To give their children a better education. Parents who choose to homeschool their children may cite many reasons to do so. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Institute of Educational Sciences, the top one is to ensure that what their children receive is qualitatively superior to what they have observed in public school settings. While they may not always begin to homeschool while in possession of all the facts, this is not snobbery or ignorance; they are genuinely concerned for the future performance of their children in the real world.
Parents who have been surveyed cited frequent complaints that learning in junior and high schools was at the mercy of teaching to the various standardized tests mandated for public school children. Additionally, even in well-performing schools, they were concerned that students in geography classes could not identify common and supposedly well-known features such as the United States, Great Britain and China, let alone smaller and less politically prominent nations around the world. Strikingly, reading skills played a large part in these deficits, despite the assignment of every child to language arts and reading courses.
Religious reasons. Many parents of homeschooled children choose this avenue because they desire that their children be free to express their faith at all times, not simply when there is a scheduled break from “learning” for such activities. Some, though not all, are concerned that their children may be overtaken by secular teachings which will tend to weaken their faith or in some way deride their wishes to express a particular religious viewpoint.
Some parents want to more adequately participate in the learning of their children, while at the same time including religious instruction as an integral part of the educational process. This, they believe, is no longer possible in the public school classroom and so would be a loss for their children.
Poor learning environment at school. The concerns of some parents that behavioral problems can be more of a classroom focus than actual learning activities is reinforced by the numbers of national news reports on the subject. In addition, though bullying is more often addressed publicly as a problem by government officials and school administrators, parents who choose to remove their children from this environment say that there are more incidents of bullying than they wish their children to witness or experience.
Parents cite the paucity of resources, or the unwillingness or inability to use the ones that are available, as additional reasons to educate their children at home. Multimedia learning tools are on the market, but they are sometimes either too expensive for the cash-strapped public school systems to purchase or represent too great a learning curve for some teachers to use them regularly. Parents of homeschoolers for whom this is a concern note that they are concentrating every possible resource on the learning activities they plan for their children, and this focus makes more possible than might be done in the public school classroom.
Not for everyone
Whatever the rationale parents may wish to use for homeschooling, it is a fact that such a course is very difficult. It will take much time from both parents, will take considerable funding and will require that they stay up-to-date on the materials they need for the best outcomes in the educational achievement of their children.
Some families are able to make the sacrifices that will be necessary to homeschool; others may not have the time, energy or patience to thread their way through inevitable official red tape. Associations of homeschool educators are available to help, but it will take love and commitment beyond the norm to succeed, and not all families will be able to make it.
No matter which decision a family makes, the focus must be on the children’s proper initiation into the larger society. When this works, as it does in many cases, the excitement the children feel and the successes they achieve will make the hard years worth it.