Nowadays, there’s a lot of buzz about home-schooling among the Christian community and the secular world. Most informed individuals no longer believe the stereotypes attached to homeschooling. Perspectives have widened, and more parents are considering home-schooling as an option for part, if not all, of their child’s education.

People choose home-based education for a variety of reasons. Statistically, the primary reasons are are follows: religious training, dissatisfaction with public schools (safety, worldview, curriculum, quality), individualized educational experience, and lifestyle/family values.
As with other styles of schooling, careful consideration of the whole picture is essential. No child is the same and no family is the same, so it stands to reason that education should be considered individually per child and per family.

Some interesting statistics about home-schooling:

  • there are 1.5 million children home-schooled in the U.S.
  • home-schooling costs an average of $546 per year (vs. $5,000+ per year for public school)
  • Raymond Moore, a PhD. in education, began the home school movement in the 1960s when he pulled his kids out of public school to educate them at home
  • a 1996 study showed 42% of home-schooling parents have made this choice out of dissatisfaction with public schools
  • home-schooling parents fall primarily into 2 categories: ideologues (value teaching religious truth & values) and pedagogues (value teaching different teaching techniques over status quo; anti government-controlled learning)
  • home-school students rank equal or above average in social skills to their non-home-schooled counterparts
  • home -school students earn above average SATs and are admitted into colleges at the same or higher rates than their counterparts
  • no statistics have yet proven that college-degreed parents produce better-achieving home-schooled students than non-degreed parents
  • famous modern home-schoolers include Tim Tebow, Leann Rimes, the Jonas brothers, Sandra Day O’Connor, Whoopie Goldberg, Christopher Paolini, Josh Harris, Jessica Love-Hewitt, Alex & Brett Harris
  • some famous Americans who were home-schooled: Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, John Pershing, Thomas Alva Edison, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Frost, Ansel Adams, Pearl Buck, Florence Nightengale, and 9 Presidents (the most recent being FDR)
  • most fathers who home-school their children are doctors, lawyers, scientists, or professors; most mothers are stay-at-home moms
  • in 1992, home schooling became a legal option in all 50 states

So what do people mean when they say “home-schooled”? Actually, several versions of home-schooling exist in America. Some families use only one method, and some use a combination. Parents might buy curriculum as entire sets or may piece together curriculum as desired. They may also choose not to use any curriculum. Regulations for curriculum and testing vary from state to state.

Types of Home-schooling:

  • at home exclusively (with parent, hired tutor, or video instruction)
  • cooperative learning (home school co-ops–parents share & trade teaching with other parents)
  • home-schooling academies (private school for home-schooled kids; community college-style schedules)
  • un-schooling (do life with parents and learn through practical experience and reading; no tests, curriculum, etc.)
  • part-time enrollment at participating public or private schools, part-time home-schooling
  • community college (high school students often take community college courses for dual credits)

Pros:

  • individualized education (adjust to giftedness, disabilities, interests, etc.)
  • schools adjusts to family time and family schedule, rather than the family adjusting to school schedule (i.e. vacations, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
  • environment, curriculum, peers, and role models controlled by parent
  • values, beliefs, and faith taught and reinforced by parent
  • mixed ages promotes mentoring, patience, and advanced learning
  • complete ability to integrate curriculum with life experience
  • hands-on learning for every subject
  • evenings free for family time and extra-curricular activities
  • time to work part-time, start of business, volunteer,have a mentor
  • time to fully develop a skill or talent
  • time for family vacations, mission trips, and fieldtrips during the week or for extended periods of time
  • ability to travel with parents or relatives without disrupting school work
  • low cost for a private, individualized education
  • opportunity to hire teachers, tutors, or experts to teach difficult or specific subjects or skills
  • time and opportunity for unusual clubs or extra-curricular activities
  • ability to finish school early and/or begin college early
  • opportunities for co-ops and interaction with other home-school families
  • opportunity to discipline and correct children throughout entire day
  • can begin professional career track early (i.e. Olympic athletes, authors, entrepreneurs, non-profits, political activists, bloggers)

Cons:

  • potential of too much time alone or with family only
  • busy schedule for parent(s) carpooling and teaching throughout the day
  • difficult for parents who need to work during the day or when not teaching their children
  • overcoming stereotypes and others’ negative opinions about home-schooling
  • separation from neighbors attending neighborhood school
  • possibility of parents unable or unqualified to teach particular subjects or teaching them poorly
  • cost for curriculum could be too high for some families
  • potential of too little teacher-student interaction (spend too much time doing busy work, watching instructional videos, or reading alone)
  • potential of too little interaction with peers
  • potential of watering down curriculum, limiting testing or other benchmarks to keep child on pace
  • difficulty teaching a child to meet deadlines, work with difficult people, or learn material not interested in
  • potential of having a narrow perspective of the world
  • parents’ responsibility is high to develop and plan each school year
  • tracking high school credits and applying for college is complicated in many states
  • may lack opportunities to participate in co-ops or home-school groups, or may not bond with other home-school families

You know your children better than anyone else, and you are in charge of their learning, whether you teach them personally or not. So don’t panic–every year is different. What is necessary this year may be unnecessary next year. It’s okay for your schooling decisions to change and morph over time. That doesn’t make you indecisive. It means you’re adaptable and experimental, which are also good skills to model for your children.

Enjoy the school years! They go so fast.

Sites/Resources:
www.wnd.com

www.hslda.org

www.school.familyeducation.com

www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com

www.npr.org/2013/08/…/parents-on-the-pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling

www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/schooling

image by George Hodan

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