I was homeschooled 1-12th grade. I also spent the last two years homeschooling four kids in Asia out of necessity. I was involved in the homeschool group here, and I keep up with homeschoolers in the USA. So I speak from a lot of different homeschool experiences.
Today I want to discuss disadvantages to homeschooling. This is not a pity party post. I have a lot of great homeschool memories as a child, and I’m still a fan of homeschooling. I also am not putting down homeschooling as a whole, or saying people should not homeschool.
I write for one reason. Most homeschool parents were not homeschooled themselves, and they somehow miss or brush over the draw backs. I want to mention a few, so homeschool parents are actually aware of what can go on. I write because maybe some of these drawback will be consciously overcome.
1. The socialization problem. I was not well socialized outside the homeschool bubble, and most of my friends weren’t either. Yet homeschool parents repeatedly tell me their kids are socialized. Understand, I’m not making a statement about all homeschoolers. But most of my friends were not socialized with those not homeschooled until high school, if not college. If you are a homeschool parent who went to public school yourself, it may be really hard to relate to homeschool alumni like me who grew up with limited contact with those outside the homeschool world, and no contact with those outside the evangelical world.
Even if your homeschooling without religion, its easy for your kids to not be well socialized with those outside the homeschool world. This is because we all as humans tend to hang out with like-minded people. For example, most uber-rich people hang out with other rich people. Network marketers hang out with network marketers. Homeschoolers gravitate together, and I don’t blame them. But unfortunately, if the homeschool parents hang out with people like them, and their kids are friends with those in their circle, then the kids are not socialized well outside that circle.
When I was homeschooled, I was told I knew more about the real world than most people, aka, cooking by scratch, taking care of a family, and working with my hands. Unfortunately, the real US world doesn’t make cheese and yogurt by hand, so that was not meeting the real world. There was a whole world of music, clothes, inside jokes, a way of living, walking and talking, a way of breathing and interacting that I didn’t learn until college. Also, I thought everything was black and white just like the conservative evangelicals said until I saw the real world wasn’t that way at all. [I compared my socialization problem to culture shock I've felt in my travels here.]
2. The worth ethic problem. My mother pointed this drawback out to me. She spent our childhood glorying in how much work it was to be a mother. But all she modeled for her daughters was being a mom. We didn’t see her making or bringing in income. And that has effected our worth ethic, and both my sister and I have struggled to just suck it up and work. In my own life as an adult homeschooling as my “job,” I saw that just homeschooling is not particularly satisfying when the bills were barely getting paid. The truth is, despite how “hard” it is to be a mom, its generally better if kids see their mom working to help get the bills paid if that’s necessary. My mom does network marketing today. Many things can be done from home if you still want to homeschool your kids. If not, there’s always a real job.
Am I making a law out of this? no, some dads make plenty of money, some mothers have 10 kids and no free time. Some mothers are handicap. All I am saying is that if a family is hungry, it can be bad worth ethic if the mother does not contribute.
3. The poverty problem. I grew up hearing that its better and safer to stay home and be homeschooled than be raised in school that would allow us enough money for real vacations, great food, and extracurricular activities. This is ridiculous. You know what, a lot of homeschoolers barely get to eat because feeding 10 kids on one income is rough. There are many homeschoolers that aren’t sure if they will be able to pay the next bill. Some eat nothing but beans and rice for the last two weeks of a pay period. Its not bad or wrong for the poor to homeschool, but at the same time, I think parents should be aware of the children’s needs, and if necessary, send the kids to school in order for both parents to work.
4. Indoctrination. This is also not true of all homeschoolers. But its a funny point because homeschoolers are always saying how the public schools are indoctrinating children. Yet many homeschoolers cannot tell you what evolution really is or really teaches, many don’t know what really happened during the Roman empire or Victorian era, and many are thoroughly indoctrinated in Christian patriarchy. Again, not all homeschoolers fit this one, but I’d say the majority of homeschool graduates my generation were indoctrinated in some way or another. We were at home 24 hours a day, and it was easy for us to only hear one opinion about the world. We were taught to think and question, but not to question our own laws and faith.
If you are a homeschool parent, please expose your kids to other ideas beyond your own, and teach them to question all things, even your own ideas. This doesn’t mean you can’t explain why you believe your beliefs are superior, but allow your kids to wrestle with your ideas, too.