Before I go any further, please understand that since this is MY blog, these are MY opinions based on MY experiences. I am not an official spokes person for some home school association. So please read on if you enjoy and are enriched by another person’s perspective.
I have come to the conclusion that home schooled students are some of the most misunderstood and misrepresented young people in the country. Now that I have taught them for nearly four years, I think I have a fairly good perspective on their lives and their parents’ goals. Simply put, home schooled students are some of the nicest, most respectful and brightest students I have taught in my thirty-five years of teaching.
Myth #1: Home school students are socially awkward and not able to blend in with society.
Reality: Because home school students are taught by their parents, have private tutoring or lessons( like piano, dance or learning to play an instructmen) , learning in small peer groups or educated on-line, they are very comfortable with speaking to adults. In fact, they may be more at ease chatting with an adult than talking with a peer. That’s understandable, but learning to speak to your peers is a challenge for any young person. I will give them some grace on this one.
Myth #2: Home school students have a heck of a life. They can stay up late and sleep in while public school students are slaving away in a crowded classroom. Their family can take a trip on a moment’s notice and use their traveling to some exotic place as an impetus for learning.
Reality: Yes, this is true. However, my students tell me that their parents have strict schedules for learning and summer isn’t a time for a three month vacation. They are expected to learn in the summer and on many holidays, too. Many of my students never miss a class with me. Since one parent is home with the children, the family lives on the income of the other parent. That makes money tight. Several of my students never have a vacation or if they do, it is only to another family member’s home.
Myth #3: They can’t read and write because no one makes them.
Reality: Actually, I have found that home school students are avid readers and have read books that I have never even opened, I am embarassed to say. When I have asked them what their hobbies are, nearly every student shares that they love to read. Writing is tough for any student. If a student has limited time on a computer because they must share with other siblings, I am sure that the last thing they want to do is write an essay! But isn’t that true of a lot of us?
Myth #4: Because there are holes in their education (their parents pick and choose what their children learn and teach accordingly), home schooled students won’t be well rounded individuals.
Reality: This is one I could argue for hours. What is a “well rounded individual” anyway? Someone that can speak on any subject (who can do that)? The life of a party? A person with a true understanding of life, society, history and the Arts? Home school students are involved in many service organizations (like Scouts and church youth groups) and career exploration (through 4H, for example). They are involved in their communities by volunteering at the public library or serving meals in a food bank. Their interests and passions are endless. I find them curious and focused. Plus, each state has curricular expectations and students can not graduate without fulfilling them.
It takes a while for a student who has come from public school to understand and appreciate the strengths of home schooling. I would imagine that the same thing can be said if this was reversed. What I most enjoy about home schooled students is their focus upon their family. In the schools in which I teach, it is not unusual for me to teach an entire family in one day. I could have Susie Jones in Creative Dramatics, then her brother Max in Intro. to Shakespeare and her twin sisters in Musical Theater. They take care and watch out for each other (Max will pick up Susie’s sweatshirt she left behind in class and see that she gets it). I don’t see a lot of bickering amongst them. I see a lot of smiles and hugs between siblings. Everyone should have that. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?