The Legitimacy and Advantages of Homeschooling
The homeschooling movement—beginning as a very small and looked down upon practice—has grown exponentially over the last 30 or so years. What was once thought of as crazy is now a normal occurrence which is constantly growing in popularity and respect. This is not at all surprising given the outstanding performance of most previously homeschooled students in college, careers, and throughout life. Homeschooling instills several life skills into students from a very early age such as time management and schedule keeping, it provides a flexible schedule which allows for beneficial life experiences for students such as getting a job, and it also allows students to work at their own pace and therefore make the best use of their time.
As a result, homeschooled students are often better equipped to enter college than their public schooled counterparts, and they will therefore be more likely to succeed. Despite the false caricatures that may be painted of the social disadvantages, homeschooling has proved itself to be a legitimate and desirable choice for parents who wish to prepare their children for college. Although homeschooling is generally thought of as a fairly new concept, it is, in actuality, extremely old. In fact, some of the world’s greatest intellectuals, inventors, and leaders were homeschooled—William Blake, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Benjamin Franklin, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Charlie Chaplin, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie (Jeub 37). With the rise of public schooling in America, homeschooling began to recede in the early 20th century.
It made a resurgence, however, when dissatisfaction with public schooling continued to grow throughout the 20th century. About 15,000 students were homeschooled by 1980, and those numbers continued to grow. By 2001, it was estimated that between 700,000 and 1.3 milion students in the United States were homeschooled (Rehfeldt 191, 192). This steady increase demonstrates the continued satisfaction found by homeschooling parents. The reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children vary.
The most common are social, academic, family, and religious reasons (Jeub 36). Homeschooling parents believe that they can provide a better education for their children by facilitating their education from the home. This eliminates many of the detriments that go along with public schooling such as negative peer pressure, wasted time, and less individual attention. By homeschooling, parents are able to better teach their children the academic and life skills that they wish them to develop. An enormous benefit of homeschooling is the flexible schedule that accompanies it. Students have more opportunities to get jobs, volunteer, travel, and pursue their interests.
Their school schedule does not have to dictate the rest of their life. Andrea Neal, an eighth grade English and History teacher, discusses the unique opportunities for homeschooled students to be able to pursue their interests and abilities more readily than their public schooled counterparts. Neal observes in her article about the achievements of homeschoolers that, “Johanna, for example, spent up to three hours a day practicing piano for 10 years. Computer whizzes can seek out apprenticeships with nearby businesses; those who love sports can finish their workout in the morning before the YMCA gets crowded” (54-55). These life experiences that homeschooled students gain are a huge part of furthering their education and maturity and are extremely helpful in preparing students for college and careers. Homeschooling is also ideal because of the fact that every student can go at his or her own pace.
Students who struggle with school can take the time they need without feeling rushed by those around them. They can receive one-on-one help, and they can take creative routes to learning the material. Likewise, the more advanced students are not held back by others that may not be at their level. Homeschooling allows each student to receive an individualized and personalized education that caters to their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Chris Jeub states that, “[Homeschooled] Students have both the freedom to pursue their natural desires and the attention needed to develop ways of thinking that come more difficult[ly] to them” (37). Similarly, Brian Anderson expounds, “Home schooling can take much less time than classroom schooling, since you don’t have to stand in line, spend an hour at recess, or wait for the slowest student in class” (46).
For this reason, many homeschooled students are often in higher grades than their peers. Homeschooling eliminates the time wasted for the advanced students having to wait for their classmates, while it makes the best use of time for the students who may need extra help. Because of the life skills taught to homeschooled students, there is usually an evident difference between homeschooled and public schooled students upon entering college. The time management and schedule keeping skills instilled in homeschoolers serve them well while in college and help them to keep up with assignments and appointments without needing someone to check on and remind them of responsibilities, due dates, etc. Kate Tsubata, an author and homeschool mother of three summarizes the opposing viewpoint about high schoolers and learning in this way: “The idea of students actually initiating and following through on their own learning seems like nonsense.
‘Perhaps for a mature college student…learning can be a self-initiated process, but not for young people,’ is the common thinking,” (89). Homeschooled students take their learning into their own hands—they take ownership and authority of it. These students are, therefore, better prepared for the normal schedule and responsibilities placed upon college students than those educated in the public school setting. Not only do homeschooled students learn how to manage their own time and schedule, but they also usually acquire a sincere love of learning which is rarely seen in students from a public school background. This desire for knowledge will continue to aid the homeschooled students throughout life, causing them to find knowledge everywhere—not just at school. The homeschooled student realizes that the world is their classroom (McReynolds 65).
Kate Tsubata explains the idea in this way: Student desire and effort are the impetus behind home-school learning, making parental background insignificant. Students, therefore, are not teacher-dependent. Once students realize that they can understand material on their own, they take responsibility for their own learning, initiating and following through on educational projects. As a result, home schooling allows children to practice adult behavior. (87) The biggest reason that homeschooled students excel is not that their parents are wonderful teachers, or that the students themselves are geniuses—the real reason is that these students have learned how to learn.
Not only do previously homeschooled students excel in college, but they are being sought out by colleges. Many prestigious universities are offering homeschooled students an open armed welcome. An example of this fact is seen in an interview with Dr. Jonathan Reider, an acclaimed authority on college-bound homeschoolers and previous director of admissions at Stanford University, which was published in Stanford Magazine. Reider states that the interest in homeschoolers is due to “intellectual vitality” (qtd.
in “Homeschooling is Misunderstood” Gathercole 75) He goes on to say in regard to homeschooled students, “These kids have it, and everything they do is responding to it.” The article from Stanford Magazine also claims that “Stanford has ‘special interest’ in homeschoolers, and is ‘eager to embrace them'” (qtd. in “Homeschooling is Misunderstood” Gathercole 75). Not only Stanford, but other acclaimed universities are becoming more and more interested in homeschoolers. A study performed in 1997 which was published in the Wall Street Journal states that, “The consensus among admissions officers across the country… is that home-schooled students are academically, emotionally, and socially prepared to excel in college” (Anderson 50). It is apparent, therefore, that homeschoolers are not only getting by in college—they are excelling, and they are being singled out by prestigious universities because of their academic achievements and abilities.
A common misconception about homeschooling is that it deprives students of having a social life, and renders them incapable of handling social situations which they might find themselves in. This, however, is patently false in the large majority of cases. While there may be some socially awkward homeschoolers, it is just as true that there may be some socially awkward public schoolers, as well. The vital social skill that homeschoolers tend to acquire more than public schoolers is that of being able to Converse easily with people of all ages—not just with their peers. The social trap of public schools is the fact that students are constantly surrounded by their peers and they are rarely required to relate to anyone else.
The benefit of the homeschooled student is that he or she is often surrounded by people of all ages. Kate McReynolds, a child clinical psychologist and associate editor of Encounter Magazine interviewed a homeschool mom, Ellen, for an article about homeschooling. When speaking of the supposed issue of homeschoolers’ suppressed socialization, Ellen says, “My children…interact with people of all ages … Multi-age socializing is a very natural, real world practice that children in traditional schools don’t experience…We are out in the world everyday interacting with people” (qtd. in Encounter vol. 20.
36-41). While the claim may be made that not immersing children into the public school setting is depriving them of supposed “real life experiences,” this could not be more untrue. Public schools are one of the only places and times in people’s lives that they will be surrounded solely by their peers. This false view of reality that is instilled in public schoolers does not prepare them for life after graduation. Students will eventually have an interaction, such as a job interview, in which they may be required to speak in depth with someone at a completely different stage of life, and it is imperative for them to make a good impression. The diverse social skills which homeschoolers learn through their exposure to people of all ages equip them for experiences such as these.
The benefits of homeschooling are evident by the way in which it prepares students for future schooling and for life in a way that is rarely seen in public schools. As seen in a study conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute, the 7,300 previously homeschooled adults surveyed seemed to be “happier” and more involved community members. These adults were more likely to participate in political and communal activities than their public-schooled counterparts. Unlike the public-school graduates surveyed with only a 46% college attendance rate, 74% of the homeschooled graduates were enrolled or had taken college classes. Not only did these adults receive a college education, but they were continuing to learn—98% had read at least one book in the 6 months prior to the survey, compared to only 69% of the opposite group (McReynolds 65).
While homeschooling may not work in every situation, the advantages of homeschooling for both the present and the future are too numerous to ignore. Parents would do well to consider these benefits when making educational decisions for their children to prepare them for college and for their life ahead. Works Cited Anderson, Brian C. “Children Who are Homeschooled Succeed Academically.” Homeschooling. Ed.
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