“Home-schooled” is not synonymous with “socially awkward”

Brianna Heinrichs, Canada, Commentary, Education

For a number of people, school is as much about socialization as it is about education. It is for this reason they don’t consider home-schooling a viable option.

At times, home-schooling may be correlated with a person’s discomfort in social settings, but in many ways, home-schooling is actually a way to mitigate socialization problems children face in schools and encourage independence. Several myths surround the practice in popular culture.

First, the public carries an impression that home-schooled children typically interact with only family members. But home-schooled children make friends among 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.
Canada is bursting with opportunities for young people apart from the school system. However, a child’s life is often focused on only their school and group of school friends. 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. Once in the “real world,” people work with others of a variety of ages.

A second myth is that home-schooling fosters dependency. There is a perception that parents are assisting their children at every moment and may inflate their grades, and objectors believe that home-schooled students struggle once they graduate.

But there is evidence that home-schooled grads may be more successful. A 2009 Canadian Centre for Home Education survey of home-schooled adults found that a greater proportion had attained undergraduate and graduate degrees than the comparable population. The home-schooled adults were also less reliant on government payments and more likely to have self-employment income.

Similarly, grade inflation has been a problem in the school system, and the no-zero policy in some schools does not prepare students for a world where failure is a reality. It is schools which are increasingly more concerned with a student’s self-esteem rather than independence.

Another myth is that home-schooled children are naive about the “worldly” subjects of drugs or sex. By all means, home-schooling parents have a responsibility to teach their children about these things. However, parents with children in public or private schools still have this responsibility, as well.

Moreover, there is no inherent value in having children pressured to do drugs or be 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.

It is also a myth that parents who home-school their children must be doing so in order to instill them with specific religious beliefs. Parents have different motivations for home-schooling.

Some parents do dislike the values promoted in schools, while other parents move their residence frequently and see it in their children’s best interests to be educated at home. Still other parents 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.

Quite often, budding athletes and musicians prefer to be home-schooled so they have more time for practicing and training. This is because 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.

Home-schooling is a viable option if one wants children to “fit in” comfortably with society. Of course, socially awkward children are also found in private and public schools, but people then attribute the awkwardness to either a personality or a parenting issue. Nothing inherent within home-schooling 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.