Disclaimer: This post reflects my opinions based on personal experience and is in no way an attempt to definitively prove any form of education is any better or worse than any other form of education.
Homeschooling was the topic of a recent post I read and it inspired me to share my experience with it.
There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about homeschooling and homeschoolers. Most of them aren't true. Or at least, they aren't always true. I think like any group of people it's the extremes that get all the attention because they stand out the most.
You know the cliche': the socially awkward sheltered kid that makes their own clothes and can't function in normal society (Don't believe this is a stereotype? Watch the opening scene of Mean Girls).
For background, here's my educational history:
K-2nd grade: Homeschooled
3rd - 6th grade: Private school
7th - 9th grade: Homeschooled
10th - 12th grade: Private school
Freshman Year: Public University
Sophomore Year: Public Community College
Rest of College: Private liberal arts college
As someone who was homeschooled on and off I've realized that the issue often comes down to misidentification. When I was in high school---few people knew I'd been homeschooled. In fact, I discovered that many of my fellow classmates had been homeschooled at one point or another and people just didn't realize it. It didn't come up that often. Because that is the case, people seem to associate homeschoolers only with the ones that stand out. (Which is just not a representative sample). Meanwhile, many of their "normal" friends have homeschooling in their history and their are just oblivious to the fact. Besides, there are plenty of socially awkward kids in public schools that would fit the homeschool stereotype and have been in school their entire lives. Stereotypes exist for a reason, but in this case it just simply is not the majority. In the same way that terrorists don't represent the average Muslim, and Westboro Baptist Church doesn't represent the average Christian---I really believe that the homeschool stereotype is a minority.
Here are some other myths about homeschoolers:
1. Hardly anyone homeschools their kids in this day and age
I don't know how reliable the statistics are, but I've seen numbers ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 million students that are homeschooled in the U.S. each year. That's a pretty significant number and it seems to be growing.
2. Only religious people homeschool their kids
While religious beliefs can absolutely factor into why parents choose to educate their kids at home, in reality parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. For example, parents whose jobs move them around frequently---choosing to home educate can give a consistency that jumping in and out of schools couldn't. Other examples include having kids that have special needs, or kids that are involved in a full time program for sports or the arts. And if you lived in a depressed area where you child would be receiving a poor education or be bussed into a different county, homeschooling could be a better option. The point is, homeschooling can be an viable option for a lot of different reasons.
3. Parents aren't really qualified to educate their children
Homeschooling can take a lot of different forms (private tutors, group teachers, etc), so it's not always just the parents that are responsible for educating their children. That being said, the majority of homeschoolers probably are educated by mom or dad. It's my personal belief that every child deserves a good education and that every child is learns differently. Homeschooling doesn't work for every child, but that doesn't mean it isn't great for many. For my oldest brother---homeschooling fit. He was homeschooled the whole way through and graduated early. For me, I did better in private school. I needed the pressure and deadlines, but I also did better in a smaller class sizes than would have been found in public school. But saying that homeschoolers aren't getting as good of an education just isn't fair. And some studies show that homeschoolers on average actually do better in college than their public educated counterparts.
All of that to say...
Homeschooling is a time honored tradition of education and is just as likely to produce intelligent well adjusted adults as any other form of education. I applaud parents who take up the commitment of educating their children---it's a big one. I don't know if this is something John Paul and I will consider someday, but I'll always support the right of parents to choose how they want their children to be educated. Whether that be a public education, a private education, or at home---it's the parents right to decide. Good intentions or not, it's just not something I think should ever be dictated and forced by the government. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be some accountability, but homeschooling is a legitimate form of education and I would venture to say---a good one.