Refusing to consider home-schooling on the basis that children will be socially awkward is merely stereotyping
By Brianna Heinrichs : For a number of people, school – which parents are busy preparing for a return to right now – is as much about socialization as it is about education. It is for this reason that they don’t consider home-schooling a viable option.
But while home-schooling may often be linked to a person’s discomfort in social settings, in many ways it is actually a way to mitigate the socialization problems children face in schools while also encouraging independence.
Unfortunately, several myths surround home-schooling in popular culture.
First, there is an impression that home-schooled children typically interact only with family members. But home-schooled children make friends among their neighbours, in extra-curricular clubs, at home-school gatherings, and among co-workers. In fact, a Fraser Institute report (2007) states that the average Canadian home-schooled student is regularly involved in eight social activities outside the home.
Home-schooling provides students with the time and ability to pursue different interests with a variety of people and not be locked into a clique of students their exact age, far better preparation for life in the “real world,” where people work with others of a variety of ages. Inside the school system, a child’s life is often focused only on their school and group of school friends.
A second myth is that home-schooling fosters dependency, that parents are assisting their children with their lessons and may inflate their grades. Those who object to home-schooling also believe that home-schooled students struggle once they graduate.
But there is evidence that home-schooled grads may be more successful than their school system counterparts. A 2009 Canadian Centre for Home Education survey of home-schooled adults, in fact, found that a greater proportion of home-schooled students attain undergraduate and graduate degrees. The home-schooled adults were also less reliant on government payments and more likely to have self-employment income.
Furthermore, the problem of grade inflation in the school system, no-zero policy in some schools and the focus on self-esteem over independence does not prepare students for a world where failure is a reality.
A third myth is that home-schooled children are naive about the “worldly” subjects of drugs or sex. But parents, whether their children are home-schooled or attend public/ private schools, all have a responsibility to teach their children about these things.
And home-schooled children do not face the same pressures as school system students to do drugs or become sexually active at a young age. Though home-schooled children are not immune to these pressures, they are not consistently subjected to the bullying or other harmful trends that seem to be rampant in schools.
A fourth a myth is that parents who home-school their children are doing so in order to instill them with specific religious beliefs. But parents have different motivations for home-schooling. While some do dislike the values promoted in schools, others move frequently and see it in their children’s best interests to be educated at home. Still others have high academic standards for their children but little faith in the public curriculum.
Many times, parents want to hone in on a specific strength or weakness in a child in a way that a teacher with an entire classroom cannot. For example, budding athletes and musicians often prefer to be home-schooled so they have more time for practicing and training. It should be no surprise that home-schooled children can easily do in a morning what takes their public schooled counterpart an entire day. Children educated at home are not spending hours riding buses or interacting with peers in the hallway between classes.
Socially awkward children can be found in home-schooling as well as in private and public schools. People, however, attribute the awkwardness found among private and public schools students to either a personality or a parenting issue. But there is nothing inherent within home-schooling that means children will suffer socially; worldly parents who home-school will foster worldly children.
Schools are increasingly having trouble providing students with a positive atmosphere and preparing them for the real world. Homeschooling provides children with more time and, arguably, more opportunity. Refusing to consider home-schooling on the basis that their children will be socially awkward is merely stereotyping.
Brianna Heinrichs is a research assistant at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (www.fcpp.org).