MYTHS & FACTS
For those who haven’t tried homeschooling or other educational alternatives to conventional school, there are often a lot of fears and myths surrounding doing something different. It certainly is a leap of faith to venture into the unknown and may seem easier or safer to follow the prescribed path. I hear various versions of “But I just don’t know because…” from potential homeschooling families frequently, but with information, support, and time, most of these are easily dispelled. Here are a few top myths that might be holding you back from taking a leap!
MYTH #1: My child will be isolated by not attending a conventional school.
Nationally about 3.4% of students are homeschooled. The percentage in central Minnesota is likely higher because of many well-established homeschooling groups that provide activities, support, field trips, and more to families. For example, the group I founded five years ago, St. Cloud Unschooling Network, includes over 60 families and hosts themed events at the library throughout the school year as well as regular field trips all year long and outdoor adventures during warm months. Of course, families who participate in SHINE Together will have consistent, strong connections for their children in small groups as well.
MYTH #2: My child will miss out on extracurricular opportunities by not attending a conventional school.
Homeschooled students in Minnesota are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, and music at the public schools in the district where they reside. Some local religious schools, such as St. Cloud Christian School, also allow homeschoolers to join their activities. Homeschoolers are well-represented in community offerings like GREAT Theatre and various youth choirs, where the significant time commitment for practice is often easier to manage with a flexible homeschooling schedule. Additionally, with such a large homeschooling community in this area, there are many established programs specifically for homeschoolers, including band, choir, dance, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, baseball, drama, art classes, karate, YMCA gym programs, and more.
MYTH #3: My child won’t be able to learn complex subjects or skills without attending a conventional school.
Plentiful options are available for homeschoolers interested in subjects beyond their parents’ scope of knowledge and skill. Online programs such as Khan Academy cover advanced math and science courses, and apps such as DuoLingo allow learners to progress in a foreign language at their own pace. Advanced courses in writing, science, and other subjects are regularly offered by individuals and cooperatives in central Minnesota. Many homeschooling families take advantage of visual arts opportunities offered at the Paramount and seek out mentors or apprenticeships that develop their child’s particular passions. I envision helping to coordinate these opportunities for families through SHINE Together.
MYTH #4: My child will have trouble with college by not attending a conventional school.
Homeschooled students are as likely to attend college as their public school peers (69.7 percent), with unschoolers (self-directed homeschoolers) enrolling in college at an even higher rate (83 percent). Homeschoolers typically score higher on achievement tests such as the SAT and ACT, maintain higher GPAs throughout college, and are more likely to complete degree programs. Many homeschooled students complete a substantial number of college credits before finishing high school. There are 34 CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) examinations where students can earn college credit, and students who are ready for a challenge sometimes start taking them in middle school! I expect to have small groups studying together for CLEP tests at SHINE Together as older students learn about this option. Homeschoolers can also enroll in courses at local colleges during 11th and 12th grade via the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option, where tuition is paid by the state of Minnesota. By combining these two options, it is actually possible for homeschoolers to complete or nearly complete a bachelor’s degree during high school and graduate without student loan debt.