Straight Talk Advice

Bullying, peer pressure, school-environment negatives motivate homeschooling

May 26, 2015

Dispelling the myth of sheltered friendless homeschoolers

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 and tired of the stereotyping I face as a homeschooler. Never mind that homeschoolers have hobbies, friends, engage in clubs and sports at our local school, we’re all introverted hermits. I must have missed that memo while busy being a normal teenager. By the way, are public school students more successfully socialized, considering peer pressure and the grip of electronics? To public school students: Please treat us like peers. To adults: Please stop the interrogations. —Well-Adjusted Homeschooler in Pennsylvania

Icis 16, Lehigh Acres, Florida Ask me a question

I, too, believed this stereotype. Upon taking an online course dominated by homeschoolers, I realized the truth. Being able to work at your own pace is liberating. There was more one-on-one interaction with my tutor than a regular teacher and I could interact with other students online or by phone. I also had more subject choices. Added benefit: no school shootings.

Lisa 23, Eugene, Oregon Ask me a question

Most kids can't imagine school without dictated hours and location and they do their socializing at school, so it's easy to imagine homeschoolers having no friends and the education being less legitimate. But if I'd been homeschooled, I'd have found friends and activities just like you. Public school has drawbacks. Huge classes force teachers to teach to the common denominator, rote memorization is favored over critical thinking, everyone must sit still, and the required conformity rarely imparts the independent thinking needed for active participation in democracy.

Elle 19, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania Ask me a question

As a lifelong homeschooler, I know the jokes, comments and derogatory questions. They don't stop in college. I'm now thick-skinned and make up my own ridiculous jokes about being a friendless, sheltered, super-shy nerd who cut educational corners. Like you, the vast majority of homeschoolers have friends, do sports and are normal teenagers. Homeschooling allowed me to get ahead in many areas. My parents tailored my curriculum to me. Math challenged me so we tried several textbooks to find one I grasped. By 6th grade, I was reading and writing at collegiate-level so English assignments were crafted accordingly. Beginning sophomore year, I did dual-enrollment with online college classes, completing my freshman year of college this way, thus reducing tuition. Other perks: incorporating personal interests into your studies, close-knit ties with family, visiting popular destinations at non-peak times ('cuz ya'll are in class). While other students play the dog to Pavlov's (school)bell, we're working from the comfort of home. I fail to see how we get the short end of the stick. Downside: Your family can get on your nerves and not needing shoes, you go through socks like crazy. (Bet you never considered that disadvantage.) Biggest misperception: I've asked multitudes of homeschoolers and nobody studies in their pajamas.

Justin 18, Brentwood, California Ask me a question

Where I live, there is a slacker stereotype for both home school and continuation school. Surely public school students have easier access to socializing, however, I'm not hugely social yet I don't care what people think because everyone's judgmental in high school anyway. Disregard what people say and know that you are privileged to be getting a great education.

Dear Well-Adjusted: I know many brilliant, motivated, socially-secure people who were/are homeschooled and I hope your letter helps dispel the negative stereotype. Homeschooling has many advantages and continues to grow in popularity, acceptance and enrichment services. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 1.8 million students (3.4 percent of kids) were homeschooled in 2012 — a doubling from 1999. Your comment about peer pressure and electronics obsession (along with drug access, bullying and violence) is on mark. Ninety-one percent of homeschooling parents cite concern with school environments as their motivation. Regardless of where a child goes to school, the main correlative to success is parent-child attunement and parent-school involvement.

  1. By N.C., age 16, from Toledo, OH on 05/30/2015

    My sister and I are home schooled, and we hate it.  Our mom was a teacher before she got married and thinks she’s qualified to teach us.  We’re probably getting a decent education, but we miss out on just about everything that normal teenagers have.  She’s very strictly religious and is afraid that we’ll learn “sinful things” if we attend the local high school.  We would be allowed to join clubs and go to dances at the local high school, but she won’t allow it for the same reason.  Most kids meet their friends at school, so we don’t have any friends other than each other.  She says that we can make friends at church, but there aren’t that many kids our age and most don’t live near us.  We spend most of our free time alone in our room.  She also searches our room to make sure we aren’t doing anything we shouldn’t be and barges in on us without warning.  She also thinks that things like shaving and waxing and body jewelry are “sinful” so she periodically makes us strip naked for her to check out our bodies to make sure we aren’t doing anything like this.  Even though she’s our mom and we really don’t care if she sees us naked, we still find this to be humiliating and embarrassing.

    In our opinion, the home schooling totally sucks especially combined with everything else and prevents us from being normal teenagers.


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    1. By Linda, age 17, from Santa Rosa, California, USA on 05/31/2015

      I feel bad for you, N.C.,  but I really don’t think you can blame it on home schooling.  My sister and I are home schooled and our experience is much more like that described by Well Adjusted Home Schooler.  It sounds like the problem is that your mom forces you to live an extremely sheltered life.  As you say, you would be allowed to participate in social activities at your school, but she will not allow it.  My sister and I are active in school clubs and are also on the girls’ volleyball team which is permitted even though we are home schooled.  We also go to the school dances.  We have just as many friends as kids who attend the school.  I don’t know a good answer to your problem, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame it on home schooling.

      Your mom’s forcing you to strip to check your bodies sounds really over the top even though as you say, since she’s your mom there’s nothing wrong with her seeing you nude.  Our mom would never do that, and she sees us nude all the time anyway since we have an all female household and are casual about nudity.  We don’t wear a bathrobe when we go to take a shower and don’t go out of our way to close the door to our room when we’re undressing.  Why should we need to?  My sister and I help each other wax and our mom is well aware of it and has no problem with it.

      I agree that you have a serious problem in the way your mom forces you to lead such a sheltered life, but it is she who is the problem, not home schooling.


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