As homeschoolers we have frequently come into contact with misconceptions. With the growing tide of families making the move toward home education, dispelling common myths has even made the news on Fox this week : Parents sound off on homeschooling misconceptions: ‘People think we just sit in our houses all day’
Here is a list of top five homeschool misconceptions they discussed:
1. You cannot teach your child because you are not trained to be a teacher
- While some homeschoolers do bring with them a background in the education field, it is by no means necessary. All parents are qualified to teach their children; indeed they are particularly well-suited to the task as no one knows their child better. As the instructor, you spend time studying, growing, and learning together with your child.
- Parents new to homeschooling can feel intimidated because they feel that they are not able to reproduce a classroom environment. Teachers are trained for the classroom environment; many feel that their main task is class management rather than instruction. Tutoring is one of the most efficient methods of education since it is tailored to the individual child’s needs and rate of learning. One of the advantages is that this flexibility allows students to progress more quickly in some subject areas, while spending more time if needed in others (it is not uncommon to work in different grade levels in different subjects). The one-on-one focus also eliminates the need for homework, as practice is integrated into the schoolwork and any difficulties can be addressed as they occur. Students can have the freedom to research subjects of particular interest in depth as well as study subjects that may not be offered in school at their grade levels.
- Importantly, as a parent you can teach not only academic subjects but life experiences as well, serving as a guide for acceptable, productive behaviour. Together you can set goals, work hard, manage time, and be disciplined in reaching your goals. You can take a rest and go for a walk when you become unproductive. Learning these life skills will help your child succeed in many of life’s endeavours.
2. You will ruin your children’s lives
- Reality check: According to this longitudinal study, adults who were homeschooled as children:
- had overall higher academic education with greater proportions of Bachelors and Graduate degrees
- were more likely to obtain a professional degree or doctorate and work in management or managerial positions
- had a 20% higher average income
- were more likely to generate income from self-employment (32% compared to 4%) and have investment income (33% compared to 2%)
- did not rely on government payments (0% compared to 11%)
- With regard to overall life satisfaction adults who were homeschooled:
- reported higher levels of overall happiness based on the Satisfaction with Life Scale
- higher levels of satisfaction with their financial situation
- were physically very active and more engaged in a variety of recreational pursuits
- were more likely to read books, attend concerts and theatrical performances, and visit museums and historic sites
- were more likely to be married
- were less likely to live in common-law relationships (0% compared to 11%)
- tended to have larger than average families
3. You have to be able to teach every subject
- Any parent is qualified to teach subjects in the elementary grades. Homeschool curricula are extremely well layed-out to provide clear instructions and guidance.
- Many homeschoolers take advantage of homeschool co-op programs where parents with different background specialties share their expertise in teaching courses. For example, our pastor’s wife has a degree in chemistry and taught a splendid semester with weekly experiments and chemistry research insights that spoke to her passion for the discipline. Another mother was a passionate Latin learner and participated in the yearly Ontario Classics Conference during high school; her enthusiasm for the ancient language was infectious even for the most reluctant Latin learners.
- For families who homeschool through high school, online schools provide an excellent option to obtain high quality instruction in a wide variety of subject areas. Most parents feel comfortable instructing students through early education and middle school; but when it comes to, for example, calculus, chemistry, geometry, logic, or British literature, many would prefer to have an instructor who is a seasoned expert in teaching these subjects. In addition, live classes offered by online schools provide students with experience in study skills, assessments, class discussions, and teacher feedback. The level of instruction in the schools listed below is excellent and our children have grown in self- confidence and independence while working at very high academic standards.
4. Homeschooling will hold your children back socially
Here’s a test. To find a homeschooler, walk into a room of teenagers and ask them a question. The one who actually replies while able to keep eye contact is likely homeschooled.
- socialization in a homeschool environment offers students the freedom to interact with a wide variety of ages including younger siblings (who love being read to), older homeschool friends (who can act as role models), neighbours (who might welcome a helping hand), and seniors (who have wonderful stories to tell if given the time), preparing students for the “real world” better than identification with an age-segregated peer group.
- John Taylor conducted research using the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, and found that, “while half of the conventionally schooled children scored at or below the 50th percentile (in self-concept), only 10.3% of the home-schooling children did so.” He further stated that “the self-concept of home-schooling children is significantly higher statistically than that of children attending conventional school. This has implications in the areas of academic achievement and socialization which have been found to parallel self-concept. Regarding socialization, Taylor’s results would mean that very few home-schooling children are socially deprived. He states that critics who speak out against homeschooling on the basis of social deprivation are actually addressing an area which favours homeschoolers.
- Homeschool kids are sometimes labelled as ‘weirdos’ because they do not conform to the norm. The term ‘weird’ only makes sense in relation to what is considered ‘normal’. With rising depression and suicidal thoughts, rampant cyber bullying, peer pressure on sexual activity, alcohol and marijuana use, one is left to wonder whether being ‘weird’ in comparison to this ‘normal’ might be a social asset.
5. Homeschoolers never leave their house
- Homeschooling can happen anywhere: the kitchen table, the garden, the Science Centre, the forest, the car
- While the main academic instruction will generally occur in the home, homeschoolers are very deliberate in connecting with social and sports activities outside the house, participating in teams, co-ops, music lessons, sports classes, etc.
- Many families find that the greater challenge is to ensure that enough time is spent at home completing academics.