Advocates of traditional education have many critiques of home schooling. Most of these objections are thoroughly unjustified and stem more from politics than from educational philosophy. Government support of home schooling reduces the resources allocated to public education, and hence many teachers and parents view home schooling as a threat to the quality of public schools. While I understand the concerns about public school funding, I can say from experience that home schooled students in general receive a quality education. Here I present a list of myths and facts about home schooling. When the misconceptions about home schooling are stripped away, it becomes clear that home schooled students are capable of enrolling and graduating from excellent colleges.
1. Myth: home-schooled children only learn about religion.
Fact: curricula for home schooling include all the topics vital to a well-rounded education. Furthermore, while many parents home school for religious reasons, others pursue home schooling simply because they feel they can give their children a superior education by doing so.
2. Myth: home schooled children are poorly socialized since they study at home all day and don’t see anyone outside their family.
Fact: there are many ways for children to interact with others. Parents who home school for religious reasons usually have their children in Sunday school or other church-related activities. Dance classes, “pee-wee” sports, and organizations like the Girl Scouts or Campfire Kids provide additional opportunities for children to develop social skills. Becoming involved in these types of activities provides kids with an opportunity for social growth while limiting their exposure to bullying, rudeness, and peer pressure. Rude, unproductive children are usually removed from extracurricular activities, but they abound in the public school classrooms. Interacting with such negative individuals is not helpful to a child’s development.
3. Myth: there is no way to know if a home schooled child got a good education.
Fact: standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, and AP exams can give a clear indication of student’s academic progress. Colleges can easily identify excellent prospective students, regardless of how they received their education.
4. Myth: home schooled children only learn what their parents know.
Fact: as a community college instructor, I have had home schooled teens in my math classes. Their parents clearly recognized that these kids needed additional instruction, and they found a good way to remedy the situation. Some parents hire private tutors or “swap” lessons with the parent of another child so each parent can teach his or her strongest subject.
Most importantly, home schooled children are taught how to learn. Unlike their public schooled counterparts, these students never spout tired excuses like, “but we haven’t gone over this!” They do not expect to be “spoon fed” information or constantly entertained. I tried to teach my college students that the text is their primary source of information and the lecture is merely supplemental. Home schooled children already know this. I do not believe they necessarily have “better” character than publicly schooled students, but they do have very different expectations, and that gives them an academic advantage. They expect to put in an effort and learn most of the material by reading, because that is what they have always done. For home schooled students, education has always been an active endeavor, a process of learning rather than one of being taught. Many college students appear to view a professor as no different than a hairdresser. Like a woman in a beauty shop chair, the students sit passively and expect me to do all the work. They paid their money, and they expect to walk out the door having been transformed without any effort on their part. Home schooled children view college as a studio or workshop. They may receive guidance, but the end product will be of their choosing and its quality will be a function of their effort and aptitude rather than mine.
More and more professors are coming to the same conclusions as I have, and some of them are on admissions boards or scholarship committees. When they see that an applicant was home schooled, they will envision a competent scholar rather than a half-literate religious zealot.