Homeschooling: An Alternative Choice for Education
In 2007, 1.5 million students were home-schooled in the United States, and that number continues to grow at a rapid rate even to this day. In just an eight-year time span from 1999 to 2007, there was a seventy-four percent increase of home-schooled children in the United States alone (Kunzman 2). This data corresponds with the rise of Americans who believe that parents should have the right to home-school their children; the approval rates for homeschooling jumped from just sixteen percent in 1985 to forty one percent in 2001 (“Trends and Issues” 9). While critics remark that many parents do not have teaching credentials and that a lack of socialization for a home-schooled student from a young age can lead to isolation and poor social skills, there are many positive effects for a student to choose home schooling. Home schooling is an excellent option for a student’s education because it allows them to have a stronger education because of one-on-one tutoring, the ability to choose curriculum that fits in with the family’s beliefs and the student’s natural abilities, and a more flexible schedule.
Home-schooling—which is a type of education that takes place in the home—has been a controversial choice for education and has been opposed by many in the past since the early twentieth century as it was illegal in most states leading up to 1993 (“Home-schooling” 6). Before then, public schools were the main choice for education, simply because attending a public school was mandatory for all students up until 1993.
Previously, if a parent wished to homeschool their child, parents were forced to homeschool their children in secret or under an “independent study”. Since then, homeschooling is now legal in all fifty states and children can receive their education at home without fear of fines or jail sentences (“Home-Schooling” 2). Only three states—Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania—required approval of curriculum and standardized test scores to check on the student’s education, such as the SAT or ACT (“Home Instruction” 23). Besides those requirements for general education, parents have full control of their child’s education: they can teach their children and choose their curriculum. Although parents are the main educators of their children, homeschoolers often use online programs, correspondence teachers, libraries, curriculum packages, tutors, or dual-enrollment courses to further their education and curriculum (Lines 13).
Despite home-schooling’s controversy because of the lack of teaching credentials for parents and a lack of socialization, homeschooling is a viable option for education because children can have a better education at home for several reasons, one of which is the ability to give a child one on one tutoring. Parents can give their child sole attention whereas a teacher must supervise over twenty children. By using one on one teaching, a student can ask for help at any time instead of waiting for the teacher to have time for to help them. One on one tutoring allows a student to learn at a faster pace and get a stronger, well-rounded because of the accessible help they have from their parents. As a result, home-schooled students have higher grades and national test scores. Standardized testing around the United States have shown that home-schooled students have scored higher than the average student, as home-schooled kids score approximately 1.7 points higher in the ACT and 67 points higher on the SAT (“Home School Statistics” 11). A test of 12,000 American students also placed the home-schooled children sixty-second to ninety-first in the national norms of testing, proving that home-schooled children are not lagging in their education (Lines 16).
By homeschooling, parents are able to help their child directly as they can choose curriculum to fit the child’s needs as long as they meet the general education requirements. Many parents choose home schooling because of religious needs or because of concern over a public school’s curriculum; according to Trinity University, thirty-eight percent of parents choose home schooling for “religious reasons” (“Home-school Statistics” 1). Parents who choose home schooling often feel that a public school does not give a child appropriate religious or moral instruction that fits with their beliefs. One example of this is the idea of the evolution of Earth: in some Christian sects, followers believe that the Earth was made 7,000 years ago in seven days. Others may believe in creationism- a belief that the universe was created by a supernatural being- instead of evolution, the belief that organisms change over a long period of time. If evolution is taught in a public school and the parents do not agree with the teachings, then it may cause problems as the child’s education will not be supported by the parents. With home schooling, parents will be involved in their child’s schoolwork. As a result, they can strengthen the family bonds as well as their child’s education and teach them family values.
Home schooling also allows a student to have a more flexible schedule for their schoolwork as students who attend a public or private school must stay at school for seven to eight hour block for five days a week. If a student may have a tough or an inflexible schedule due to sports, a disability, or even extensive traveling time due to the family’s lifestyle, they may not be able to attend a public school five times a week for a seven to eight hour block of time. In addition, a student may be unable to study at the pace of an average school; a smart student may feel like he or she is held back teaching methods that may seem slow to them and a struggling student may feel rushed. With homeschooling, a smart student can quicken his or her pace and choose a challenging curriculum that is not offered at a public or private school; a student struggling on a subject can work at his or her own pace to understand the subject fully. In a study done by Trinity University, a small prestigious liberal arts school, eleven percent of parents feel that public schools do not challenge their children academically (“Home School Statistics” 1). In addition, home-schooled children can even choose how many classes to take at once; they may choose to do one subject at a time or to do seven or eight classes at one time. This flexibility allows a home-schooled student to strengthen his or her own education by allowing them to choose how to study for their own benefit.
However, many critics note that many parents do not have the credentials to teach their children difficult subjects such as physics or calculus (Rieland 6). While it is true that many parents do not have teaching credentials and are usually not experts in difficult subjects, what critics forget to mention is that many home-schooled children use online tutors, correspondence courses, and dual-enrollment courses for their curriculum in addition to having parent assist the child if they are learning a difficult subject (Lines 13). A few examples of nationally accredited homeschooling programs that can be used for curriculum assistance include the Keystone School, Calvert School, and the Seton Home Study School (Kennesaw State University 10). Parents and students can choose online or correspondence courses if they have good computer skills in addition to reading and writing skills, where they will get full on attention with a licensed teacher or tutor who can help the student. Allowing parents to supervise their children and to give them one on one tutoring will help the child understand the material far more than if the student had to learn it by themselves or in a class of twenty students and one teacher.
One common criticism about home schooling is that critics believe that the lack of socialization that can lead to an anti-social personality or an inability to work with others. “Even with a top rated education in the home, you can’t add the social aspect,” Mark Mickelson, the director of the Utah Education Association, said (Coffman 10). Critics believe that since home-schooled children do not go out of the house for school, they may be socially inept as they go to college or the work world. What critics do not realize is that home-schooled a student can socialize in many different ways, including volunteer work, part time jobs, church activities, and sports. In addition, a home-schooled student does not suffer from the common negative effects of public school socialization, such as emotion and physical bullying, teasing, and peer pressure. Not only can a home-schooled student be able to socialize from volunteering, church, and sports, but he or she can avoid public school distractions such as peer pressure, bullying, and teasing as they grow up in a safer environment.
Despite all of the positive effects of home schooling, parents should understand that homeschooling is not the only option for education. Public schools and private schools are possibilities for a student who wants to get the best education they can receive. Home schooling allows a student to study at his or her own pace and to have flexibility with their schedule. Homeschooling lets parents help the student with their education. Socialization may be more difficult than in a public school, but it is not impossible and can easily be added into a homeschooler’s schedule. Public schools are the general choice of education for students, but one should still remember that there are other choices for education. Ultimately, homeschoolers have higher test scores and grades because they have the chance to utilize one-on-one tutoring, choices for the curriculum, and a flexible schedule. The twelve grades where a child is in school is the most important time for educational growth, and families should choose home-schooling if that is the best educational choice for their child.