You would think that in the last decade the myth that homeschoolers are unsocialized hermits and introverts would be dead. But no. It’s is alive and well. As a veteran homeschooler I am tempted to ignore the question when it comes up, but I realize it is being used to discourage new homeschoolers and send them running back into the traditional school system. It breaks my heart when someone who homeschools for just a few months puts their kids back in school because they feel the kids “need to be able to deal with bullies or people they don’t like”. Frankly it’s just puzzling to me. Because I have heard such phrases many times though, I am aware that they did not come up with such ideas on their own.
The myth of homeschoolers lacking socialization is perpetuated in several ways:
First, when the parent goes to withdraw the child from public school, the teachers and administrators are practically trained to say, “you will be isolating your child”. Sometimes they even throw out the mysterious “socialization” word. They use this argument knowing that they can’t compete on the grounds of education success, or better health, or contentment. Instead, they tell you that you are hurting your child by creating a safe environment. They suggest that you child will cease to develop socially if they don’t have to put up with public school issues day in and day out, regardless of how difficult school is for the child. You have to realize that removing kids from public school literally threatens the job security of teachers and administrators (or at least they feel that way). Most new homeschoolers manage to ignore such protestations, while still allowing the seed to be planted. you must understand that this canned response is invalid as there are way too many people homeschooling these days for you to be without company if you desire it.
Parents and family members also participate in putting into the new homeschooling parents’ head that homeschooling will damage the child. “Every homeschooler I know is weird”, they say. Even our closest family has been trained by the media to be wary of homeschoolers. The few portrayals of homeschoolers on TV are kids who, though they may be highly intelligent, don’t fit in. They become genuinely worried about the well being of the child and express that concern in only they way a parent/grandparent can. Through constant guilt-inducing pressure. For the homeschooler who does not give in, you will have the joy or turning their views around in time. Parents (grandparents of the children) can be both the biggest deterrent to homeschooler and your biggest champion. Given two or three years of watching and comparing their grand-kids to kids they know that are not homeschooled, and their displeasure will turn to full support.
Finally, the new homeschooler will notice that their social circle is disapproving. You may even feel a bit of isolation as your friends will have an issue with your raising your kids differently than they raise theirs. They will use the same peer pressure on you that you are trying to remove your kids from by putting distance between you and them. You will feel the pain of being treated differently because you homeschool, and you will begin to worry that your child will feel that pain too. Unless you adapt and add some homeschoolers to your social circle, both you and your kids will feel the sting of being different, and you will return your kids to public school. Here’s what you have to realize though. If people will treat you this way, were they really ever your friend, or someone you had a few things in common with? People who truly love you will continue to support you. You just need to learn to differentiate between friends and acquaintances.