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Will Homeschooling Make My Kids Weird?

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Growing up in public school, I recall knowing all of one homeschool family in my community. They might have been the very family that became the stereotype for homeschool families everywhere. The kids were pale and wore high-water pants. (Was that a calculator in their back pocket?) The mom had stringy hair and always wore the classic homeschool-mom denim jumper.

You might have thought they were auditioning for a Saturday Night Live sketch.

That one image stuck in my head, and it is no surprise when I became a mom the thought of homeschooling my own kids never entered my mind.

Until one day, when my oldest son came home from first grade, and over a granola bar and apple juice threw me a curveball:

“Mom, would you homeschool me next year?”

My limited childhood associations combined with years of cultural stereotypes came front and center in that moment as I did my best to…change the topic. 

I mean, there is no way.

Homeschoolers are weird…right?
And their parents too.
He must be kidding…

Little did I know then that my son’s request would linger with me and begin the process of challenging those preconceived ideas I had about homeschooling.

What if I could do it?
Would my kids could turn out ok?
What if it…could be great?…

The next fall I began homeschooling my two oldest sons.  And 18 years later I have graduated three and continue to homeschool my fourth. My two oldest sons have gone on to have amazing college experiences. The third is a professional surfer doing college online.  They are all well-rounded, socially grounded, and…no weirder than the average kid.  Somehow, even their mom has maintained her coolness (or so she tells herself.) 

I am grateful that many of the homeschool stereotypes have faded over time. However, I continue to receive questions and comments surrounding the socialization topic.

Now, if you ask seasoned homeschool moms about socialization, you could get mixed responses. Most of us once had the same questions.

In my new book, Becoming Homeschoolers, I address this topic in full.  But here I will share a few thoughts in response to the socialization question.

First: The reality is most kids grow up to be like their parents.  Especially if they spend a lot of time with them. So, if you homeschool your kids and you’re a little quirky…odd…or socially awkward, there is a good chance your kids will be too.

However, if you think of yourself as well adjusted and fairly normal. Or you’re actually pretty cool, then you can pretty well count on your kids growing up to be the same.

Are there homeschool kids out there who are a little weird?  Sure!  But then again, there are weird kids everywhere.  For those of you who grew up in a traditional school setting, I bet you can remember a few strange kids there, too. (right?) I can remember a handful of very quirky kids in my public school, and I didn’t think much of it.  They were just part of the fabric of our community.

Next: If, per se, the stereotype turns out to be true for your kids, and they do grow up a little odd, I suggest that there are worse things in the world than raising a quirky kid.

In fact, if I had to choose between a kid who “fit in” to our culture, embracing the trends and socially acceptable, politically correct stance on all of the topics, or a kid who avoided all of that by being homeschooled, but was looked at as “different”?… I’d take the latter in a heartbeat.

Give me all of the different.

My sons grew up in the country, and while they had social connections through sports and youth group activities, they spent the bulk of their time with their family and in nature.  They certainly weren’t raised in a bubble, but their days were not saturated with all the things that come with a traditional school setting.

My sons each discovered their own passions and interests: One mastered the guitar, another became a professional surfer in his teenage years. One learned computer coding and created a website to display his photography and videography.  Oh yeah, he also wrote a novel. (different, I know.) They are all into theology, and they are certified bird nerds.

Maybe a little.
But in the best sort of way.

In fact, I think their college rather appreciated their “unique” interests as they offered my two oldest sons nearly full-ride scholarships.

Finally, I will wrap up by reporting that now that I have homeschooled my own kids and met many other homeschool families, I will say: A typical homeschooled kid actually has great social skills. And research backs that up. Studies show that homeschoolers typically grow up to be well-adjusted adults who are involved in their communities, raising great families of their own.

I get compliments from people who meet my sons, noting their excellent conversation skills, how they ask great questions, and are so much fun to be around. My oldest boys have now landed excellent jobs and have great friends.

I am convinced this is because my boys grew up around a variety of people of all ages. We regularly hosted young adults who have been excellent role models. And our boys have spent time with families who we chose to be in community with. They served in ministry, traveled, and read books that exposed them to great men and women of history and from various cultures.

I don’t say any of this to brag but to encourage other families!  And to suggest it might be time to flip the script on the socialization topic:

Healthy socialization may be one of the very best reasons to homeschool your kids.

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Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6