Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Part Ten, Are the Stereotypes Better or Worse?
Also in this series: Part One: Why I Wanted To Write This | Part Two: Survey Stats and Large Families | Part Three: Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool | Part Four: Academic and Emotional Experiences, K-8 | Part Five: The Highschool Experience | Part Six: College? Prepared or Not? | Part Seven: What About Socialization? | Part Eight: The Best Thing vs. What Was Missing | Part Nine, Do Former Homeschoolers Want to Homeschool? | Part Ten: Are the Stereotypes Better or Worse?
Part Ten: Are the Stereotypes Better or Worse?
Homeschooling is surrounded by stereotypes. Here are a few:
- Long jean skirt
- Weirdo kids
- Socially Awkward
- “Is that even legal?!”
- “What about college?”
- All homeschoolers are socially awkward
- “There must be something wrong with the kids, otherwise the parents wouldn’t be doing that”
- Religious fanatics
And the list goes on. When I wrote my socialization post, I said that the Number One homeschoolers got was “What about Socialization?”
When I was growing up, this was actually the Number Two question. The Number One question I got when I told someone I was homeschooled was:
Nowadays, everyone knows someone who has been homeschooled. But that doesn’t mean that stereotypes have gone away or even changed. So here is the survey question:
Do you think public thoughts/emotions/opinions have changed about homeschooling today? Briefly explain.
The answers I got were all over the board:
Enjoy the answers below: they range from hilarious to bitter to though-provoking to wise.
37% or 17 adults said yes, public opinion has changed for the better.
Corinna R. 35 from VA: Absolutely! One of the common questions I would get was “You what?!? How does that work?” Now it is common and accepted and as a whole more mature.
Jerusha C. 30 from VA: Yes! Very much so! My sister and I were like freaks to other people! And most of the other homeschool families we knew smelled like pee! Now it is much different now.
Stuart G. 29 from VA: I think it has changed. I believe home-schooling used to be considered abnormal. The stereotypes range from controlling religious fanatics to lazy families neglecting the true value of education, and everything in between. While these scenarios can be true, most of the time they are misconceptions, and I believe that more and more of the population realize that. Many now view home-schooling as a progressive approach, emphasizing the value of a self-tailored education.
Renee P. 30 from MS: When I was little and first started homeschooling it was kind of a new thing and everyone said I would never be able to get into college. I think homeschoolers have shown that this is not a problem anymore, and actually I don’t think it ever was. Seeing a generation of homeschool students grow up and be very successful, especially academically has helped. As homeschooling has become more popular more people know homeschoolers and they find them “normal”. I think that has helped change the image for the better. On the other hand as more people homeschool, more homeschool for the wrong reasons or don’t do a good job with it. When I started it was kind of a novelty and only people who were 100% committed did it.
Stacey M. 29 from WV: Definitely. Back in my day, no one had even heard of homeschooling and people assumed that my brother and I were mentally disabled and could not attend public school. I had to jump through many hoops and cut through a lot of red tape to attend college. In contrast, my younger brothers (11th and 12th grade currently) have no lack of social interactions and opportunities to do pretty much what they like. I’ve even noticed some comments on their Facebook about other kids being jealous.
Joshua M. 27 from MS: Yes. More people are willing to accept it as an alternative, even outside of the church.
Christy L. 28 from CA: Yes, I think that homeschooled kids are seen as more “normal” today than they were in the 90s. I remember my family attending a homeschool convention in Wisconsin when I was in 1st grade and it was so weird…my brothers and I didn’t fit in at all, the other kids there were so extremely sheltered that they didn’t own TVs or listen to music other than hymns. Today, you do still find some homeschool families like that, but the number seems less.
20% or 9 adults said no, negativity and stereotypes are still very prevalent.
Kaitlin G. 22 from KS: No, people think that families who homeschool have something wrong with them and I feel like there are a lot of negative things associated with homeschoolers.
Beka R. 25 from KS: I think they have to a small extent – fewer people immediately judge a woman’s ability to teach her children now, and most know that predominantly, homeschoolers have solid academic backing.
I think that many of the stereotypes about socialization still exist. I think the examples of “homeschooled homeschoolers” that people see are kids who would be weird in public school too… goodness knows there’s no shortage of weird kids in any environment! I think that there is still a huge and predominant bias against homeschooling.
I do worry about some of the families who I see homeschooling sometimes… without a strong focus on academics, you’re really doing your kids an injustice. If they can’t read and write, what’s the point? Sometimes I see parents who seem a little lazy and that makes me very sad, not only for their kids, but for the future of homeschooling in general.
Jeremy T. 25 from VA: As far as the public, not at all. People still think homeschoolers play and don’t do anything and aren’t social people at all. They can think what they want, but they will never know unless they experience it.
Melissa G. 26 from VA: Not really. We’re still seen as overly Christianized families with too many children and absolutely no social skills. We’re just harassed less by the government now.
Matt W. 30 from OH: There is a stigma attached to home schooling that only Bible thumping fundamentalist Christians are the ones who home school their children. It’s my personal opinion that this still how the public views homeschooling. Technology and the internet make home school much more accessible and possible. I feel that most people would assume that if you are home schooling your child either the family is extremely religious or something is wrong with the child.
Emily M. 26 from FL: I still believe a lot of people have all of homeschoolers lumped into this big sort of dorky group of socially challenged individuals. I don’t often hear good things about homeschooling unless I go looking for it. Those that have been in the homeschool environment though, still often continue to sing its praises.
40% or 18 adults had mixed responses about how they think the public views homeschooling/homeschoolers today.
Laura H. 34 from NE: I think it depends on the location. Here in Nebraska there is usually a favorable reaction. I encountered discrimination while in Iowa though (e.g. “you’ll never be able to pass classes in college”) where it’s less common.
Nara N. 30 from NC: Yes, it seems much more normal, and people know about it and what it is. There are all kinds of programs geared towards homeschoolers (like from the public library, community music schools, and public parks/recreation departments) and many more options (curriculum, online, hybrid w/public school) than there were.
One bad thing, I think because it is easier to choose to homeschool, there are more people doing it now who really shouldn’t be, i.e. they are not committed to putting in the work to make sure their kids do school and learn. I don’t know an answer to this problem, because I do think parents should be free to determine their children’s education, even if they make a bad choice. It is not the government’s job to step in.
Samantha C. 24 from MO: In some ways, yes. It’s not just for crazy religious nutjobs anymore, but it still seems to be considered pretty “fringe.”
Courtney M. 22 from VA: I think that some people are realizing that homeschoolers can be somewhat normal people, but it is a slow process. There is still the stereotype in people’s minds to where a girl walks down the hallway in a T-shirt, jean skirt, tube socks and tennis shoes and the first thing people think is “she was homeschooled” and they’re probably right. Thank goodness I never had that kind of look, but I think there are enough homeschoolers like that still around who keep the stereotype “alive”. But I think enough “normal people” homeschoolers are emerging that they are not as rare as they used to be and people are getting more used to that.
Christine M. 31 from KS: Yes and no. It really depends on who you talk to. I do think that since there are more and more homeschooled students out in “the real world” now, people are seeing and hearing more about the positives of homeschooling (other than the going to school in your pajamas assumption) and realizing that we’re not all a bunch of unsocialized nerds who can recite the Declaration of Independence backwards but can’t carry on a conversation.
Jonathan M. 30 from TX: Yes and no. We are more accepted, but we are still thought of as odd.
Marybeth M. 29 from CA: The whole viewpoint and ability to homeschool has changed a lot over the years. There’s so much available to homeschoolers now, as far as co-ops, school activities and such. The stigma about homeschooling is either the kids are super smart and over educated or really sheltered. And both are true. I fall in the over sheltered category.
Bradley H. 23 from VA: To a degree. There are more “sects” of homeschoolers now (“unschooling” and others) which is a detriment to the practice. But I do feel that homeschoolers have proven themselves to be intelligent and resourceful, as well as able to function in the world.
Megan W. 27 from GA: I think people are more open to it. When my grandparents found out my sisters and I were being homeschooled they didn’t tell anyone because it was so unusual. Of course there’s that group of people who think all homeshoolers watch TV all day and have no social skills. And there are homeschoolers who fit that generalization.
Personally, I fall into the yes category. I am so glad that people actually know what homeschooling is today, that homeschool students have exhibited success both personally and academically, and that current homeschoolers have so many more opportunities today. I know lots of parents who are currently homeschooling or planning to homeschool and it just seems “normal.” Oh, how times have changed — for the better.
What about you?
- Do you think stereotypes about homeschooling/homeschoolers are still very prevalent?
- If you were homeschooled, do you think thoughts/opinions about homeschooling have changed for the better?
- If you currently homeschool, what stereotypes do you fight against today?
Please feel free to comment or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!
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This series is at an end. I have one more post I would like to share, a rather controversial post. In the present post, I addressed stereotypes that the public has/had about homeschoolers. But I also want to address stereotypes or damaging attitudes that homeschoolers hold about non-homeschoolers, specifically attitudes and beliefs that I have had to overcome now that I am outside the “homeschool bubble.”
[Homeschoolers Anonymous previously published this other post of Brittany’s. Please read it here.]
End of series.