Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream

22 May

Parents and others often think of school choice in terms of public school or private school. There is another option and that is homeschooling.Homeschooling is one option in the school choice menu. There are fewer children being homeschooled than there are in private schools. There are fewer children in private education, which includes homeschools than in public education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the vast majority of students attend public schools. Complete statistics can be found at Fast Education Facts

The question, which will be discussed at the end of this comment, is: What is so scary about school choice? After all, the vast majority of children are enrolled in public school and school choice is not going to change that.

What is Homeschooling?

Family Education defines homeschooling. 

Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word “home” is not really accurate, and neither is “school.” For most families, their “schooling” involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.

Essentially, homeschooling involves a commitment by a parent or guardian to oversees their child or teen’s educational development. There are almost two million homeschoolers in this country.

There is no one federal law, which governs homeschooling. Each state regulates homeschooling, so state law must be consulted. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a summary of each state’s laws. State Homeschool Laws The American Homeschool Association (AHA) has resources such as FAQ and the history of homeschooling at AHA

Why Do Parents Homeschool?

According to the Washington Homeschool Organization, there are many reasons parents choose to homeschool.

Advantages of Homeschooling

·     Parents are with their children all day.

·     Parents know and understand their children, and are influential in their lives, even as they enter the teen years.

·     Homeschooling prevents premature parent-child separation, avoiding inappropriate pressure on children.

·     Children are allowed to mature at their own speeds, no “hurried child” syndrome.

·     Parents and other adults are the primary role models for homeschooled children.

·     Homeschooling provides positive and appropriate socialization with peers and adults.

·     Homeschooled children are largely free from peer pressure.

·     Homeschooled children are comfortable interacting with people of all ages.

·     Homeschooled children view adults as an integrated part of their world and as natural partners in learning.

·     Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional and academic development.

·     Family life revolves around its own needs and priorities rather than the demands of school.

·     Homeschooling creates/maintains positive sibling relationships.

·     Homeschooling promotes good communication and emotional closeness within a family.

·     Research shows that the two most important factors in reading and overall educational success are positive home influence and parental involvement; homeschooling provides both.

·     A child’s natural thirst for learning is nurtured, not squelched, and learning becomes a lifelong joy.

·     Each child’s education can be tailored to his or her unique interests, pace, and learning style.

·     Homeschooling children have time to pursue their special interests and talents.

·     Homeschoolers enjoy unlimited educational resources; the world is our classroom, and resources abound in the community.

·     Homeschooling provides a high adult/child ratio for the student.

·    Homeschooled children become independent thinkers who are secure in their won convictions. 

A. Bruce Arai, in an early article on homeschooling looks at the civic implications of homeschooling and discusses some of the socialization impacts. 

In Homeschooling and the Redefinition of Citizenship He quotes Callan:

He argues that a true common school, in which all students receive a common curriculum, with some reasonable departures, provides the best way of ensuring a vibrant sense of citizenship among present and future generations. This sense of citizenship is built around the virtues of a critical tolerance of diversity, the power of rational thought and argument, and commitment to a defensible moral code. Citizens who develop these graces will have an understanding of the world which will give them the freedom to choose how they live their life, which is the ultimate aim of the liberal democratic state. Moreover, it is through common schooling that these attributes are best developed.

Some have opined that many homeschool parents seek not only a better education for their child, but seek to prevent interactions with those of different races, religions, and backgrounds.

Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide:

Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently only 4% of all school children nationwide are educated at home, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.

Any concerns expressed about the quality of education offered to the kids by their parents can surely be put to rest by the consistently high placement of homeschooled kids on standardized assessment exams. Data shows that those who are independently educated typically score between 65th and 89th percentile on such exams, while those attending traditional schools average on the 50th percentile. Furthermore, the achievement gaps, long plaguing school systems around the country, aren’t present in homeschooling environment. There’s no difference in achievement between sexes, income levels or race/ethnicity.

Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.College recruiters from the best schools in the United States aren’t slow to recognize homeschoolers’ achievements. Those from non-traditional education environments matriculate in colleges and attain a four-year degree at much higher rates than their counterparts from public and even private schools. Homeschoolers are actively recruited by schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University and Duke.

Nor do homeschoolers miss out on the so-called socialization opportunities, something considered a vital part of a traditional school environment and lacking in those who don’t attend regular schools. On the contrary, those educated at home by their parents tend to be more socially engaged than their peers, and according to the National Home Education Research Institute survey, demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.”

Homeschoolers of Color

The Village Voice has an excellent article about the experiences of Black homeschoolers and why they made the choice of homeschooling. Black Homeschoolers

Black parents tend to take their children out of the schools for other than religious reasons, and homeschooling groups say black children taught at home are nearly always boys. Like Robinson, some of New York’s parents have concluded that the school system is failing the city’s black boys, and have elected to teach them at home as an alternative.

The National Home Education Research Institute which cites statistics from The Condition of Education 2009 reports the number of homeschoolers of color is growing.

If one reviews the statistics from the last four years of USDE research (i.e., the last two USDE reports), one will find that 77.0% of homeschool students were white in 2003 while 76.8% were white in 2007 (i.e., a 0.2% decrease in those who are “white”). Second, this authors’ roughly 25 years of experience with and studying the homeschool community shows that the percentage of the homeschool community comprised of minorities is continuing to increase. Third, homeschool leaders across the nation are telling this author the same; that is, an increasing percent of the homeschool community is non-white.

Homeschooling is the choice for many parents because they don’t feel that current education institutions serve either their child or their values well.

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

Tamma DeHart summarizes the pros and cons of homeschooling. Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

The advantages of homeschooling over public schooling:

•    Homeschooling provides individual attention and quality time to each learning student which is not possible in a public school. A parent can observe how their kids progress and can help them in areas they find difficult to cope.

•    Homeschooling is more flexible than public schooling as the schedule can be adjusted to the child’s suitability. Flexibility also helps in changing the curriculum according to what is easy for you and your child. Parents can help children understand the subject matter and yield good results.

•    Children are made to learn in a practical environment thereby involving them in a variety of situations. Children tend to learn faster and enjoy working in such situations.

•    Another big advantage of homeschooling over public schooling is the cost structure. Homeschooling is comparatively less expensive as compared to public and private school fees. You can involve your child in social activities that can help them to develop their social skills and hence save a lot of money too.

•    There is no age classification for homeschooling children; hence children not only get engaged with same age group but also with children of different ages and adults as well. Such factors have induced many parents to opt for homeschooling but one should not forget the positive aspect of public schooling which a child lacks in home based schooling. The advantages of public schooling over homeschooling are:

•    Public schooling provides social development of the child. Although a homeschooling child can be involved in social activities, none will be as effective as being a part of some social groups for years to come. The classroom setting provides the benefit of socializing for your child.

•    The parent is left with the complete responsibility to educate the child during homeschooling. Thus, you might not get time for yourself and your job which is otherwise possible in public schooling. This also helps in reducing financial stress for parents who are both working.

•    Public schooling has trained teachers who are well equipped with the knowledge of teaching a wide range of subjects. Homeschooling, on the other hand leaves no option but for the parent to understand each and every subject before making it easy for their child to learn. Moreover, the parents have to research and gather the curriculum for each of their child.  

In a nutshell, the questions that parents and society should be asking of any family that chooses the option of homeschooling are:

1.      Is there a real and sufficient commitment to homeschool?

2.      Do the parents have the educational resources both in their background and aptitude to realistically homeschool?

3.      Do the parents have the temperament to homeschool?

4.      Are there resources available in their community to provide enrichment activities to the child?

5.      The most important question of all, the choice of homeschooling the appropriate education choice for the child or is it the appropriate choice for the parent’s belief system? The child’s well-being and education should be paramount.

Tips for Parents

The Reno Homeschool Association has compiled tips for parents.

1. Know your approach or philosophy.
Be organized, patient, and flexible.
Develop a working relationship with your child.
Find other homeschool parents.
Set aside place for academic work.
Have a method of evaluation for your child.
Have a plan.

8. Take advantage of the resources in your community.

9. Don’t forget the social realm.

Reno Homeschool Association

School Choice is Good for the Education Process

Homeschooling is not a conspiracy, it is simply a choice. There is a difference between “education” and “schooling.” “Schooling” is defined as:

·         the act of teaching at school

·         school: the process of being formally educated at a school; “what will you do when you finish school?”

·         the training of an animal (especially the training of a horse for dressage)

Education” is a much broader concept. It is the process of continually being curious. Eric Hoffer aptly distinguishes the difference between “schooling” and “education.”

The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.

Many of our children are “unschooled” and a far greater number are “uneducated.” One can be “unschooled” or “uneducated” no matter the setting. As a society, we should be focused on making sure that each child receives a good basic education. There are many ways to reach that goal. There is nothing scary about the fact that some parents make the choice to homeschool. The focus should not be on the particular setting or institution type. The focus should be on proper assessment of each child to ensure that child is receiving a good basic education and the foundation for later success in life.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

3 Responses to “Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream”


  1. Homeschooled kids make the grade for college « drwilda - July 2, 2012

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  2. Big increase expected in the number of homeschoolers « drwilda - January 13, 2013

    […] The question, which will be discussed at the end of this comment, is: What is so scary about school choice? After all, the vast majority of children are enrolled in public school and school choice is not going to change that. […]

  3. Military families embracing homeschooling | drwilda - October 26, 2013

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