Sunday, February 1, 2015

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF HOME SCHOOLING

After my 7 yr old told me that a public school child told her we were weirdos for homeschooling I decided to blog about the misconceptions of homeschooling.

(Some misconceptions are being discussed here: DEBATE.ORG)

Why are people so threatened by homeschooling? So threatened that they make up information or repeat what they've heard without fact checking. 

When I first heard about homeschooling it was from my mother.  I was curious about it but she had a negative view of people who home schooled their children, her view was that a parent wasn't qualified to teach, so I didn't ask too many questions.  With education my mothers view of home school did change later though. 

The 2nd time I heard about homeschooling was from a woman I met at our local gym.  She worked in the childcare center and her children became friends with my child. She was weird. Her kids were unruly and they weren't very bright. Her religion took priority over education from what I could tell and it was just odd to me but it didn't keep me from wanting to know more about homeschooling.  

Fast forward to when my daughter was in 4th grade.  We had a home schooled child join our Girl Scout Troop. She was the only child in a group of 9 that was home schooled and she was quiet, sweet, respectful and very smart. What I remember about her the most is how well behaved she was, better than the other 9 kids (including my own). She wasn't bouncing all over the place vying for attention from her peers, she appeared very secure in herself.  That is the overall experience I've had with home schooled children since. 

I won't preach about homeschool being the perfect solution to our educational system because there are too many variables; bad parents, kids with severe learning disabilities, parents that are overwhelmed with too many other responsibilities, etc… the list goes on.  I have three children and my oldest graduated from public school and my middle child is still in public school.  So, this post isn't about what is or isn't the perfect way to educate your child, this post is about anti-homeschooling people spreading misinformation. So here we go, the comments that homeschooling families hear so often (taken from the website linked above):

1. Home schooled children are not being socialized. 

Clearly those who say that have no idea how to define socialization so here it is: a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social situation.

Here are a couple responses (on the topic of socialization) from Debate.org.  This is from the "no, children shouldn't be educated at home" side.


So making out during recess, dealing with bullies and hearing cuss words on a school bus makes you a more well-rounded individual?


For me to even take this person seriously they'd first have to spell words correctly or write a coherent sentence.  Let's see the rest of that post:


Here you see it again… bullying. Why do so many anti-homeschool people think that being bullied is an essential part of growing up? If being bullied was a necessary part of childhood then why is society now fighting so hard against it? Kids are committing suicide because they are bullied, states are enacting laws to prosecute bullies, etc… So which is it, kids need to be bullied or they don't? 

Now onto the next misconception, making friends and getting out of the house.


Let's start with friends.

I think forming friendships can be an issue for anyone depending on the circumstances.  For home schoolers the challenge with finding friends almost always has to do with being new to the home school world and it isn't dissimilar to how it would feel moving to a new town and enrolling your child in a new school.  It can take time for kids to connect with others, form friendships and get to know their new surroundings.  Personally, I find public school to be more sad in that regard. How many kids have enrolled in a new school and found it difficult to find new friends? There are so many cliques in public school, so many "groups" like the jocks, the nerds, the preppies, etc… and if you don't fit in you may be shunned.  How often do we hear that the kid who took a gun to school and shot their peers were bullied and didn't have friends? Almost always. I've never seen that type of problem with home schooled kids.

Activities and field trips.

Home schooled kids tend to be some of the busiest.  My own child is in gymnastics, Girl Scouts, goes to LifeTime Fitness 3x's a week, attends camps at a local nature center, participates in numerous activities and field trips (most of these trips and activities are with kids that are not home schooled).  In fact, home schooled kids tend to do 10x as many field trips as children in public school, most are not just sitting at home at a table all day.  The bonus for home schooled kids and so many outside activities and field trips is that they aren't just being exposed to kids their own age, they connect with people of all ages which makes them well-rounded socially.  I often hear how well spoken, polite and friendly my daughter is and I know a good part of that is because she isn't being tainted by the kids in public school.  You know, the ones that think you should be bullied in the cafeteria and learn cuss words on the school bus. 

2. Kids who are home schooled don't get vaccinated, if they go to public school they are required to have all vaccinations. 


Well… just an FYI, there are a lot of kids in public school that haven't been vaccinated.  I don't know about all 50 states but in my home state if we refuse a vaccine we just fill out  a form stating an "elected exemption", have it signed by the doctor and turn it in to the school.  The law protects a citizens right to refuse vaccines whether you are educated at home or in a school.  Most of the home school families I know of are proponents of vaccines and you'll see a variety of opinions on vaccinations by parents who homeschool if you've ever read a homeschool FB group. 

The CDC provides information about each states laws pertaining to the vaccination requirement.  To learn more CLICK HERE.  To see information about exemptions in each state CLICK HERE.

3. Homeschooling is not regulated.  

Not true. Again, every state is different and some are more strict than others.  CLICK HERE to see regulations by state. Personally, I like the home school laws in my state, not too strict and not too lenient.  On an annual basis in my state we must file an intent to homeschool with the district Superintendent, teach specified subjects and participate in yearly standardized testing.  If you want to see the requirements in each state CLICK HERE.

4. Home school makes it easier for parents to abuse their children.

You'll see this reference in the post I screen captured above and it something that gets hammered to death by the media when a homeschooling family is charged with abuse.  Sure, some kids that are home schooled are subjected to physical and sexual abuse just like some kids that go to public school are being physically and sexually abused. Whether one form of education makes abuse easier is really irrelevant. Physical and sexual abuse is happening everywhere and if it were more difficult to do to children in public school then why are so many kids in public school being abused? How many people today talk about being abused as children and yet no one knew? Abuse stays hidden because the perpetrator is manipulative and crafty not because the environment makes it conducive.  Don't belittle what is happening to children or take away the responsibility of the perpetrator by blaming a persons choice of how to educate their child. 

5. Kids can't participate in team sports.

My daughter played soccer for 2 years and I am pretty sure it was a team because she wasn't playing by herself (sorry, just being sarcastic about the team part).  She's decided that for now gymnastics is more her thing so she may or may not go back to soccer.  Kids don't only have access to team sports through public schools.  Community based organizations offer team sports and in my state, depending on the district, public schools also allow home schooled children to participate in public school activities or sports.  CLICK HERE to read which states allow home school kids to participate in public school sports.

6. Home schooled kids can't go to college.

When I was first considering home school for my youngest I worried a lot about her ability to get into college.  I started looking up various colleges and checking out their entrance requirements.  Turns out  most of the colleges I looked at accepted home schooled kids.  This is pretty typical under "application requirements" on college websites: 

University of Minnesota, Crookstone


Yale



I've met a nurse, pastor and teacher that were home schooled and I have homeschooling friends that currently have kids in college.  Going to public school doesn't guarantee success getting into or doing well in college but still anti-homeschoolers single out home schooled kids as being unable to go to college due to their "alternative" education.  Here are a couple misconceptions about home schooled kids getting into college:

7. Homeschool kids can't go to college because they don't earn a high school diploma.  

Colleges don't ask to see your high school diploma, at least mine didn't. I went to a four year private college and I needed three letters of recommendation, ACT scores and high school transcripts when I applied, not once was I asked for a diploma.  My oldest daughter didn't submit her diploma when she applied to college, she sent in her high school transcript also.  It's the subjects studied and the grades earned that colleges want to see and home schooled kids can provide that information.  We can also create a diploma but no one will ever ask to look at it so it is pretty pointless. 

8. Home schooled kids aren't ready for college like their public school peers.  

Home school situations vary like public school situations. Sure, there will be home schooled kids that don't receive the education that may be required to enroll in their college of choice just as many public school kids are not prepared to enroll in college.  More and more public school kids are falling through the cracks due to lack of parent involvement, large class sizes, incompetent teachers, etc… There are a whole host of reasons children in public school fail to succeed but research has shown that colleges are are very interested in home schooled students and these articles are a reflection of that:

This one makes me laugh because I've known several public school teachers that shouldn't be allowed to teach.  Why do we question whether a parent is qualified to teach but not question teachers? Just because someone holds a degree doesn't make them teacher material.  This is actually one of the things that kept me from home schooling my children.  I wanted to home school for many years before ever getting the courage to do so and it was because anti-homeschoolers had me believe a parent wasn't qualified so I put all my faith in private and public school teachers and this is what it got me:

My 14 yr old had one of the worst teachers ever in 3rd grade. I watched her standardized test scores go from above average to nearly below average in just one testing year.  That particular teacher was removed from the school after only teaching one year.

My oldest child couldn't read until she was in the 2nd grade. Her first grade teacher made excuses for my daughters inability to read or even do basic math, she even told me it was MY child (her teacher diagnosed her as ADHD) and NOT HER teaching that was the problem which later, after much testing, seeing a doctor and psychologist, turned out to be completely false. It turned out that my daughter had missed all of the basics in 1st grade, it was literally as if she was taught nothing for an entire year. I'd been questioning her teacher for months and she kept reassuring me all was ok until I accused her of not being a good teacher then all of a sudden my daughter was ADHD.  Thankfully there were good teachers and tutors that helped my daughter catch up and get back to where she should be but it took nearly 4 yrs for that to happen and a lot of money.  She graduated on time and her GPA never fell below 3.2 after 7th grade.

My home schooled child took her first standardized test after I taught her entire first grade and she scored at a 2nd grade level in Math and a 3rd grade level in Language Arts.  So… let's just skip the part about parents not being qualified to teach.  Being qualified to teach isn't about having a degree in education it is about knowing your child, understanding their learning style and being committed to their education. No one knows their child better and no one should be more committed to their child's educational success than their parent.



So, this was just a few of the crazy things people say about home schooled kids.  Instead of accepting that home school is just another way of educating a child some people become very defensive and downright rude when they know or hear of someone that home schools. It is silly and I think it is really a reflection of that persons own insecurities.

Next time you have the opportunity to learn the facts about home schooling, take it! You'll realize homeschooling families are much like your own family the only difference is that they've chosen a different way to educate their child, a way that they believe is best for THEIR child.