Alternative Education: The Home School Trend Is home schooling good? Can technology make it better?
The Fastest Growing Educational Trend: Home Schooling
I was pregnant with my first son in 1999 when I heard the horrific news of the tragedy at Columbine. My first gut reaction was to home school my child to protect him from this evil world. Many parents must have had that same inclination causing a 29% growth rate from 1998-2003 in children being home schooled in the United States (Lips & Feinberg, 2008). The most prevalent reasons for home schooling were learning environment, better academic education and religious beliefs (Wood, 2003).
However, educators and the public alike have looming questions about the overall legitimacy of the home schooling alternative. Questions like: Can a parent without a teaching license provide the same standards of an academic education as a public school? Will the child be socially as advanced as a child with a traditional education? Will the child fare as well in the “real world” after school?
Finally, can technology bring these two parties of thought together and literally create a best of both worlds alternative?
The Effectiveness of Home Schooling Main Concerns of Educators Academic Performance Social Skills Preparedness for Adult Life
Home schooled students scored in the 70 th to 80 th percentile on standardized tests with 25% of the students being enrolled in one or more grade levels ahead of peers in public or private schools (Wood, 2003 ).
Scores on College Prep Tests
A study in 1999 of 2219 home schooled students reported that the average SAT score was 1083-67 points higher than national average (Wood, 2003).
Home Schooling Passes Academic Standards
The average ACT score of a home schooled student was 22.7-1.7 points higher than the average score (Wood, 2003).
Based on my findings, I give home schooling a gold star for academic standards. Despite many children being educated by a non-licensed teacher, home schooled children did better academically than the national average. To see more statistical findings, click here: http://www.eriche.org/digests/2003-2.pdf
Social Skills and Life Prep
A recent survey asked 34 Ohio college admission officers if home schooled students were at least as socially well adjusted as public school students-44% of the officers said that they were as socially adjusted (Ray, 2004).
Are Home Schooled Students Socially Active Adults?
In 2004, Dr. Brian Ray conducted the largest survey of home schooled adults. Here are some of his findings.
71% of home schooled adults participate in an on going community service project-compared with 37% of the general population.
Of adults 18-24, 76% of home schooled adults have voted in the past five years compared to 29% of general public.
Of adults 18-24, 14% of home schooled have participated in a protest or boycott, while only 7% of the general population of similar age have (Ray, 2004).
Overall Analysis of Social Skills and Life Prep
Although I wouldn’t advocate home schooling as a perfect solution to turn your daughter into the next beauty pageant queen or your son into class president, the research does seem to suggest that home schooled children are at least as socially skilled as public schooled students.
In the long run, home schooled students also seem to be more socially aware. They seem to be more inclined to be socially and politically active for their beliefs.
Can Technology Add Where Homeschooling Lacks?
If the concern is academics-can technology help? Actually-yes! Dan Lips and Evan Feinberg of The Heritage Foundation have provided multiple tips for letting technology work for the home schooled. There are many distance learning programs designed by licensed teachers for home schooled children K-12. Check this one out!
What About Social Skills?
I’m glad you asked! Mr. Lips and Mr. Feinberg point out in their paper that the internet can be used to help socially network. It can help you get involved in national programs like speech and debate tournaments or the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Lips & Feinberg, 2008).
Overall Opinion of Technology in Home Schooling
Technology is essential when it comes to home schooling. Let’s face it, no matter how smart we think we are, nobody knows everything. It’s great to have the option for distance learning and surfing for new curriculum.
We need the internet to stay socially connected. Although almost 2 million children are currently home schooled-that’s still only about 2% of school aged children. The problem of isolation can be lifted through technology. To see more practical ideas for home schooling click here: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/bg2122.cfm
Lips, D., & Feinberg, E. (2008, April 3). The Heritage Foundation - Conservative Policy Research and Analysis . Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://www.heritage.org.
Ray, B. (). Homeschooler on to College: What Research Shows. Journal of College Admission , 185 , 5-11.
Wood, P. (n.d.). Eriche.org - Higher education Resources and Information. This website is for sale! . Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://www.eriche.org/digests/2003