The sun isn't up yet as I climb into the airport shuttle. The talkative driver, a woman probably in her late 50s, asks where I'm from. "Denver," I reply. Somehow from there we quickly arrive at the topic of homeschooling and education.
"How do I put this?" she asks herself more than me. "What about, you know, socialization?"
Inwardly, I groan. If there's one topic about homeschooling that's about as dead a horse as you can beat, this "socialization" issue would be it. But this lady hasn't read homeschool blogs, so it's time to summarize. "If the parents are homeschooling out of fear--trying to isolate their kids from everything--then they'll probably be poorly socialized. But the vast majority of homeschoolers I know do great; they are involved in church, and sports, and Scouts, or whatever. I spent my afternoons playing with friends. So socialization isn't an issue unless you're trying to avoid contact with others."
Satisfied, she still has questions. "What about academics?"
Now I'm wishing I could just link her to this blog. "Homeschoolers consistently score high, just like other kids from similar socioeconomic backgrounds with stable homes and parental involvement. We all know parents help their children succeed, which is just one more reason why homeschooling is such a great option. I was homeschooled through eighth grade, and I graduated Valedictorian. Homeschoolers do well academically."
"But I couldn't teach Algebra," she tells me.
"The beauty is that there are a bunch of resources for parents who were failed in their own education. And, with homeschooling, you can learn or relearn something that you didn't get in school."
"I almost homeschooled my daughter."
This happens: I respond to the pop culture criticisms of homeschooling with information and experience and suddenly the person who was skeptical has flipped entirely. I've had people who started rather anti-homeschool end up telling me how they wished they could have been homeschooled themselves. How fickle the uninformed bias!
She tells me of adopting her daughter when she married her husband from overseas. She explains how she read to her daughter and picked up books like "See Spot Run" to help her grasp English.
"See! You were homeschooling. Not formally, but parents educate their kids at home way more than they think they do."
She goes on to tell me about how her husband, when he first moved to the States, didn't know English either. But since he worked construction, his first words and phrases "weren't particularly nice."
"And that," I interject, "is an example of bad socialization. You don't want your kids picking up that garbage."
By now we've arrived at the airport. I thank her as I get out and head into the terminal. It's really too bad that so many people are ignorant about the realities of homeschooling. If more people knew what educating their children at home could be like, I think more people would do it.
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester