Though homeschooling is rapidly gaining credibility, there are still innumerable individuals who are oblivious to the actual lifestyle of homeschool students. In an effort to slash more prejudice and prevent awkward situations due to generalization, I will cover some of the most misunderstood aspects of homeschooling in this article.
As a homeschooler myself, I am continuously faced with frustrating preconceptions. Here are some common comments; “You’re a homeschooler, it must be nice getting to do all of your work in your pajamas!” or, “Do you get to wake up whenever you want?” or, “You and your siblings must be best friends.” These are examples of questions and statements that most non-homeschoolers consider pleasant conversation starters. However, they are usually irritating generalizations for the receiving party.
- They Take All of Their Classes at Home.
I believe the number-one misconception is that homeschoolers take all of their classes, well, at home. For the modern homeschooler, the title “homeschooler” has become a misnomer. For example, though I have been homeschooled all of my life, I have actually not taken a class taught by my mother or father since 4th grade. This concept is surprising for most to hear; however, it is a growing reality.
Educational Co-ops are one explanation. Co-ops are usually established through homeschool groups or communities. For example, Forsyth Home Educators (or FHE) is a prominent group in our area. The Co-op’s primary function is to offer core and elective courses for homeschool students. Each course is usually held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday, much like a college schedule. The teachers administer homework, quizzes, and tests, and give grades much like public or private school teachers.
Another opportunity for homeschool families is courses taught by private Advanced Placement professors. Chris Lawson is a perfect example. From his extensive list of AP courses, I have taken AP US History and AP European History under his instruction. This learning opportunity allows homeschoolers similar opportunities to those in a more typical educational system.
Finally, community college courses are an excellent option. In fact, participating in dual-credit at a community college allows passing students to transfer their earned credits to their future college without having to take an AP exam!
- They Have No Friends…Only Siblings.
Another prejudice we homeschoolers face is the notion that our best friends are our siblings. This is driven by the false conception that homeschoolers have little or no contact with those outside of the family unit. This simply is not the case. This is a topic that rides entirely on the individual. If testimony from a homeschooler herself is not enough, a study led by the National Home Education Institute states, “Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips…political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.”
- They Are Overly Sheltered.
Again, this concept depends entirely on the individual family. Sure, there may be those parents who overly protect their children from outside influence, but this can happen within any educational system. Homeschoolers these days are virtually indistinguishable from public or private students when it comes to pop culture knowledge or social media exposure.
- Their Parents Make Up Their Grades.
So…I guess this one is pretty much true…kind of. It is actually a bit of a running joke in my family. If I’m struggling in one of Mr. Lawson’s AP courses or a tough math co-op class, my Dad will say, “Don’t worry Mal, I make out your report card!” And it’s true. Parents of the homeschool students are responsible for drawing up their children’s transcripts every year. But the fact of the matter is that all of this is closely regulated in our state by the North Carolina Division of Non-public Education in Raleigh. They keep pretty close tabs on homeschoolers. Plus, we still have to take yearly standardized tests and college entrance exams (SAT and ACT), just like everyone else.
- They Are Either Really Smart Or Really Dumb.
On a similar matter homeschool students are sometimes viewed as either geniuses taken out of regular school due to their advanced educational prowess (ever notice how many homeschooled kids are in the National Spelling Bee?), or below-average kids removed from school because of their inability to keep up. Though either of these options may be valid in certain cases, this is not the common situation. Families choose to homeschool for myriad reasons, but I can promise you, my friends and I are just normal, average, everyday kids (except for you, Hartley!).
Homeschoolers often find themselves having to justify their situation to public or private school friends, insisting that they have a very busy schedule and are not just coasting through school. However, as homeschooling becomes more and more popular, it is also becoming more and more accepted as a legitimate educational system.