There are a lot of pre-conceived notions, stereotypes, and weird perceptions out there about homeschoolers. I think it's probably pretty safe to say that the four of us, all graduated, adult homeschoolers, have run into most of those notions, stereotypes, and weird perceptions.
When someone you meet finds out you were homeschooled, what is the most common reaction? What is your response? If you could wipe one stereotype about homeschooling and homeschooled people out of the culture, what would it be?
When someone finds out I was homeschooled, the responses tie between,”did you have any friends?” and, “does that mean you're a super genius?”. When it came to friends, I would explain that being homeschooled does not necessarily mean you're kept under lock and key, and socializing was a huge part of my education. As far as my intelligence, that is a much trickier response. Given a standardize test when I was 16, I probably would have appeared to be falling behind in many subjects, while being way out in front on a few. This is only because I had so much freedom to learn what I found interesting, and not what was prescribed to me. Physically, I don't think being homeschooled made me any more of less “intelligent” than I would be today if I had attended public school.
I would wipe out the assumption that your family is deeply religious. A lot of people seem to have it in their minds that parents homeschool because they want to control what their children learn. In truth, a lot of parents homeschool because of how they want their children to learn, the specific subject material isn't the focus.
“Wow, you are so normal” or “But you have social skills”. I usually respond with something about stereotypes and how that usually applies to sheltered homeschoolers.
The Body Worker:
The most common reaction I have found is : “How did you socialize enough?” My response is usually along the lines of: “Actually, we were raised in an extremely rich social environment. In addition to being involved with a homeschooling group, our family, ballet, theater and our community in general, we got to socialize in a much larger spectrum that typical school children. We were usually spending lots of time with people of all ages and from many walks of life, rather than just being in a classroom with one age group only. In some ways, I think we were truly over-socialized and could have used more alone time.
I think people view homeschooling as something that is isolating/socially stifling and causes people to lack general life skills in terms of social behavior. I would wipe this stereotype and do my best whenever I talk with people regarding homeschooling.
These days people find out I was homeschooled when they ask what led our family to choose homeschooling. Often I see something that might be relief in their faces because I might know what I am doing, and I'm a pretty articulate, socially competent, “normal” individual. My kids aren't going to be left in front of a television and educated by the good people at PBS or ABC…thank goodness! Over the course of my life, people seem to be surprised that I am so “normal”, since clearly homeschoolers are “weird”.
As far as stereotypes…there are as many homeschool styles as their are homeschool families. Not every family uses the public school system in the same way and I don't know why we imagine everyone would homeschool in the same way or for the same reasons. I wish people would shelve their assumptions and take a moment to find out why a family chose homeschooling. The answers are diverse and amazing and educational.
Homeschooling is a fast growing trend, and homeschoolers are becoming more visible, if not more “normal”. Take a moment and peruse this info-graphic… And the next time you run into a homeschooler remember that we are everywhere and everyone.