Friday, May 13, 2011

Homeschoolers: Sheltered and Socially awkward?

When my mom started homeschooling me in 1987, homeschooling was far from the norm. In fact, according to a 1985 Gallup poll, 73% of Americans were opposed to homeschooling. Growing up I only knew a few other kids who were homeschooled and those kids were my brother and sisters. Outside of my family I can't remember ever knowing another kid who went to school at home. According to some estimates, at that time, there were less than 50,000 homeschoolers in the US (some estimates put it as high as 200,000). By most peoples standards, my mom was one of the pioneers in the American homeschooling movement. The few people who came before us often found themselves fighting the government for the right to educate their children at home. One homeschooling family that my Mother spoke with early on had their kids taken away from them for 6 months after being charged with truancy. My mother was truly at the forefront of a powerful and exciting movement.

Being that when I was young homeschooling was still a relatively new concept people were prone to make assumptions as to what kind of people we were. As a child I was asked the same questions dozens if not hundreds of times. The three most prevalent assumptions that were made about my siblings and I were that we:
1) Were sheltered
2) Would grow up to be socially awkward
3) Wouldn't be able to make it in a "real" school.

In retrospect I'm sure that all of our naysayers are now convinced of their folly but at the time their bad logic was the prevalent point of view. All of my siblings did eventually join a "normal" school, I in 11th grade and my brothers and sisters in 9th.

Now to answer their questions. Were we all able to make friends in "normal" school? Yes. Were we able to make it academically? Yes, in fact I believe we all graduated with honors. Were we all able to make it in the real, unsheltered world? Yes, the exception being my youngest sister who is graduating from high school this year. She hasn't joined the real world yet but I'm sure she will be just fine. Did we all turn into well adjusted human beings who are intelligent and well loved? Why yes we have. And if you're still worried that our life as sheltered homeschoolers may have left us with low self esteems then perhaps your reading comprehensions skills are lacking.

I am happy to say that homeschooling and the general public's opinion of it has changed tremendously over that last 24 years. At my church alone I know 14 kids who are homeschooled and tonight I attended a homeschooling event with dozens more. Homeschooling is even offered and aggressively advertised by the public school system. Granted, 54% of Americans are still opposed to homeschooling but that is none the less a dramatic improvement. With homeschooling increasing by 7-15% every year the future of homeschooling is bright. My hope is that in the near future the majority of Americans will have a favorable opinion of homeschooling and will in turn stop asking the same ignorant questions that I endured for years. I am proud to have been a non-sheltered, socially capable, well educated homeschooler.


Helen Ann said...

Preach on! I don't know why people think that the public school system is so much more superior to home schooling. Granted, not all parents would make good home schoolers, but then, some folks who get paid to be teachers in schools aren't all that great either... :) I am for all venues of education - public, private and home school.

Faith said...

This is what people misunderstand about homeschooling; they believe that it produces shy people when actually it does not change ones personality. People who are shy do tend to home school, which is where that stereotype comes from. People should have the freedom to home school, as it is a very natural and effective way to educate. Here, here!

Francy said...

I'm curious -- how is homeschool offered through Cincinnati's public school system? I have not heard that before. Scott homeschools through Ohio Virtual Academy which is a virtual public school through the state of Ohio. Does CPS do that too? I remember several years ago when a very quirky, awkward homeschooled girl won the national spelling bee and people on the talk radio shows were saying that she was weird BECAUSE she was homeschooled. They were saying that is how kids turn out if they are homeschooled. It was so ridiculous because the girl probably had Asperger's Syndrome (at least that is what it looked like to me) and was probably homeschooled because her parents felt that she would do better at home. That is not uncommon for Aspie kids because they can frequently have anxiety/sensory issues that are heightened in a school environment. Anyway, it was just ignorant for people to assume that being homeschooled caused her behavior. Do they think that homeschooled kids are locked in cages or something??

Kelly said...

People still tend to think homeschooled kids are awkward, which is sad. Are some, yes, but I bet there are awkward kids in regular school as well. It's funny the reactions you get when people find out you homeschool. I have all kinds of reactions. The one I think is the funniest was when some guy said "You don't look like a homeschool mom." What the heck am I supposed to look like? And everyone thinks you have to have an enormous amount of patience and be super organized. That always makes me laugh. Thankfully, homeschooling is becoming much more accepted as "normal' as more people make the choice to do so.

Daniele said...

I wish my family sent me to a boarding school in Europe when I was 5 and just pick me up when I´m 18. Unfortunately in Brazil we have No such thing as boarding schools, so I am thinking about sending my kids to one in Switzerland when I am a mom.

Homeschooling? Don´t really have an opinion about that. Just wanted to leave a comment :)

DanThoms said...

In Brazil there is also no such thing as homeschooling because it is illegal there.

Unknown said...

Woot! Thank you for your post! The socialization arguement is weak at best....after all, don't 'weird' kids come from public and private schools as well ;-)

Signed, Lisa a 9 year homeschooling mom to 4!