General Question

weeveeship's avatar

What is a homeschooled child like?

Asked by weeveeship (4622points) April 5th, 2011

What is a homeschooled child like?

For example, let’s say someone is homeschooled K-12 by her parents. When she turns 18, she enrolls in a local college. What would the experience likely be like for her?

P.S. Please do not flame homeschooling. On the flip side, please do not argue its strengths either. I’m just curious, that’s all.

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37 Answers

Nullo's avatar

The class size and relative degree of professorial inattentiveness would be surprising at first, but I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t have trouble integrating. Depending on the quality of her home-school education, the work might even seem trivially easy.

FluffyChicken's avatar

I have friends who did just that, and have had no problems integrating.

weeveeship's avatar

Thanks for your responses so far. I’m particularly interested in vignettes or stories of how homeschooled children are able to adapt to college life.

weeveeship's avatar

Also, as a practical matter, some homeschooled children hold deeply-held religious and/or political views. Do they get teased for their beliefs or views?

JLeslie's avatar

I know children who were homeschooled, who integrated into high school or college with no problem. It really probably depends on the homeschool environment and the child. Some universities look very favorably on home schooled children from what I understand. I would guess they tend to be very disciplined in their studies and autonomous.

If they are very religious they would not likely be teased, but they might have a tough time arguing their religious and political views, especially at the more liberal colleges, although most universities are fairly liberal. College is for lerning, and debating, questioning. Strict religious environment tend to be about being obedient to whatever is being preached and not questioning. But, it isn’t like religioncomes up every day at school. I can barely remember discussing politics or religion at school. Most non religious people don’t care if someone is religious, they only care the religious person isn’t going around trying to convert them.

Harold's avatar

That is like asking what is a public schooled child like. There are so many variables, including skill and dedication of the parents, curriculum chosen, social skills of the parents, whether they let the kids partake in extracurricular activities, etc.

Pandora's avatar

I’ve known several familys that home schooled. It really depends on the quality of education they are getting. One family in particular home schooled all 6 of their children. Mom was a qualitfied high school science teacher so her kids, I felt were a bit more advance. She started home schooling them early. She also joined a group of mothers who home schooled and had their own specialties so the kids could interact with each other like they would in a school enviroment. Her children had the easiest time adapting to college life. They were extremely religious but being a science teacher, they were taught to be open minded.
On the other end, I had another friend who didn’t have the same qualifications for teaching and at first I saw her resolve in teaching her kids at home as a big problem. She did it mostly because she only wanted to protect her kids from the world. They had a few difficult years but as they made friends and saw their friends moving on the kids decided to step up their own education and got through it and went off to college as well. This happened even though they went through some rough times. As far as I know they are still doing well in college and the eldest is about to graduate soon. They are all doing well now both socially and in their education. I really can’t say I have seen anyone do poorly in a home schooled enviroment. Each one of them has gone off to college. Funny enough but all seemed to come from very large families.

Seelix's avatar

I think that as long as homeschooled kids aren’t kept isolated from their agemates, they’ll have no problem integrating into a school system later on.

Getting kids involved in organized sports or some other activity where they can interact with other people around their age, and have their performance evaluated by an authority figure probably helps, too. If a kid has grown up only ever having to answer to their parents, I can see how it might be difficult for them to deal with an outside authority figure later on, but a coach or other kind of instructor can probably help ease that transition.

janbb's avatar

I doubt you can generalize; it would vary from kid to kid and the quality of the education the parents can provide.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I agree that it would be hard to generalize, but it might be a culture shock for her. For one, she will have to be at a certain place at a certain time – something she might not be used to. She will be thrown in the mix with peers who have diverse ideas, values and cultures and she might not be used to that. The only home schooled kids I personally knew were very socially backward and way behind in their schooling so didn’t do very well.

Foolaholic's avatar

This semester, I’ve made fast friends with a kid who was home-schooled right up till college. If anything, he seems to me better off than most of us. He’s very open and outgoing and he makes friends much quicker than most people I know. He has a vague idea of what he wants out of his college experience, and excels in those areas that interest him. I can’t speak to the specific elements of his upbringing, but being home-schooled doesn’t seem to have hindered him at all.

gorillapaws's avatar

I have several cousins who were all home schooled by my aunt to keep them away from the “evils” of public school. They are all adults now, and read/write at a 6th grade level. I personally think my aunt, uncle and their church(for encouraging them) should be locked up. I can’t think of very many things more evil than depriving a child of a quality education.

None of her children are able to pursue a college education at this point. It might be possible with lots of tutoring and adult education classes.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt there are many things in life that require being somewhere on time, not just school. I can’t see how that would be more of a problem for a homeschooled child? Plus, college is an irregular schedule anyway, most people have to “adjust” to it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@JLeslie Again, I am only going by the home-schooled kids I personally know, and they spent their whole childhood and adolescence in their jamies in front of the TV.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I believe it. But, if they went to the doctor they had to be there on time, or a play date, or to a sports event. Unless they never went anywhere? Plus, it can be learned to get dressed and go. They will do what is required for college, or drop out that simple.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@JLeslie I agree that it can be done, I only mentioned that it could be something they aren’t used to doing on a daily basis.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Ironically I always made ot to class in college, but skipped days and days in high school, especially my sophomore year. I only skipped because school started so flipping early, and I hate early. In college I had more control over my schedule, later classes, and it was great.

Nullo's avatar

@weeveeship Yes, they sometimes do. By faculty, even. Though religious non-homeschoolers face the same adversity.

jerv's avatar

It varies widely, but most of the home-schooled kids I’ve known seem slightly naive and sometimes a little socially inept due to having less exposure to the world. This isn’t exactly a problem inherent to home-schooling, but it is a rather common problem that any home-schooling plan needs to take into consideration.

Those that are kept isolated like @gorillapaws’ cousins are a rather extreme example, but sadly not an uncommon one since one of the more common reasons for homeschooling is to isolate the kids from the world.

There are others that get a better education at home than they would’ve in regular schools any yet are perfectly normal socially; they interact with other kids, see as much of the world as any other kid, and don’t fall behind that way and turn out naive.

As @Nullo points out, home-schooling has no bearing on whether or not one gets teased for deeply held views. Religious cultists and political zealots will get teased (or worse) regardless of their educational background.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Most of the homeschooled children I know personally are advanced in relation to their peers. My own niece and nephew are slated to begin college prior to 16..and are planning to study in China.

I think it would be very difficult to compare a homeschooler in college and a conventionally schooled adult in college, since there are so many variables for the reasoning behind choosing to homeschool.

Here are the reasons I’ve heard/seen thus far:
*Keeping child innocence alive & well
*Providing a safe learning structure
*Extreme food allergies
*School system is ill-equipt for a particular need
*School system failure (bad teachers/bad admin/bad curricula)
*Military moves/Job is transient
*One parent is a certified teacher and knows the ills of conventional schooling (usually the parents of students expecting the teacher to “raise their kids” is cited)
*Religious reasons
*Special Needs Child/children in the family
*Child prodigy
*Parent prefers to control the environments their small children are exposed to
*Parents prefer classical education method (to get that in most communities requires a private education)
*Desire to skip grades or teach children at various skill levels
*Desire to teach out of “real” books, not text books (Charlotte Mason)

If you are really interested in seeing the inside of homeschooling @weeveeship you may want to read this book, Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families

Or the authors other book, Homeschool Open House

These are written by different homeschool families. They give glimpses of what daily life is like as a homeschooling family. A few have follow-up on what it’s like for a homeschooler in college.

In another year or so, I suspect there will be more books involving actual perspectives from the children of homeschooled families at the college level.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@SpatzieLover Just a note: @weeveeship asked us not to argue home school’s strengths. I have followed orders and tried not to flame it. The question was just what challenges this particular home-schooled student might run into at college.

SpatzieLover's avatar

How was I flaming it? I was attempting to explain how comparison wasn’t possibly due to variances. Those are the variances I have run into in my rather small corner of the world, living in a ‘burb village.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@SpatzieLover You were (or seemed to be) arguing home school’s strengths. I am the one trying not to flame it just because the home-schooled kids I know are backward, narrow-minded and poorly equipped to deal with society.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I don’t personally know anyone like that where I live. I gave a personal perspective. You gave yours. I know zero homeschoolers that use “religious reasons” as their reasoning for choosing to homeschool or for pulling their children from conventional schools.

Maybe, we come from different regions of America? I’m in the Midwest. I reside near Milwaukee, in a wealthy, mostly Republican County.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@SpatzieLover I am also only giving a personal perspective. I am sure there could be two home-school families living right next door to each other and be as different as night and day, so doubt the region matters. The reasons that the particular family that I am referring to decided to home school were:
1. The mother was too lazy to get the kids up for school in the morning
2. The parents didn’t want their kids to be exposed to any other religious beliefs other than their own
3. The parents were socially backward themselves and couldn’t see eye to eye with any of the faculty at the school
4. The parents didn’t want to buy school clothes
5. The parents didn’t want the kids to be taught about dinosaurs because they don’t believe in them
6. The parents were afraid the kids would be taught evolution

Pretty sad, huh.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@weeveeship Thanks for your responses so far. I’m particularly interested in vignettes or stories of how homeschooled children are able to adapt to college life.

The books provided will give vignettes on homeschooling from a multitude of perspectives. A few of the parents discuss how their children made the transition to college. At this time, I know of no other book, documentary or website that offers a variety of perspective.

tranquilsea's avatar

Most of the home schooling families I know personally who have college age children have most if not all of their children attending college or university. I know a few families whose mom or dad taught/teaches at the university level and are now home schooling their kids because their experience with home schooled kids was so positive and different from brick and mortar schooled kids that they wanted the same experience for their kids.

I only know of one teenager who has had difficulty transitioning to real grownup life but that is due to the complete unschooling background she got where she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to and that is now back firing on her in her work life. This is one kid out of tens that I know of.

Our piano teacher, who is a delightful human being, was home schooled, then went to college and now runs her own piano studio. She plans on home schooling her own children.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Ahh @tranquilsea sparked a memory for me thank you! One of the ballroom instructors at our son’s dance school is a college grad that was homeschooled.

She’s had no issue with transitioning from a rural town in Wisconsin to city life in Milwaukee. She is a professional dancer and instructor for ballet, ballroom and modern dance. The only issue she’s had is with teaching dance in inner city schools. She was not shocked by anything she lived with in college.

The small children with foul mouths, disrespect and questionable clothing she teaches “Mad Hot Ballroom” to have been a source of stress. As has learning how to stay safe in the inner city. It wasn’t something she was taught growing up rurally.

Nullo's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt A little, though only because the problem here is clearly lazy parenting. “Religious reasons” hardly merit ridicule. Homeschooling only works if you put effort into it.

I was homeschooled for 5th and 6th grade because there had been issues with the staff at the private schools (I’m unclear as to the specifics) that I had attended, and the local public schools weren’t good. I had a canned curriculum (produced by a Christian school) which was supplemented by a sort of family book-reading time, field trips, edutainment shows and games (Carmen Sandiego, all the Bill Nye and Reading Rainbow that the library had, and I beat Oregon Trail so many times that it ceased to be challening), and my own independent studies.
The state of California doesn’t think highly of homeschoolers, and so they tend to join umbrella organizations. We did, too, and through them met other homeschoolers who

By the 6th grade, I had (among other things) a basic grasp of chemistry, good understanding of what fission and fusion were and how they worked (and a short history of the relevant physics), an idea of how the natural world works in its entirety, could name all the planets in order (I still count Pluto!) and identify major characteristics, some national history (at that time, my independent studies focused heavily on WWII, whereas the curriculum focused on other major events), and was reading at the 12th grade level.
The return to regular schooling in 7th grade was a shock, but that was mostly because I had begun attending Italian schools.

I was more than a little surprised at the relative ignorance of the students in my state-required (and so, painfully simple) American/State Government class in high school, when I got back. Stuff that I had learned as early as kindergarten they had never heard of. They routinely got Fs while I got effortless As. I made a card game in that class, with rules and actual cards, and filled a notebook with attractive geometry.

Just goes to show that there are a million different cases.

George_Roberts's avatar

Every child that I’ve known that was homeschooled has been great. I know one family with several kids, that are ALL home schooled, and they are a great family!

SavoirFaire's avatar

The homeschooled people I have known personally (that is, as friends) have all been socially inept. At least one could only be described as having been socially crippled. While he was fairly advanced academically, so was his non-homeschooled—and considerably more sociable—brother (my best friend) They all improved in college, however, and the lack of previous experience in a formal educational setting doesn’t seem to have prevented them from adjusting to college life as well as anyone else.

Of the homeschooled people I’ve taught, they have all been average to slightly above average. None have been A-range students, though they may have been stellar in other subjects for all I know. They do not lag behind in the ability to work in small groups, and they are perhaps slightly better than average at focusing on certain kinds of tasks. Most start out thinking they will be able to show up all of the other students, but they adjust to the fact that this is not the case faster than the smaller number of non-homeschooled people who come in with a similar feeling.

These are merely observations based on limited experience. I have no explanations for the patterns yet, and I cannot rule out the possibility that next semester’s students will shatter my expectations.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I think the college transition experience depends on the competency of parent homeschooling. I’ve known people who “homeschooled” but pretty much let their kids do what they wanted. These kids have had problems working with others; not socialization, but working with others. On the other had, there are kids that hit the ground running because they are self-directed learners. They arrive at college able to write papers, complete assignments, etc. and do all of the things that are necessary to be a successful student. It really depends on what the parent’s focus on learning was in the home. Homeschooling is a job, not a way to drop out of the system. Whatever the motivation for homeschooling, it’s less important than the seriousness and effort the parent put into it.

Nullo's avatar

I met a girl once whose “homeschooling” involved classes with other homeschooling kids, taught either by highly trained parents in the co-op (a chemical engineer for chemistry classes, for instance), or they’d bring one in. She was in junior college last I saw her (taking two years there and transferring is a cheap way to get a four-year degree), apparently doing well. I would not have guessed that she had been homeschooled if she had not mentioned it.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if part of what makes a difference is if the parents have college degrees themselves? Parents who have never been to college might be a little clueless on the preperation needed, less able to ready their children. I complain about this with our public schools also. I am not just talking academics, I mean visting college campuses, seeing what it is like before you get there, let them have a say in what school feels comfortable to them, having someone tell children what their college experience was like.

All the people I know who homes school are educated themselves. One of my friends is a CPA, her husband an engineer. Another couple I knew, the dad had been a CEO in a midsize corporation for many years, and then left that to have his own small business. They would be aware if they felt their kid was lacking something in their education for future pursuits. Another, college friend of mine, is keeping an open mind that as her daughter moves toward jr high age, she might mainstream her into the schools if she feels homeschooling is not giving her everything. Another friend of mine had 4 siblings. The youngest one started getting into some trouble in middle school, so her mom homeschooled her for a few years.

jerv's avatar

Personally, most of my academic knowledge came from my own curiosity and self-study; I actually didn’t learn much in school… at least not the type of knowledge you can get from a textbook. However, home-schooling an aspie would’ve caused problems; what social skills I have are the result of me going to a regular, public school. So I have to agree with @SavoirFaire on that one.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ve known quiet a few parents who taught their children at home as opposed to sending them to government schools. All the kids were very well rounded, intelligent and most went on to great careers, higher education and/or both.

I have a friend who refused to have his children vaccinated. They had to school their children at home. I always admired that even though I personally am not afraid of vaccines. But I liked that they stood up for what they believed in. And they weren’t religious. Just good people doing what they thought was the right thing for their kids.

I have another group of friends who are Mormons. They home school and trust me, their children are getting a better education than most people any of us know. On top of that, they are all, ALL, fabulous musicians. Their Mom taught them with the Suzuki method. Amazing. Plus, they’ve traveled all over the globe doing mission work.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@bkcunningham The family I was referring to are also Mormons.

I know many parents, Mormon and non-, who have refused to have their children immunized, too. We are right now experiencing a measles outbreak in our city and many of those kids are in the hospital. Those who aren’t in the hospital have been put under quarrantine and can’t attend school until after April 18th.

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