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Home-schooled and not shyabout it ... or much else

October 31, 2006|by AL WUNDERLICH

Rant

"What do you do about social skills?"

As a home-schooler, I have been faced with this question many times. It seems to be a common stereotype for a home-schooled teenager. The average thought is, "Well, don't they just shelter themselves from the world and stay inside all day?"

People tend to think of home-schoolers as hermit-like kids who spend all day online or reading the dictionary so they can win the National Spelling Bee.

Actually, home-schoolers can be just as social or nonsocial as public and private school kids.

One day, while working at a soup kitchen in Baltimore, I started talking to a woman who was working with me. We had been talking for about 10 minutes and the fact that I was home-schooled came up.

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"What about social skills?" she asked.

"Did you know I was home-schooled when we started talking?" I answered.

"No," she said.

"OK then," I responded.

She was not the only person I've met who asks that question. I mean, if I, as a home-schooled kid, have been able to carry on a conversation, why ask if I have trouble with social skills? It just doesn't make sense.

Quite frankly, the general reason for basically all incorrect stereotypes is a general misunderstanding. Just because home-schoolers don't see friends every day at school, doesn't mean they never leave their house. Sports, Scouts, hanging out with friends and doing stuff like that are generally a part of a home-schooler's life. We still have friends (home-schooled and not) and lives outside of the house.

Do some parents home-school their kids in order to shelter them? Probably. But in many cases, mine included, kids are home-schooled because parents think it's the best way for their children to get an education.

In short, being home-schooled does not make a person nonsocial, and home schooling does not cut off students from life outside of their house. It's just a different way to be educated.

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