Monday, November 19, 2012

Homeschooling - What Do You Think?

Here's an interesting post by a 

'happy ex-homeschooler'

Any universal truth in her words or  just this young woman's personal experience?


I was homeschooled up to halfway through tenth grade. Having never been to school, I had no idea what to expect - although I was quite sure by that point that I would enjoy it more than I had enjoyed homeschooling. Why? Because I was lonely. I was absolutely starved for friendship. I don't live out in the boondocks like the stereotypical recluse homeschooler; I simply had no effective way of connecting. Without consistent exposure to peers, I lacked effective social skills. I was a sad, shy person.

Enrolling in school was the best thing that I ever did. I had the good luck of meeting some excellent friends, and I got into good classes. With some hard work, I've developed passable social skills I am very happy with. A year later, I'm enjoying myself like I never had the chance to before.

I wouldn't recommend homeschooling for any children aged higher than primary school, unless as a parent you feel that you can acclimate them to other children their own age on a regular basis. Those bold letters have a lot of feeling behind them. Many times have I heard proud homeschooling parents brag of their children's busy social lives - conveniently not mentioning that these social opportunities occur infrequently, only in structured circumstances, or with children of widely disparate ages. I'm not saying that children of different ages cannot be mixed. I'm saying that healthy children must be exposed to a peer group, and must have friends - real friends with whom they actually want to associate, not kids their parents have picked out for them to be friends with just because they also happen to be homeschooled.

I pick no fights with homeschooling over its academic prowess. It is obviously usually superior to the public school system. I am speaking out against homeschooling because of its utter social inadequacies. Out of the relatively large group of homeschoolers with whom I am acquainted, I do not know a single one who I would classify as well-balanced or well-socialized. Of course, the parents of these poor kids would have you believe otherwise - but you need only sit in on their homeschool meetings to hear the tales of their unfortunate children being socially rejected when they try to mix with kids from the mainstream education system.

Kids need friends. Before you post irate responses to this thread, please think about your children. Regardless of what they tell you, are they happy? Do they have real friends? Think back to your own childhood. Would you have been happy with the degree of exposure to peers that your children have? You might even ask them if they feel able to join a mainstream activity (sports, after-school clubs) and get along with other kids. You might be surprised.

-A happy ex-homeschoooler




So, what do you think?


~Mari B.


  1. I appreciate her personal experience, but feel that she paints homeschooling with a broad brush due to personal experiences. I feel I have found the best balance of school and homeschooling by having my kids in a homeschool hybrid program a couple days a week. They were with kids in their own peer group on a regular basis. Without it, they may have felt the same as this young person... so I agree with her caveat, for my kids.

    Different kids, however need different things and someone who has only seen one aspect should not be giving such general advice.

  2. The above is true from some homeschooled upper levels. The pattern I see with those children is the lack of parent participation. If the child can not drive on their own, parents need to still bring them places. I find many at this age do not have parents that want to do that. I, also, see many who EXPECT the parent to find the activities and to bring them everywhere they want to go--this can lead to a parent not wanting to do it...

    No matter the age, there is more work finding social opportunities for homeschooled children. This does take an honest effort on the parents part.

    Another pattern I do see is that the older the children are, the less participation I see in homeschool groups. I keep being told it's because they are so busy, but then see posts like the one above, about how lonely they are.

    I always like to ask the one complaining if they have looked at clubs, classes, volunteering, and teen events going on around town. Is there a reason they have not joined these? I know some places do not offer a lot for teens, but in those cases, why don't they start a Teen Group online? Perhaps make it local and have days they get together and just hang out? Again, this does require parents to put the effort in, as well.

    Not saying this is all parents, mind you! I just seem to see parents who have been worn out, through the years, of trying to be active in groups, clubs and other things that by the time the children are 12 and older, they are too tired to keep doing it. I, also, notice that the youth today (boy that makes me sound old) feel that more is better. They do not realize the reality that having one or two close friends is closer to adult life, and more valuable than having a gaggle, whom most are not really your friend.

    It is hard to balance both. The workload is heavier for older kids...Adult focus comes into play, and more effort needs to be put onto the kids.

    It is important to remember that as teens, THEY have to put the effort in, as well. Most have online access-seek out fun and interesting things and then find a way to participate.

    Now keeping all this in mind, I know LOTS of public school adults who have social issues and are lonely!!! I know LOTS of public school teens who have social issues and are lonely!!! This is not exclusive to homeschooling...LOL

    In my husbands case, you could say that because he was public schooled, parents never divorced, didn't experience suffering of any kids, was an only child and lived in the same town (and house) all his life that this crippled him socially to know how to make new friends once we moved. LOL As long as there are people, there will be an "excuse" that they are lonely, feel unsocial, or any other excuse you can think of.

    So there you have my 2 (long) cents! It does not matter what schooling situation you are in--if you do not put up the effort, you will not get what you feel you need...and even if you DO, you may still feel that you are missing something...

    (PS. Some people also need to look up the definition of being social and being socialized--from her letter, she is well socialized!)

  3. As a homeschool graduate I disagree. I had a very active social life at a teenager (and while homeschooling). I felt comfortable with other kids my age and also had plenty of free time to sleep in while they were all at school. :) In fact I married another homeschool graduate and he also felt very strongly about our children being homeschooled because he was such a big fan of the freedom and education it gave him.

  4. I ask my kids all the time if they want to return to public school. They always, always answer with "We want to keep homeschooling!" So I do!

  5. Interesting...I was homeschooled from gr.8 up and didn't find it a struggle. I am not a hugely social person, though, I prefer a few close friends to huge groups, so it might depend on how you are wired.

  6. I had one child start attending public school in 7th grade. She had no problems fitting in at school and had lots of friends. Now, as a young adult, she has had more problems with fitting in at college and work than my other two adult children, who homeschooled all the way through, have. So based on OUR personal experience, homeschooling did a better job of preparing kids for the "real world" than public school did. I do not consider public school to be the "real world" and could care less how well the author of the letter above socializes in public school. I'd be more curious to see how she does down the line. At the same time, my daughter is hardly representative of all public school children and I don't want to imply that kids who attend public school aren't able to deal with the "real world". I'm just stating our personal experience, which like that of the author of the above letter, is merely one data point and, as such, proves absolutely nothing.

    Socially, it is true that homeschooling can be harder when the kids get to be teens. There are fewer social opportunities for teens in homeschool groups. Also, teens tend to be much more picky about where they will go and what they will try.

    As a complete opposite to her sister, my middle daughter didn't socialize much until she became a teen. Then, she was able to work and volunteer at more places, just because they wouldn't let her do either until she was at least 14. By age 14, she was also old enough to take public transportation and did so frequently, which allowed her to go more places than I was willing to drive her to. Once she started driving, she became even more social. She has volunteered for several places and worked several jobs, where she has received multiple promotions. She has been attending college and doing well. She has also attended some specialized vocational training programs and done well there. Through all of this, she has made plenty of friends, though they do tend to be older than she is. She attended only one public school class for one year. She was already volunteering a lot by then and very social through her volunteer work, but she really had trouble with the public school kids, as they drove her up the wall. She felt that they talked non-stop about trivial things.

    My son has Asperger's Syndrome, so naturally is greatly lacking in social skills. He is attending a college vocational program for high-functioning, special-needs students and doing very well, both socially and academically compared to his peers.

    I personally hated the social aspect of high school. I wasn't bullied or anything, but when I wasn't in school, I mostly hung out with people who were aged 20+. So I think it is a matter of different strokes for different folks.

  7. It was her personal experience. I really don't think she can speak for all homeschooled children or teenagers. I was always the shy and quiet one in public school. I was always around others my own age!! What it really comes down to is the childs personality. Parents and their children have to work together to come to that great middle ground of education and playtime with others.

  8. Very interesting! Honestly my children are still young but do see to have friends. I wonder if the person that wrote this was never let out of the house? Or grew up in a neighborhood that had few to no children? We are lucky to have loads of children in our neighborhood. Our doorbell rings nonstop after the public school lets out with requests for my three to come play. Children of their own age or a wee bit older.


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