by Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) – Public, private, parochial, charter schools: There's no shortage of options on where to send your children for their education.
But a growing number of Americans are choosing not to send them anywhere at all, opting instead to educate them at home.
The National Center for Education Statistics says that 1.7 percent of kids were homeschooled in 1999, 2.2 percent in 2003, and 2.9 percent in 2007. Today, that figure is at 4 percent, according to an article published at EducationNews.org.
So it appears that the homeschooling growth rate is more exponential than it is steady.
Most parents aren't certified teachers, so it stands to reason why some question the effectiveness of a homeschool education. But the Home School Legal Defense Association, an advocacy group in favor of homeschooling, reported in 2009 that homeschooled students averaged 37 percentile points higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts.
EducationNews.org backs that up, saying that while students in traditional schools mark the 50th percentile on standardized tests, students who are “independently educated” score between the 65th and 89th percentile.
Of course, there’s a time commitment involved in homeschooling that many families simply can’t make. If a single parent has a full-time job – or if both parents do – setting aside several hours a day to educate a child simply isn’t feasible.
And the arguments against homeschooling – from varying state requirements to reduced social interaction among peers to a lack of student competition – can be challenging issues to address.
But if the number of kids who are homeschooled continues to rise, it may signal a noteworthy trend.
Homeschooling can be terrific if done well, because there is such a small student-to-teacher ratio. A parent knows their child well and can give their child work perfect for their strengths and needs. Teachers with a class of 18, 25, or 30 just can't individualize education that well for every student.
I caution people who think homeschooling is easy. The parents I know who have done homeschooling well put in so much work, and call upon a lot of resources. They also make a point of taking occasional standardized tests or similar metrics to ensure that their child is keeping up with the normal school curriculum, and spend time in other activities with other students so that their child is socialized just as they would be in a school.
As a teacher, I have seen great homeschooling families- and also children who were "homeschooled" and come to school dangerously behind in academics. I don't think this is true of most homeschooled kids at all, but there are occasional parents who don't quite understand the commitment necessary to homeschooling properly. Please make sure that you don't just do it because it's "better," but because you have a passion for giving your child learning opportunities they might not have otherwise, and you have the time and energy to do it right!
I have a very close friend who homeschools and does an *amazing* job with her children. Of course, she also went to school for a teaching degree, so she's definitely qualified.
I can't say that choice is for everyone though. I have two children, and I would struggle with homeschooling my children, even though I'm highly educated myself. I think it takes a special person who has the dedication, education, and patience to work with children.
But more importantly than that, the parents, even if they aren't homeschooling, need to take an ACTIVE role in the education of their child. The parent(s) need to be working on homework together, reading with their child, showing the importance of education and making it a priority in their life. The parent(s) also need to work collaboratively with the teacher. Parent(s) cannot send their child(ren) to school and expect that the teacher will be able to focus on your child(ren) like the parent(s) would be able to if they were homeschooling. It's a simple math equation here. One teacher has 20-30 students. If you homeschool, it's just the parent(s) with the child(ren). With homeschooling, the child(ren) get focused, hands-on, self-specific education based on individualized needs. A teacher in a school has to work in a group setting using methods that will impact the largest group of students, and ultimately, one or two will not fit into that mold.
However, with homeschooling, unless the parent(s) are making it highly interactive within the community, setting up "playdates" or learning opportunities within groups with other parent(s) who homeschool, those children will miss out on the social development that is part of the educational experience.
Both environments have positives and negatives. The parent(s) have to decide what is best for their child(ren).
I homeschooled my two daughters until Junior High. The local public elementary school had a bad reputation. My oldest daughter did go there for the first 2 1/2 years but dealt with violence that went unpunished, catering to the children who did the pooest and "putting down" those who scored well, making them feel as though a good score was an insult to humanity! Her first grade teacher actually checked math problems wrong that were correct, saying the "smart" kids need to learn a lesson. How can we compete in a global market with teachers like this? Yes, I reported it, nothing was done, administratin agreed with the concept. They also agreed with me supplying crayons for the young boy that broke them, brought bullets to school, as well as dirty magazines. I was told it was his "culture" and I didn't understand, but could I supply some crayons for the class because he continually broke them. Let his mom supply them! My child came home from kindergarten with a boot mark bruise on her chest. I was told the young man was from a poor family and it would be unfair to say anything. The family had enough to deal with just being poor. I watched several young people, who were allowed in this school to run wild, become criminals as young adults. I don't think the school did anyone any good. My girls were always in the 90th plus percentile on standarized tests and belonged to scouts, dance team and the younger one was in martial arts for several years. They were on a summer swim team through high school. They had plenty of social interaction but more importantly they were encouraged to LEARN and to do well and they were not in a violent school system. I do not live in an inner city area, it is rural but the "do gooder" principal was the worst thing to happen to education. My daughters both went to college, got scholarships, on the Dean's List and have excellent careers! If left in the environment of their elementary school I do not believe they would be where they are today! Sometimes, home school is the best alternative. However, those who home school based solely on religion or who themselves have a cognitive disability may be doing their children more harm that good.
I tried homeschooling my son when he was in first grade and it didn't work out well at all. He had a learning disability and so do I. Mine is actually much worse then his. While it was difficult to get an IEP going at the public school once we did he got the help he needed and by 7th grade, after more testing was no longer considered LD. But my concern over the things happening in the schools kept growing. He was always being picked on and bullied. As kids behaviors got worse I knew by the time he got to high school we were doing to have to do something else. I am no teacher when it comes to school...he knows so much more then I do already. So instead of trying to home school I signed him up for k12 where certified teachers do teach him via the computer. That way he can stay home and be safe and not have to deal with all the other kids bad behavior in school. Teachers spending half the class time lecturing this kids that can't behave themselves instead of teaching...all the drama that goes on, etc.
Schools are not safe or healthy environments for our kids anymore. Its truly sad. They talk a good talk and hold anti-bully assemblies but seem helpless to actually stop it. It doesn't help that starting in grade school when a child tries to tell the teacher that another child is hitting them or saying mean things to them they are scolded and told they are tattletale The child learned quickly the teachers won't help them. :(
I am glad we have so many options now. I hope it stays that way. As far as social time, my son already has friends and still does things with them after school or weekends like he always did. He also has a part time job and goes to church and youth group and their activities. He isn't trapped in the house 24/7...that would drive us both nutty!
I am a single mother also and work evenings and weekends so I am free to be here to help him on his schooling when needed. He just started last week so this is a whole new experience for us. We are still figuring things out but I feel pretty positive about it. Instead of having this dread of school hanging over us, our schedule is much more flexible and he can work on his school work anytime during the day, evening or night and I don't have to worry about some kid hitting him at school or saying horrible things to him. After years and years and years of that, eventually it will start damaging the more self confident kid. :( (p.s. he isn't gay...not everyone bullied is gay people)
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The article does lack some reference points but if you put in google "homeschoolers higher scores" you will find all sorts of articles that go into more depth on this.
I do accept as true with all the ideas you've offered for your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for novices. Could you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.
As a woman who has homeschooled 5 children (three to adulthood and college with two more on the way) as a SINGLE mom.. I disagree that it isn't feasible. I know many single moms doing it successfully.
I am a single mom currently homeschooling 2 kids with one toddler at home. I created a business where i can work from home so i could be here with my children and home school. when there's a will there's a way. When work calls for me to be away from home i send printed work with the sitter and do lessons home or on weekends. My children are several grade levels ahead.
Matt: Don't agree with your viewpoint much. Lot's of 'family values' talk, which would be fun to discuss face to face. Sounds a bit anti-single parent; perhaps anti-gay parents?
How WOULD you 'limit' single parents, anyway? Make divorce illegal? Abortions? Have the state take all children of unwed women?
I'm not sure I agree that we have a 'welfare state that promotes single parents,' but then what WOULD you do with the inevitable single parents? Deport 'em? Shoot 'em? Prison? Or just let 'em starve! NO WELFARE for THEM! ???
What I DO notice, however, are the DOZEN spelling and grammar errors in your posting. Were you a home-schooled person? Or public schooled?
I do agree with many of the various postings that the public schools seem to teach toward the lowest common denominator. I guess they have little choice sometimes.
And still the politicians want to lower the amount of money spent on education. How short sighted! I'd figure that kids who test in the top . . .oh . . . five percent should have their education paid for by the state through college.
And eliminate religious based teaching in public schools completely!
Grumpy old guy Ron
This may sound like a strange way to make a point so bare with me a moment. I have always had snakes for pets and love keeping them. Most people do not share my enjoyment. What I have found is that most people who "hate" snakes, actuall know very little about them and have never personally experienced one. When they did, it was their perception of that experince not the experience or the snake itself that was bad. In short we fear what we do not know or do not understand. I feel that this is the situation with homeschooling. Many do not know and understand all the materials and support that parents have access to for providing a good education. Many have never experienced it by either learning or teaching in that homeschool environment. And unfortunately there are those few who have had bad experiences or at least their perception is that homeschooling was a bad experience when in fact it may have been something entirely different that was to blame for that perception. Just a simple observation of a snake lover and homeschooler.
So this article is like a reverse lung cancer study: a sample of 1,000 non-smokers is much healthier than the general population that is filled with smokers (like during Mad Men times in the 60's). 1,000 diligent, motivated, bright students that are homeschooled have higher test scores than the general population that is filled with video-game playing, non-studying, answer randomly on test forms, slakers. What a surprise.
As a homeschoolering parent, your description of these perfect students made me laugh. Just come by my house on a school day and you'll see the same challenges every parent deals with in their students. Not wanting to study .. preferring video games to anything else! . . . The homeschooled population is much more normal than you might expect and covers the gamut of possible learning styles. Don't kid yourself that homeschoolers succeed because they were smart to start with or because their parents are brilliant. They succeed because they are taught in an environment they can learn in successfully. They are taught to learn, not taught to pass a test. They are taught facts and figure instead of social dictates. Wouldn't it be nice for our public schools to give this a try :)
My children have attended public and private school as well as homeschool. Without a doubt, homeschool has been a success. In school, they were losing my daughter. She has Dyslexia. She was so far behind and getting further and further behind as the days passed. As a result, her self worth took a dive and that is when we knew we had to change things. We are now on her third year homeschooling her. She now tests one to two grades ABOVE her level and is so happy. In fact, when we had her reevaluated for Dyslexia, they told us that if she was just being tested for the first time, she wouldn't even be on the Dyslexia scale. They told us homeschooling was an obvious success and to continue doing what we were doing. My son just entered high school. He is an honors student who took home an award for our State when he took the SAT in seventh grade. He has been testing post high school on his standardized tests since sixth grade. Both kids are very active in the community. They are very involved in various groups and organizations and they have wonderful friends. They are far more socialized now than if they had been stuck in a class with the same 20 children day after day. Each year they are given the option to homeschool or return to school. No surprise, they both want to homeschool. I would love if we had the $7,000 to $10,000 given to each public school per student. Obviously our success stories show that money doesn't make a good education but, wow, think of how much more incredible we could make it.
It's inspiring to read so many success stories from devoted home-schoolers. It is concerning that so many have chosen to opt out of public education based on bad experiences or fears for their children, but I hope we can agree that society's goal should be to improve the quality of public education rather than to tear it down. How wonderful it would be if some of these home-schooled kids should grow up to be teachers. It's not easy to live in a society as large and diverse as ours is today, but if we have any hope for the future of our country, we must try to improve our level of cooperation and involvement with those around us.
In fact, Elizabeth, I know several homeschooled students who have grown up to be teachers. However, many of them have chosen to teach their own children. ;)
The entire reason behind the government's education system is to ensure that it (that is, the public education system) is producing good citizens - citizens who, at the bare minimum, are able to become informed about the politics of the day, so they can vote with intelligence. In our democratic republic, we the citizens are charged with electing our leaders based on our world views and theirs, so this ability to vote intelligently should never be taken lightly.
I agree there is some animosity between private, public, and home schools. Much of that animosity is set up as an us-vs-them mentality between the public schools and the other types, led by the public school officials and others who tear down other parents' attempts to do right by their own children in the way they see is best for their children. I am a strong supporter of parental rights - in part because of philosophy I read as a (public) high school debater, by J. S. Mill - so I don't see why folks need to become defensive about their choice for their own child(ren). Nor do I see the reason why other folks need to denigrate that choice.
Unfortunately, this animosity exists already. I agree, we as a society do need to improve the level of cooperation and involvement in the world around us... and it can start with any (and every) person who chooses not to judge another's choice for how to educate his/her own child.
Elizabeth: Even if a few home schoolers did become teachers the same problems would be present. Teachers' hands are tied because there is too much govt. interference. If public teachers were allowed to teach the children rather than teach to the test many problems would be alleviated. And then there are the problems that tenure and teacher's unions cause when it comes to bad teachers...
@Emily – Again, I was not intending to be disrespectful. More to your point, however, is that home school is often viewed in a negative light when in the vast majority of cases it is a very positive experience for both children and their families. Yes, problems arise in families who choose to home school, but these problems do not exist BECAUSE of home school. More government oversight of home school programs is not the answer in these cases.
I wasn't home schooled, but I often felt like my time in a classroom was wasted. When you're being educated in a group, instruction is aimed at the least capable students.
I was in a pretty unique position during high school. I spent years living in a "company city" for engineers working overseas where Academic standards were high. For 10th grade, the company paid for a high-dollar prep school in Connecticut. It was like going down two grade levels. My parents left the company due to a war in the region, and I spent my 11th grade year in a public US high school. It was almost like being in grade school again. It wasn't until my junior year of college that I felt like my 9th grade education was resumed.
Private tutoring probably raises the bar for most kids. Because you aren't being FORCED to work below your abilities.
My cousins are homeschooled, and they are all great kids who are active, happy, and very bright. I believe the key to this is because there mother is a stay at home mom who dedicates herself fully to her children.
I have a major issue with public schools, because they severly under perform for the amount of money it cost to send a kid to a public school. It cost about 3K to 4K more per student to send them to a public school than a private school, and private schools out perform them.
I know there are some caviates to this. Public schools have to deal with inner city and kids who just don't want to learn, while private schools typically have better families and home and are able to support there children through there education years.
But to me this doesn't mean that public school teachers get to go on strike and demand higher and higher pay each year because there unionized. There is a middle ground, but to me it starts at home. It always has. For that it starts with family values, and limiting single parents. A child has a better chance at succeeding if they come from a very stable family. If a a boy doesn't have a father figure the statistics are staggering that that boy will end up in a gang or jail, that is for white or black. I am not making this a racial issue, its prevalant on both sides. But statistics show that there are more black families with out father figures than white, that is just a fact that has occurred over the past 20 years.
So to clean up the education system. find a way to get back to family values, limit the welfare state that promotes single familes. stabalize families, which are produced by two loving parents, with stable jobs. Really there is no one easy fix for the education system in this country. It is dependant on so many sociological issues, but if we assume private schools are more effective, not because there private but because of who can go there, which means stable families wthat can afford it, than the problem with our education system is on the families, not the system itself. Though the system it self can be made better as well.
Homeschooling can be good for most families who can afford to keep their kids home and be teaching them everyday. And I believe that that system works as long your in a place where it doesn't have to matter whether the kids are home schooled or not. Because some places that families live in don't always allow that to go and continue. If those kids really want to have a better education I say let them. Education in this world and this day and age helps every kid and adult broaden their minds and expand their thinking and helps them to improve and get better with their education.
Matt, I think you pretty much nailed the real problem on the head! Society has been evolving over the last 200 years to make it necessary to work outside the home. Not just one parent but both (if there are two). Which brings me to the next point, that as our moral expectations are lowered the family continues to be torn apart. No more do the children work at home on a farm or in the family business learning good work ethics, business and probably living a healthier lifestyle (not just glued to a TV or video game because there is nothing better to do while mom and dad are at work). Now we have single parent families and traditional families both suffering the same fate, a disconnect with the next generation. We no longer pass along what we know and believe because we are never together long enough to pass it along. Home school is not feasible for everyone, but it is an opportunity for a select few who have seen a better way, to make a small contribution to bringing families together again and in the process providing a good academic eduction.
Fate? Necessity? As a homeschooling mom whose kids have also seen the inside of a public school, I don't think either of these apply to modern society. Society has not evolved to a point that makes it necessary for both parents to work....that's a choice that people make. My husband and I both have college educations. We both worked before we had kids. But we also decided before we had kids that when we did, I would stay home with them. When the opportunity to homeschool posed itself we made sure we were financially stable. These were choices. We could probably have more money if I worked, but my husband worked hard in school and has made himself a valuable employee so as to guarantee a job that pays enough for me to stay home and teach our kids. So really, there is only self-imposed "necessity" in this day and age.
As for fate, that implies there is no responsibility or choice. Fate, by definition, means we have no control. I, however, most certainly have a choice over how much television my kids watch. I am in control of whether or not my family communicates. We sit down to dinner together every night. We turn off the tv and video games, and we dont over-schedule our days. My kids don't run the show, I do! I have not turned my family over to fate. Choosing to be together is an adult decision and way too many parents have shirked their responsibilities and allowed their families to drift apart, allowed their kids too much freedom, and have not shown their kids the leadership kids really need.
And to be perfectly honest, homeschooling is something that anyone can do if they want to badly enough! I have seen single parents teach their kids. There is free curriculum out there for low-income families. It just takes motivation and a desire to change the course of education and history. We don't have to sit back and hope for the best, waiting for fate to take us where it may. I think the only Necessity is for parents to be responsible adults and maybe do something hard for a change, rather than always looking for the path of least resistance,
I used to teach in public school and then a dear friend of mine became critically ill so I retired because she could no longer keep up with schooling her children. So I took over for her. They needed to see her and be assured she is there and going to be ok. So she wore the mom hat and I wore the teacher hat. I have taught them for 9 years. One has graduated, is a lifeguard and entering college this fall. I am in the final year of the other one. I can say that they miss nothing in a well supported home school atmosphere. You can teach to depth in all subjects, you can teach across curriculum with on the fly changes and brainstorms coming from the kids and yourself. You can be creative according to their learning styles or their moods of the day. Their social life only suffers if the parents allow it too. These boys are active with the neighborhood kids, at church, at camp, they are just like any other kid. The only thing they miss out from public school is bullies, lack of flexibility in learning and peer pressure. Don't take time to argue against something you really are not educated in, maybe you should be home schooled and you might change your opinion.
Your story is compelling. I'm afraid the people who followed your post missed the point- because you were isolated from others no one saw the abuse. I used to work for a Home School program. I saw parents who were dedicated but the source of that dedication was control issues and when children grow up with controlling parents they do not end up well balanced – this has been my observation. Then there were the parents that couldn't get up in the morning to send their children to school – so it was easier to "home school" – but very little work was done. Then of course there was the HS student who was failing in HS so went to Home School – and then dropped out. Of course those statistics rarely meet the light of day. And the worse part was the abusive parents who used the program to further their abuse. Children do well in Homeschool for the same reason the wealthy who hired tutors to work with their children; it's a customized education. All children would do well this way. But, public school – mission is not to provide the best (see Penn state court ruling) but to be "free and adequate." As parents it's reasonable we want the best for our children but that is not the fiscal nor mission of public education. I will state unequivocally, that if we poured money into public education it would be the best. Go to the British Petroleum company campus…Google… Microsoft – the amenities are amazing. Why? Money.
And don’t start with the – “it’s the teachers, etc.” As an educator I will tell you that when a teacher teachers typically work 6 days a week – 50 -60 hours a week during the 9 month school year. They may have 35 children, some with learning and behavioral issues, and special needs children and advanced learners – and must teach children who come to school without breakfast or clean clothes and who go home to disruptive home lives – those social challenges usurps the delivery of a child’s education. More money= smaller classrooms = better education. When home school works – it’s because it’s a small class size. Same equation.
I know there are many parents that do a fine job of home schooling and I commend them for that effort.
I live in a very rural western area and the kids to the public school must ride on the bus at least two hours per day. That is a negative I grant you. But many people do not want their kids in the schools because we have many Hispanics and Native Americans and frankly there is some cultural prejudice going on.
One of the values of a public education is that a young person learns to socialize with persons of different back grounds which is a skill that a very important in the U.S. It is just as important as math and writing. So that is said frequently I know and many parents want to shield their children from the world so they won't have to find out the hard way that Santa does not exist or whatever facts of life they feel that will betray a childhood. I am willing to accept that parents may have a right to do this however how much of this is really for the benefit of the parents rather than the child?
There are two issues I would mention.
The first is that my experience is that there is an element that wants to keep the children at home because they do not want them interacting with teachers and other that may contact social services/ child welfare because of things going on in the homes- child abuse comes to mind but also other issues such a drug/alcohol abuse and spousal abuse. This is not adequately monitored by the state.
The second is in our state there is not enough intervention if the child is failing. If the standards are not being met then the steps before there is serious intervention I believe takes about 3 years. The problem is that three years of failing will cause serious problems for the child and has handicapped their chances of being able to perform in further education.
I don't have a problem with respecting parents rights if they are not just hiding out and they do an adequate job (even though what I see is many of these children really do not get a healthy social life). However, there needs to be increased state intervention to protect the interests of the children, first to protect them from an abusive situation and secondly to make sure their educational needs are being met.
We all know that many fail in public school and there are many reasons for that but home schooling in an of itself is no quarantee of success. This movement is popular now for many reasons that have little to do with the interests of the children.
Poorly performing schools is the wrong reason? That's why 90% of people homeschool – the schools in their area has poor performance as measured by the tests those very schools administer.
Love your posts!
When I am talking about the steps of intervention if a child is failing I want to make it clear I am talking about my state of Oregon- I admit I do not know about other states.
Part of the beauty of HSing is the flexibility. Yes, there are kids who are below grade level and HS, but some of these kids were pulled from PS because they were struggling there, too. It doesn't necessarily mean the parent is failing.
We do not need to follow the scope and sequence followed by PS, and don't need to meet those standards. It doesn't mean we don't want a rigorous education for our children. For example, we intentionally chose a wonderful history curriculum for our children that follows a chronological sequence. It is a fantastic curriculum, and it is enriched with lots of living books. We include examples of works of literature related to that time period, etc. and tie it all together. My children are elementary-aged, and they already know more history than I did when I was in college, because our curriculum brings it all to life. It isn't a boring text book. We follow a chronological sequence intentionally. As a result, my children know a great deal about ancient history and history of the Middle Ages, but they have not yet systematically studied US history. Of course, they've encountered plenty of info via informal conversation with me about various topics, and through their own free reading. Their lack of knowledge about US history at this point in their young lives doesn't mean that i'm not doing an adequate job of educating them. I am envious of the curriculum they've gotten to use! If they were tested by a PS, they would appear to be poorly educated in US history. I don't need to match my curricula to the scope and sequence followed by PS. That is part of the inherent beauty and flexibility that comes with HSing. Kids who struggle academically because of learning disabilities can work at a pace that is appropriate for them, even if that means they aren't meeting PS standards. If they were in PS, they very well might not meet the standards in that setting either.
I live in a highly regulated state, and really, it all amounts to a great deal of hoop jumping. The standard that HSers must meet in my state is "sustained progress in the overall program." So we jump through a lot of hoops, do standardized tests, have a portfolio review by an evaluator *and* the district superintendent, but it is all rather meaningless. The only subject we are legally required to teach each and every year is fire safety. Most of it is red tape, and lots of meaningless hoop jumping. Parents who are going to neglect their kids aren't going to bother with the hoop jumping at all, and are probably just going to fly under the radar.
Well let's just be completely honest. There is also a percentage of children who get through high school but cannot read a word. Way more cases of abused kids in the public school system that passes the buck to someone else until the file sits on someone's desk before getting tossed. I don't have any animosity about public school or people who send their children to public school, but I tire of hearing about all these so called "abuse" cases or the even more ridiculous "socialization" aspect and how so many define home school into this category. It's a load of b.s. Also, as far as falling behind and how nothing gets done for three years (in your state)...schools can fall behind for 3 years too...it's called the No Child Left Behind Act. I worked in Social Services and in all my experiences it was the parent/school/counselors etc., that failed the child...if you have a bad parent that home schools, you have the same bad parent with a child in public school system..resources are supposed to be in place so that these things get caught quickly in public school, but all the teacher's say the same thing..they are overworked, not enough individualized attention, etc., I can give my child the individual attention, I know EXACTLY what my children are learning and can introduce them into social situations that don't include children of parents who are racists and throw around slurs..
jtsilver2th, I think the bottom line is that generally people who care more about their child(ren)'s education, safety, and overall well being are the ones that make an extra effort to either send their children to a private school or to homeschool themselves. These are not generally the ones you have to worry about abuse. I do not have statistics, if they are even available and reliable, but I'm sure that the percentage of "abuse" in homeschools is far less than national averages. It would be illogical to believe otherwise. There will be exceptions to every rule of course, but they are not the rule. If you could pour all the money into the schools you wanted you would still have many of the same problems. Children are in nearly all cases, products of the home...the parents. If the parents do not instill the right values at home do you really believe that a high priced facility, smaller classes and adequately paid teachers will be able to do the job? The problem begins and ends in the home. Thus the choice my wife and I along with many others to use the home to educate. We can instill our values, not those of a politically restrained teacher's. We can implement necessary discipline rather than submitting to the fear of legal reprisal for ofending a student. The system is broken because our families are broken. You must fix the one before the other can be repaired. On a final note, it is a mistake to believe that more government regulation, and involvement will bring any good. I could quote several of our country's forefathers but I will refrain. I think we all can see the emerging pattern of governmental intrusion into our lives (and I'm not even an anti-government/conspiracy theorist).
Some of the concerns you mention are very valid. There are people who homeschool to stay uner the proverbial social services "radar" I have found tht to be true and it is concerning to say the least. Because of that reason, I have always had a prejudice about homeschooling. So what do I do now? I homeschool my daughter. Why? Because the system was failing her and she was floundering academically.
I went through the proper channels. I tried within the system to get her the assistance she needed, but to no avail. She was suffering from poor self esteem and poor grades, was going down to the nurse 5-6x a week and missing much of her school day because of the stress she was under. She was experiencing anxiety issues and we spent hours trying to get her through homework. She is not a stupid child, nor is she in any way a social outcast. She just couldn't work well within the format that has been deemed educationally sound.
At her behest, I took her out in December of last year. Since then she has thrived both academically and on a social level. Because she no longer feels inferior and is not worried about being ridiculed by her classmates, she has become a happier and more willing person and student. She increased her reading level by a grade and a half within 6 months (that's not my interpretation, she took a standardized test used by our district and it was administered by a teacher). She is not thrilled about all aspects of homeschooling (she feels a little like the odd man out) but she does have numerous friends and activities (twirling, gymnastic, bowling) as well as homeschool meet ups that give her ample opportunity to work out conflicts, interact and learn social behaviors.
There is the flip side to your concerns.There are parents who shove their kids off to school and think their job is done, the ones who feel that public school teaches everthing and they have no responsibility. I have found, especially recently, schools are concerned only about test scores because there is a direct correlation between them and district funding. My daughter was taught to pass tests, not learn. I hate to say it, but there are teachers that don't care. The ones who do, (and I know many outstanding educators), are frustrated that they are not able to 'teach' any longer. They feel they do little more than babysit and put up with kids that are disrespectful, disruptive to the entire learning environment and at times, violent. Kids in public schools are rarely taught to be thinkers, they are taught to follow the crowd and comply. Even that has it's place, but there are so many ways to teach a child how to work within the confines of society that it isn't an overwhelming negative to homeschooling and I would prefer that my daughter has the academic skills necessary to function in society and the freedom to think around problems when encountered.
There are people out there that just shouldn't be parents, but we don't stop them from doing so. There will always be people who do things that are just horrible to kids, but that shouldn't be the reason we send them to school As for your line of thought tht lazy parents don't want to get up to put their kids on the bus therefore they homeschool, well, . I would think disengaged/lazy parents would prefer to their kids on the bus so they can go back to sleeping or drinking or whatever they shouldn't do.
I have to be honest, I thought similarly before I started homeschooling (and I do have four children that were public school educated so I am in no way niave about the system), but have since found that there are wonderful academic programs, homeschool groups and activities that can be used to obtain a quality education at home as well as some great people that work very hard at being parents and educators and are very successful in doing so. I have talked to many parents who are dissatisfied with the education their children are receiving, but have no choices because they must work. I am very grateful to be in a position to do this for my daughter.
I think you are making generalizations and you are short sided. Public school just isn't up to par! My children had a lot of social activities and grew up very, very successful. It had nothing to do with prejudice as they had a variety of friends. It did have to do with the method of punishing the higher students and teaching to and rewarding (yes, rewarding) the lowest. You see, there is more federal money for low functioning and therefore that is encouraged for financial reasons, their scores may not even count on standardized test percentages. The money is not available for the well behaved, high functioing young people...tomorrows leaders. Sad, what would education be IF it were the other way around. It also was just plain safety!
If home schooling is your choice that is fine, but I get tired of the homeschool parents that knock the public schools. If done right, with supportive, caring and engaged parents, public schools work just fine. If there was a situation at my children's school that warranted home schooling, I would consider it. I am open to whatever is best for my children but get really tired of the pompous opinions of the homeschool parents thinking their way is superior over all. I have a 15 year old and an 8 year old. Both children are very bright and get good grades. The 15 year old is in all accelerated classes, gets straight A's, plays sports, plays in the band and is involved in several clubs, AND is #1 in her class of 450 kids. Imagine that, from a public school education...
I don't knock the PS system if that's your choice thats your choice. Home schooling is not for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication to do it and a lot of patience. We did it because the schools in our area are quit frankly poor performers. They were inflexible with us in terms of accelerated programs for our child. It's not that way everywhere but it was here. I've never known anyone to be pompous about homeschooling.
Maybe you didn't intend it, but your comment about home schooling requiring a great deal of dedication and patience could be interpreted as "knocking public schooling." Heck, PARENTING takes enormous and sustained dedication and patience. Being dedicated and patient is part of being a parent and is not the exclusive prerogative of home schooling parents. I know that some kids get a superior education by being home schooled. I know other kids thrive and succeed in public schools. Neither home schooling nor public schooling is for everyone, because all kids are different. I never had to make the choice whether to home school my kids or send them to public school since I was a single parent and had to work to provide for them. I couldn't do both, and while I could provide for them while the public schools educated them (with a lot of supplementation by me), no one would provide for them if I had stayed home to school them, so the "choice," if you can call it that, was a no brainer. Anyway. I go on and on. My point is, Tom, that perhaps you don't realize the impact a statement like "Home schooling requires a lot of dedication and patience" might have on dedicated and patient parents of other stripes. Just a thought.
Homeschooling is a full time job. It doesn't actually require the same dedication and patience (or time and effort) as sending them to an outside school does. If someone said that being a public school teacher takes patience and dedication, would you have had the same reaction?
Sorry Jan my comment wasn't directed at people not being dedicated and patient in being a parent. It was directed at people who this HSing is only because we were religious fanatics and/or too lazy to take them to regular school. Dedication and patience comes into play when you believe deep down in your heart you're doing the best thing you can for your child. Dedication to do something you likely have no experience doing (wife was an accountant) and patience because believe it or not the kids didn't want to have school everyday in the bonus room. I know we were fortunate to be able to do this, but I also know that after having see my wife do it you'd have to have the patience of Job. My comment was not meant as a slam. Sorry if you took it that way.
I'm a liberal/progressive, secular HSer and I support PSs. We happily pay our tax dollars to support them, because we do feel they fill a vital role. It isn't the right fit for our family, but they are important.
I think sometimes HSers are overly defensive, because we are constantly bombarded with questions about whether what we do is legal, how can we possibly do an adequate job without a teaching degree (my husband and I have been asked this even though he holds a doctoral degree in chem and I have a master's degree in a biology-heavy healthcare field), aren't we worried about our kids' socialization, etc. Our first summer at the local pool, I would meet fellow moms, and we'd be striking up a great conversation until they asked where my kids attend school. As soon as they hear they are HSd, they instantly brand me as a religious zealot who chains her children to a desk all day. Or they begin with the interrogation about socialization, qualifications, who provides oversight, etc. I have no problem answering genuine questions, but it becomes an interrogation in tone. It would be unacceptable for me to grill them on what their children are learning in school, why they chose it, aren't they concerned about their kids' progress, etc. I would never do that. But because I'm a HSer, they feel the need to scrutinize the choice that works best for my family, or label me a religious nut job. It does make one a tad defensive at times ;) When people ask me why I HS, I don't bash PS, and focus on it just being the right fit for our family, etc. Yes, I have concerns about PS and NCLB's impact, etc. but I don't get into that, because it just isn't the right place or time for that type of discussion. However, my educational choices for my kids are closely scrutinized by near strangers as soon as they hear "homeschool."
I home schooled my daughter after NCLB provided that the grade schools in her district taught a two-core curriculum, meaning that they were exempt from teaching science and social science instead teaching SCRIPTED math and language arts all day, in grades k-6th. They did this because they weren't tested in social science and science until 7th grade.
Are you going to argue that that was best for kids? Do you know what happened to those kids when they got to 7th grade without any of the preparation from grade school that they were supposed to have? They didn't do "just fine." There are actually some very bad school situations, in public, private and home settings. But to say that all public schools are just fine is as short sided as saying that all home schooling is just fine, etc.
Oops, let's make my "short sided," "short sighted!"
Please don't take this personally, but let me make an obvious observation. A's are easy to come by IF the standards are low enough. Second, sombody has to be #1 just like somebody has to be # 450. Question is really is that education the BEST you could offer? Only you know that answer.
I keep posting this but they refuse to put it up –
My wife homeschooled our 2 sons thru the 5th grade. Afterwards we put them in a private school. Both played HS sports, captains of the baseball, basketball, and cross country teams. One just graduated Salutatorian with a 99.4 GPA (missed Valedictorian by .004 points) – and is now a Midshipman at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis MD. My younger is a Jr this year and plans to go to West Point. For us homeschooling definitely worked.
As did public school, it would appear! You and your wife did a great job with your kids.
Oops. Misread. You said private school. Well, whatever you did worked, didn't it! Congratulations on raising two fine people!
My wife was homeschooled K – 12 in the infancy of this movement. Her parents (driven by a very zealous mother) kept her and her brother at home for religious purposes. In short, her education especially math had big holes. I had to tutor her in basic math before she went to college. In the religous homeschooling homes, girl's educational needs are often centered around domestic abilities – cooking, cleaning, raising children, etc. – because it is seen as wrong for women to work. In my wife's childhood home, her brother didn't fair much better in terms of education because he mom had no idea what she was doing. I am a firm believer that there needs to be some oversight into homeschoolers. There is just too much neglect and abuse that is happening in these cases.
THose who have strong fundamentalist religious beliefs are going to treat their girls like that regardless of where schooling takes place. I live in a state with a large Amish population. I'm pretty sure they aren't prepping their girls for professional careers that require a college degree. The Amish form and operate their own private schools. If the government decided to tightly regulate what is taught in home education programs, what would stop those with these types of religious convictions from forming and operating a private school instead? And how exactly would the government be able to intervene? Force the Amish to teach evolution because PSs do?
As a HSer, it is interesting to me that private schools aren't required to participate in standardized testing, they can choose their own curricula, etc. yet people don't seem to want to crack down and force private schools to conform to PS standards and testing.
The superficial quality of these data presented here lead to a unsupported conclusion that homeschooling CAUSES better tests scores. What isn't related is any attempt to compare homeschooled children from similar socio-economic status. I'd be curious to find out about the effects, if any, of SES on homeschooling. Does it amplify any benefits or is it the root cause of the difference in scores.
The other issue is that it is not a requirement to do any standarized testing, at least not in Missouri. My wife's parents who homeschooled my wife and her brother k – 12 didn't believe in standarized testing. I can assure you that the results wouldn't have been good if they had. My wife's education, because she was a girl, consisted largely of doing household duties. The idea was that she would get married and stay at home to raise babies.
If they tightly regulate HSers, are they going to tightly regulate private schools? Unlikely, based off the data on that happening in other states. If they crack down on HSers, families like you describe will just form "private schools" and continue to do what they are doing. I doubt regulation would fix anything at all. For what it is worth, I live in one of the most regulated states for HSing, and really amounts to a lot of busywork, red tape, and hoop jumping. The standard we are measured by is "sustained progress in the overall program" so test scores, etc. in and of themselves aren't enough to force a family to stop HSing. We have to test in certain grades, and if it is a testing year, those scores go to the district. We have to create a portfolio of work each year, have it evaluated by a private evaluator (we pay for this of course), then the evaluator letter and the whole port still have to go to the district superintendent for them to approve it. It is extraordinarily rare for any issues to arise with the district. Is it really the best use of administrators' time, when PS are struggling? Truly, it is a lot of fairly meaningless hoop jumping. People who are neglecting their kids' education entirely are just going to fly under the radar and not bother to jump through hoops. In our tightly regulated state, there are many steps to the evaluation process, but it is all fairly meaningless.
One other thought, Darren. I live in a state with a large Amish population. They form and operate their own private schools. No one gets to dictate their curriculum. I'm sure they don't teach evolution ;) and I'm sure that the assumption is women won't go to college, and will instead raise families. Are we going to swoop in and impose PS standards on those folks? Good luck. In most states, private schools have great freedom in terms of what they can teach, what curricula they use, etc. If you crack down on HSers and attempt to impose PS standards on them, do you think those with fundamentalist beliefs aren't just going to form private schools where they can teach the very same content they are teaching as HSers?
Also, keep in mind there are many kids in PS who can't meet the standards. But HSers should exceed them 100% of the time?
My husband and I both hold advanced degrees, and we are secular, liberal HSers, for what is worth. There are many of us out there who defy the stereotype of HSers. I just don't think cracking down on HSers teaching of fundamentalist beliefs is going to fix the problem. They'll form private schools, they'll continue to teach their children their beliefs no matter where they are educated. If girls aren't expected to advance their education, sending them to PS is unlikely to change the values and beliefs hey impart to their children.
you didn't post my comment?
The kids that are homeschooled, in my opinion as an educator, would score higher than the 50 percentile if they were in the school system because they have parents that care. I feel their loss is in social development. Sadly, they are usually very easy to pick from a crowd of students for various reasons. No matter how many controlled activities they are involved in.
And how exactly do you pick them out from a crowd? And have you ever had an objective test of your method of picking home schooled students out from a crowd? And can you tell which ones might have only spent a few years homeschooling from the ones who did K-12?
I see a lot of "experts" making statements about what homeschooling does, but not a whole lot of evidence.
What kind of evidence would you want to see in this context? You think we should scan tests for you and post them? College acceptance letters? Be realistic, we are just chatting on a message board, not making a formal presentation.
In the real world, the ability to socialize and relate with others is key. If you own your own business or decide to work in corporate america, it is vital that children learn social skills. How do you receive that key element in education from a homeschool?
I agree totally.
I was not home schooled. I went to public school and was bullied. I guess those home schoolers miss out on that benefit too.
Easily! My 4 children are educated at home. They spend almost everyday together and have learned to interact appropriate with their siblings who range from 2 to 10 years old. We are part of a homescool co-op where 50+ families get together and do gym days twice a month. We also participate in an oral reports class every month and spanish class weekly with a couple of other families. The socialization problem is just a myth put out there by those against homeschooling in the first place. My children are well rounded individuals who have no problem interacting with adults or children of any age. Sure, there are homeschool families that become hermits but those are few and far between and are no worse off than the children in public school who have no family support behind them.
It is unfortunate that our government has managed to convince the average citizen that they are not worthy of teaching their own children.
@Gaylene, I don't think you're "the average citizen." You care enough about your child's education to take the time to do it yourself. That is unusual since 96% of the population does otherwise.
When every profession requires some skill and training, why do u think teaching does not? With low level of education among people, how can every parent be qualified to teach its children? By home schooling, wouldn't you be limiting your children to the boundaries of your own ignorance and vision? How is interacting with siblings same as interacting with strangers and slowly getting to know them? What is out there that scares you so much, and for how long do you plan to protect your children against it? Who takes over after that? When do you children learn to fend for themselves? May be you can discuss these questions in your home class today.
Pickmybrain-Teachers serve a valuable role. I'm not anti-teacher. However, I think it is important to recognize that a good portion of a teacher's professional prep centers on classroom management issues, and educational theory about learning styles, educational philosophies, etc. As a HSer, classroom management isn't a concern for me, as I don't have a classroom of 20-25 kids to manage. I applaud teachers for being able to juggle that while teaching, because that is something I could not do! As a home educator, I've spent years reading books on educational philosophy, learning styles, etc. It is quite possible to self-educate on those topics.
I would say that it could be argued PSs aren't terribly representative of the broader world at all.
We homeschool in part because I want my kids to have more time out in the community, engaging with people of varying ages and backgrounds. It isn't about sheltering them; it is about making the world their classroom. They speak with adults with ease, they are confident, they enjoy the company of people of all different ages, not just their peers. They spend time participating in extracurriculars, sports teams, dance class, co-op, etc. They play with neighborhood kids, family friends, friends from the pool, cousins, etc.
Any parent can be a helicopter parent. Any parent can stifle their child's personal and social growth, even if that child attends PS. Any parent can overly shelter their child. That's a parenting issue more than a schooling issue. We have a generation of kids who have been helicopter parented, where the parent flips out when Johnny receives a C in science class. This parent behavior even continues on when the child goes off to college, where cell phones now make it possible to feed mom and dad too much information, and mom and dad footing a large college bill call up professors to complain about grades. Ask any academic if they've had this experience, because most have, and experience it regularly. That's helicoptering, and it is not a homeschool vs. PS issue. It is a parenting style issue.
In terms of making an adjustment to the larger world, that's something all parents should be working toward. My kids already take some outside classes (dance class, participate in co-op classes where I am not the teacher, etc.) . As they get older, we will increasingly seek out opportunities for them to spread their wings. They'll take more classes outside of the home, they'll be encouraged to seek out mentors and spend time shadowing in fields of interest. We will teach them to manage deadlines with larger projects, and encourage increasing academic independence. They'll be encouraged to volunteer, perhaps start a non profit of their own, and get involved in the greater community. We plan on having them take community college classes through dual-enrollment when they are teens. They can learn to take instruction from a college instructor, navigate a small campus, etc. All of that seems a much more natural progression than being required to have a hall pass to use the restroom in May of their senior year, and then being dropped off at college in August. Any parent can helicopter and overly shelter their child from failures and life experience.
Homeschooled children are not educated in a bubble. Many familes have "group learning" where families meet on a specific day of the week and study various subjects from all the parents involved with many differring age groups. Home schooled children can be more involved in social activities, like volunteering, simply because their learning is not confined to 5 days a week 7:30-3:00 inside a building. Homeschooled students are not social misfits – I have meet many and socilization is not an issue.
Exactly. They are out in situations I'd consider more representative of the real world than age-segregated interaction with their peers. They can volunteer, participate in extracurricular clubs, sports teams, co-ops, classes, etc. My kids have friends from the pool, friends from co-op, neighborhood friends, family friends, cousins, friends from our baseball team and dance class, etc. My neighbors reguarly comment on my children's confidence when speaking to adults in the neighborhood. I'm not attributing that to HSing, but pointing out that they don't shy away from interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds.
It's a myth that home schoolers live in isolation. When my daughter was home schooled she participated in activities with other kids almost everyday. My sister home schools her kids and they belong to a network where they participate in group art classes, spanish classes, science club, chess club and go on field trips. They also participate in organized sports and performing arts. Both kids are in grade school and both took classes at our local college over the summer geared toward high achieving students. They have friends and sleepovers just like everyone else.
There are kids in public schools who have far less social interaction than they do.
There are many studies out there at this point that demonstrate that homeschooled students are far more socially integrated into society than most public-schooled students, and public-schooled students outrank private-schooled students. Some of the reasons for this include lack of bullying, seeing their parents stand up to peer pressure (sometimes daily!), etc. But one of the most compelling reasons for their amazing social skills stems from the fact that homeschooled students are generally not limited to being with one age level all day long, every day. Their social interactions are much more varied, and their behavior is far more adult - because their main role model is not the kid sitting next to them, but their parent. For what it's worth...
Very good post. I would like to add that my wife and I have homeschooled both of our children and just sent one off to a university 10 hours away. This is a BIG first for her. First time in a classroom setting, first time away from home/mom and dad for more than a few days, and obviously first time o college. She is doing well. Making friends, and volunteering for campus/community projects. This is what you were talking about. They are able to mature with a more well-rounded experience when homeschooled. As parents we are constantly being complimented on how polite, well mannered, helpful, intelligent, honest....the list litterally goes on..., our children are. This is because they were not influenced by teachers that may feel no personal investment in proper development of someone else's child, nor were they influenced by peers from families that do not share our standards and values. To make a comparison, you can grow a tomato plant in a field with thousands of others, all being treated the same, or you can grow one in a greenhouse with dozens of others treated pretty much the same or you can grow one in your living room and provide both sunlight, growlights, fertilizers, pesticides or whatever you think it needs. Which will turn out the best? It is a choice; Public school, private school or homeschool. Smart money is on homeschools.
As for me, my 16-month old will probably have a combination of home-schooling and public school. After working as a school psychologist is the public school system in Minnesota, I've realized that being a passive parent and allowing the system to "do its own thing" is absolutely not enough. Active parents who know what is going on with their child's learning and care to put the time and effort in to boost skills at home often see their children attain a successful education. Also, in regards to social skills, bullies, snobs, alcohol and drugs – these issues have been around long before our education system. I truly believe our education system is being blamed for these societal problems because these issues are visible in the school venue. However, home life has a great impact on societal problems in general. I plan on giving my daughter the confidence and character traits needed to avoid these traps through parental guidance in the home environment.
My youngest daughter just graduated from a public high school. Her older sister did as well 4 years ago. They both ended up with a good education. However, given the deterioration in the public school system that I have witnessed over the last 17 years I can't see public school as a viable option anymore. The system is broken beyond repair. If my future grandchildren aren't able to attend private school I will offer to home school them if I can.
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