The Pros and Cons of HomeschoolingHave you been considering homeschooling your children? The United States Department of Educationhas a National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) which completed a survey of thousands ofparents who were reporting that they educated their children at home. The Department determinedthat the number of children being homeschooled in 2003 was 1,096,000, which is a 29% increase overthe Spring, 1999 number of 850,000. So why more are parents homeschooling their children now thanin the past and what are the pros and cons of teaching one’s children at home instead of sending themoff to public or private school?Different couples have different reasons for wanting their children to learn at home instead of in aformal schoolroom setting, but almost all of them agree that one of the biggest “pros” tohomeschooling one’s own children is the safety factor. Mom doesn’t have to make sure the kids getonto and off of the bus without risk, there are no bullies to cause threats to the physical or mentalwellbeing of the children, and the parents have complete control over which adults have access to thechildren and where and for how long that access is given, not to mention keeping their children safefrom the possibility of drugs and other "bad influences" that might be introduced to them in a schoolsetting. With tragedies such as the one that happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Coloradoin 1999, which is the fourth deadliest school massacre in American History, having one’s children athome during the school day might even save their lives.Religious parents who care about what types of things their children might learn at the hands ofteachers who don’t share their religion are often quite particular about the curriculum they use to traintheir own children. A lot of curriculum used by religious parents is Bible-based and shares the valuesthe parents hold dear. Parents who are not religious are often also concerned about what and howtheir children are taught about subjects such as the origin of life and where humans came fromoriginally, as well as how subjects such as science and health are taught. Most parents, whether theyhomeschool their children or not, are very concerned about what their children are learning and howthey are being trained to apply it to their lives.Another issue that causes many parents to consider teaching their children at home is the abundance ofhomework the schools send home with even the youngest of school aged kids. Not only are thebackpacks the children must carry home with all their books in them causing physical harm to their smallbodies, but the hours the kids spend doing their homework each evening can be causing harm to thefamily unit. The kids spend the best hours of their day, when they are the most energetic and awake, inthe classroom at school. They usually come home hungry and tired as do the parents who often have
worked all day to support their families. However, the families aren’t allowed to relax together for thefew evening hours they have on the weekdays as these hours must be spent on homework, eating, andgetting ready for the following day, which will again be spent at school, away from the family. With thehustle and bustle of getting dinner, cleaning up, and getting ready for the relatively early bed time sothat it can all be done again in the morning, there’s very little time left for the family to bond if severalof the afternoon or evening hours must be spend doing left-over school work that can’t be done in theclassroom. Homeschooled children generally get their studies completed in the hours they spendactually at “school”, even in their own homes.A study of Homeschool statistics was conducted in the Spring of 1998 by Bob Jones University PressTesting and Evaluation Service, the largest home school testing service in the United States, providesAssessment services to home taught students and privately funded schools on a fee-for-service basis.The tests that were conducted in this study were the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS, grades K-8) or theTests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP, grades 9-12). Both the ITBS and TAP are published byRiverside Publishing Company and were developed after careful review of national and state curriculaand standards, reports www.freerepublic.com, which gave a summary of the study, the entirety ofwhich can be found at http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/rudner1999/Rudner1.asp. How do home schoolers measure up? Home school students do exceptionally well when compared with the nationwide average. In every subject and at every grade level of the ITBS and TAP batteries, home school students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts. Because home education allows each student to progress at his or her own rate, almost one in four home school students (24.5%) are enrolled one or more grades above age level. It should be noted that home school scores were analyzed according to the students enrolled grade rather than according to the students age level. In other words, a 10-year-old home school student enrolled in 5th grade would have been compared to other students in the 5th grade, rather than to his age-level peers in the 4th grade. Thus, the demonstrated achievement of home schoolers is somewhat conservative.On average, home school students in grades 1-4 perform one grade level higher than their public and private school counterparts.
The achievement gap begins to widen in grade 5; by 8th grade the average home school student performs four grade levels above the national average. Another significant finding is that students who have been home schooled their entire academic lives have the highest scholastic achievement. The difference becomes especially pronounced during the higher grades, suggesting that students who remain in home school throughout their high school years continue to flourish in that environment. Differences were also found among home school students when they were classified by amount of money spent on education, family income, parent education, and television viewing. However, it should be noted that home school students in every category scored significantly higher than the national average. No meaningful difference was found among home school students when classified by gender. Significantly, there was also no difference found according to whether or not a parent was certified to teach. For those who would argue that only certified teachers should be allowed to teach their children at home, these findings suggest that such a requirement would not meaningfully affect student achievement.One of the biggest “cons” that is often associated with homeschooling is the purported “lack ofsocialization” their children get when they don’t spend their days with children their own age. However,a closer look at this reveals that this “socialization” is actually counterfeit. Where else in life are peopleput into groups of other people in the same age group and the same general economic and social classfor the entire day for years and years? Nowhere! Once these kids grow up and get out into theworkplace, 22 year old Johnny might have 56 year old Sandy, the “crazy cat lady” for his cubicle partner.The High School beauty queen might have to sell a product to a man old enough to be her father and
make sure he’s satisfied and will be a repeat customer. The college jock might have to defuse asituation with an irate mother who didn’t get the product she paid for. The young, just-starting-outlawyer might represent the aging businessman who needs to update his will. The workplace, which isthe end result of the years of schooling all children get, is diverse and adults have to learn to get alongwith and to work with people from all walks of life and various ages and social/economic groups.Therefore, the “public school setting” is actually NOT the best venue for teaching “socialization skills”,after all.It’s important that every child, homeschooled or not, gets proper “socialization”, but sticking them withkids their own age and generally the same social and economic class all day for 12+ years is notnecessarily the way to get this socialization. Does the child have sports, drama, or musical interests? Heor she can join a group to participate in the activity that interests them. Is the family a church-goingfamily? Parents can teach their children to “socialize” with folks of many ages in church and religioussettings. Kids can learn to do extra chores for an elderly neighbor without asking for anything in return;this is a great way to teach children how to get along with others. Many cities have homeschoolinggroups where parents who home-teach and the kids who are home taught can get together andparticipate in different types of activities, which also teaches kids how to play well with others. Andhomeschooling parents can still have “play dates” with their children and other kids their own age toteach them how to get along with people who are not part of their own families, just like other parentsdo.In today’s economy, many families have found that both spouses need to have a full time job in order tomake ends meet. Some folks believe this prevents them from being able to home teach their children asthey must be at a job during the workday and cannot stay home with their young children who still needsupervision. However, there are many ways to make a full time income while staying home. Some ofthose jobs require telephone work, and some require night meetings and such, but many of them aredone simply on the computer. It is common nowadays for homeschooling mothers or fathers to supportthe family with employment that can be done via the family’s computer. Quite a few of these work-from-home employment situations are real jobs that have the same sort of Company benefits onewould find in an office setting and many employers are now considering allowing employees totelecommute. This flexibility allows numerous parents to home school their children while still bringinghome the paycheck the family requires.
One of the cons that some parents might be worried about is that they, themselves, might not have theknowledge of certain subjects they might need as their children advance. There are several things theseparents can do, however, to make it possible for them to teach their children, anyway. One thing thatcan be done is to have a tutor who comes into the home part-time to help out with some of thesesubjects. Another thing that can be done is to get curriculum that has a computerized learning andgrading program, so that the child can learn the subject without the parent having to be an expert at it.There are quite a few computerized curriculum programs that can do this and there are also somestudents who attend high school online from home full time without their parents’ input. So this worryisn’t as much of a problem nowadays as it might have been in the past.Most states ask that parents who home teach have their children tested each year to make sure the kidsare keeping up with their grade levels in subjects such as reading, math, and science. This is animportant part of homeschooling and most people considering homeschooling are willing to complywith this requirement. That way, the parents know each year if their kids need extra help in certainsubjects and the parents can plan the following year’s studies accordingly. That creates a situationwhere the schooling is specialized to the learning pace of the children themselves, which almost alwaysconstitutes a better learning experience for the child.Are you brand new to homeschooling? Or perhapsjust frustrated and need direction andencouragement?This is absolutely a MUST TAKE class for allhomeschoolers - new or seasoned! I cannotrecommend it enough!~LeeAnnHomeschooling Help for Every ParentPros and Cons of Homeschooling