Are homeschooled students really all that different?

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I've been watching a fascinating conversation unfold on the Sonlight Forums regarding whether or not kids who are homeschooled are really all that "different" than their public or private-schooled peers. It's certainly a legitimate question to ask ... none of us wants our kids to be "oddly" different  or socially inept, or to stand out in a crowd in a negative way.

This homeschool mom shared that in a conversation with someone she knew, the statement was made that a relative had noted that they could easily "spot homeschooled kids in a crowd" because they stood out in a less than positive fashion. The rest of the thread explores the validity of that statement and whether or not it is something that should concern us as homeschoolers.

I must admit, I have sometimes worried about the big *S* (socialization) as every good homeschooler does! I often come to the conclusion that social awkwardness is not unique to homeschool students ... nor is it unique just to school-aged individuals. I know plenty of public schooled adults who struggle in social settings ... including myself at times!

Do we want our children to be "different"? Perhaps we do in some ways. If my students are more gracious, more giving, or more mature than their peers (homeschooled or otherwise), then that difference is a positive thing! If my children struggle with social settings and would rather spend time alone, then maybe I should reassure myself that there is room in this world for the quiet thinkers and allow them to be who they are. Perhaps we need to carefully consider our definition of "socially acceptable" and determine if it needs changing.

In the end, I recall the verse that speaks to the folly of comparing ourselves with one another, and using ourselves as the standard of measurement. God has created each of us for a unique purpose ... some to be a hand, some to be an arm, some to be the big toe. My prayer is that my kids will be the best hand, arm or big toe God has designed them to be!

Still on the journey,
Sonlight Customer Champion

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  1. I agree..sort of. I think there is an old view of homeschoolers that they are pasty white from being at home all the time, that they don't fit in, that they all wear formal clothing--so you can 'pick them out'. I've been told this. And when the realize my daughter (who follows some (the conservative ones) of the fashions of her non HS'ed friends) IS homeschooled the are surprised.
    I'll tell you how *I* know my kids are homeschooled...and why that makes me happy. The other day we were at homeschool tennis and my younger son fell down, injured. ALL of the kids (ages 14-8) gathered around him, comforting him and offering to help. A mom sitting near me said, "If that happened with public school kids, they would all walk away and act like nothing happened, or worse, laugh. Especially the siblings." And I realized it's true. My kids don't care about age barriers, and they don't care about socially enforced age segregation and they don't care about showing their feelings of protectiveness to their siblings in fear they won't look "cool". Thank the Lord my kids LOOK different.

  2. Most times I have had people ask me "You homeschool, don't you?" it has been in a positive way. Once someone was in my home, and saw the maps, and alphabet posters, and other educational posters on the walls (along with our Science Fiction memorabilia) and asked me that question. It took me by surprise the first time it happened, but when I inquired why they were asking they said "Well I just noticed all the things you have on your walls. Your home is so educational! I can tell you are really involved with your kids." Our home looked like a fun place to learn! How is that a bad thing? We play games and have fun, and the kids learn in the process.

    Several other times I've had the cashier in the grocery store ask "You homeschool don't you?" and when I affirm her suspicion she would say something like "I could tell because your children are so well behaved, and they ask intelligent questions." I'm not sure what other children act like, but I don't see how this can be anything other than a compliment! Often this compliment is followed by the sentiment "I wish I could homeschool," and some excuse why they believe it wouldn't work out for them. I truly believe anyone can homeschool if they really want to, but I have stopped trying to convince people it is possible because the truth is, they have to really want to. It's a lifestyle choice, and some people don't want it bad enough to make that choice because it might mean changes, and change is uncomfortable.

    There is another way homeschooled students look different, and April hinted at it. That is in their acceptance of people who are different than themselves. I have a 13 year old son who has an 8 year old playmate. They love to play legos and video games together. If they were in public school, my 13 year old would have been taught by his peers that it's uncool to have a playmate more than 6 months younger than himself. He would have missed out on a wonderful friendship! I have a daughter that likes to play with anyone- boys or girls -of any age. She has friends who are older than her, and she has friends who are younger than her. She has the most delightful perspective of people of other nationalities too (we teach our children that we are all one race, the human race, just some people are born with different appearances) and she has a little friend from Liberia and she said "I think my friend's dark skin is so pretty!" Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone could be "different" like homeschooled kids? Maybe there would be a lot less hatred in the world! My homeschooled children are not crippled by age or heritage barriers. They are free to make friends with anyone who is nice to them.

    The final indication of homeschoolers being different is when the colleges actively pursue them. Colleges WANT our homeschooled students! Why? Because proportionally they out-perform their public schooled peers. Now of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but colleges are starting to notice the numbers, and pound for pound, students who have been homeschooled are more likely to succeed in college than their public schooled peers, and that looks really good on the universities graduation statistics, so homeschooled kids are now the most wanted students on campus!

    Do homeschoolers look different? Maybe. But I think it is very much a positive thing, and I wish more people were "different" like us. I went to public school, and I struggle with social situations MUCH MORE than my homeschooled children do. In public school I was teased, ridiculed, and emotionally traumatized by my peers and sometimes even by the teachers. Public school was not a really healthy social experience for me, I'm still emotionally crippled from some of those memories. I really don't think socialization is an issue for homeschooled students like the public school advocates make it out to be, social situations may be difficult for particular individuals, but not as a defining attribute of being homeschooled. Quite the contrary. I'm glad my kids are different. They are much more socially adjusted, more confident, and more polite, more respectful, more conscientious, and more compassionate in most situations than what I see depicted in the media for public schooled children. Of course there are public schooled kids who turn out fine as well, who have actively involved parents that make sure their kids are decent human beings, I understand that. There are going to be exceptions to every rule. But overall, yeah, I'm glad my kids are homeschooled. :)

  3. Pingback: Homeschooled Kids Have Strange Priorities | Sonlight Blog