Homeschooling is a relatively new thing here in the Philippines, and many people who have never attended seminars or conferences related to homeschooling may have many questions about it — plus some misconceptions too.
To help set the record straight, we asked a few veteran homeschoolers to help debunk the following common homeschooling myths. Read on and be enlightened!
Myth no. 1: Homeschooled kids are not "socialized" properly. Irma Chua, homeschooling wife and mother to six children, has been homeschooling since 1994. However, since she and her family consider homeschooling as a "lifestyle,” she says they’ve actually been at it for 27 years.
Considered a “veteran” in local homeschooling circles, Chua says “socialization has always been an issue thrown in the face of a homeschooler — be it a parent or a child.”
To help debunk the socialization myth, Chua turns to Dictionary.com’s definition of the term: “It is a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.”
“Therefore, the concept of socialization is not really about how much you can talk, nor how many friends you have,” she explains. “It is more of the manner by which you speak and carry yourself; the manner with which you treat your fellow man — from people who are younger, of the same age or older than you are.”
Chua goes on to say that many people think socialization is “having and talking with friends.” The truth is, though, “it's all about one's interaction with society, with people.”
“In general, homeschooling kids are indeed able to ‘socialize’ or interact with people of various ages because of their exposure to support groups,” she adds.
Myth no. 2: Homeschoolers just stay at home all day, and learning at home is very similar to what happens in the classroom. Chua says that this is not true at all. “The beauty of homeschooling is that children aren't inhibited by a classroom setting,” she expounds. “Homeschoolers learn anytime, anywhere, everywhere. Be it at home, parks, supermarkets, local/foreign trips, etc., learning can be spontaneous and exciting for a homeschooling family.”
Chua also says that homeschooled children are exposed to various extra-curricular activities outside the home “where skills and talents are nurtured and developed.”
Myth no. 3: Homeschoolers think their kids are "better" and have "better values" than kids who go to conventional, brick-and-mortar schools. This is another myth, says Chua, because “everyone is on equal ground if ethical and moral values are the issue, whether homeschooling or [attending] conventional education.”
“It's a misconception that homeschoolers are ‘better,’” she clarifies. “It really depends on the individual, the family values, the learning environment, and the relational atmosphere a child is exposed to.”
Myth no. 4: Homeschoolers are "weird" and "different." Racquel Guevara, full-time homeschool mom to Arielle, 16, who is a homeschooled high school graduate and entering college in 2016, and Kayla, 14, a Grade 9 student, shares snippets of their homeschooling journey on her blog BeyondBooksandWalls.com.
Pertaining to the abovementioned myth, Guevara says, “Homeschoolers are ‘weird’ or ‘different’ in the eyes of the world primarily because we are a minority.”
“Many have not heard of homeschooling and what it is all about. Or if people know what homeschooling is, they find homeschoolers ‘weird’ or ‘different’ because who would dare teach their children all the academic subjects day in and day out, at home?” she continues.
“I also think that the label of being ‘weird’ or ‘different’ is from the most popular myth that homeschoolers do not have friends and are not able to socialize because they ‘stay at home’ all the time.”
Guevara thinks that nothing could be further from the truth though. “It is a myth because our girls are functioning well in society, they behave well and normally around other people, and have not received any discriminatory treatment except for a few instances from girls or boys their age who go to conventional schools and tend to project an image of being superior,” she shares.
“We also know so many homeschoolers who are grounded, well-rounded, with pleasant personalities, and living a normal and very inspiring lifestyle.”
Myth no. 5: Homeschooling parents are the sole educators of their children, and need to know everything about every subject. “Homeschooling parents cannot do everything by themselves,” Guevara emphasizes. “It is not advisable because it will only cause burnout.”
“The parents are, as a matter of fact, greatly encouraged to have support groups with other homeschooling parents to receive encouragement, get tips and help in areas where they need it most, like choosing the best curriculum for their child, what Math book to get for a child whose strength is not really in numbers, where to enroll for ballet and art lessons, etc., or simply to take a breather,” she continues.
“Seeking help or a support group, whether online or through meet-ups with other homeschoolers, is also a great way for the parents to learn and socialize themselves,” Guevara adds.
Myth no. 6: Homeschoolers choose to homeschool primarily for religious / faith-based reasons. Guevara agrees that, for some homeschoolers, faith or religion is the primary reason why they chose to homeschool. “It was not in our case,” she divulges. “We chose to homeschool because we were disappointed with the school's standards.”
However, Guevara says that after homeschooling for so many years, she realizes that the biggest benefit homeschooling has given — and continues to give — her family is “the faith and character-building opportunities” to her and her husband as parents, and as a family.
“Because when we homeschool, we learn anytime and anywhere, and not simply limit ourselves to books or subjects learned at a certain time of the day,” she explains.
Myth no. 7: Homeschooling is only for those who are "extremely patient" and can "do it all." This is probably one of the most common statements you will hear from those who are curious about homeschooling, but are afraid to try it because they say that they lack the “patience” to teach their children.
“It is true that when you choose to homeschool, patience is one of the traits a parent must have. I am one impatient person,” Guveara confesses. “But as I homeschooled our girls, I was being homeschooled as well.”
She continues, “I learn as they learn. And for teaching to be effective and remembered, children must see the principles or the lesson in action, whether the subject is on character formation, science or social studies.”
“I cannot do it all, never did, and never can," she emphasizes. Many other homeschoolers would agree with her too — that homeschooling actually helps build the parents’ character along with that of their children.
Myth no. 8: Homeschooled kids won't be prepared enough to get into good colleges/universities. Maria Mercedes Arzadon, who is more commonly known as “Teacher Ched” among her social circles, was once a homeschooling mom. Now, her children are all adults who still say that homeschooling was the “best part of their childhood.” Homeschooling also inspired Arzadon to study non-formal education and alternative learning, which she is now teaching at the UP College of Education.
For the aforementioned myth, Arzadon can personally attest to the opposite. “I've known homeschooling families since the '90s and I saw how homeschooled kids ended up in good schools,” she shares. “My kids qualified to enter in some of the country's top universities.”
Myth no. 9: Homeschooling parents are not qualified to teach their children. As an educator and a former homeschooler, Arzadon wishes to emphasize that this is a myth. “Homeschooling parents usually had a previous degree and had some work experience in their field of study, and so they are more mature (intellectually and emotionally), and are more motivated to study (non-formally or informally) again about the why’s and how’s of home-based education,” she explains.
“Homeschooling, especially the type that is learner-centered, experiential, flexible and naturalistic is, pedagogically speaking, classified as one of the progressive and futuristic types of approaches in education.”
In fact, Arzadon believes that the regular classroom teacher has “a lot to learn” from homeschooling parents. “Maybe if our schools embraced the homeschooling philosophy and approach, we would have a much better educational system,” she adds.
Myth no. 10: Homeschooled kids won't learn "enough" compared to their peers in conventional schools. Arzadon disagrees with the statement above. “So much of the time in a ‘regular’ school is spent for classroom management, and instruction is done not according to the learning styles of the pupils,” she explains.
“For example, a teacher who is an auditory learner tends to teach according to his learning style, and thus ends up talking a lot and does little board work,” she continues. “In homeschooling, you do not have to manage a crowd, and having known your kid since he was a baby, you know his learning style and what makes him tick.”
Myth no. 11: Homeschooling is only for the "elite" and is expensive. While this may be true for some homeschoolers, it is not the norm. “What you pay the homeschool providers — even the ones from other countries — is pretty much the same or even less than what you pay a prestigious private school,” Arzadon shares. (A homeschool provider helps equip homeschoolers with the programs and curricula they need to homeschool, and usually provide assessment tests and other forms of support.)
“In homeschooling however,” Arzadon clarifies, “you do not have to budget for the school bus, daily baon, uniforms and the like. “Some homeschoolers, usually the ones who consider themselves ‘eclectic,’ choose to make their own curriculum using materials and approaches from various good sources.”
“DepEd has made its instructional materials available to all via this page. There are also many Internet sites that provide materials for your own use.”
Arzadon emphasizes though that homeschooling can be “costly” if one views it as a reason for “lost income” — “when the decision to homeschool entails resigning from a well-paying job.”
“Some homeschooling parents, though, can work part-time or look for a more flexible work arrangement,” she says.
Although the homeschooling movement is slowly growing in the Philippines and around the world, many people still don’t consider it a “normal” way of education, so it’s easy to understand why myths and misconceptions about it can come up. It’s important to remember then, that “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “wrong” or “bad.”
The best thing to do then, is to learn more about homeschooling, or even spend time getting to know actual homeschooling families. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, and to find out what they’re all about. After all, homeschooling parents are just like most other parents out there — all we want is the best for our children.
Are you a homeschooling parent, or know anyone who is? What do you think about the myths listed here? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!