Friday, February 13, 2015

Homeschool Stereotypes

I'll admit, before we homeschooled, I probably had some pre-conceived notions of what a 'typical' homeschooler would be like. It was a vague idea, and not necessarily insulting in any way, but I pictured a Caucasian Christian family with lots of kids, living in some rural area. Homeschooling really wasn't on my radar, but as I've now become 'one of them', I'm a lot more aware of the stereotypes that have been built up over the years about homeschoolers, and sadly, there's a lot of negativity surrounding it. It really upsets me when I hear judgmental comments based on stereotypes, whether it's about race, homeschooling, religion, gender, parenting style, ANYTHING!

The most common ones are socially awkward kids or religious fundamentalists.  I have to say, those probably make up a pretty small segment of the homeschooling population.  As I've encountered more and more homeschoolers, whether in person or in the virtual world, I've found such a variety in the homeschool world - religious (and not just Christians, but Jews, Hindus, new-age spiritual, and more) and secular, gifted and those with special needs, bouncing off the walls and quiet/shy, Caucasians, Asians, African-Americans, bi-racial, parents with Ph.Ds and parents who didn't graduate high school and everything in between,  unschoolers and online schoolers, conservatives and liberals, wealthy and struggling, single parents, working parents, Creationists and evolutionists, city dwellers and farmers, etc.  Far from being an isolated mono-culture, it encompasses such a wide range, that stereotypes really have no basis.

Are homeschooled kids socially awkward? I'm sure there are some. But there's also socially awkward kids in public school! Homeschooling doesn't MAKE kids socially awkward.

A recent jab at homeschoolers was the claim that homeschoolers are anti-vaccine. Are there homeschoolers who are anti-vaxxers? Sure! But there's also anti-vaxxers in public school (using various exemption laws).

Is there potential for neglect or abuse in homeschool? Yes, but there's a lot of neglected and abused kids in public school too.

Are homeschooled kids sheltered? Maybe some, but I would argue that more often, they have a broader understanding of the world than a lot of public schooled kids who spend 35 hours a week inside a building with only kids their same age. If anything, the sheltering is from the media-influence pop culture full of alcohol, sex, drugs, unrealistic ideals for beauty, which probably even some public school parents would like their kids to be sheltered from.

Are they isolated?  Maybe a few, but there's plenty of kids in public school, who, despite being surrounded by people all day, are internally isolated and lonely. Most homeschoolers are not actually *at home* all day long. They are at co-ops, extracurricular activities, meeting up with friends, attending classes, and going on field trips throughout the week.

With the increasing number of homeschoolers in our country, I hope this will be the beginning of the end of homeschool stereotypes.  Just like I don't want to be judged for being Chinese, or a woman, or a Christian, or a working mom, I don't want to be judged for being a homeschooler.