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Homeschooling parents are often asked and concerned by one common myth around this method: does homeschooling make their children less sociable? According to NCES (the National Center for Education Statistics), the definition of homeschoolers is the children who primarily obtain their education at home instead of going to conventional schools. For that reason, the stereotype of homeschooled children being lack of social competence exists because of the limitation from peer interactions. However, researchers and literature suggest that the homeschooled children are not socially isolated. The statement also supported by NCES’s data: children are doing homeschool among the school age student (from 5 to 17 years old) population is 3.4 percent in 2012 comparing to 2.2 percent in 2009. Evidently, homeschooling is a growing trend in education today despite the concern.
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There are several approaches of homeschooling that parents can choose from for their needs. According to Bergstrom (2012), the methods of homeschooling including “structured learning, distance learning, eclectic learning, ‘unschooling’, to name a few” (p. 12). Structured learning is having a particular study time which is suitable for a fixed learning and teaching routine. Unlike other methods where the parents can decide what their children would study, unschooling method lets the children choose what they want to add besides the basics: reading, writing and doing the math. A combination of the two above makes the eclectic method that “some of it is structured, some of it is not” (Bergstrom, 2012). One more method is becoming popular in homeschooling is distance learning. Distance learning allows parents to observe their children performance via an online base. All of these methods provide the flexibility in time and place for the homeschooled children; and they also offer the ability to work at their own pace.
Families who choose to do homeschooling state different reasons behind their choice. According to Medlin (2013), some parents show their worry to the school environment impacts, like the undesirable influences from peers or the pressure of achievements on their children. For them, this environment can harm their confidence lead to insecurity, dependence and make them even less exciting for social encounters. Other answers are about religious and morals. Overall, these parents want to be responsible for their children education and at the same time deepen the relationship between them (Carson, 2009). Moreover, Medlin (2013) stated that the parents believe by choosing homeschool, they can “offer the kind of socialization experiences they want for their children” (p.109).
The definition of social competence is defined by Carson (2009) as “how effective one is in his or her social interactions with others” (p.3). According to Bergstrom (2012), regardless of the reasons why parents choose to do homeschooling, parents all put much effort in helping their children to develop a normal social skills outside their home. There are many solutions are given for this concern like signing their children in “extracurricular activities” (p.11) such as sports teams, music bands, dance clubs or church groups. Therefore, the children can interact with different people, at different age and from different backgrounds. By doing this, parents of homeschooled children want to teach them how to respect and get along with not only the people other than friends at their age (Medlin, 2013). Additionally, these outside of the classroom activities can also be connected by homeschooling families where their children can learn and play together. These parents can each teaches all the families for a period of time then switch between each other to rotate. (Bergstrom, 2012). Through this circle teaching system, homeschooled children are having a fair amount of time to socialize with their peers comparing to the ones who sit in conventional classrooms. However, there are studies that show children who go to conventional schools do not have enough time to socialize at schools which leads to making them not better at social than homeschooled children. According to Medlin (2013), when both tested using the Social Skills Rating System, the scores for homeschooled boys and girls are significantly higher than the students who attend conventional schools. In the same research, parents of children attending conventional school said their children show more depression and attention problems. In contrast, the homeschooling parents shared the advantages of the homeschooling method as in being aware of their children’ strengths and protecting their children from “negative labeling due to weakness” (p. 286). Besides, the parents can also model as a good socialization for their children. Including in Medlin’s research, homeschooled children not only have better quality connections with friends but also family and other older adults. They are full of positivity, joy, and satisfaction towards themselves and about homeschooling (Medlin, 2013). According to Bergstrom (2012), the fulfillment that the homeschooled students have is as a result of the ability to work at their own pace which allows them to also explore more of their own interests, making all of them stated they enjoy homeschooling in her study.
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In the end, traditional educational method as conventional schools or innovative method like homeschooling both have advantages and disadvantages within them. The key for a student’s successful academic and social skills is in the parents or the teachers, who are directly in charge (Bergstrom, 2012). Therefore, it is not fair to simply follow the myth and put stereotypes of homeschooled children are not as sociable as the children who go to conventional schools since there are research and studies show otherwise. Thus, homeschooling is an appropriate alternative educational method for the parents to choose from without the worry of them being less sociable.
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