“Many people turn their nose up at me and make a face of disproval when I tell them I home school my children. It really doesn’t bother me though. I feel there are a great number of advantages to home schooling my children.”–Margaret Schiner. Many parents have often pondered on which type of educational setting would be better for their children. The most common way for children to receive their basic K-12 education is by attending a public school. However, there is one very different option, home schooling. The advantages of home schooling are starting to be realized by more and more parents each year, evident by the growing number of children being home schooled. So, are there advantages to home schooling? With today’s society, this seems to be growing truer all the time. Of course, there are disadvantages to just about anything; home schooling is no different. Although, there seems to be many more advantages to teaching children from home, versus sending them to a public school.
The home schooling process seems to be much more efficient than that of public schools. Lawrence Hardy of American School Board Journal asked Yvonne Bunn, a home schooling mom, to comment on her thoughts of how home schooling matched up with that of a public school, academically. Ms. Bunn replied saying, “Academically, home schooling is like a tutorial, a one-on-one relationship. That is every teacher’s dream” (18). She went on to comment about how she thinks home schooling is “the quickest, most comprehensive way of covering a subject” (18).
Home schooling seems to be the best way to speed up the learning process because of the lack of other students. Ms. Bunn told of how one of her daughters was able to complete the entire kindergarten curriculum before Christmas, and this was in just two hours of “school” a day. She described how this is possible by saying, “We accomplish the curriculum in two hours a day because we’re not lining up, we’re not dealing with troublemakers in the classroom” (18).
Many people feel as if the sheltered environment of learning in the home will often hurt a child when he or she decides to leave home to pursue a college education. However, this might not necessarily be true. Margaret Schiner has recently sent her home schooled son off to college, and he is now doing very well in the college setting. She said she believed that “he is at an advantage because he has learned to study independently and not rely on others so much, which is similar to how you learn in college.” Lawrence Hardy also discusses this issue. He indicates that they (home schooled children) “are naturals for post-secondary work because of their experience with the kind of independent study that college requires” (19).
There is another advantage to home schooling; although, this is an advantage that is often debated for moral reasons. Since most parents who home school don’t keep their student’s grades, when asked by a college to assign a grade for such things as dual-enrollment college classes, the parents often assign the highest grade possible. Rebecca Talluto, dean of educational services at Brevard Community College discusses this topic.
She tells how when a home schooled student wants to be part of dual-enrolled college classes, he or she do not go to a principal or guidance counselor to get the proper documents signed. “Instead they must submit a notarized affidavit that says they are at least sophomores. Their parent, in lieu of a high school guidance counselor and principal, sign a form from us stating that the student meets minimum GPA requirements. And this is where the problem shows up: when we explain this form to the parents, they usually reply that they do not keep grades. Then they go ahead and sign the form, assigning their child a 4.0 GPA” (20). Unfair? Yes, but it’s definitely an advantage for home schooled students.
Just about every critic of the home schooling process will use the “loss of socialization” point when debating why home schooling is a bad choice. Yvonne Bunn was asked about whether she was worried about socialization. Ms. Bunn had a very interesting reply, almost flip-flopping the question. She stated, “We had better be concerned with socialization, because socialization is one of the best reasons to home school. Just look at society today” (18). She went on to say that “home schooled children have lots of opportunities for socialization–from church groups, scouting, 4-H, and community organizations, to name few” (18). Ms. Bunn feels like her children don’t necessarily need school in order to gain the basic, essential socialization skills needed for life.
However, Bob Chase, President of the National Education Association, feels differently. He feels as if the socialization skills picked up from interaction with children of your own age while in public schooling is essential. He says, “Public education represents a slice of reality that goes beyond participation in 4-H activities, ballet classes, and church socials” (qtd. in Hardy 15). Many parents feel as if they should be more concerned about what kind of socialization their child is receiving, rather than how much. By knowing just what activities a child is involved in, for instance a church youth group, there is a better understanding of just who they are interacting with, as well as a little more control over whom they socialize with. In a public school setting there just isn’t this type of knowledge or control. Ms. Bunn agrees with this type of philosophy stating, “Parents should be concerned about the quality of social contracts, rather than quantity” (qtd. in Hardy 18).
Before really looking into the issue, most people turn their nose up at the idea of home schooling their children because of the negative remarks often made about this alternative to public schools and the common myths that have developed over time such as: the loss of socialization and poor success in post-secondary schooling. However, if one takes the time to really sit and evaluate which choice would be better for their children, receiving an education in a public school or at home, home schooling has a lot of strong advantages that cannot be ignored.
A very small percentage of people who home school their children give the practice up, and either start their children in a public school for the first time or send them back to the public schooling system. The education that home schooled children are receiving today is often better than that of a public education, and is now starting to show up in society more and more. Richard Hardy discusses this by saying, “It’s hard to argue with the advantages of one-on-one instruction, of extensive parent involvement, and of a curriculum tailored to every child’s needs. Home schooled children are winning spelling and geography bees and going on to top-notch colleges” (19). It’s obvious there are definite advantages to home schooling, just ask an experienced home school mom like Margaret Schiner.
Hardy, Lawrence. “Learning Without School.” American School Board Journal 188 (Aug. 2001): 14-19.
Schiner, Margaret. Personal interview. 4 April 2004.
Talluto, R. “Accountability for Home Schoolers.” American School Board Journal 188 (Aug. 001): 20-21.