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The Advantages of Homeschooling

Once upon a time in the United States, all children were taught either at home, or through apprenticeships, where they learned a trade with which they would later earn a livelihood. But in the mid 1800’s, public schools began proliferating throughout the country, and most children subsequently started attending public schools.

In recent decades, however, more and more American parents have begun looking to homeschooling again as an option for educating their children. In 2012, three percent of all school-age children — about 1.5 million — were being homeschooled in the U.S. The top three professions for the fathers in these households were: accountant/engineer (17.3%), professor/doctor/lawyer (16.9%), and small-business owner (10.7%).

Parents list a number of reasons for electing to homeschool their children. The three most frequent reasons given in surveys are:

  • Believing that parents can do a better job of teaching their kids than the results that can be achieved in a setting where many kids compete for one teacher’s attention
  • To be able to give their children religious or moral instruction, which, by law, are not provided at public schools, which constitute the majority of schools
  • Concerns about the school environment

Homeschooling indeed puts parents in charge of their children’s education. The homeschooling curriculum has to be government-approved. As such, parents may have to file paperwork with a government entity, to state who is teaching the child, and what subjects are being taught.

Parents have good reason to be skeptical about the ability of most regular schools to do a great job teaching their kids — after all, American students overall rank 17th in the world academically! Further, some statistics point out that children who are homeschooled do better on all categories, academic and social, than children who attend regular schools — regardless of the parents’ educational background or household income.

Some people think that U.S. students are being outperformed globally because American government focuses too much on the lowest achievers and does not invest enough resources to encourage and support the highest achievers.

The homeschooling setting is an ideal place to help insure that a student gets the individual attention that he or she needs, regardless of their academic abilities: if the student has difficulty with a particular subject, he or she can get individualized attention, instead of the whole class moving forward without the student. Likewise, if a student excels at a subject, he or she won’t be held back by the rest of the class.

Homeschooling may also be a good choice for families who live in isolated rural locations, and for families who are living abroad temporarily.

Homeschooling usually utilizes a parent as the teacher, or a paid tutor. The American government is also now offering homeschooling curricula that can be followed on the Internet; for parents who don’t own a computer or a printer, the federal government will ship a computer and printer on loan to the student’s home, all free of charge.

One of the disadvantages of homeschooling vs. attending a regular school is that homeschooled children may not get to interact with peers of the same age as often. Parents who homeschool have gotten around this problem by forming groups of homeschooled kids who participate in joint activities in their communities — be they educational field trips, socializing events, or even volunteer work. A homeschooled child can also be taken individually on educational field trips by the parent or tutor.

Beginning in the 1960’s, American philosopher and theologian Rousas John Rushdoony began advocating homeschooling as a way of combating the secular, amoral nature of the public school system in the U.S.

At about the same time, education professionals Raymond and Dorothy Moore began arguing against the academic validity of the growing early childhood education movement, which aims to recruit children as young as three years old into pre-school.

The Moores reviewed more than eight thousand studies on early childhood education, and the physical, intellectual, and emotional/social development of children. The educators concluded that instead of helping children to succeed, formal schooling before ages 8-12 in fact was damaging to young children academically, socially, emotionally, and even physically. They offered evidence that increasingly earlier enrollment of students in schools was leading to problems such as juvenile delinquency, nearsightedness, behavioral problems, and increased enrollment in special education classes.

The Moores asserted that the psychological bonds and emotional development made at home with parents during the early childhood years resulted in important and long-term benefits that were cut short by early enrollment in schools. They concluded that the far majority of children were much better off learning at home, even with lesser capable parents, than in a school setting, even with the very best, most gifted teachers.

Similarly, American educator and author John Holt did not view homeschooling as the answer to bad schools; instead, he saw the home as “the proper base for the exploration of the world, which we call learning or education.” He believed that home was the best educational base for children, no matter how good regular schools may be.

By Lisa Pecos

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