It seems that everyone has an opinion about homeschooling, whether it’s an informed one or not. Homeschooling has its champions and detractors, for sure, but it’s important to know the facts. We did a quick poll and came up with the following 5 myths about homeschooling in Florida that need debunking:
Myth #1 – Homeschooling is not mainstream and few families homeschool.
In the state of Florida, according to a 2015-2016 report by the FL Dept. of Education, there were approximately 84,000 registered homeschoolers. This number has increased from 77,000 registered homeschoolers the year before, an almost 10% increase. Clearly, homeschooling is getting more and more popular in our state. These statistics do not even include students that are enrolled in “umbrella” schools as homeschoolers, because “umbrella” schools fall under the category of private schools in the state of Florida. If we include “umbrella” schools, the number of home educated children in Florida in 2014 is at least 100,000.
Myth #2 – Homeschooling is expensive and I can’t afford it.
Although there are many types of curriculum that parents can buy, and some of it is costly, there are plenty of free options too. The most obvious one is Florida Virtual School, as well as many of the county-run virtual academies. There are also plenty of free curricula available on the internet, for example Khan Academy and Easy Peasy. This makes homeschooling much more affordable. Furthermore, many homeschoolers get their reading material from libraries. Ebay and Amazon Marketplace are great sources of used curricula at discounted prices. Many parents sell the books and materials that their children are finished with at the end of the school year, which makes it easier as the years go by to get the curriculum they want at a price they can afford.
Myth #3 – Homeschool students must take a standardized test to prove that they are passing.
This myth is one that several school districts would like parents to believe, but in reality this is completely false. Although there are benefits to having your child take a standardized test, this is NOT REQUIRED. Click here to read the FL statute which details the requirements to homeschool in our state, which ALL counties must follow. If a parent chooses to have their child take a standardized test, either for their own information, or in order to satisfy annual evaluation requirements, that is the parent’s choice. Furthermore, homeschooled children, including those who are enrolled in Florida Virtual School or any county-run virtual academy are NOT required to take the FCAT. Besides that, there are many other standardized tests that provide a far better assessment of student achievement than the FCAT. Most parents choose to forgo testing and have an annual portfolio review.
(For simple & true answers to homeschooling in FL, email or call us anytime. For annual evaluations done simply, quickly and economically, I am a FL Dept. of Education certified teacher & a homeschooling parent – CCTucker7@gmail.com, OR call: 786-525-3545 – cell. Thanks, Charles C. Tucker)
Myth #4 – The State or County needs to approve your curriculum.
One of the reasons why homeschooling is a winning solution for parents in Florida is that parents can choose whatever curriculum they think is best for their child. It is not necessary for the curriculum to be approved by anyone except the parent. That gives parents a lot of freedom to choose from all the different types of curriculum available. Once a child is removed from the state-run education system, the state is not able to require the student to study any specific subject matter. Furthermore, Florida State Sunshine Standards and Core Curriculum Standards do not apply to homeschooled students. A parent can choose to adhere to those standards or not. It’s up to the parent. Some county school districts will outright tell parents that they need to use an “approved” curriculum, and then go on to push FLVS (Florida Virtual School) or the county-run version. Some evaluators (certified teachers) tell parents that they need to use a curriculum that adheres to Core Curriculum Standards. All of these things are false.
Myth #5 – Children will not be socialized.
This is the biggest myth of all, and it is one that is echoed in all 50 states, not just FL. Homeschooled children are most definitely socialized, and quite possibly in a much more realistic and effective way. They are able to take part in all kinds of sports activities, even teams at local public and private schools, thanks to Florida’s Tim Tebow law. They are able, by law, to participate in all the same clubs and after-school activities that other children are able to participate in.
They are also able to go to proms, movies, malls, scouting events, saddle races, ballet recitals, concerts, and EVERY single other activity that children in schools are able to attend.
What is unrealistic is the assumption that children must be lumped together in a group with children of their own age, which is the only way in which a school differs from all other social situations. In real life, we are not constantly around people of our same age group, nor would we want to be. As part of a society, we have to interact with people of all ages. In order for a society to function and perpetuate, all members must be able to interact successfully. Given that many homeschoolers only spend a portion of their time with same-aged peers, and spend the rest of their time interacting with people of all different ages, makes it obvious that homeschooling provides a well-rounded, and more realistic, socialization and education.
But, don’t take our word for it, just read this recent article from Psychology Today, Why We Should Stop Segregating Children By Age. The article explains that the practice of dividing children into age groups is actually harmful and anti-pedagogical. “One of the oddest, and in my view most harmful, aspects our treatment of children today is our penchant for segregating them into separate groups by age. We do that not only in schools, but increasingly in out-of-school settings as well. In doing so, we deprive children of a valuable component of their natural means of self-education.”
There are more myths out there about homeschooling in Florida and in general, but these are the ones that are most often repeated and propagated. The truth is that home education is an increasingly viable choice for parents all around the country. Parents who choose to home educate, however, are often met with resistance from their friends, relatives, and co-workers. Many times these well-meaning people don’t know the basic facts about homeschooling. We often hear other parents say that they would like to homeschool, but don’t because they believe some of these myths. Please share this post with your friends and family so we can get the truth out there!