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First of all, let me say that before I started home educating my kids, I probably bought into all these myths too. Part of the reason I wanted to write my book, Happy Home Ed, was to dispel some of them!
Myth 1: Home education is school, but at home.
This was the very thing that made me not consider home ed. If doing homework with my son was such a nightmare, how could I ever do schoolwork with him? But home ed doesn't have to be that way at all. Some families do choose to do this - they sit at a desk, follow the curriculum, learn formally. Some may even keep school hours. But I don't actually know anyone who does that. We 'unschool' which is also described as 'autonomous learning', i.e. I just let my boys get on with whatever they want to do and trust that they are learning from it. I know a family who, rather than pay for private secondary school for their teen son, decided to invest the money in paying tutors for a "bespoke education". I know families whose children attend InterHigh and so learn online. Being able to design an education that works for you and your family is one of the very best things about home ed.
Myth 2: Home educated children are isolated and unsocialised.
As soon as you start talking about home education, the "socialisation" issue will come up. It's funny because I don't think anyone ever mentioned it when Harry was at school. It was just assumed that because he spent his days in a big building with kids his own age that socialisation would take care of itself. Nope! (Also, one of the home ed parents I interviewed for my book made this excellent point: 'How many times at school were you told "You're not here to socialise."?')
Some home ed children will be isolated, of course, but so are some schooled children. There will almost certainly be lots of home ed activities available wherever you live. Harry has become much more social since leaving school. People are everywhere. It's kind of hard to avoid them.
Myth 3: You'd go mad with your kids at home all day.
I worried about this a little. My in-laws worried about it a lot. And, yes, sometimes the boys do drive me nuts. But they did when they were at school too. Getting them dressed and fed and off on the school run in the morning was incredibly fraught. And as for doing homework... it almost always ended in tears and yelling (me as much as Harry). So of course we don't get on brilliantly all the time now they're both at home. But we get on a lot better than we did when they were at school. And we also have the time and space to work through any issues/resentments that inevitably come up.
Myth 4: They won't be able to do exams.
Well first of all, they absolutely can. You can take exams as an individual. But I would also ask you to think about why you're so focussed on the prospect of exams. I mean, I know why - because the entire education system seems to just be pointing at them with huge flashing red arrows. But is that what education is supposed to be for? Is there no value in learning for the sake of, you know, learning? I look at exams as a means to an end - when my boys know what they want to do, they'll take the relevant exams to get them there. And that may not be when they're 16. It may be when they're older (I didn't know what I wanted to do at 16 and I did my degree at 27). It may be when they're younger - you don't have to be 16 to do GCSEs. You also don't have to do them all at the same time. Education isn't a window that shuts at 16/18.
Myth 5: Letting them do whatever they want doesn’t prepare them for doing a job they don’t want to do.
Wait. That's not a myth, I'm totally cheating. But it IS something that people say to me all the time. And my answer is "Good". That’s part of the reason for doing this. I don't want them to do jobs they don't want to do. So many people just accept that everyone will have a job they hate or are bored to death by, but it doesn't have to – shouldn't! – be that way. If my boys end up doing something they love, something that fulfils and inspires them, then I will have considered home ed to have been a great success.
As soon as this popped into my inbox, I KNEW it would be good - and I was right! I found myself nodding along with every point Keris made, and I'd just like to add... being home educated and later homeschooled (they're slightly different) is still the best thing I've ever done. Just saying.