I hear quite a lot about homeschooling these days—both good and bad.
And, I receive quite a few questions about it, so I thought I would address the most common concerns I hear. Of course, I can only speak from my experience and from what I’ve researched, so this could be different for everyone.
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Either way, statistically, homeschooling is on the rise. As of spring 2016, there were about 2.3 million homeschooled children based on this resource Reference. There is speculation based on the average growth rate of 3-8% per year that it now sits at around 3.5 million Reference.
Furthermore, it’s hard to gauge the true number of homeschooling since recording varies from state to state, so this number could be even higher. It’s rumored that homeschoolers now outnumber or at least strongly contend with the number of those in private schools.
Why the rise?
Some of the top reasons for parents choosing to homeschool their children remain as apprehension over school environment and the chance to provide a more quality education. I’ve read several articles that cited school safety as a rising concern for parents today, which makes sense.
What’s my take on homeschooling?
My mother homeschooled my brother and me from preschool through high school graduation. I am in the process of pre-schooling my two-year-old with hopes to homeschool my children through their high graduation as well.
My mom likes to say that she homeschooled before homeschooling was cool or even accepted, and yes, I can see this. There were times it felt like running into a homeschooler outside of your homeschooling group was rare, but nowadays, just hauling my kids around town and to activities and sights, I’ve run into dozens of mothers who are pre-schooling at home and seriously considering homeschooling through grade school.
So, what are the push-back opinions?
They Won’t Get a Good Education
I teach college. I see firsthand the product of the public-school system. Okay, let’s move on to number 2.
My brother majored in Biology and Chemistry and had his PHD by early 30’s. I have my Master’s Degree in English and Literature and taught my first college class in 2008. We both scored high on our SAT’s, and I scored high enough to receive financial help towards my dad’s college bill. For once, I actually saved him money!
But, if you want more statistics (and, I always do!), ruminate on these numbers…This source in the U.S. News cited a study which discovered that homeschooled students graduated college at an increased rate over their peers–”66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent”–and achieved a higher grade point average (par. 6).
A lot happens in a school environment: going from one class to the next, standing in lines, chatting with friends next to lockers, etc…none of which have anything to do with actually getting a scholarly education.
When we did school, my mom sat with us in the morning where we did devotions, discussed yesterday’s work, reviewed what was on today’s agenda, and then dispersed to our rooms where we did our homework and only emerged with a question or for lunch. When it was all done, our day was over. Seldom were we done before 2 or 3:00 P.M. That was all concentrated learning. We had to give presentations, take tests, complete book reports, and climb Saxon’s math ladder. Fun.
At the time, my dad was a private school teacher and insisted we be privately tested on a regular basis to make sure we were up to par….we consistently tested two or even three grades above our state peers. No, we didn’t have school all year long. Yes, we took summers and holidays off. But, there was no fluff. Just learning. We took field trips and learned hands-on as well—learning by doing. Slicing a dead rattle snake open on a dusty Georgia road to find a freshly consumed rabbit certainly encapsulates a hands-on biology lesson in my mind.
So, let’s now take a look at America’s overall education stats. According to this source, as of 2015, America ranked 14th in education—as of 2013, 24th in literacy—as of 2013, 17th in educational performance. In a 2018 study, America was ranked 20th. Reference
Based on these numbers, quality education in America is declining.
I’m not going to get into all of the issues and possible solutions to the public-school system; I’m just showing you that the education homeschooled children receive is probably not going to be inferior to the public-school system or private school systems for that matter. But, to cover all bases here—yes, there are exceptions.
They’ll Be Socially Inept—A.K.A Weird
Okay, well, I am weird, so I guess this one isn’t completely debunked.
But, my social skills aren’t lacking. In social situations, I’m passively quiet for about a nanosecond, and then you’ll know my entire life’s story. I taught seated college classes for years, which is basically public speaking for a living. I love debating topics, research, and ideas. My brother gives presentations and addresses with his job as a college dean, so no social awkwardness there.
I read a poll on debate.org that said 52% of people thought that homeschoolers were socially awkward while 48% considered homeschoolers socially proficient. When I started reading the responses of people who DID think homeschoolers were socially inept, most seemed to just be speculating or admitted to only knowing a few homeschoolers who fit the bill and therefore, speculated on the rest of the millions.
But, seriously. I’ve met socially-awkward homeschoolers. And, socially-awkward public schoolers. My husband teaches 7th and 8th grade math, and what he says students say and do downright shocks me. This is not a blanket statement for public school children by any means, but it makes you aware to what your children are being exposed every day.
However, when you homeschool, I think you do need to take extra steps to socialize. We didn’t just sit at home all day doing homework and twiddling our thumbs.
Yet, there are so many options out there from free library and city events to private or group lessons in anything imaginable.
My brother played sports; I took music lessons and dance and art classes. We were active members in a large church and a large homeschooling group. We were taught how to be polite, respectful, and mannerly, and we were corrected by name every day all day long by someone who we knew loved us. That matters.
There are also levels of social interaction that people don’t consider…such as bullying. I’ve seen children as young as preschool age become victims of bullies, and I’ve noticed personality change based on this self-perception and their perception of their peers. Some get reclusive, and some get defensive, but this can set in motion a string of behavioral dependencies in young children that concretes as they get older if there’s no intervention. You want a child to be mentally and emotionally strong enough to withstand reasonable teasing, but when a child is exposed to something every single day all day long, it can have traumatic effects.
I realize I’m digressing a little here, but I think this spectrum is overlooked quite a bit, and it’s worth considering.
Homeschooled Children Can’t Participate in Sport or Events
I understand that this could have applied years ago and maybe still does for certain situations or sports; however, it didn’t affect us because my brother’s sport was baseball. He played on our church’s team in the summer and then the local YMCA team and then made the traveling team and all-start team usually. He played in college and then signed with the Mets for two minor league seasons before continuing with his education. So, yes, you can be a homeschooler and make it in sports.
I certainly didn’t have sports ambitions, but I danced and took art and music lessons. I did what I enjoyed with no setbacks.
And, today, there are even more opportunities for homeschoolers. Many states have online public school and public forums, so students can register and join in the extra-curricular activities without setting foot in a classroom. They can participate in sports and drama or anything that would be more difficult to complete at home. It’s certainly an option worth considering if it’s available in your state and is something that matters to you.
A child’s education still greatly lies in the motivation of the parent….when I have an exceptional student in my college class fresh from the public school system, they (always, always, always) list their parent as having a large role in keeping them on track and encouraging them in their learning journey. I think this is a pivotal point in a child’s education. My mom only spent a little time with us each day directly referencing homework, but she hovered as a silent reminder to keep steady on that learning train.
But, yes, I realize there are exceptions to this. I’ve had students so smart they could have sat in a tree their whole life and made it through college magna cum laude. And, I’ve had students who were so self-motivated that they moved mountains entirely on their own to achieve it.
I’m not knocking public schools or public-school children or public-school parents; everyone must give the education to their child that they feel is best for them. I also realize that based on jobs and circumstances, not all parents could homeschool even if they were interested in it.
I know I’m blessed to be able to work from home. However, the debate of public school education versus a homeschool education certainly raises questions that need to be addressed. This was just a look at a few.
I’m going to write an article with pointers on how to homeschool effectively and all that entails, so stay tuned!
Are you a homeschooler? Do you have kids in public school? Share your thoughts and ideas! I’d love to hear them!