Despite the tremendous growth and popularity of homeschooling, myths about it continue swirling across the nation. And though myths often arise out of confusion or a lack of access to accurate information, despite any amount of well-researched, national homeschool demographics and performance studies that have been published over the last decade, many of these myths persist even today.
Though there are many things that factor into a family’s decision to homeschool, widespread homeschooling myths continue to dissuade some would-be homeschoolers from looking deeper into this most successful and fulfilling way of life. Sharing homeschooling truths with uninformed or skeptical acquaintances is but one way to begin setting the record straight. Being an informed homeschooler and a confident voice in one’s community is another.
Below, you’ll find some of the most common homeschooling myths debunked. Sharing this list with others should help re-frame the way that some people still look at homeschooling today. The list will also prepare readers for the kinds of claims and opposition they may potentially encounter as homeschoolers themselves. Look for additional myths debunked in future posts, as well.
Parents are unqualified to teach their children
As a child’s first teacher, parents have no difficulty teaching children beginning at birth and for the next several years. That is why it is preposterous to assume that parents suddenly cease to be qualified the moment their child turns 4, 5 or 6 years old. National studies confirm that homeschooled kids are able to succeed no matter how educated their parents are, negating concerns that parents need to understand every subject themselves. Studies have also proven that teacher certification has no bearing on student success in public school classrooms, making it safe to assume that teaching experience and/or credentials is not needed to produce successful homeschooled students either.
All homeschoolers are religious and/or most homeschoolers are fanatically religious
Although some parents choose homeschooling for religious reasons, for many others, religion has nothing to do with the decision at all. American homeschoolers come from all imaginable backgrounds and represent every known political and religious point of view. Families that homeschool may do it to impart a set of religious beliefs or to avoid contrary beliefs taught in traditional public school classrooms. But most families say that they homeschool for a combination of reasons, including raising academic standards for their children, keeping children safe from school violence and bullying, providing a customized experience for children with learning styles not being met in classrooms, and avoiding the unwanted influence of drugs, alcohol or teen sexuality. Homeschooling products, too, span the entire continuum from biblically-inspired to entirely secular in nature. Despite what some think, homeschooling isn’t all about religion.
Homeschooled kids are unsocialized, odd or just do not ‘fit in’
To those only familiar with the public education model and the way that institutionally schooled children may look or act, homeschoolers could in fact seem different. Sadly, these differences are often labeled a bad thing when in fact homeschooler behavior has been shown to be much closer to what real-world socialization is really about. Claims that homeschooled youngsters are somehow strange or that these children exhibit a lack of proper socialization couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a great deal of research has concluded that homeschooled graduates do very well in the real world — even that they do not suffer the ill-effects experienced by children crammed into artificially created classroom environments where interactions are limited, highly-controlled, and integration only occurs within same-age peer groups. Even the popular radio personality, Dr. Laura, has objected to the “Stepford Child” model of education, where children are treated the same despite their differences, and has concluded that homeschooling is a very healthy educational alternative.
Homeschoolers take money away from and/or diminish the quality of local schools
Many people believe that homeschoolers receive compensation for agreeing to teach their children at home. Myths range from thinking that homeschoolers receive all of the curriculum they need free from local schools to believing that homeschoolers receive state or federal monies in the form of rebates or incentives when parents do the teaching at home. In fact, homeschoolers purchase, rent, create, borrow or otherwise secure all of the teaching materials that they use entirely on their own. And with the exception of products that are actually free (some virtual classes or free e-books, for instance) homeschoolers pay for these expenses themselves. If anything, rather than costing schools money, homeschoolers actually contribute by paying taxes to support a system that they do not use. As for claims that homeschoolers harm local schools by removing the very brightest children thus preventing the highest-scoring tier from contributing to a school’s overall performance, these hardly merit explanation; though a reminder of the deluge of responses in opposition to Robin West’s Harms of Homeschooling may be in order. (A simple search should yield hundreds of results.)
More homeschooling myths will be debunked in future posts. In the meanwhile, follow these links for more research and articles about this topic: