The ‘Real World’ Argument

I’ve had SO many people give me the “real world” argument lately. “Eventually, they’ll need to go to school.” “We want them to be prepared for the ‘real world’ and college, and able to work in the work force.”

Real World Argument

Many of us homeschoolers have now come to let these comments roll off us like water off a duck’s back. However, this realization only recently happened for me. Do you have friends, family, and strangers giving you this spiel? Does it make you doubt your decision to homeschool? Let’s examine the basics of a ‘normal’ public school education and let’s decide whether this *really* prepares them for the real world. Shall we? (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.)

A super-scheduled day in which new activities are put in front of your child 24/7. Does that teach self-sufficiency? A start-up type of attitude? I think not. If anything, it leaves our children floundering once they do complete school on how to function without their hands being held. (I realize this doesn’t apply to all public-schoolers, but I’m defending for those that need defending…)

What about that age-old ‘socialization’ argument? I’ve been a public school teacher. Guess what our #1 issue was when it came to behavior reports? Children SOCIALIZING! They were there to LEARN!!!! Many times they were so EAGER to chit chat and play, but the ‘system’ had so much stuff we had to accomplish that they got in trouble for that. Don’t most parents send their kids to school for an education? Tell them to pay attention and not ‘play’? Of course. Now, if you can find the high-paying employer that schedules your assignments all day and has you and your co-workers walk in line to lunch, just let me know, mmmk?

What about grades? Old fashioned number grades? Personally, I believe in them. I can, however, see the unschoolers and non-grading homeschoolers’ beliefs in grade-less schooling. In what position in the work force do you receive just a number grade with no explanation of the pros and cons of your performance? Not many. Furthermore, you usually have more than one chance to get it right. Those who homeschool have a chance to evaluate every aspect of their children’s performance on a project or task. Give them feedback and allow them to improve over and over. This is nearly impossible in a class of twenty-something children.

What about college? Surely homeschoolers will struggle in this transition? Right? I don’t believe so. Wonder why the drop-out rate is SO high for college freshman entrants? Most likely because the way you’re expected to study and learn on the college level is so foreign to many people in the regular school system. Now, of course, many students do just fine. However, many do not. They struggle with time management, the rigors of academics, and the new schedule (which is most definitely not 7:30am-2:30pm). Add in the part-time job and extracurricular activities, and it can be very overwhelming.

For homeschooling students, most have learned to explore and think critically, and their families have encouraged learning and working at different times of day. Many have begun college courses in the middle school or early high school years. They’ve had time to work and volunteer to better decide on a major, which saves their parents a TON of money. And if anything is ‘real world’ these days, it’s saving money!

What about all those elementary and high school friends?! Well, most of us can probably agree that many of our lifelong friends were made in college or adulthood. We really shouldn’t worry that our children will be friendless if they don’t receive the average public school education.

Those are only a few arguments for you to ponder when you receive that ‘real world’ comment from someone in your life. Be confident in what you are doing for your children. This IS the real world. It’ll just take society a while to catch up with US 😉 !

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  1. No, I don’t worry about what other people think or question regarding my homeschooling my children. I guess I am confident enough in being the role of parent and teacher that they would feel out of place voicing their opinions to me if they had concerns about our homeschooling family. I raised one daughter that graduated from a public school, so I have been on both sides of the fence. Home schooling is the one single, intentional thing I can do to assure that my children are successful, functioning adults. We are able to say the Pledge. We are able to study the bible and pray. My girls study and practice good manners. When we study a state, guess what? WE GO THERE! We don’t tend to sit in front of a textbook, when we studied Native Americans, we camped all weekend at a Pow Wow. Fun Fun! They have become best friends. I LOVE that!!!! They have surpassed their peers in public schooling in math! Yay!!! I am so proud of them. I would HATE for them to ever go back to being just another kid in a class of 20-30 students. They are unique, smart and deserve a better education…and I’m going to give it to them!

  2. This is sooo true on so many levels. People always think our kids are “missing out” for some reason. I recently told a friend…. Why should a stranger get the most and BEST hours of the day with MY children…. She couldn’t argue with that. I told her, I’m teaching them, they are learning AND have plenty of friends. ( she knows our very busy social schedule.) but its just an automatic “must public school” mentality. Thanks for this article. Xoxo

  3. I love this article! Thank you! We are homeschoolers, but are still “green” because our boys will only be 3 and 5 in June. We constantly get that, “Oh, you’ll get a break when you send them off to school,” and then when I say we’re homeschooling, it becomes, “Oh, then you’re a gluten for punishment! You’ll have to send them to high school, at least!” I just roll my eyes and (dis)agree, because it’s just pointless to talk until I’m blue in the face, trying to explain our reasoning…and that I love the decision we’ve made. People just don’t get it. Our sons love learning. We make it fun, and they love that they’re with Mommy every day. They’ve never known daycare, a caregiver, a babysitter, etc. Is it exhausting? Yes. But when parents decide to become parents, they should already expect that their lives are no longer about them and will never be the same. I had plans for sending our boys to school…before our first son was born. Then I dreaded the idea of sending him off to somebody/someplace else. Before our second son was born, we had already decided on homeschooling, and I had kissed my far-off dreams of completing my master’s degree goodbye. And that’s perfectly okay. Nothing is more important that your children and spouse. And, by the way, my dreams changed…and they’re coming true more and more each day. 🙂

  4. I appreciate your article because it addresses many questions homeschool families face from the world. My husband and I homeschool our five children grades 9th, 7th, 4th, 2nd, and preschool and believe it is what is best for them at this time. My husband was also homeschooled most of his life. One question that you didn’t address that we are struggling with is this: how do you prepare and help your child deal with the way the world functions (ie., people aren’t always kind, will say “bad words”, will be rude, and just plain evil) so that when they are on their own they will know how to handle it? At what age do you expose them to the “real world” so that they don’t enter adulthood with “shock and awe” syndrome? I would appreciate anyone’s feedback. Thank you!

    1. I actually deal with this all the time with my oldest. He’s only 6, but picks up on EVERYTHING. I’m honest with my children. About evil in the world, and how God is there to back us up. Eventually, we have to stand firm that we instilled a strong foundation and that our children will hold true to that 🙂 I highly recommend the book Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel 🙂

  5. P.S. My husband was not prepared for the “real world” when he went to college away from his family. He was exposed to and learned about many things that he hadn’t been prepared for dealing with while being homeschooled. This is his concern for our children (I went to public school) that they will be unprepared because they haven’t had to deal with the world on an extended basis. We don’t want to throw them out into the world and say “here ya go!”, but we want them to be aware of how things are and know how to deal with it.

    1. I think this is a valid concern, but not for the reasons most public school advocates state. If you are sheltered as a home schooler, then you may approach life with a very trusting attitude and just be plowed over by evil and deception that is so rampant “out there”. I have an 18 year old who graduated home school and fit fine into the work world. She finds herself somewhat lonely though since she does not share the off the job interests of her co-workers. Living as a mother’s helpmeet was not such a happy transition for her. I can’t tell if it was dire homesickness or some wild crime that broke out in the area where she had moved in with the Mom. Still, I find that the self starting, and building your own goals and schedule are elements that are much stronger in my home schooled children. They fit in socially with any age group better than I did at their age. As parents we need to guard against super- structure that mimics public school dependency and also give our children a proper view of a fallen world without dragging them through the dirt of it. It may be too that some college environments that are just too dark for any Christian to thrive in when voluntarily immersed in them 24/7, regardless of preparation.

      1. I think that exposing our children to what people NEED and helping them to help others will give a good time to introduce the hardships of the world. Food banks, homeless shelters, orphanages. Letting them hear and see hard things is part of their learning.

        1. So right. Not only can you show a need in ministry situations you also are pointing them in the real answer, Christ. One of my favorite quotes about sheltering or not says your child needs to know the real solution to life. They don’t have to be exposed to the latest movie and know the dirt on a pop band to know these options are Not it.

        2. So right. Not only can you show a need in ministry situations you also are pointing them to the real answer, Christ. One of my favorite quotes about sheltering or not says your child needs to know the real solution to life. They don’t have to be exposed to the latest movie and know the dirt on a pop band to know these options are Not it.

  6. Love this. Not to mention, how many of us ever go to work all day long with co-workers who are ALL exactly our same age? Yeah, not exactly real world experience in a public school

  7. One of the things that I find most important about our homeschool experience is that my students are learning the “real world” skill of interacting with people outside of their age range and grade level. Daily, my children interact and do activities with older and younger students. They are learning to help others and learn from others. One of the biggest problems that I see – which has long term effects on our society – is that people graduate from public high schools and even college and don’t know how to socialize with people outside of their age group or stage in life. This is even a problem I see in our churches (separating people in Sunday school classes by age group and stages of life). While there are some benefits to this (i.e., being able to be a part of a group that “gets” you and understands your current struggles), it doesn’t offer the opportunity to learn from others. Most certainly, “real world” jobs will not consist of only interacting and working with people in one’s same age group of stage in life.

  8. I really have a hard time when people disagree with me, because I so want everyone around me happy and for them to like me. I have a very intense fear of rejection.
    So, recently, I received some very real opposition. All of the arguments above, and I did start to second guess myself. Coupled with having a hard time with our neighborhood kids, I just felt maybe I was doing the wrong thing.
    My child’s psychologist told me that I should put them all in school to give myself a break since I was under so much stress. I gave in! I totally put my kids back in school, but my stress level didn’t go down, it has gone up. And my determination to homeschool my children has come back.
    I really have learned in this season that I need to stop caring what other people think of me. They are not the determining factor of what I do for my family.

  9. Love this. Especially this part: “Now, if you can find the high-paying employer that schedules your assignments all day and has you and your co-workers walk in line to lunch, just let me know, mmmk?” LOL.
    I’ve heard all of these already (and my oldest is only in her second year of homeschooling, and only six years old). The socializing argument just kills me . . . I remember kids (not necessarily me, but yeah, possibly me) getting in “trouble” for so much as talking let alone interacting meaningfully during school hours.

  10. Nicely done! Once I was talking to a relative about our reasons for home schooling and was scolded for being too protective — of my then 7-year-old. Odd. I thought part of my job as parent is to protect those God puts in my care. Hmm.

  11. Oh, and regarding the old “socialization” straw man? I always reply, “So, you’ve never actually read ‘Lord of the Flies’, have you?”

  12. I too am a former public school teacher. Totally loved my time with my students! But it is very interesting to me how people have come to worship the factory style school system we have today. Sending children to school in big factories is a relativity new concept. My father went to a one room school house in the 40’s and it seems like it was very much a “homeschool” setting. A small group of children of different ages learning and growing together. Public school classrooms are such an artificial environment. As an adult, when do we sit in room for 8 hours with other people all of our same age, doing the same thing.

    I’m actually glad my children are not being “socialized” by other children. I agree with the Lord of the Flies comment. Children need guidance. They do not need to be socialized by other children. My children are learning how to be social out in the real world, with real people, of all different ages, in all different settings.

    Again, I loved teaching! I loved being in the classroom with my students. This is not a slam at public school teachers. However, the whole concept of big, factory schools is a bit strange.

    As a side note, we own our own business. I can tell you, public schools are not preparing our children for the workforce! They do not arrive on time, if they arrive at all. They are not self-sufficient and cannot problem solve. So much for school preparing for the real world.

  13. With the problems so many schools are having with bullying these days, I get really irritated when someone says home schooled children are missing out on the “real world” by not going to public school. As adults in the real world, we would never ever ever put up with some of the stuff (bullying) that some kids in public school have to put up with!!

  14. I am so glad I read this! I have never looked at homeschooling like this.
    I hear this ALL the time from people & get so frustrated. I have an ADHD 14 yr old with short term memory problems, who needs major one on one time, & was bullied in public school. But when my mother in law goes into her ‘they need social skills or they will never know how to act with out you”; I worry am I doing what’s right. This was my second year homeschooling so i haven’t learned to let everything ‘go’. After reading this i have a new found confidence that i am doing whats right for my babies!! Thank you!!!

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