plans, and resources to help teach their classes. So can we.
One of the best things about homeschooling is the network that you can tap into. Yes, there are times and subjects that we can't teach to the amount needed. Using the community and the network available allows us to find experts and better equipped teachers than ourselves. Workshops, co-ops, classes, online courses and programs, distance studies -- there are lots of ways that homeschoolers can learn about something their parents can't teach. Education is not limited by what a parent knows!
We also get the opportunity to learn along with our children. It's a great way to keep the brain active, pull up the lessons we ourselves learned while schooling, and show our kids that learning is fun. It's our goal as homeschoolers to create a passion for learning and to equip our children with the tools to research, discover, and absorb information for themselves.
3. Homeschoolers are weird and different.
Homeschoolers are no different then anyone else. Some are shy, while others outgoing, there are homeschoolers who like to be on their own and the ones that love large groups. Just because the education we teach and receive is outside the conventional box doesn't mean there's anything wrong or weird about us.
4. Homeschoolers are lazy and don't leave their house.
There's a joke in the homeschool world that homeschoolers are rarely home. There are classes and programs, volunteering and sports, field trips, and so much more; homeschoolers are usually busy and active in so many interests that there is no chance to be lazy. There are lessons to plan, prep and finish, just like our public school counterparts. Typically, though, we are finished a lot sooner, allowing us the opportunity to get out and do something else, or just relax at home. We don't HAVE to leave our house and can spend the day in our pajamas, if we want. But it's not the every day norm. It's just a bonus.
5. Homeschoolers are extreme in their religion and want control their children in every aspect of their life.
The school system is a secular institution and teaches what they believe is right. This doesn't always line up with religious beliefs. Because of this, there is a large community of faith-based home educators. But that doesn't make every person who homeschools a fundamental, isolating Christian. Yes, some are, but not all of us! In fact, secular homeschooling has been emerging rapidly in the last few years.
Most homeschoolers chose to teach at home in order to focus on their child's needs and learning styles rather than religion. The homeschooling community includes a huge range of belief systems, but we all have one thing in common: wanting the best education possible for our children.
6. Homeschoolers can't go to college/university.
With the recent increase of students taught at home, post-secondary schools have begun to amend and open their admissions policies to homeschoolers. If university or college is the path a homeschooled child wants to take, there are options available: from taking time off from school and applying as a mature student, to registering with an open university first before transferring to a different program, and even just doing online classes.
7. Homeschoolers won't ever be ready for real life.
"Real life" looks different for every person. It's important for us as homeschoolers to provide our children with life skills -- finances, household maintenance, cooking, self-sufficiency -- areas that have been cut out of most public school settings due to lack of funding. Adults everywhere are able to find and hold jobs, have families, and follow their dreams. There's no reason to believe our children are unable to do the same. Some studies point to the fact that adults who were homeschooled are typically more content with their lives than their peers.
Homeschooling is outside the typical social norm of education and it's easy to understand that there will be misconceptions around how it works and how it is affecting our children. Remember, though, that different isn't always the same thing as bad. Take the time to get to know some homeschoolers. Ask questions. Become educated in what we're doing and why. Don't make assumptions. We want the same as you -- to see our kids be the best that they can be.
What questions do you have about homeschooling?