With the exception of my 4th-grade year, I’ve been homeschooled almost all of my life. One distinct memory is that if I told anyone I was homeschooled, the immediate reply was “Oh wow! You’re lucky! You get to sleep in and do school in your pajamas!” I get these comments even as a high schooler. I’m sure many other homeschoolers have experienced the same.
Well, do all homeschoolers sleep in late, stay in PJs, and have it “easier” because our parents will just give us an “A” for our assignments? Well, no. In my home, it’s a rarity for anyone to sleep past 8 a.m. And the easy A's, well, especially for those who take outside classes, either in person and online, A's are not easy. Additionally, high schoolers still have graduation requirements that they have to prove they fulfilled. In other words, homeschool life is in no way the proverbial piece of cake as the common stereotype characterizes it. However, the stereotypes came from somewhere. One likely place is the film industry. One example that comes to mind is the 2004 movie Mean Girls (disclaimer: this is not a movie recommendation!). The movie is about a homeschooled girl moving to a new town and attending a public high school. Some of the first scenes have the heroine telling us in a voice-over that she’s homeschooled while the screen flashes scenes of a girl (homeschooled) winning a spelling bee and then a group of farmer boys. These two scenes propagate homeschool stereotypes: homeschoolers are either overly smart, nerdy people or uneducated country folk.
While Mean Girls was a comedy and meant to be funny, the movie writers got their ideas from somewhere. Where? From reality. Yes, there is some truth to the homeschool stereotypes. After all, there is always truth in jest, right? And to make my point, it is now time for me to make a confession: yes, I do my homework in my P.J.s! Many traditional schools got to experience homeschool life during the pandemic. They were pushed to online classes or a “hybrid” format. While traditional schools have returned to the “old” format, those millions of students who got a taste of learning at home can now understand the homeschool system better than before. If they had a disdain for homeschoolers from a misconception, or just from mere jealousy, they now understand that homeschool life is not idyllic. Homeschoolers work hard. They have deadlines. They have to prove themselves in the end. Even if they do do homework in their pajamas!