I was homeschooled for most years of school up until the time I went to college. I do not worry much about how homeschoolers are perceived by the wider culture because: (1) If I worried about every worrisome view held by the “wider culture” I would need to go to a therapist regularly. (2) I am old enough and far enough along in my undergraduate, graduate, private, and public education that I am rarely known as a “homeschool kid” anymore. Still, I am an advocate of homeschooling for the following two general reasons: (1) It allows Christian parents to more easily and predictably develop spirituality in their children. (2) It has the potential to be a far superior method of education due to very small student-teacher ratios, and the flexibility to pursue the students’ research interests. I do not believe it is a sin for parents to choose options other than homeschooling (for some parents there is no realistic option other than public education), but in general homeschooling is the best expedient for helping children to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).
Some allegations against homeschooling are easily and straightforwardly refuted by objective data. For example, if you think that homeschooled kids can’t get into college, can’t get hired, or can’t learn unless their parents have multiple degrees and teaching certificates, then you haven’t seen the numbers.1
On the other hand, there is one major allegation with which we can’t dispense so quickly. This is the notion that homeschooled kids are weird, awkward, or nerdy, because they lack proper socialization. Obviously, I can’t refer you to statistics about weirdness or lack thereof. (I laugh to think about how one might conduct a survey on this topic.) Admittedly some homeschoolers are, usually like their parents, uncomfortable socially. I remember being around a few homeschooled kids when I was in high school and being apprehensive about possibly turning out “weird” like them. (Of course, there were plenty more kids who went to public or private schools who made me far more nervous.)
To the charge, “Homeschoolers are weird,” I would like to respond in approximately these ways:
1. This is primarily a charge against the parents and not against the students. After all, those making the charge mean to imply that the practice itself is unwise. The idea is not that the students have made a bad choice, but that the parents have inflicted a poor educational practice upon their children.
2. If creativity and independent thought have been mistaken for weirdness, then those making the charge need to rethink it. As a culture becomes less literate and more dependent on national government for education, independent thought becomes a precious commodity. It is not weirdness if homeschooled students, not having been confined to as many long hours and years with a large group of students who are strictly their own age, are more comfortable interacting with old folks, young folks, and everyone in between. If homeschooled students are more like Socrates and less addicted to video games, more familiar with the Gospel of John than with the pop charts, then we should admire and emulate their parents instead of making fun of them.
3. If we (dubiously) grant that there are folks who are not weird in any way, then I would affirm that there are homeschoolers who are not weird in any way. Thus, weirdness is not a necessary consequence of homeschooling. It might or might not be a probable result.
4. If weirdness is a probable result of homeschooling, there are surely steps that homeschooling parents can take to avoid the result. I am no expert on child development, but I do recall that my parents arranged for me to play and study with other kids regularly. I was acting, playing basketball, going on trips with the church youth group, etc. I was often away from my parents with groups of kids. I was often with my parents and groups of people of all ages. I did not feel “trapped” by homeschooling.
There were times when I felt excluded from conversations about social life in the local public middle school or high school. Even then, however, I knew that my disappointment at being left out was so minor compared to the advantages of homeschooling that I never for a moment wanted to go to school with my friends. I was content to visit with them on other occasions.
The advantages of homeschooling are the subject for another article (or series of articles).
“Academic Statistics on Homeschooling,” Home School Legal Defense Association, http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp (2004); Christopher J. Klicka, “Homeschooled Students Excel in College,” Home School Legal Defense Association, http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/CollegeExcel07.pdf (2007); “Home Schoolers in Ivy League Universities,” Home School Legal Defense Association, http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000002/00000234.asp (2000); Klicka, “The Facts Are In: Homeschoolers Excel,” https://www.home-school.com/Articles/the-facts-are-in-homeschoolers-excel.php (2004). ↩