Sponsored by Study.com
In January of 2020, Study.com conducted a survey of 2,398 parents and students – both with and without homeschooling experience – to examine the prevalence of two common myths often heard in connection with homeschooling:
- Homeschooled students are not well socialized
- Homeschooled students perform worse academically than their traditional school peers
The aim was to find out how widely these ideas are held and gain some insight into the reality of homeschooling today.
What is Homeschooling?
To understand how much truth these myths hold, it is important to understand what is meant by the term ‘homeschooling’ in the present day. What became crystal clear throughout our research was that homeschooling cannot be placed neatly into one box or another. It covers a multitude of practices performed by groups from all different demographic backgrounds right across the U.S.A.
Not only that, but many children switch between homeschooling and attending traditional schools as their needs dictate. Many families have one child who is homeschooled while another attends their local school. In short, homeschooling is generally carried out to meet the specific needs of the individual where it is felt that those needs cannot be adequately met otherwise.
The myth that homeschooled students are not well socialized
Because homeschooling is so driven by the needs of the individual, it is necessarily practiced in a variety of different ways. As such, suggesting that it produces socially under-developed individuals is simplistic and doesn’t reflect the reality of what homeschooling entails for so many families.
Some families homeschool because the children are pursuing exceptional talents that do not allow them to follow a normal school schedule. Others homeschool because of the increased freedom it affords them to travel around, educating their children through experience and interaction with the world and all the educational activities it has to offer. Still others attend homeschool co-ops, surrounded by other children in a learning environment that is aligned with their parents’ educational philosophy.
As such, homeschoolers are constantly interacting with other children and adults in a wide range of different settings all the time. Even for those who practice homeschooling in what to many might seem like a more familiar style, studying school subjects at home, there are so many clubs and organizations for them to join in almost every region of the U.S. that they are interacting with others and developing social skills all the time.
The image of the lonely homeschooler starved of interaction just doesn’t match the reality of homeschooling today. And the existing research confirms this – Study.com could not find any evidence to support the idea that homeschooling is harmful to children’s social development.
The myth that homeschooling results in worse academic outcomes
The story is similar here. In fact, much of the existing research points to improved academic outcomes for homeschoolers on measures of standardized testing, while many colleges report that they actively try to recruit homeschooled students because of the academic quality they can contribute to their cohort. Colleges have come to expect very high standards from homeschoolers, and so they compete for homeschooled students’ attention.
Of course, we shouldn’t just blithely accept such research without question. It is likely that those homeschoolers who report to such studies are self-selecting for motivation and studiousness. In other words, homeschoolers who respond to such surveys are very active, research-focused and prepared to go to extra lengths to achieve success. But even so, the proportion of studies showing that homeschool students perform better academically cannot be ignored.
How Well Do Homeschool Myths Reflect the Reality of Homeschooling?
The short answer is, they don’t. It seems that these myths are prevalent simply because people have an outmoded idea of what homeschooling is, and what it entails. The modern homeschooling movement is vibrant, multicultural and ever-changing.
As with any type of educational pursuit, the important factor is not the name given to the approach, but rather how the students involved reach their destination. If homeschooled students are supported by dedicated parents, engage in a range of experiences and are intrinsically motivated to learn, then they will likely end up with very positive outcomes. And of course, the same can be said for those who participate in traditional schooling methods.
With the proliferation of high-quality online learning tools and resources, a great home education experience is becoming more and more accessible to all. Given this fact, the number of homeschooled students has more than doubled since the turn of the century, and it is likely to continue to grow rapidly in the years to come.
Rather than suggesting that homeschooling leads to bad outcomes, it is important to understand that modern-day homeschooling is not one easily definable thing. Rather, each family engages in homeschooling for their own reasons and takes a different approach in order to get the best possible outcomes for their children.