Homeschooling Criticism

It seems like whenever I go someplace with my son recently, people inevitably ask him how old he is (he's four) and then if he'll be going to school next year. When we tell them that he's going to be homeschooled, we've heard a wide variety of responses - encouragement, criticism, skepticism and/or lots of questions. Two of the criticisms have stuck with me, though.

The first criticism I want to talk about was someone telling me that homeschooling is "the worst thing I could do for my child." That person insinuated that I was selfish, uncaring and only concerned with myself. I was so shocked that I didn't really even really respond. I honestly didn't know what to say. It really hurt my feelings - and I guess it troubled me because I thought, how can someone say think that a homeschooling parent doesn't care?! They care so much about their children's schooling that they want to take it upon themselves to help and train them. They are obviously VERY involved in their lives or want to be. Where is the not caring part? It hurts me that someone thinks that I don't care about my kids. I could see that argument if I had said that I had to send the kids to school because they were so irritating and I couldn't handle them or something...but obviously I said nothing of the kind! It really just confused me, I guess. Maybe they didn't realize that homeschooling takes place at home and that I will be schooling them? Or maybe they've only seen bad examples of homeschooling.

The other criticism that bothered me (and I've heard it from a BILLION people) is that homeschooling is bad because it will make my kids "socially retarded." Other people's words, not mine. It irritates me because everyone and their brother uses the socialization argument - but is it really relevant anymore? "Oh, they’re homeschooled so they don’t know how to be around other kids! They don’t have any socialization! They just scratch their heads like monkeys and grunt!" I'm sure there are some...but I have as yet to meet any homeschooled kids that don't know how to be around people.

We've never been short of socialization in our family. I reiterate to people that we are part of a homeschooling co-op with lots of kids, that I have a lot of family that are involved in the kids lives and that we go to church weekly. This socialization argument also irritates me because generally these people don't know my kids...they just assume they must be shy or something and therefore can't go to public school. My son has always been a ham - we joke that he'll be in show business, or maybe just a really good salesman. He's the kid at the play-place or park that goes up to any 'ol kid, yells "I'm Zeke!" and asks them to play. He does have his shy moments but most of the time he's pretty outgoing. I've also seen the socialization that some kids get at public school and frankly, I'd rather have unsocialized weirdos. And speaking of, one of my newest favorite blogs is called Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers! :) She wrote a great post about socialization that you can read here.

Please note that I am not saying homeschooling is for everyone. I am totally okay with kids going to public school - we just feel that homeschooling is the choice for us and our family. I'd like to hear your thoughts! What do you think about homeschooling and it's criticisms? Have you ever been met with these arguments or something similar? How did you respond?


  1. I think homeschooling is appropriate for SOME families; personally, even though I'm qualified to home school Gabe and Bits, you couldn't PAY me to do it. Other women I know who've home schooled ranged from awesome mommas who were full on dedicated to what they are doing to the lazy ass mommas who can't be bothered to actually teach. The latter are the type of home schooling parents who give the rest a bad name.

  2. I don't personally know any homeschooling families who don't do a great job with it, it's simply a stigma, much like the ones about homebirth, that seems to never be able to die. And it IS irritating because they are such ignorant, inaccurate statements. People seem to want to criticize public school systems and hospitals all the time yet when someone decides they want to take their schooling and birth upon themselves they are criticized for it. Doesn't make any sense. And I agree, the kind of socicalizing that is taking place in our schools these days is not the kind of "socialization" that I would want my kid to have. For some reason when people hear that someone is doing something like homeschool and homebirth, they are quick to point out that it isn't for everybody and they know so & so who tried it and it didn't work. I think people simply do it to make themselves feel better about their own choice, but it's unnecessary.

  3. That's why I made sure to say at the end of my post that homeschooling is not for everyone.

    I think you'll find that type of person in anything, though - there's some parents who aren't good at or don't want to parent, there's homeschoolers who aren't good at or who can't be bothered to homeschool, teachers who aren't very good teachers or who shouldn't even be teaching, etc. Generally I think most homeschoolers are pretty caring people, though.

  4. I don't think it's fair for people to comment on homeschooled children if they've never been a homeschooling parent.

  5. I'm a homeschooling mom to four children. Homeschooling is not for everyone. Yet, that does not mean it should be criticized by those who choose not to or cannot. I don't ask my neighbor "So when are you going to take your kid out of public know how bad the influences there are, right?"

    My kids are very well socialized and they are homeschooled and always have been. I have found that homeschooled kids are just as socialized if not better socialized than any other school kid. Homeschool kids have to learn how to get along with all ages and in many different situations.

  6. Richele ( commented and for some reason her comment got lost so I'm re-posting it for her!

    I'm a homeschooling mom to four children. Homeschooling is not for everyone. Yet, that does not mean it should be criticized by those who choose not to or cannot. I don't ask my neighbor "So when are you going to take your kid out of public know how bad the influences there are, right?"

    My kids are very well socialized and they are homeschooled and always have been. I have found that homeschooled kids are just as socialized if not better socialized than any other school kid. Homeschool kids have to learn how to get along with all ages and in many different situations.

  7. I think homeschooling is great for some families. It is up to the individual families. There are a lot of positives about homeschooling and people sometimes get caught up in the negative. It doesn't seem fair to stereotype homeschooled children. There are cases where the parents just say they homeschool and really don't take an active role in their children's education while there are some parents who really excel at giving their child the best schooling experience possible within their home (and they are able to tailor it so that their child is getting an education that is superior to what they would get in a public school) and the child excels far above other kids. Just as the education a child receives with a classroom varies so does homeschooling. Homeschooling is getting to be more accepted though and a lot of museums and other organizations are gearing programs to homeschoolers. We recently visited a science museum that actually had classrooms for homeschoolers and I was wishing I was in there with them. They looked like they were having a lot of fun.

  8. I admit I haven't gotten a lot of criticism in my 10+ years of homeschooling. If someone asks me or my kids, "No school today?" I simply smile and answer, "We homeschool." The more relaxed you are when you say it, the more likely they leave you alone. ;-)

    As far as socialization, I am a product of public education and I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of "social misfits" in the system. My own shyness had nothing to do with where I received my education, but I'm pretty sure I would be less shy and more confident had I not gone through the traditional school route, where simple questions are rewarded with ridicule by students and teachers.

  9. I think home educated (as well as g-school educated kids) run the gamut between as being well able to deal with their peers and others to being poor at doing it.

    Social awkwardness isn't an inevitable result of either homeschooling or g-schooling. It has more to do with the kid. Some really shy, awkward kids really benefit from being able to "hang back" at home, rather than being thrust into a forced, fake social situation, like g-school.

    The other observation that I offer is that lots of people don't know the difference between "socialization" that is. being able to function in a social setting, and "socializing" that is, being able to hang out with buddies. My 5 homeschool kids don't have a problem with either, by the way.

  10. This just makes me laugh.

    "Are they *social*-ized?"

    I wish the quality were better, but it's still funny.

    We home educate and yes, sometimes I feel like a cave troll. But I love to interact with homeschooled kids (which we do several times a week). They are generally just - nice, because they are used to being around grownups or something.

  11. The comment from 9:10 PM was NOT made by me, I don't know why the comments are being strange on this one.

    Oh my goodness Rebecca, that video is hilarious! Thanks for sharing it. :)

  12. We homeschool (with the help of a tutor) our two boys, Sam and Max.

    One unexpected benefit of not being in industrial school is that they have no idea who the cool kids are or are not. So our house is a neutral zone for whole families of industrial school kids.

    Of course this means we talk to the often shell shocked parents who have to deal with the sheer nastiness of a pecking order environment. We provide tea or a glass of wine and listen to the stories of the petty bullying, the exclusion, the social competition which these poor, well meaning, parents and their kids have to deal with.

    Socialization means learning a lot of behaviour which is better unlearned. Homeschooling is as much about leaving stuff out as covering material in depth.

  13. Wandered over from Monday Mingle-

    As the homeschool mom of 6 just finishing our 12th (or maybe 13th year, I ran out of fingers to count on...) I've heard all the reasons. My favorite sentences start with "Not your kids but..." I just smile and nod and never ever get in a debate, those people don't want to know they just want to criticize you for being different.

    I found a t-shirt at Walmart for my daughter that I HAD to buy (it was on clearance for $3) it read "I won't let school interfere with my socialization"


  14. Thanks everybody for the wonderful comments - I'm enjoying reading about your experiences. I'm learning that it's best to just "turn the other cheek" when people bring up different homeschooling arguments, unless they're genuinely interested in why we homeschool.

    Sharon, I completely agree that some people don't even realize what "socialization" is!

    Erica, that shirt sounds great! :)

  15. "Get used to a constant background noise of people telling you what a mistake you’re making. If you concentrate, you can make it sound like the ocean."


  16. Many people assume that in homeschooling children will never be exposed to the outside world, never interact with people outside their immediate family, never play with other kids outside their family but that is simply not true.

    Obviously their experiences in life won’t be the same as a kid who is traditionally schooled, but being different is not always a bad thing. Just like going along with what the majority is doing is not always a bad thing either.


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