Back in July, we participated in the Build-A-Bear fiasco of 2018. While we waited on a line that wrapped around the mall with seemingly thousands of people for the “pay your age day”, I stood next to a rather opinionated woman. We started chatting to pass the time. She was trying to bring her grandchildren to get bears and I was waiting with my two-year-old, three-year-old, and pregnant belly. When she learned I had another child at home, and that we homeschooled, the questions started rolling:
“Are you like the Duggars?” she abruptly asked.
I stood there perplexed for a minute, completely unsure of how to answer that question.
“Am I like the Duggars??? I asked myself. We might have a few things in common, but 4 kids is A LOT different from 19...
“No,” I awkwardly chuckled, “we’re not like the Duggars.”
Then, she motioned to my denim skirt,
“Do you wear pants?” She asked.
“Yes, I wear pants all the time, just not as frequently when I’m pregnant and its July,” I answered, trying not to seem rude.
Once she was sure we weren’t completely crazy, she began to divulge all sorts of concerning information.
I wish I was making this story up…
She told me how she once knew a young, newly married couple who assumingly was homeschooled. They went to a doctor’s office after a year of marriage because they had yet to conceive a baby. To make a long and mentally scarring story short, the couple was doing it wrong because they had never been taught about the birds and the bees.
Yeah … I wasn’t sure what to say to that either.
But, I felt the need to assure her that we weren’t homeschooling our children out of a misplaced fear of the world around us, rather we felt they could obtain a deeper and more impactful education through homeschooling.
I’m sharing this story because it encapsulates so many of the stereotypes homeschoolers deal with. Lawmakers, the media, and a huge portion of the general public view homeschoolers as some religious cult that keeps their kids locked away in a basement.
I’ve been in awe of all the voices speaking out to try to end these prejudices, so I’ll add some of my thoughts by contributing my five biggest stereotype pet peeves:
Homeschoolers are sheltered from reality:
Most homeschool kids I know have an incredible sense of the world around them, they explore topics their passionate about through hands on approaches, spend days experiencing museums, and travel daily outside the walls of a classroom. It’s not surprising that they often excel academically and vocationally and go on to live fully successful lives in society.
Homeschoolers are religious extremists:
Homeschoolers are Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Atheists, and everything in between. While many families are influenced by faith, many are not. Faith influenced our decision to homeschool, so did concerns about our children’s safety and emotional health in public school settings, but we do not all share the same ideologies. Often times, the only thing we have in common with other homeschooling families is the mere fact that we chose to homeschool our kids, and that's a wonderful common ground to share.
Homeschool kids don’t know how to socialize:
Every time I turn around, someone makes a comment about making sure my kids get enough socialization in. This gets a tad bit irritating and grows old fast. We socialize, we’re a part of homeschool groups, and my kids have the ability to communicate with people of all ages- not just their peers. Just the other week, my two-year-old hopped out of the car at one of our meetups, and looked at one of the other moms and said, “Hi, what’s your name?” She has/had no shyness or concern that the person she was talking to wasn’t in her age range, she’s just happy to chat with everyone and anyone.
And yes, we talk about all the ridiculous “socialization comments” we receive while we socialize.
We all know each other:
Maybe it’s because people fear that we don’t know enough people, but I’m always asked if I know someone’s neighbors cousin who homeschooled her kids in 2003-2004. No, no, I don’t. We might live in a small town in an even smaller state, but we don’t all get together and know each other. Normally, we group up through interests and activities, and while I’m sure your neighbors cousin is an amazing person, I don’t need you to send me their number.
We think we’re better than other families who don’t homeschool.
Homeschooling allows us to take an individual approach to each child’s education. But that journey doesn’t come without bumps and trials and error. Just as a parent who sends their kids to public or private schools may wonder if they’re doing the right thing, homeschooling parents have their days when we wonder that too. Regardless of schooling choices, we’re parents who give their all 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I don’t think that, “I’m doing it right,” while others aren’t. We simply all do our best in the unique situation that we’re in.
What about you? What’s your biggest homeschool stereotype pet peeve?
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.