Homeschooling Today: Myth vs Reality

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As homeschooling becomes more and more popular across the United States, two damaging myths continue to thrive. We wanted to find out how widespread those myths are and how they compare to the reality of homeschooling today. So in January and February, we surveyed over 2000 people and reviewed the existing research to discover the truth about homeschooling in 2020.

Classrooms hum with the chatter of excitable teens; books and papers spill from overstuffed lockers; days are routine, conducted by the regular, shrill blast of the school bell.

Sound familiar?

Most of us have experienced the ‘institutional’ school system in some form or another. Ever since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century, when the need arose for societies to be able to produce a functioning workforce that could read and write, group schooling has been the norm. But that wasn’t always the case.

For most of history, those who were privileged enough to get a formal education received it at home, from personal tutors, parents and other caregivers. This custom gradually faded as the makeup of society changed and the practice of group schooling spread.

But in the latter half of the 20th Century, dissatisfaction with the modern school system increased in some quarters and the idea of home education grew in popularity once again, albeit in a different form. Parents would be the sole educators, passing on their worldview and the knowledge they deemed important. The modern homeschool movement was born.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s the number of homeschooled children swelled throughout the U.S, and since the late 1990s this number has doubled.

Number of homeschooled students in the United States aged 5-17 (K-12), between 1999 and 2016

1999 2003 2007 2016
850,000 1.09 million 1.52 million 1.69 million

Source: National Center for Education Statistics1

  1. Myth #1 – Homeschooled students suffer from a lack of social development
  2. Myth #2 – Homeschooled students perform worse academically, receiving fewer opportunities to succeed than traditional school students

Over the years, various studies have been carried out to compare the social and academic outcomes of homeschooled students to those in institutional schools. While much of this research has confirmed that the myths around homeschooling are untrue, they have done little to address the widespread nature of these damaging ideas. wanted to better understand the homeschool community and find out where people stand on the effectiveness of these two schooling methods today. So, in January and February of 2020, we conducted a survey of 2,398 parents and students (aged 13 and up), both with and without homeschool experience.

Combined with a review of the existing research, we aimed to discover how widely held these myths are and shed some light on the reality of homeschooling today.

The Myth That Homeschooled Students Suffer From a Lack of Social Development

It’s clear from the results of our survey that this myth still holds. Well over half of homeschoolers felt that poor socialization was the most common misconception aimed at them.

Percentage of homeschoolers who felt poor socialization was most common misconception

In a different question, non-homeschoolers, and especially students, felt that institutional schools would be better for their social development.

Survey responses to the question ‘Is it more beneficial for children to learn social skills and emotional maturity in a brick-and-mortar environment or a homeschool environment? 

  Parents who homeschool  Students who homeschool  Parents who don’t homeschool  Students who don’t homeschool  
Homeschool  52.8%  35%  18.3%  9% 
Brick and mortar  2.6%  23%  36.9%  58% 
Neither is more beneficial than the other  44.6%  42%  44.7%  33% 

Of the non-homeschoolers we surveyed, over a third of parents and over half of students told us that they thought institutional schooling was better for their social development.

Homeschooling Today: Myth vs Reality

Homeschooling Today: Myth vs Reality

But it was also striking how many homeschool parents felt the opposite: only 2.6% of homeschool parents we asked said that institutional schooling would benefit children’s social development.

Continue reading about the myths of homeschool on

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