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What Are The Real Benefits Of Homeschooling?

Readers Forum:

What Are The Real Benefits Of Homeschooling? While I can understand it for children with non-impairing cognitive abnormalities, how is it justified for normal, healthy children? Everywhere I look, there are more and more varying subjective answers from religion to provincialism, but I have never seen any empirical evidence in favor of homeschooling. Can you provide some?

9 comments to What Are The Real Benefits Of Homeschooling?

  • Karen

    Research shows that homeschoolers do well on all the standardized testing, socialization, etc. http://www.nheri.org/content/view/176/53…
    I think one huge advantage of homeschooling is that you can tailor the curriculum to the interests of the child: when you are in the school system you often are boring a child because out of 30 children at least some are going to be bored by a topic or have already learned a topic. You can avoid that in homeschooling.
    I do think though, obviously, as you mentioned, that homeschooling is wonderful for special needs children. You didn’t mention but homeschooling is also great for gifted children who are easily bored by public school. My brother and I are both gifted and were bored through all of our schooling, both private and public, until I hit grad school, where I finally met others who were really enjoying the learning process as well. I think schooling is kind of aimed towards teaching that theoretical “average” child of which there really are so few. Most children, really, may have some deficits and/or gifted areas and so really will benefit from homeschooling in my opinion.
    Of course, the reality is not every parent may have the personality, desire, financial situation, or willingness to homeschool so homeschool may not be an option for that reason. And then public and private schools are other options to be considered in that case.

  • Laura

    Even for normal healthy children, homeschooling can offer an educational advantage because you can gear their education towards their learning style, interests, and goals. I homeschooled my “normal” children because we move so frequently for my husband’s job. Today they are happy, well-adjusted teenagers because of our family-centered lifestyle, and adults always comment on how enjoyable, capable, & interesting they are. I homeschooled for happiness. It was great. My kids are best friends, despite having lots of other good friendships, and we are very close.

  • TammyT

    My family homeschools for lots and lots of reasons that have nothing to do with religion, fear, povincialism or wanting to shelter our kids.
    However, the benefits of homeschooling for our family will differ from another family. The only universal benefit of homeschooling is: freedom.
    Although our country touts freedom as one of its major tenets, the word “freedom” when it comes to education scares people. So, in that way, it can be a negative. But, freedom also has benefits. And all those benefits that come with freedom – that’s what homeschooling gives you.
    For every negative someone claims about homeschooling, I can give you examples of a positive twist to that. And vice-versa. And, I can give you a positive and negative twist of that argument from the public school perspective.
    So, the ‘benefits’ of homeschooling are self-selected. If you like the idea of homeschooling and it suits you, there will be lots of positives. If you don’t like it, or are afraid of it, there will be lots of negatives. Because homeschooling, in itself, is not positive or negative. It’s a tool. And as with all tools, the important part is how and why it’s used.
    Take a hammer. Someone who has never used a hammer might see it as a weapon, if they’ve never seen a nail. Or be afraid that it might hurt them. But for someone with lots of nails to work with, a hammer is useful and important. Consider homeschooling to be a kind of hammer. Or wrench. Or sewing needle. Depending on your goals, homeschooling might be the right tool. Or it might not. I believe the same is true with all forms of education. Although the cultural trend in America is to try to fix everything educational with the symbolic wrench, which is public education.
    Here’s some info on homeschooling, from a non-religious viewpoint. In fact, it might be considered downright, uhm, progressive.http://www.nhen.org/

  • glurpy

    Here’s the result of research done by a Canadian organization who has no particular bent on promoting one form of education over another:http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/book…
    There are other organizations who have also done studies. You can check out the research section at http://www.hslda.org .
    Frankly, your question has me ask: What are the real benefits of public schooling? How is it justified for normal children who have parents who are willing and able to do the job that schools do without a lot of the negatives that can damage a child permanently? (I’m being facetious here, but your question can go both ways!)
    Public schooling came about to educate those who could not be educated at home. Mandatory schooling came about because they figured that if everybody had a certain level of education, there would be fewer poor people and everybody would be able to have a job. It had nothing to do with public schools being better. It had to do with the government requiring everybody to have an education and giving out $$$ to public schools for the students they had. I’ve actually seen footage from around the 1930’s-40’s of school boards trying to convince parents to send their kids to public schools and it had nothing to do with the schools being where a child should be!
    The only reason so many today think that school is a requirement to optimal growth is because that’s the only thing they’ve ever known. It doesn’t matter, apparently, that mandatory schooling has only been around 100-150 years. A great many leaders, scientists, authors and more did not spend 5 days a week for 12 years in school. Even as recently as the Roosevelts and Christopher Paolini (you know that movie “Eragon” coming out? Christopher Paolini, a homeschooled kid, started writing the book for it when he was 15).
    And I can’t help but wonder: why should we think it natural for a person to have a child then give it up to an institution for most of his waking hours 6 years later? The child is only 1/3 of his way through childhood. He developmentally hasn’t even reached a stage of truly abstract and rational thought. (See Piaget’s stages of cognitive development.)
    I can look further and take my studies in sociology and look at the social trends of the past 100 years. What were school kids like 100 years ago? Can you imagine having them go to today’s schools? I can not help but see how there is so much negative that has come about due to kids being thrown together in same-age classrooms.
    To the original question: What are the real benefits of homeschooling? From what I’ve seen around here, homeschooled kids tend to be more mature. They tend to be better able to interact with a wide variety of people and are used to meeting strangers all the time. I can often pick out at a homeschooling event the kid who has been homeschooled after having been in public school for a while–keeps to himself, only wants to find other same-gendered children in the same grade level to do things with.
    Other benefits are educational: as a teacher, I and other teachers would bemoan the lack of flexibility in the classroom for the child who didn’t follow the ‘norm’. The gifted kids would be held back in their learning because you just couldn’t let them move onto the next grade’s math or anything like that. The kids who were struggling would always struggle because the pace of the class was just way too fast. My kids are able to learn at their pace, can spend more time on something of interest instead of being forced to stop because it’s recess or the next class or something. People complain about the kids’ lack of attention–how can we blame them when classes are changing every 40 minutes or so? My kids also get a chance to study a lot of stuff that simply interests them, which is a better guarantee for learning, than being forced to do something some group of people arbitrarily decided was ‘what should be learned’.
    You apparently hit a nerve in me–I’ll stop now!

  • Pony

    I myself am home schooled.
    It’s nice being home-schooled because I can do my school-work in bed ;), I spend more time with my family and I’m not quite as stressed.
    A bad thing is that, like some said, you don’t get much of a social life. And while it is true, where I live I am able to praticipate in band and orchestra. Also I have a youth group and church where I see people. But not really have a social life, for me atleast, is fine because if I did go to school I would be in harms- way and even in our small town we have bad stuff going on. And also at my age, girls are always jumping from friends to friends, fighting with each other and being all around jerks.
    I don’t experience that at home and I’m really thankful for that.
    (But don’t get me wrong! I am not bashing public-schoolers. I actually have found some really amazing friends who go to public-school. Which I am also very thankful for.)

  • G9

    Check out the empirical studies, but I find it interesting that home-schoolers have a majority finishing in the top 10 at spelling bees. Also, I don’t believe that the majority of home-schoolers are there because of cognitive or physical disabilities. I home-schooled my son and I was able to include philosophy and Spanish in his studies which is not taught at most K-8 schools.
    Home schooling also allows you to “bend” the curriculum. Yesterday’s auroras were a beautiful example of how we modified science to devote the daily studies to current events. Schools are so hung up on meeting the standards/benchmarks and GLCEs that they rarely deviate. I went online and printed pertinent information regarding the CME which caused the auroras for the teachers at the school I volunteer at, they gave it a glance rather than using a child’s natural interest in the phenomena observed the previous night to drive home some scientific concepts.
    Not all teachers stick so close to the wall of GLCEs, but I don’t want to chance my child’s future on the odds they will get such a great teacher!
    Also…education was considered to be the foundation of a true and continual democracy by some of our founding father, (Thomas Jefferson was the main champion), and only a country with citizens who understood the concept of such a regime were able to maintain it. Mandatory public school education began to ensure all children, even those whose poverty level might dictate a future of hard laborous employment, were given a chance for a better life. They may have otherwise been forced by their family situation to quit school and help support the family.

  • Charity

    Pros: the kids get a great one-on-one education that far surpasses that of public schooling, but only if their teacher is dedicated. Secondly, they do not have to worry about the peerpressure of drugs, alchahol, sex etc. and they grow more self-assured when they are not constantly pressured into “being cool”.
    Cons: There is not really that much scocialization and if their parents aren’t careful, they can end up living in a glass bubble, and lacking the skills to go out into the real world when it comes time.
    Solution: I would say homeschool your child long enough to give them a good educational background, then let them go to public school to find out about the real world and real people.

  • michelet

    For me it was not religious reasons, although I do have beliefs there. For me the reason was my son is very smart and was ready for first grade when we entered him in kindergarten. When the school finally got around to testing him after 8 weeks of learning his colors (he has known them since he was 18 months) they agreed. I had been to the school 10 times, called, emailed everything. When we met at that 8 week point for a conference I was told it was too late to advance place him and there was no type of above level class offered until 3rd grade. He was to be taught “somewhere closer to his level” in about 6 weeks when reading groups started. He would have this group 2 times per week for 20 minutes. My husband and I did not see the benefit of having him in school for 40 hours a week to be challenged for 40 minutes. So I homeschooled, planning on having him tested for advanced placement for next year. I called in January and was told to call in May. Called the second week in May and was told Oh you had to be enrolled and signed up to test by the end of the week before. They do not give the test until July. It was so much run around!!
    Also my son is a BOY He likes to play. In our school system there is no recess from the 3rd grade on. It was taking away from class time. Lunch is not a social time. The kids are told to sit quietly and quickly eat. They are given 25 minutes including line time and too much talking gets loud as well as keeps them from eating fast enough to get the next group in. PE is 30 minutes 3 times per week. So 2 days per week an 8 year old is told to be still, be quiet, and on task from 8 to 3. There is no socialization except how to stand in line. And my son learned that at Luby’s.
    Children who are behind often get left behind to become accustomed to feeling worthless and unteachable. To form an identity with their peers or cover their lack of knowledge or skill they become behavior problems. Maybe they need medication. Children who are ahead or catch on quickly are told to sit quietly while others learn. They become bored and become behavior problems. Maybe THEY should be medicated.
    The public school system has become a baby sitter for special needs children whose needs cannot possibly best met there and a breeding ground for mediocrity. There are few arts in elementary schools anymore. When I was in school we made Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mothers Day, crafts. Crafts were part of book studies and lessons. We learned math with base 10 blocks, cusinaire rods, scales for weighing. Hands on learning. Today it is done through power point. The hands on tools haven’t been used in so long that schools are getting rid of them. Schools teach so that children will pass a test. Because the test decides how the schools are funded and if a teacher doesn’t have a good mastery rate then she is told that her contract will not be renewed. And the test is crap.
    Students are no longer taught the basics of education. Handwriting… they are not shown the correct way to form letters they are shown a picture of a letter and told to copy it. This results in them drawing the letter instead and has made an increase in the amount of children having problems with letter reversal. They are taught the idea and concepts of addition and subtraction, but not to memorize the fact (remember those 60 second addition sheets we tried to finish? Gone) so they can figure out 6 + 8 but they don’t just know it. This lea.ves them poorly prepared for later math that needs these skills.
    When children get to high school in my state in order to receive any type of diploma they have to pass Alegebra, geometry, and algebra 2. Chemistry, biology, and life science…in theory this is great, but what about those kids who have learning troubles and could get a job without these skills or a college education, but have trouble without a high school diploma.
    Homeschooling can be what the child needs it to be. It can be strong in math or life skills depending on ability. The children have strong family ties, learn responsibility, independant learning skills, can take as much or as little time to learn something as they need it doesn’t matter, no one is inconvenienced.
    As they can be sheltered from those aspects of socialization that will not help them later in life. I don’t believe associating with gang members or drug users will help him succeed in a good college or in his job. He doesn’t need to know about sex at 8. He can be a kid a little longer. As long as I was allowed to be.
    Public schools are not what they were. Children are more and more going to preschools making them better prepared as they enter school, but they are less prepared when they leave…how is that progress?
    However, homeschool is a choice. You can choose to use public or private schools. There are some good ones out there. If you are happy then I as a homeschooler would never question your choice. I would never attack your choice. But if they do not work for you then you can try homeschooling. It may work better.
    Good Luck.

  • Pivoine

    I really think you don’t know much about homeschooling. Most of the kids that are homeschooled do not have a cognitive abnormality… My 4 year old can count to 100, could recite the alphabet at age 2, and my 5 year old reads and writes, and performs math operations that 2’nd graders don’t even worry about yet…
    All religious reasons left aside…. yeah, all my classmates from college that were homeschooled, were 4.0 GPA, different majors, graduated valedictorian. It’s the ‘one on one’ thing that really pays off. I’ll say that speaks pretty darn good for homeschoolers!
    People worry too much about the social interraction and social skills… that’s a major myth. Homeschoolers have their own outlet for social interractions. I’d rather regulate that than get a phone call from the school that my kid has been shot or held captive!
    There’s more on this page: http://www.madrone.com/Home-ed/hs11.htm

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