Most people readily concede that homeschoolers might be able to learn multiplication facts and coordinating conjunctions from their kitchen table, but when it comes to the non-academic stuff, they have their doubts.
“What about socialization?” they say.
And, “But I want my children to know how to relate to people who are different from them!”
“Oh, just think of all the children are missing!”
School includes so much more than just academics. In school, children make friends, take field trips, participate in clubs, play sports, act in plays, join choirs and bands, volunteer, and experience different cultures. Take school out of the childhood equation, and the void appears staggering. How do homeschooling families compensate? Could they even, if they tried?
The short answer is, Yes, homeschool families compensate, more easily and thoroughly than many people realize. Life-learning happens outside of school, too.
Below, I’ve jotted down a few of the most oft-heard assumptions and some brief rebuttals to go with.
Myth Number One
If you don’t go to school and hang out with a group of people the same age, five days a week, for twelve years, you won’t know how to relate to people.
FACT: Socialization happens when relating to neighbors, church members, employers, grandparents, doctors, clerks, siblings, and friends. There is no need to force it.
Myth Number Two
If you don’t interact with people who speak a different language or who are a different skin color on a daily basis when you are young, you will never know how to deal with someone who is different from you.
FACT: diversity is everywhere. Learning to respect and love your family and a few close friends lays the groundwork for loving and respecting all sorts of people. (It’s the diversity that’s closest to us—mother-in-law, spouse, dear friends—that rankles most.)
Myth Number Three
Homeschoolers weaken the community because homeschooling families are not involved in the school system.
FACT: the community is much bigger than the school system. There are many ways to be involved, to give back, and to help out.
Myth Number Four
Homeschoolers are awkward, isolated, and stunted.
FACT: probably not any more than anyone else.
Myth Number Five
Homeschool parents have super-human levels of patience and goodness. They are a different breed.
FACT: If you can parent, you can homeschool. This is different from deciding that homeschooling is the way you want to parent.
Myth Number Six
All homeschoolers are ultraconservative (or super protective or raging against the school system, whatever-whatever and etc).
FACT: some are; many are not. But if I want people to allow for my different ideas, then I need to allow for theirs.