Homeschooling is becoming a vast movement these days due to the academic and social success achieved by the home educated. These findings caught my attention and I decided to do an extensive research about this new trend.
I first wanted to find out why these families are homeschooling their children. The main reasons are: to teach a particular set of values and beliefs; to accomplish more academically than in schools; to enhance family relationships; to provide a safe environment; and to better monitor social interactions with peers.
The academic performance of home-schooled children is better than the traditional educated children. According to an article I researched on www.exploringhomeeducation.com,
the home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income. Whether homeschool parents were teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement. Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement. Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions. Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.
Another source of information about the academic performance of homeschooled children, was found on the website www.nheri.org. It showed that in 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, “Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America.” The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile.
This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner. Of 20,760 homeschooled students who have homeschooled all their school aged years, had the highest academic achievement. This was especially apparent in the higher grades.
The homeschooled children of the families I know claim that they can do more work in a short period of time because all the breaks that the children of public or private schools get, are eliminated in a home education setting. Another appealing factor is that there is flexibility of schedules. If someone is sick today, work can be resumed later without having any type of penalty.
The authors of the book ” The Well Trained Mind – a guide to classical education at home” (mother and daughter), Susan Wise and Jessie Bauer, share their experience and knowledge on the matter. This is how they started their book overview: “If you are fortunate, you live near an elementary school filled with excellent teachers, who are dedicated to developing your child’s skills in reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and science. These teachers have small classes-no more than ten students-and can give each student plenty of attention. The elementary school sits next to a middle school that is safe (no drugs, guns, or knives). This school also has small classes; the teachers train their students in logic, critical thinking, and advanced writing. Plenty of one-on-one instruction is offered, especially in writing. And in the distance (not too far away) is a high school that will take older students through world history, the classics of literature, the techniques of advanced writing, high-level mathematics and science, debate, art history, and music appreciation (not to mention vocational and technical training, resume preparation, and job-hunting skills). This book is for the rest of us. “I was intrigued and read the entire book. Everything sounded so wonderful, but I was still not convinced because I had the idea that homeschooled children were loners. There is a common myth that homeschooled children lack social skills. This myth partially arises from an assumption that traditional education systems provide “normal” socialization activities. Dr. Raymond Moore, in his book “Better Late than Early” writes that “The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized’ is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today. There is ample research that indicates that because home schooled students are exposed to a wider variety of people and situations, they learn to get along with a variety of people, making them socially mature and better able to adjust to new situations.”
Also, from what I observed, these children are actually more social than children who go to public or private schools. Why? Because they can do their work in less time leaving more time left for social activities. Also, their parents can choose who they want their kids to socialize with. In schools, the only time for socialization is between brakes.
Colleges around the country are opening their doors to homeschoolers. They claim that homeschoolers are better prepared socially and academically. Researches indicate that homeschoolers who have gone to college have no social skill deprivation, demonstrated stronger work ethic, leadership skills and higher moral values. Many prestigious colleges have accepted homeschoolers: Yale, Notre Dame, US Military Academy, just to name a few.
I realize that in order for homeschooling to be successful, both parents have to be committed and responsible for educating their children. Organization skills and a high level of commitment are critical for a successful homeschooling experience. Luckily, homeschooling is not such a radical choice anymore. There are a lot of support groups and resources for homeschooling families on the World Wide Web and also in almost every community in the country.
I conclude that homeschooling is not for everyone, but it might be the best choice for those who seek superior academic performance. Susan Wise, the co-author of “The Well-Trained Mind” testified that a home education is hard work but worth every drop of sweat. She also says: ” I am constantly grateful for my mother for my home education. It gave me an immeasurable head start, the indepence to innovate and work on my own, confidence in my ability to compete in the job market, and the mental tools to build a satisfying career.”