Parents speak out about misconceptions about homeschooling: ‘People think we sit in our houses all day’
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Several homeschooled mothers have had misconceptions about their work, pushing back against criticism that they are ill-equipped to teach their children the basics and that their children will grow up struggling with social skills.
Yvonne Bunn, director of homeschooling support and government affairs for the Home Educators Association of Virginia, often works with the General Assembly to protect homeschooling rights and “the introduction of good homeschooling laws. Having homeschooled her three children in the late 1980s and 1990s, Bunn now advises others on homeschooling.
Her three children, two boys and a girl, have gone to college, she told Fox News Digital.
“They’ve done well, now they have their own career and their own family,” she said.
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“I felt like we as parents were responsible for raising them,” Bunn said. “So we took that very seriously when we decided to homeschool. And we – my husband and I – decided to homeschool because we thought one-on-one tutoring would be the greatest benefit to all of our children.”
Bunn found that her homeschooling allowed her kids to “go at a pace” that worked for them. This led her to what she called the biggest misconception about homeschooling.
“I think the biggest misconception about home schooling is the idea that parents have that they can’t do this because they weren’t trained to be teachers,” he said. she stated. “But that’s not the case at all. We’ve found through studies that homeschool students who are taught by their parents who don’t have a college degree performed just as well in the standardized achievement tests than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
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Bethany Mandel, a homeschooling mother of five, said she feels equipped for homeschooling because she lets legends do the teaching.
“I’m just reading ‘Anne of Green Gables,'” she told Fox News Digital. “And Montgomery teaches it. LM Montgomery teaches literature. And I don’t teach art. We watch Monet and have a conversation about it. And so you let the greats teach instead of directly instructing you, and there is no better art teacher than Monet and no better literature teacher than Mark Twain.”
“Anyone can facilitate an education in this way, within reason of course,” she concluded.
But she, like some of her fellow homeschooling parents, is still the object of scorn for critics. Mandel was targeted by former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann on Mother’s Day for her decision to homeschool.
“Imagine putting ‘homeschool mom’ in your bio and not understanding that you just ruined the lives of five innocent children,” Olbermann tweeted. Mandel replied to Olbermann that his children were “extraordinarily lucky to be homeschooled”.
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Another misconception of homeschooling, Bunn said, is that parents should teach all majors. Often, she says, parents choose to join a co-op where experts can step in to help.
“They don’t,” she said. “There is so much help for students at home. There are so many resources that homeschooling parents can use. They can join a co-op with other parents and in the co-op, they may have a teacher who may have majored in a certain aspect – an advanced course in math, calculus, or a lab in science, chemistry, or biology.And in this co-op she will be teaching a small group of students who study these particular subjects… It works wonderfully.
“I went to school to be an educator, but I don’t think you need a degree to educate your own children,” Stephanie McAndrew, director of JBAB Home Educators, a home-school support group for military families living in the greater Washington, DC, area, said. “I don’t think anyone knows your kids better than you do. I know what works to motivate my kids and motivate them and where their strengths are and where their weaknesses are.”
Allison DeMarco, board of the Florida Parent Educators Association Scholarship Foundation, also touted the benefits of individual learning.
“I will say that as a parent, no one loves your child and will encourage your child like you will,” she said. “No one will spend time with them, nurturing them in areas of study where they may need extra help, or where they may excel, just as a parent would. In a group of 30 children, it is hard to isolate a child’s need for help in a certain area.”
DeMarco added that they are in “a unique position” in that they can learn alongside their children. For example, she said, her daughter was able to understand her advanced math class “to a greater extent” because they had to “work it out together.”
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As for critics who say homeschooling can hold kids back in terms of social skills, Bunn said that’s “not a problem.”
“They don’t understand that there are so many opportunities for your kids to be socialized, that you actually have to limit the things that they are involved in,” she said of the doubters. “There are a lot of clubs, there are a lot of field trips, there are groups that get together, there are field days.”
“It’s part of the out-of-the-box learning that homeschooling is,” she added.
Mandel shared an anecdote about how she was recently on a fossil field trip with her kids and other students at home, and the man who hosts it asked her, “But are you leaving your house?”
“People think we’re locked in and my kids are safe,” Mandel said. “My children socialize with everyone under the sun – young and old – and also form relationships with their siblings closer than anyone else.”
McAndrew said she had so many activities on her children’s schedule that she felt like an “over-hours lunatic”.
“Of course with this group it’s not a problem,” she told Fox News Digital of the social opportunities. “Sometimes we do so many social things that I feel like a crazy crazy person with busy schedules. We do physical education, and a Lego club, a baking club and a craft club and there’s an athletics club the girls have started, a choir. There’s tae kwon do lessons and guitar lessons. . So they’re definitely busy and always with other kids.”
Bunn said that in her experience, she found that homeschooled parents need to “limit” the activities their children are involved in.
Both Mandel and McAndrew noted that in public schools, children generally only interact with others their own age.
“Socialization is very fabricated and weird,” Mandel said. “Because it’s not really socializing. Most of the time you’re sitting next to someone who’s exactly the same age as you. And that’s not natural. It’s not something thing you have in everyday life after leaving school you have friends who are all different ages and different geographies but at school you are only exposed to kids who are exactly the same age over a 12 month period. And only in this box. It’s not natural socialization and I would say it’s not exactly health socialization either.”
“I think homeschoolers are even better equipped to interact with kids of all ages,” McAndrew agreed.
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Parents agreed that COVID-19 prompted some families to start homeschooling, especially after seeing what their children were learning in school.
“I think the parents were very surprised,” Bunn said. “I also think a lot of parents thought, ‘I can do this’ and maybe, ‘I can do better than this.'”
Over the past two years, she noted, homeschooling in Virginia has grown 40%, with nearly 61,000 students now at home, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
The surge was also noticeable nationally. In 18 states that shared data throughout the current school year, the number of home-schooled students increased by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell only by 17% during the 2021-2022 school year.