Homeschooling has seen a significant increase over the last few years. But as with all things outside the “norm”, many people have questions on whether it is the correct way to go. How successful is homeschooling? Is it just a way for the religious zealots to isolate themselves? Or is it a way to better meet the needs of the child?
Challenging the “Norm”
Homeschooling was the norm during the early years of America. But change in the home life with more and more women working and technology changing for more opportunities for education practically abolished this institution. But it was in the late sixties and early seventies that saw it start to come around again. Now, there are around a million homeschoolers in the United States alone and the numbers are rising quickly.
Why the sudden turn? There are many factors. Some of them are religious. When prayers were pulled out of schools and the increase in “questionable” material occurred many parents who were concerned about their children’s religious foundations, found that homeschooling was the option for them. Unfortunately, that started the stereotyping of many homeschoolers. If you homeschool today, there is a huge chance that you will be considered a religious fanatic. But this is not the general case. Though you will get many responses nodding toward the religious reasoning, there are just as many if not more that have nothing to do with religion. Many homeschooling families are doing it based on special needs of the child, a perception of poor local school systems, or of wanting to give their child a more unique and diversified education. Which then leads us to the main topic of this article, “How successful is homeschooling?”
Keys to Successful Homeschooling
Believe it or not, homeschooling proves to be highly successful. According to an article in the Washington Times, the average homeschooler does better scholastically than his peers. That is mainly because in the homeschooling environment, the programs and lessons are individualized. This allows the students to proceed at their own pace in the styles that suit their learning. There is always a student in the traditional classroom setting that doesn’t quite get it the way they are taught. The same article also points out that most homeschool graduates do better at the prestigious universities.
In fact, one study showed where the college entrance exams of homeschool students were higher than those from a traditional learning background. The average homeschooler scored 22.5 on the ACT with others averaging 20.8. The SAT scores averaged 1092 for homeschoolers and 1020 for traditional students. They are doing well on exams, winning national awards, and overall seemingly doing extremely well.
Patrick Henry College was started to be more receptive toward the homeschooling graduate. With their reputation rising even among the traditional schools, they are announcing students winning various awards and succeeding where many thought they would fail. The college continues the tradition of homeschooling programs by encouraging uniqueness in their learning styles and in the students themselves.
One of the main concerns about homeschooled children has always been the lack of socialization with their peers. Will they be able to function with other children? Will they know how to respect authority other than their parents? Won’t they turn into backwards hermits that will show up on the national news being described as, “He was a quiet man who just happened to be a terrorist”? You can rest assured that homeschooling parents are not turning out hoodlums or socially inept individuals. In fact, many researchers have been surprised at how well adjusted the homeschooled child is. The Seattle Times published an article in which the author had to admit that she had the wrong impression about homeschooling. The children that she met were polite and well-mannered. She discovered that this was more the norm than the exception. Rebecca Kochenderfer, author of Homeschooling for Success, says that homeschooling families are turning out well-adjusted, kind, and responsible adults. She sites one of the reasons this is possible is that the parents are showing the students how to enjoy life and anticipate what is around the corner instead of dreading it or just reacting to it. Another way that there are not lacking in social skills is that there are many homeschooling associations that promote special days to get the students from the areas together and also many of the homeschooling students attend local schools for electives such as music. Most parents of homeschooled children are very consciousness of making sure that they are brought up with peers.
But what makes homeschooling successful? We’ve got so much research on how great the students are doing but what is the secret ingredient?
An article in The Homeschool Mom cites 5 key ingredients for a successful homeschooling experience. First, you have to have a desire to have a closer relationship with your child. If you are not looking for that, then homeschooling is not the route for you. You will be spending more time with your child and learning together than you ever have. Second, you need a teachable spirit. Not only do you need to be able to teach you need to be able to be taught by your child. They are notorious for showing us how we don’t know everything. Third, you need an environment conducive to learning. Don’t have the lessons going on in the same room where you are watching your soap operas. Fourth, make sure you can guarantee about 2 hours a day for teaching. This is surprising when you come out of the traditional homeschooling environment, but when you are teaching one on one there is less distraction and time wasted in changing activities and addressing other student’s needs. Therefore, a seven or eight hour school day can be compressed to 2 hours or less. And finally, you need a library card. The library will become the homeschooling family’s best friend. You’ll find that most of your material can be found there and not be bought which saves a ton of money. It has also been noted by others that dedication and focus are essential for homeschooling success (homeschool.com).
Homeschooling offers the chance to focus on the strengths of the child and gives them a chance to work at their own pace. Believe it or not, this can produce amazing results. If a child struggles in math and in the traditional school setting gets further and further behind, then at home the focus can shift timelines adjusted not to meet standards but to ensure that the child “gets it”. Did you know that Agatha Christie, Pearl S. Buck, Alexander Graham Bell, and Mozart are just a few of the renown people who were homeschooled? (suite 101)
But homeschooling can only be successful if the parent(s) are willing to stay focused. Some parents have found ways to work from home and continue to school their students. Some have decided that the schooling is their main job. Others teach in the day and work at night. It all depends on how important homeschooling your child is. Why are you wanting to homeschool? How can you make it work? What resources are available to you? With the internet today, there is almost nothing your child cannot learn through homeschooling. There is literally a whole other world out there waiting to help you succeed in educating your child. You can have math class at the grocery store. You can explore science in nature or watch the thousands of films on the internet for your usage. You can instruct on how to wash clothes and clean the dishes and it is schoolwork. And what the bond you create is amazing.
But keep in mind that homeschooling is not for everyone just as traditional schooling is not. Not everyone has a teachable spirit. Not everyone has the patience with a child. The financial and social structure at this moment might not be conducive to homeschooling. But if it is for you, then rest assured that you are in no way depriving your child of anything. You might be giving them more than you ever will know.