At Home Education Council of America, we speak with tens of thousands of homeschoolers throughout the year who share with us the concerns and questions they get from friends, neighbors, family members, and others about their decision to homeschool.
Because most of the country has been conditioned to believe that public school is the single most authoritative figure on what an education should look like, and the single most authoritative figure on how a child should be raised, it's no wonder that when a parent makes the decision to take control of these two factors, their friends and family are in a bit of shock. Public school is a "comfort zone" which people have acclimated to. But the public school academics are consistently failing – just a quick glimpse at the standardized test scores says it all. And who ever said that public schools have the right or they are the authority on raising children? When did that responsibility get taken from the parents?
While our members have shared with us some bizarre arguments that have been given to them against homeschooling over the years, let's look at the top five which present the most popular opposition:
1) Won't they be weird and unsocialized? Believe it or not, the most popular trump card against homeschooling is socialization. And this is probably because socialization is not something tangible that you can measure, so it's an easy trump card to throw. Understanding what socialization is and isn't will help to dissuade that mindset. The interesting thing is that public school is the WORST place to learn how to socialize. Socialization is not learned at school, there is no class in any public school to teach children how to "properly" socialize. They are thrown into the midst of 25-30 children, usually with only one adult present, and expected to learn from inexperienced children how to properly treat each other. This idea of socialization in public school has consistently failed over and over again. A simple procedure such as reviewing the dictionary definition of socialization will reveal that socialization skills are best learned in the home. However, they are learned by modeling people who the child is around the most. Therefore, if you want your child to be well socialized, then put them around people who are civil and know how to treat others well. People who have empathy, compassion, and are not on brain control meds because they eat a diet of 90% processed sugars and synthetic food. People who are not constantly separating themselves into social groups based on their current cool factor. Do homeschoolers have social activities? You bet! So many that we get emails from homeschoolers constantly asking how to limit the number of social activities their children attend.
Let's talk about weird for a very brief moment. The handful of shy and socially awkward homeschoolers are but a mere sliver of the homeschool population. There are millions of homeschoolers in the United States. Millions. The majority of them are so "normal" that most people upon meeting them for the first time, don't even know they are homeschooled (because they would expect a shy stereotype). There are some seriously weird kids in public school. You can decide what weird means to you. That is all.
2) What about the high school experiences? The second most popular trump card is the high school "experience". Won't they miss out on all of that? Don't they need friends? Don't they need to learn how to be in the "real world"? Well, no. High school isn't the "real world". People who stay in the teenage mindset rarely do well in life – career, college, or business. And we don't know of any person who can reflect back on their life and say that they succeeded in business, college, or career based on the number of friends they had in high school. Most people with high dollar careers didn't have many friends in high school, because they were focused on academics and getting OUT of high school. Instead of being constantly told by their peers that adults are lame and uncool, teenagers should be around adult mentors who can guide them and teach them how to manage and run a business, develop a skill or talent, or encourage them to continue their studies in college. They need to learn how to shake someone's hand and look them in the eye. They need to learn how to communicate with people of all ages. To understand human beings and fully function in society, they need to be around people who love children so they too can learn that children and families are not a disgusting distraction in the quest for wealth and fame, but a gift from God. That's the real world.
As far as the "experiences", we adults need to stop trying to relive our high school years vicariously through our children. Most kids in high school dread the prom. Figuring out what to wear, finding a date, the fashion competition, the peer pressure, the cost, etc. It's one of the most emotional experiences of high school and if you ask girls or boys who are not on the prom planning committee, they will probably tell you it's not their favorite part of high school. However, that said, homeschooled kids CAN go to prom. They just need to be asked by someone at the high school. We have yet to see a high school that didn't allow a date to attend who wasn't an enrolled student. In addition, most state homeschool organizations host a statewide prom every year and have done so for decades. They also hold amazing graduation ceremonies. With cap and gown and the Pomp and Circumstance playing and everything wonderful that the world expects with a graduation ceremony, minus the drinking and the parties (unless they want to, then they can probably find those too.)
3) Won't they be unable to go to college? It is a known fact that homeschooled kids do better in tests, college placement, and all academic areas than their public schooled peers. So people don't really use the "won't they be smart enough to get into college" card anymore.
If anyone has any question about the level of academics in homeschooling, all they need to do is attend a homeschool convention and examine the curriculum choices which are present in the vendor hall. We have hundreds and hundreds of "boxed all-in-one curricula" to choose from which far surpass public school standards. And if we want eclectic or have children with special needs, there are thousands of options available for us in every subject. Homeschoolers also include art, music, and developing of talents – things which the public schools cut out years ago due to budgeting. And yet, a homeschool family makes it work on very little money.
As far as the actual process of getting in to college, homeschoolers have no difficulty. Colleges and universities love to see homeschooled applicants because homeschoolers generally have taken their education into their own hands so they are academically oriented, and they generally are enthusiastic about contributing to the college campus community. They can apply for scholarships, take the ACT and SAT exams, and are all around a great benefit to any campus. At HECOA, we specialize in helping students prepare for college. There are some really great people who are also helping with this process. So not a problem.
4) How can you teach your children if you are not a certified teacher? The answer to this question is as simple as: the proof is in the pudding. The answer to number 3, above, talks about test scores. Most homeschooled parents are not certified teachers and yet their children consistently score better on tests than publicly schooled peers. No one, absolutely no one, has a child's best interest at heart at a deeper depth than a parent. Therefore a parent is typically going to try harder – even if they don't know a particular subject – to make sure that their child has every opportunity to succeed academically. Some of us do it the hard way – and force ourselves to teach subjects which are difficult – and it ends up fine. And most others hire tutors – remember homeschooling gives you the opportunity to choose HOW your child learns, it doesn't mean you have to know everything. We are on the ball with modern technology. Things get done.
5) Won't you be sheltering them from the real world? The answer to this can be found in number 1 and 2 above. To add to those, we would just reiterate that school is not the real world. It doesn't prepare children for careers, entrepreneurship, college, or parenting. All of these skills are not learned from children. They are learned from adult mentors. Mentors who are in the real world and have left high school behind them. As far as thinking outside the box, homeschoolers are notorious for learning without walls. As opposed to publicly schooled children who are taught WHAT to think, homeschoolers are generally taught HOW to think. We think this produces an adult who can handle more of the real world challenges.
As mentioned, we get many examples of questions. These are just the ones that come through the most.