Homeschooling has been in the news a lot lately, and this has brought to light the fact that there are quite a few contradictory stereotypes out there regarding homeschoolers. Here are a few that I’ve seen (with maybe also a little artistic license taken by yours truly). But judge for yourself; are YOU a typical homeschooler?
1. All homeschooled kids are brilliant. They win spelling bees, geography bees, play musical instruments, ace the SAT’s, get into the good colleges on scholarships. BUT they’re socially inept and their parents pressure them way too hard. Oh yes, and homeschooled kids’ GPA is a joke because the grades are awarded by Mom or Dad. (Generally I think people say this out of jealousy and to get their kids to stop begging to be homeschooled.)
2. All homeschooled kids spend all day outside playing. They never learn important things like the alphabet or how to count to four.
3. All homeschooled kids are well-mannered. BUT that’s because mommy and daddy whip them all the time at home. And they’re too docile, incapable of independent thought.
4. All homeschooled kids are kept at home all day to protect them from evil outside influences. BUT their parents are incompetent as teachers, so the kids’ education suffers. Even if the parents are brilliant, the kids suffer because they need to be taught by someone other than Mom or Dad. They miss out on subjects that the parents don’t know. They miss out on things like science lab and the school bus and The Prom. The kids also suffer socially because they don’t have any friends. On the other hand (and I’ve actually had my doctor tell me this), they don’t need their immunizations as urgently, because they won’t be interacting with other kids. (!)
5. Homeschooling parents are the well-educated, financially elite of the community. This makes the schools suffer from a lack of privileged kids and dedicated parent volunteers/donors. Meanwhile the kids are spoiled, thinking they’re better than public school kids. The schools would benefit from forcing these kids back into the public school system, both financially and in terms of higher test scores; also, the children in public schools would benefit by association with these privileged kids, classrooms would be less rowdy, etc. And these parents would be devoting their energies for the good of all kids instead of just their own.
6. Homeschooled families pretend to be educating their children when actually they’re just taking advantage of the charter school funds to buy fun stuff and play around.
7. Homeschoolers could be child abusers who are using homeschooling as a ruse to keep their kids out of the public eye.
8. Homeschooling parents pressure their kids too much, forcing little Johnny to sit at the table for hours at the time, cramming all the subjects down his little unwilling throat, winning fight after fight, somehow getting him to get everything done every day. “I could never do that” is what we typically hear.
9. Homeschooling parents take their kids with them to run errands, use the kids to get chores and farm work done, and then call it all “curriculum,” so actually the kids must not be getting educated at all.
10. All homeschoolers are anti-evolution and anti-tolerance. They use outdated books that teach wildly incorrect information and call it “science” and “history.” Public school kids should stay away from them, lest they be tainted by such evil ideas.
11. Homeschoolers are maladjusted and anti-social, harboring a grudge which could someday explode in the attack of a bitter genius against society. They need to be enrolled in public school so they can experience such character-building things as public humiliation, theft of lunch money, rotten school lunches, and getting their little (somethings) whupped. (Yes, I have actually heard this, many times.)
12. Homeschooled kids are out to make homeschooling sound like so much fun that they will lure your children away from public school. It is important to warn your public school children against homeschooled kids.
13. Homeschooled kids are sort of like the Amish. They are in huge families, and they all wear toe-length homespun dresses, the boys all wear white shirts and ties with jackets, all of them march in file. Like Little House On the Prairie, they learn skills like sewing and farming and cooking from scratch, and they don’t watch tv or even own a computer, and only read books published prior to 1929. For some reason, there are people who mistrust families like this. (Maybe they think Waco and large stores of ammunition, or apocalypse.)
14. Homeschoolers are trying to make the statement that they don’t need anyone, that they are superhuman and can handle absolutely everything with regard to their children’s care all by themselves. If a homeschooling parent ever puts a child in daycare, or leaves him/her with a babysitter, or enrolls him/her in a class outside the home, or allows a child to attend school outside the home, this amounts to an admission of failure as a homeschooler. Every child who goes from homeschooling to public school is a “homeschool failure case.”
15. Homeschoolers are hippies. They wear tie-die home-made shoes, and they have long hair, and if they get upset about anything they drop to the ground in lotus position and start saying “ohm….” They eat only organic foods. (I hadn’t heard of anyone like this before, but it’s in “Schooled” by Gordon Korman.)
16. Homeschoolers are extremely devout fundamentalists who pray and read the Bible all day. (I put this one down as a separate item but my guess is that it’s probably usually in combination with some of the others above….)
17. Homeschoolers only associate with each other. This is because they think other people’s children aren’t good enough for their children to associate with.
18. Homeschoolers think that homeschooling is the only good educational option, and that everyone who sends their kids to public school is a bad parent.
19. Homeschoolers don’t know anything at all about public school.
20. Kids who are homeschooled have an unfair advantage when it comes to having more time to practice their sports training for competition, musicianship, dancing skills, etc.
It’s hard to think of any family that fits all (or even any, exactly) of the above stereotypes. It’s also hard to think of any family that, on a cursory glance, wouldn’t be considered to fit under one of the above. If you’re smart, aha, typical homeschooler. If you’re kid is struggling academically, aha, typical homeschooler. If you’re wealthy, aha, typical homeschooler. If you live on a farm and work very hard and are dirt poor, aha, typical homeschooler. If you spank your kids, or if you spoil your kids, aha, etc. If you use a very rigid, challenging curriculum, aha, etc. If your kids are playing outside today, aha, etc.
You just can’t win.
MaryAnna Cashmore is a typical homeschooler with 3 children. She is a frequent contributor to the popular homeschool ezine, ClickSchooling. MaryAnna is also the webmaster for the “Sense of Wonder” science website with tons of terrific resources for homeschool families.
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