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Friday, February 10, 2017

10 Things People Rudely Assume About Homeschoolers

#School #Learning #Education #Homeschooling #List #Stereotypes #BarronTrump #Trump #Manners #Children #Kids #Parenting
       The notorious ugly tweet about 10-year-old Barron Trump by the overrated SNL writer, Katie Whatserface, was disturbing for more reasons than one. There were the obvious issues of an adult bullying a child, politically motivated nastiness, and suggesting that an innocent person was capable of unthinkable things. Most people didn't notice, however, that she also expresses a pretty nasty attitude toward homeschooling.

       When the phrase "First homeschool shooter" suggests that saying someone was homeschooled is as bad as suggesting they're a violent gunman, there's something extremely wrong. Many were quick to point out "That's not true! Barron went to a real school!" in his defense. Yet, nobody had anything to say about the implications of using "homeschooled" as an insult. It speaks to the overall ignorance and attitude of the general public.

       The public attitude toward Homeschooling probably isn't even an issue for most people, but as a proudly homeschooled woman who plans to educate any future children, it's something that has always been in my life. When others learn I'm a homeschooler, the range of reactions includes indifference, disapproval, praise, mockery, and everything in between. Many well-meaning people are just trying to make conversation by talking about school, and simply react with "Oh.." and a somewhat awkward transition away from the subject. Some people try to be funny about it, but really just come off as hurtful or ignorant. A handful of people, as always, will be outright insulting about it. The purpose of this post is to dispel some myths, and stick up for some fellow homeschoolers who have been (probably unintentionally) slighted because of public misconceptions about our education.
  1. Homeschooling Isn't Real School The idea that homeschooling isn't legitimate is one of the worst assumptions you can make about it. It's not only perfectly legal to educate your child at home; it's extremely effective. A homeschooled child can earn a diploma, go to college, get a job, join the millitary, and basically do anything his conventionally-schooled peers can. There are even proficiency exams, and college-level exams we can take to prove our knowledge in certain areas. This comes in handy when you need an official record.
  2. We're Uneducated Another common misconception is that homeschooling is somehow inferior to the classroom environment. Opponents argue that parents without teaching degrees are underqualified, or that children are not being made to learn everything they should. What they don't realize is that parents have access to a vast array of educational tools and planned curricula. Furthermore, in the age of the internet, much of this material is available for free.

           Homeschooled students also have several unique advantages. Smaller classroom size, increased mobility, and more attentive teachers keep us from slipping through the cracks. The ability to separate social intrusions from study time allows us to focus on learning. The ability to work at our own pace, more opportunity to learn independently, and the freedom to customize our lesson plans teaches us to know ourselves, learn our limits, and push those limits to improve ourselves.

           The benefits of homeschooling are further evidenced by its representation in advanced competitions and professions. Consider the number of homeschooled spelling champions, trivia competitors, and geniuses throughout history. When you consider the proportion of the population that actually homeschools, the proportion of homeschoolers in these areas is impressive.
  3. We're Socially Inept A child's social experience is so commonly tied with conventional school that people tend to assume that a child removed from the classroom is somehow also prevented from socializing properly. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, a child who has the advantage of separating their learning environment from their social environment gets much more time to socialize in the real world. We meet people of all kinds, of all ages, in all places. We're given a much broader view of the world than the social dynamics of our same-age peers in the confines of the schoolyard.
  4. We're Religious Fanatics Especially in more politically-minded circles, it's often assumed that people homeschool because it gives them a way to shelter their child from knowledge that conflicts with their religious views. The speculation includes ideas such as preventing children from participating in sex-ed, controlling their scientific education with regards to creationism, and even indulging some bizarre, cult-like control-freak mentality. This is wrong. There are countless diverse, personal reasons a family may choose homeschooling. Many of them are touched on in this post alone. To assume that someone was homeschooled for the purpose of religious control is simply closed-minded.
  5. We're Over-Privileged Because homeschooling is somewhat outside the norm, people can assume that a homeschooler's circumstances are also outside the norm. Some assume that effective homeschooling requires expensive supplies and professional tutors that only the privileged can afford. It's a way of equating it with a kind of elitist mentality, and promoting that perception of otherness about us.
  6. We're Under-Privileged On the other side of the coin, some also assume that homeschoolers are too poor, or too indifferent, to send their child to a "real" school. They conjure exaggerated images of ignorant country bumpkins, and have a good laugh at someone else's expense. When I was a kid, it really bothered me to see other homeschoolers always portrayed as rich snobs or dumb hillbillies on TV. Now that I'm older, I realize that it really just came from a very widespread ignorance of how homeschooling actually works.
  7. We're Anti-Vax This is a fairly recent one, and I think it comes from the suggestion that children whose parents refuse to vaccinate them should be legally banned from attending public schools. The anti-vax momevent came to the forefront of political discussion at about the same time as the increasing exposure of widespread interest in homeschooling. In fact, whether a parent is anti-vax or not often has little to do with whether they homeschool their child. The suggested laws regarding vaccination are more aimed at encouraging parents to contribute to "Herd Immunity" if they want their child to be a part of that "Herd".
  8. We Identify with Public School Experiences As with any organization, profession, or subculture, there are certain things unique to the public school experience that people outside it don't identify with. Prom night? Hallway drama? Locker rooms? Never happened for us. That book that was required reading in seventh grade? We probably weren't forced to read it. Asking permission in front of everyone to go to the restroom? You actually had to do that!? Understand that some things you accept as normal because of your schooling environment may be very unfamiliar to your homeschooled friends, just like how their homeschooling experience is unfamiliar to you.
  9. We Were Forced to Homeschool Because of the common stereotypes, people tend to think that homeschooling wasn't our first choice. It's portrayed as a last resort for when a kid can't "make it" in school. In pop culture, kids are sometimes threatened with homeschooling as a punishment for poor grades or antisocial behavior. It's also sometimes portrayed as a tragic fate for children who are bullied out of school. That kind of attitude creates stigma where there should be none, and is unfair to the student and his parents.
  10. Most People Could Never Do What We Did One thing that's important for everyone to remember is that homeschooling is not magic. Homeschooling parents are not magical fairies who never tire, conjure up lesson plans in their sleep, and orchestrate childhood activities like some kind of educational Mary Poppins. Homeschooling children are not X-men who are specially bred for long hours of study alone in their pajamas.

           In reality, even though it does take a little more work at first, homeschooling is not something that's impossible (or even extremely hard) for the average family to do. Just like every other method of schooling, there will be children who excel, children who struggle, and children who are average. Just like every other decision parents make for their family, there will be difficulties, benefits, trade-offs, pros, and cons.

           If you take anything away from this article, remember that there's much more to homeschooling than meets the eye. It may not be for everyone, but neither is conventional schooling. Making an effort to understand the reasons people homeschool, and understanding the benefits and struggles involved, can go a long way to painting a more realistic picture of this increasingly popular style of education.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to check out some of my other posts. Here's what I recommend now:
Where Do I Even Start? Six Tips for Tackling Big Jobs
Free Printable Counting Chart -- Count to 100
Free Printable ABC Chart -- Grows With Your Child

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