“Your kids are homeschooled? How do you do it?” a stranger asked, after questioning why my kids were at the store on a Wednesday morning.
“I could never do that with my kids, they would drive me crazy,” she continued. I couldn’t help but snicker because at that moment, with one child asking why tomatoes were red, another trying to read all the toilet paper name brands, and the third counting the money, I could see her point — it probably looked quite chaotic.
For us, it’s become the norm to have the kids roaming off in different directions, exploring and learning from the surroundings around them. For the past few months, they have been learning at home full-time, ever since we made the difficult decision to take them out of the public school system in January.
I didn’t anticipate that I would be homeschooling my children and can admit there was a time when I didn’t understand why any parent would want to. It’s not that I didn’t love my children, but I believed a lot of what I now know to be misconceptions about homeschooling, and the families who choose this method of education.
My family is new to homeschooling and we’re still trying to figure out the right methods to make this whole thing work, but what’s great is having the flexibility to go with the flow and learn while doing everyday things like grocery shopping.
Even in the short time we’ve been at this, I’ve discovered many of the common myths society has about homeschool are just that — myths.
Myth #1: Homeschooled kids won’t know how to socialize.
If your kids are in school at home all day, how do they meet new people? Most of my childhood friendships came from being in the same classroom, at the same school for hours every weekday, so this myth made sense to me. If your kids are only with each other all day, will they really know how to socialize?
The truth is, my kids don’t miss out on socialization at all. There are so many opportunities for them to meet new people, from the kids in the neighborhood they play with in the evening and on weekends, to the friends they meet at the library or through organized sports.
Myth #2: Families only choose to homeschool for religious reasons.
It’s is going to sound so naive of me, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought this. My view on homeschool was that it was for religious families who wanted to include their faith within their education. Since public schools don’t touch on faith, the families choose to create their own curriculum and that was really the only purpose of homeschool.
I couldn’t have been more wrong because, well, we homeschool and it’s not for religious reasons. There are many reasons families choose to learn at home, including religion, but according to National Center for Education Statistics, 91 percent of homeschooled parents said that a concern about the environment of other schools was an important reason for homeschooling their child, a much higher percentage than other reasons listed.
Myth #3: Parents aren’t qualified teachers.
When I started thinking about possibly homeschooling my kids, I worried a lot. I worried that I wasn’t going to be able to teach them — that I wasn’t going to have the tools and know-how to help them learn and grasp concepts – because parents aren’t teachers.
Except, parents are teachers. I have been their teacher since they were born and I know my kids better than anyone else in this world. They trust me, and I know when to push and when to back away. I know when to give more independence and how to encourage their own interests while learning.
Myth #4: There aren’t a lot of families who homeschool.
I don’t really know any homeschooling families personally, other than some bloggers I have connected with online (and the Duggar family I see on TV) so I assumed the number of families who homeschool was super small – like only a handful.
But that myth also turned out to be untrue. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 3 percent of American students and 1-2 percent of Canadian students are homeschooled. While that might sound like a small number, at more than 1.5 million kids, it’s much more than I realized.
Myth #5: My child won’t learn enough.
I learn best in a traditional sense — give me a book and a quiz and I will learn what I need to. Traditional public school caters to this type of learning, and relies on structure for their education model. As a result, I totally believed the myth that children wouldn’t thrive academically with less structure and less traditional learning.
But not all of my children learn best in that traditional setting, and I’ve found the assumption that they won’t learn enough at home to be patently untrue. In these past few months, I’ve seen their skills and understanding grow faster than they ever did while enrolled in public school and best of all, we can learn and explore organically, in a way that truly interests them.
If they have a question about volcanos, we can change up our plan for the day and spend it learning about volcanos instead. If they want to question why gravity exists, we can learn about the answer now – even though it’s not a scheduled science lesson until Grade 4.
We can learn what they want to learn, and it’s been incredible to see just how much more they can learn.
Photo credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom | FlickrMore On