When making significant decisions about your child’s life, it is essential to be well informed about all of your options. Otherwise, you run the risk of choosing a course of action that is inferior to another; and, your initial choice may not be in the best interest of your child. This is especially true when it comes to deciding your child’s education.
Most parents today are fairly well informed about the options available for childhood education. They know the basics about the public school system: it’s funded by the government; it can be either secular or religious; and, it can sometimes include alternate language immersion programs. Parents are also reasonably knowledgeable about private schools, including their greater range of secular, religious and curriculum choices. However, the one form of education that parents are not quite as informed about is homeschooling.
Many parents have either heard very little about homeschooling, or, more commonly, received inaccurate information about it.
As a result of this, very few end up actually choosing this option for their child. Not only are parents making uninformed decisions about education, many children are missing out on a very beneficial form of learning.
If you think you might be in a similar situation to these parents, but want to make a more informed choice about your child’s future, then I invite you to continue reading this blog post. It discusses three important reasons why you should give homeschooling more serious consideration as an option for childhood education, and why this form of learning may even be a better fit for your child.
Homeschooling warrants more serious consideration, on one level, because it is significantly recognized by the public as a valid option of childhood education.
A considerable amount of homeschooling’s public recognition comes from the support it receives from many countries throughout the world. Presently, there are over 50 countries in the global community in which home education enjoys legal protection (HSLDA – International). This is significant because these countries represent not only almost every region around the world, but also many first and second world nations. In addition to this, there has been a growing trend in recent years, among some of the more restrictive countries in this group, towards granting home education even more freedom than it previously had. Ukraine, for example, introduced new regulations that allow parents to educate their children at home without official permission. The Philippines’ Ministry of Education published new guidelines that make homeschooling much more accessible. And, Taiwan passed legislation, this past July, that provides homeschoolers with greater access to national sports leagues (Donnelly). Interestingly, these developments suggest that more national governments are slowly becoming open to the idea that home education, far from undermining the state, can actually help support and strengthen it.
The public recognition enjoyed by home education today also derives from the many people who now practice it. Although it is still a relatively new phenomena, homeschooling has experienced immense growth throughout the world in recent years. In the United States, for example, a recent study indicates that the number of homeschool students greatly increased from 2 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2016. This increase is so significant that it has even led one scholar to suggest that homeschooling “may be the fastest-growing form of education” in the United States (Ray: 2019). Canada has witnessed a similar trend. According to a 2015 study, Canada experienced a 5% average annual growth rate in home education from 2001 onwards. Strikingly, during this period, every Canadian province except British Columbia saw steady increases in homeschool enrollment (Van Pelt). Although more prominent in North America, home education is also growing in many other countries around the world. These include Australia, France, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom (Ray: 2019).
In light of both of these public contexts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that homeschooling has now established itself throughout the world as a legitimate option of childhood education.
Benefits of Homeschooling
As important as it is, however, public recognition is only a very small part of why parents should take a closer, and more serious look at home education. Something that carries much greater weight in this regard is realizing that homeschooling offers a lot of invaluable benefits for children.
One the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that it allows for a very individualized form of education. In public school, education is much more standardized in both theory and practice. Students are subjected to the same curriculum, learn the same information, are largely taught in identical ways, and work at a similar pace. There is very little room for customization. And, rightly so – how else could a teacher be expected to try and teach an entire class of students? Homeschooling, however, is the exact opposite. With home education, the parent has greater autonomy to choose a curriculum, a method of teaching, and a pace of learning that is fully in-keeping with the abilities and personality of their child. Even if situations arise where these things become untenable, the parent always has the freedom to adjust accordingly. The parent can choose a new curriculum, alter their method of teaching, or slow or accelerate the pace of learning. Not surprisingly, this flexibility greatly increases the likelihood that a child will not only experience greater educational success, but also find learning much more enjoyable.
Homeschooling also offers a healthier form of socialization. To a large extent, this benefit is tied up with what homeschool students are protected from by being in a home setting. As many news articles have pointed out in recent years, children in public schools are increasingly subjected to many forms of negative influences. These include peer pressure, verbal bullying, violence and maladaptive coping strategies. In addition to making it harder to maintain interest in, and focus on their education, such external stresses can very easily lead to unhealthy social development. The fact that homeschool children are spared these negative social pressures means that they are better positioned to experience psychological and emotional health. Therefore, they are more capable of learning how to properly relate to others.
The biggest contributor, however, to a homeschool child’s healthy socialization comes from the positive influence of their parent. Homeschool parents are capable of influencing their children in a positive manner in so many ways. They can do this through their choice of curriculum, in terms of the values and beliefs it embodies and communicates. They can do this by modeling an exemplary character in the way they teach, work with and relate to their child. And, they can do this by exposing their children to other socially mature children through participation in wisely chosen homeschool co-op communities. In each of these ways, there are countless opportunities for parents to help their children become more socially developed.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of homeschooling is that it can help foster a deep bond between a parent and child. In teaching and working with their child day in and day out, parents have a unique chance to get to know who their child really is. They can discover and learn about their interests, their shortcomings, their strengths, and the complexity and richness of their personalities. But, this also works in the reverse. These same ongoing activities also give a child an opportunity to learn who their parent really is, along similar lines. In the end, when a parent and child develop this kind of knowledge about each other, over a medium to long-term period, they are much more likely to develop an authentic, loving and respectful relationship.
Proven Successes of Homeschooling
The last thing that parents should know about homeschooling is that it actually works! In fact, many recent studies go a step further than this. They suggest that homeschooling does not just work, but that it works exceptionally well on a number of different fronts.
The success of homeschool children is perhaps most evident when it comes to academics – an area in which they consistently outperform their public school counterparts. Homeschool students score 15-30 percentile points higher on standardized academic achievement tests. They obtain above average scores on the SAT and ACT tests (Ray: 2019). And, in some cases, they also achieve higher grades in calculus (Van Pelt). These first two accomplishments occur independent of both the level of education of parents and the degree of state regulation of homeschooling in respective areas (Ray: 2019).
In the United States, homeschool students also rank higher in terms of less rigorous intellectual accomplishments. According to a 2004 study, they are more likely to complete a course in college, read at least one book in a six-month period, and read one or more magazines on an on-going basis (Ray: 2004).
Homeschool students similarly outperform their counterparts in the area of socialization. On a personal level, homeschool students have higher quality friendships during childhood (Medlin), value and prioritize family to a greater degree, and have more social interactions with a wider range of ages of both children and adults (Smedley). This is also true on the level of civic engagement. On this level, homeschool students are much more involved in community activities, including in cooperative classes, church functions, and broader community services. They vote more regularly and they also exhibit a higher degree of involvement in political activities and movements (Ray: 2004).
Another noteworthy area in which homeschool children excel is in the area of successful adult outcomes. Although those who were homeschooled do not outperform their counterparts in this category, they nevertheless exhibit an equally high level of success. Generally speaking, when homeschool children become adults, they live very independent lives, and they either own their own businesses or are involved in professional occupations (Knowles & Muchmore). The one exception to this rule, however, occurs in Canada. In Canada, adults who were homeschooled fare a bit better in terms of professional development. Not only are they more likely than their counterparts to obtain a PhD or a professional degree, but they are also more likely, on average, to hold managerial and professional positions (Van Pelt).
If you’re a parent that was relatively unacquainted with homeschooling before reading this blog, you are now better informed. You know that it is a publicly recognized option of childhood education, that it holds many potential benefits for children, and that it is associated with a wealth of proven success.
At the same time, however, you should not make any false assumptions about what you now know. Although you have greater knowledge about homeschooling, it is unlikely that you are now fully informed about it. That is because the content in this blog post is very limited in both scope and depth. It has provided you, not with an exhaustive and detailed account of home education, but a very brief introduction to it.
If you would like to work towards becoming fully informed about homeschooling, so that you can better determine how best to educate your child, then I strongly encourage you to take the next step in this process and explore our website. There you will find not only a diversity of resources to better acquaint yourself with homeschooling, but also opportunities for receiving customized support from our organization.
Becoming Informed: Grounds for Considering Homeschooling a Valid Option for Childhood Education
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