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Homeschooling: Harmful or Helpful?

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Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents rather than in a public/private school setting. Unbeknownst to some, Homeschooling has been around for hundreds of years. It was the primary source of education before the 19th century and is becoming one of the fastest rising segments of K-12 education today. In many places, homeschooling is another option for parents who yearn to offer their children a different learning environment than public or private schools. Homeschooling can offer a more specialized education along with better opportunities for children that are better suited for an individual situation. The progress and achievement of the homeschooling movement validates that something is working. Many parents, teachers, schools, and political figures are highly against Homeschooling. This is a very controversial subject that has everyone talking.

Does it work? Is it hurting our children or helping them? Answers to these questions can be identified by stating facts and statistics that will open your eyes to the world of homeschooling. Families are different now than they were hundreds of years ago. Education is becoming more important especially if you want a good job later in life that you can retire from. More and more people are graduating and attending college. Who ever thought there would be numerous types of teaching to pick from? Is it actually a parent’s right to choose what type of education their child gets? It’s discouraging that we have a problem with picking which way to educate our children when there are parts of countries that are not able to provide any type of education at all. In the book, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, it describes a very poor part of Pakistan where there are no supplies, no books, and no school for children to learn from. We should embrace the fact that we have numerous ways of choosing how we would like to be educated.

Public Schooling, private schooling, catholic schooling, online schooling, and homeschooling are just a few. If a person can teach themselves online as an adult, how come an adult/parent cannot teach their child at home themselves? It seems a little contradictory to me. From the moment a child is born, the parents are there to teach them. They teach them to walk, talk, go to the bathroom, dress themselves, and so on. The morals and values learned in life are taught to you by your parents. Why would it be different with teaching them any other subject? Is it because it is different than what everyone else is doing? Isn’t one of the things we teach our children is to do what we feel is right, not just go along with crowd? If a parent gets to make every other decision about what is best for their child, than they deserve to make the decision about what type of education they receive too. According to Patricia Lines, Homeschooling had more than doubled in the five years between 1991 and 1996. It represents more than ten to twenty percent of the privately schooled population and is growing at a rapid rate (1). Although, it is thought that homeschooled children do not learn as well as public/private taught students, the statistics show something different.

Homeschooling Statistics voices that almost seventy- four percent of homeschooled children have gone to college compared to the forty- four percent of the general population (1). This is a big ratio that brings instant attention to itself. It seems that not only are homeschooled children being taught well, they are attending college. Why not stop to think about the possible reasoning’s behind that? Could it be that the individual teaching and extra flexibility a child has makes a difference? Or could it be that getting an education without distractions helps children to better focus on their work? It could be both. Also, there are approximately two million homeschooled children in the US (1). Most of them are K-12. Homeschooling parents are an assortment of families and income quantities. (1). It includes a variety of people from all walks o of life. Every race, every religion, every age, and every state has homeschooled children. There isn’t any one particular factor that is setting it apart from other ways of teaching. The only difference is that it isn’t taught in a classroom setting with at twenty other kids in each class. According to the article The Harms of Homeschooling?

Where are the premises?, Brian Ray gives us the context about repeated studies that have been conducted that show that homeschooled students are consistent in scoring higher than the public school average on standardized academic achievement tests. In fact, up until now there is nothing on record that shows homeschooled students are doing any worse than the children in the school system (1). All fingers point to homeschooling being just as effective as public/private school teaching. This research is hard to argue with. Although this type of schooling is becoming more and more acceptable, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about it. Just like in Greg Morteneson’s students in Three Cups of Tea, homeschoolers need to fight for their education. Education, no matter how it is received, is of huge importance. The students that Greg Mortenson helped didn’t have a place of their own where they could learn. Greg took it upon himself to fight for them. He raised the money to build them a school. Homeschoolers just want to have their own place to learn also. It would be much simpler if this idea had more acceptances. Is there even a way to look past the negative and focus on the positive? There are many pros and cons when it comes to this subject. Let’s start with the proposed cons.

Children who are homeschooled will not be able to be a part of a school sports team (although it seems this may be changing soon). This will not help in providing them with the understanding of team spirit or good sportsmanship. There will also be some social pressure that homeschooled children could feel due to being separate from other kids. Unfortunately, kids are mean and even more so when it comes to things that they don’t comprehend well. A homeschooled student is considered a negative thing to a lot of people that don’t understand it. Along the same lines of being on a sports team, it can be detrimental to a child who does not get the chance to develop a competitive trait. Competing with other kids to get on a team, to do better on a test, or even simple fashion statements is an important part of growing up. It teaches rejection, and how to handle it. It also allows them to acquire the strength to face challenges and fight battles on their own. Of course, with that being said, that is where peer pressure and low self confidence can begin also. The financial burden that could be cast over a household is another negative impact for some families. Dependent upon the salary of the parent that is working, the other parent not working can be tough. Even though it may provide security of their child’s education by knowing they are the ones teaching them, it can really hurt the wallet. This could potentially take away funds for vacations and such.

Lastly, it can be difficult being the parent/teacher in this situation. It is not uncommon for the parent to dedicate too much of their time to homeschooling. They can make less and less time for themselves and for adult time with others. This can cause stress and emotional issues between both parents or parent and child. However, this can be conquered by firmly making a schedule for schooling. Also, the adult will need to make time for social interaction (Dogra 1-2). On the positive side of things, the educational and physical freedom homeschooling gives to a family can be one of the greatest aspects of learning. Although, a set schedule is important to maintain routine, it can be equally as nice to set your own schedule based on the needs of the teacher and student. This could mean sleeping in a little bit later or taking vacations when the time works better for the family. The pressure and stress that comes along with making friends, impressing teachers/principals, and keeping up with high daily demands is almost nonexistent in homeschooling. This is one of the most important advantages as the child will not have the daily pressures from their peers that cause so many other issues with public taught kids.

It would be prove to be beneficial to have fewer worries about the affects of peer pressure, to have a lot more time for family, and be on a schedule that works best for the child. It is a much safer and flexible way of teaching. The individual attention and coaching bestowed upon the child can undeniably have a positive influence on the education they are experiencing. Everything is taught and learned at the child’s pace. There will be no need for hand rising, bells ringing, and timed lunch breaks. The one on one time can nurture the child in a more peaceful and relaxed way. The patience that can be extended to a slower learner can be exceptionally valuable. A child in a public school setting who is a slow learner is usually the one that continues to play catch up and often times, they get held back another year. The necessity for that can be discarded. Parents know their children better than anyone else. They can appreciate the type of teaching their child needs and provide them with it the best way they know how.

Self confidence also seems to play a big part in the difference between being homeschooled and going to a public school. In almost every article that was used for research, it had been said that homeschooled children tend to grow up to be better adjusted than their equals in the schooling system. It’s possible that this stems from not having the peer pressure and belittling from other students around you. The one on one time can go a long way at making a child feel understood. It gives them more time to ask questions, study, and focus on the problem areas. Academic liberty plays a positive role as well. One of the biggest flaws of traditional schooling is that it takes a variety of kids with different upbringings, hobbies, and experiences and puts them all in the same classroom. The school will expect all of them to learn the same stuff, at the same pace. In a perfect world, that may work well but in reality, it doesn’t. By homeschooling your child, you can grant him/her the academic freedom to learn whatever interests them and do it at a time that you believe fit for them. A very important part of homeschooling today is the quality family time that is being contributed.

There are no more time restraints on when to go on vacation, taking a sick day, not being able to see a late movie on a school night, and the stress of midterms and final exams. When there is an emergency, there is no time to try and figure out how to get your child out of class and collect all of the homework they missed or will be missing. The freedom of following your own schedule that doesn’t revolve around a school is unbounded (Florentyna 1-2). Even though homeschooling can be such a great thing, so can public school. The thought that matters is what is best for the family at hand. According to Rashida Khilawala’s article, Homeschooling Vs. Public School, some pros of public schooling can include free transportation, band class, certified teachers, and the ability to make friends. Cons of public school on the other hand can include peer pressure, bullying, no individual attention, and more exposure to social evils. Comparing these two types of education is difficult since they are very different (1-2). There are personal reasons that have brought me to being so invested in learning more about this topic. There are friends of mine who have took the plunge and decided to teach their kids at home.

At first, my thoughts were very skeptical about the decision that they made. How could they possibly teach their kids stuff that they themselves don’t know much about? However, the realization of how well this is working for their family was surprising. Their children are learning at a rate that is equal to other children. They also make time for hanging/playing with other families that homeschool also. This is a great way to keep kids involved and teach them how to socialize with other kids. All around, the togetherness they get to experience every day is uplifting. They are happy families with their priorities straight. Who’s to say it isn’t working? The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is an enormous supporter of homeschooling rights. They are committed to ensuring parents that they are in control of their freedom and doing everything in their power to keep it that way. They don’t believe in regulating homeschooling through the government and have not only helped to keep new laws from passing but have changed laws already in place. They are a force to be reckoned with and will welcome any challenge that comes their way. This unfaltering support is just what homeschooling needs and it is consistently helping the numbers rise every year (Berlatsky 1-2). It is hard to convince anyone of which side is right and which side is wrong. However, it could prove to be valuable by suggesting ideas that might promote a different way of thinking.

There is no doubt that homeschooling should be governmentally regulated. It would have a lot more recognition and support if it was. It is frightening to me that only twenty-five states require evaluation of homeschooled students and ten states don’t even require parents to notify of their intent to homeschool their children. If a parent really wants to be the one to teach their child everything that a school education can provide and possibly more, than why argue with the state knowing about it. Most parents will have the knowledge and materials to properly educate their children, but what about those the parents that don’t? It is very important that we do not let children grow up uneducated because the parent’s didn’t feel the need to enroll them anywhere. Unfortunately, there are cruel parents out there. We should not let them homeschool. This is a great reason to have it be regulated (Berlatsky 1-7).

Homeschooling is widely misunderstood. It may not be the rational choice for some parents, but the perfect one for others. Most people think the biggest concern with homeschooling is that the child will not be able to socialize correctly, but statistics show that they have even better socialization skills than the average person. The one on one time the parent/teacher gives their student/child helps them to grow on a more mature and intellectual level. They are not being distracted by bells, other children and before/after school activities. They are taught in a quiet peaceful surrounding with no distractions. This makes for more time spent on subjects that interests them most and a higher learning of each subject. They have a teacher who has the time to go over the things that are giving them the hardest time while making light of things that are the easiest. The mindset of a homeschooled student could be to take time getting up in the morning, work on their studies throughout the day with many breaks in between, and then finish for the day before dinner. Luckily, they will be able to choose what time and days to learn what subjects (Immell 1-12). “Every homeschooler has huge dreams because of the freedom to imagine without the discouragement of official red tape and negative peer pressure, yet those dreams are often shattered when these same individuals apply to college and hit financial brick walls” (Cogan 20).

That quote says it all. We all have dreams, some which are harder to achieve than others. It is unnerving to spend all your time pushing so hard to reach a goal, and then to turn around and have it stepped all over. Although times are changing and enrollment is getting easier and easier for homeschooled students to attend college, the difficulties are still there. Colleges have a harder time financially supporting homeschooled students. Without the necessary standardized testing or proof of schooling, it is harder to judge how much these students actually have knowledge of. It all comes down to testing. If you put a student in a room with no means of getting the answers, and give them a test, you will learn what level they are at. Most colleges have an admittance test you need to take. What should it matter what kind of schooling somebody endured as long as they know the material? Homeschoolers deserve a chance at a college education just as much as the generally populated students. The statistics don’t lie. Homeschooler’s have reported significantly higher grade point averages. According to the article, Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students, students who have been homeschooled for at least seven years or more are more likely to earn college credits, participate in community service, and vote compared to the general population (Ray 20).

They continue to prove their worth to the public. They are holding their hands up in the air saying look at what I can do. Are we paying attention? The growth that is continuing with the homeschooling breakthrough is unbelievable. It is truly beginning to become more of an accepted way of teaching. The more popular it becomes, the more people stop and think of why that is. They might start to wonder how it could benefit their lives and look further into it. That is how it begins. People talk to more people who talk to more people. If it works, the word spreads and it will ignite like fire. This very possibly could be the next big thing. The estimation of homeschooling in the future is forthcoming. It is safe to say that it isn’t going away anytime soon, and that it will continue to get bigger. We may keep learning more and more of how it is a better way of teaching kids or we may learn things that prove it is not effective. There are children who will benefit from this and children that won’t. It is about making sure the right ones are being homeschooled and allowing them to do so. On the other hand, if it does continue to grow at such an alarming rate, how does our country deal with it?

Will it affect our schools? A lot of parents are not able to homeschool their kids even if it is what they would prefer. Single moms/dads, parents that don’t make enough money and parents that don’t have the patience are singled out. How will that be dealt with? Maybe our public school system can actually benefit from this. The classroom ratio for teacher/student could get significantly smaller so there will be more one on one time. There could also be a mix of sports, and school programs that could include everyone in the district whether they are homeschooled or public schooled. It would be a nice gesture if these students are put together instead of keeping them apart. In the end, what is more important? The parent wins. They know what is best for their child. Period.

Works Cited

Cox, R. S. (2003, January 17). Home Schooling debate. CQ Researcher, 13, 25-48. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. Dogra, Aastha. (2010, June 6). Advantages and Disadvantages of Homeschooling. Buzzle.com (1-2). Web. 15 Mar. 2011). “Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students.” Cogan. Michael F. J Coll Admission 208. 2010 Summer. Web. 2 Mar. 2011.

“Home-Schooled Students Rise in Supply and Demand.” Wasley. Paula. Washington: The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2007. Web. 2 Mar. 2011.
“Homeschoolers: Estimating Numbers and Growth.” Lines. Patricia M. Department of Education. Spring, 1999. Web. 2 Mar. 2011.
“Homeschooling Is a Widely Misunderstood Movement.” Homeschooling. Ed. Myra Immell. Detroit:Greenhaven Press, 2009. Current Controversies. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Mar. 2011.

“Homeschooling Should Be Regulated by the Government.” Homeschooling. Ed. Noah Berlatsky. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Mar. 2011. K, Florentyna. Homeschooling Pros and Cons. Buzzle.com. (1-2). Web. 15 Mar. 2011. Khilawala, Rashida. Homeschooling vs. Public School. Buzzle.com (1-2). Web. 15 Mar. 2011. Pandey, Kundan. (2010, April 21). Homeschooling Statistics. Buzzle.com. (1-2). Web. 15 Mar. 2011.

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