By Mikaila Kukurudza
Homeschooling often comes with a certain stigma. Parents are afraid their kids will end up outcasts, not properly socialized and/or will miss out on a proper education. Not so, says Marc Lapointe, author of Standing in the Education Gap: A Commonsense Approach to Helping Your Child Succeed in School and founder of education consulting firm, Acumen Education.
Here’s the truth behind the biggest homeschooling myths.
- My child won’t be socialized if I homeschool.
“I think the first thing we need to consider is what our definition of “socialized” really is,” says Lapointe. “I would venture to say that, for most parents and educators, a well-socialized child (or any individual) is someone who can resolve conflicts, is respectful of other people, accepting of other beliefs and cultures, is well-mannered, is generally self-controlled, and displays a degree of interest in the well-being of other people.” As such, if proper socialization is defined by these terms, it’s not a stretch to realize that these positive characteristics aren’t going to be taught or modeled in an environment where a student is surrounded by other teenagers, he adds. “The playground may be an ideal environment where a child can put these skills into practice, but the only place she’ll learn them is from experience and responsible adults.”
Of course, this doesn’t address the assumption that homeschooled kids are more awkward or “weird” in social settings. There are over two million kids being homeschooled in North America. This is no small number and, as a consequence, there are countless opportunities for these kids to be involved in sports, youth groups, clubs, and so on. In fact, it’s rare these days that you would come across a child who is homeschooled who doesn’t have a fairly active social life.
“Finally, and I think many people forget this: Your typical school is filled with students with all kinds of different personalities. You will inevitably find many students who are quiet, awkward and self-conscious. In fact, we’d expect to find students like this in every school yet we allow ourselves to belief that this somehow unique to those who are homeschooled,” he says.
- If I homeschool my teen, it jeopardizes their chances of being accepted to post-secondary programs.
No. In fact, homeschooled kids can have an advantage over students who attend regular school. This, of course, depends on a few factors. Universities need transcripts, so it’s very important that parents keep detailed records of a child’s grades. If a student is taking online classes or enrolled in an online school, then this isn’t as much of a concern since grades will already be documented.
“To avoid problems, parents should be organized and not to have a seat-of-your-pants approach to homeschooling children,” Lapointe says. “Universities recognize that many homeschooled students can learn to become much more self-sufficient than their public school peers, and can organize their days to take advantage of opportunities, courses, or extra-curricular activities that would add to their university application.” Parents should also get in touch with the universities their child is considering. An admissions counselor will provide all the information needed to prepare their child for what’s to come.
- High school is too late to begin homeschooling your children.
Wrong again. However, Lapointe advises that parents do their homework and be well organized before they begin. “Define goals, understand what will be expected of you and, most importantly, decide on a curriculum. Homeschooling a child in the primary or elementary grades is a much different experience in that parents can get away with picking and choosing resources and curriculum materials.” A child’s academic success will be on much better footing if parents use a curriculum that is consistent with their goals and incremental with each new grade.
For parents who want to homeschool their teenage son or daughter but worry they won’t be able teach the more advanced material, there are many resources – from online classes to step-by-step teacher’s guides – that can be a huge help.
- Families need to be wealthy to homeschool their children.
Again, this isn’t the case, but anyone considering homeschooling needs to realize that there are costs involved. The amount invested in books, textbooks, software, etc. depends on your philosophy and goals. So, for example, there are homeschooling parents who have a much more “child-centred” approach to teaching meaning that their focus will mainly be on activities that interest their child. Typically, since this is a less traditional approach, it doesn’t involve pricey textbooks.
On the other hand, there are families that are very traditional in their approach to education and depend on acquiring certain books and textbooks. These costs can be offset by utilizing the resources at the local library or by purchasing used books. Of course, there are many resources that can be accessed online and many homeschoolers share ideas and resources with each other.
- There will be less time involved in daily teaching.
Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly when it comes to high school. “Parents should expect that, at the very least, the same amount of hours need to be dedicated to educating your child at home then they would spend in any school,” says Lapointe.
- Homeschooling is the “silver bullet” to academic success.
Yes, many homeschooled kids are very successful in their academics but it doesn’t mean the material will come any easier, that your child will be any more enthusiastic, or that you won’t run into the same issues of disorganization and motivation that you would if your child was part of the regular classroom.
For more information check out Lapointe’s book, Standing in the Education Gap: A Commonsense Approach to Helping Your Child Succeed in School, and read a chapter for free here.