Homeschooling has become a bigger trend in recent years. There are more and more parents turning to the idea of teaching their kids at home. The main reason I decided to dig deeper into this trend is because it hits close to home for me. I was homeschooled my whole life, so naturally I have some strong opinions concerning this subject. First of all, homeschooling is NOT for everyone. One of the big reasons my parents homeschooled myself and my siblings is because that is what they felt was best for our family based on our beliefs and what they felt the Lord was guiding them to do.
That being said, every family is different, and homeschooling is not the best fit for each one. While it is not mandatory to have a degree in education in order to homeschool children, my Mom does have a degree in education and she taught for years in a traditional school setting before homeschooling us.
Taking a deeper look at the effects of homeschooling will help shed some light on why there has been an increased interest in homeschooling.
The article, Instructional Motivations: What Can We Learn from Homeschooling Families? is a case study that points out some of the reasons for parents’ choices of the procedures during their day to day schooling. Thinking about how this affects the development of children, when kids get to focus on the parts of school they like there is more chance of them being engaged (Thomas,2016).
The top reason for choosing routines, “Most parents’ (45%) motivation were derived from their child’s unique learning style (Thomas,2016)”. This gives the impression that some parents are not confident in the ability of traditional school to accommodate their child’s needs. This may not always be the case, but as a teacher we should be aware of what parents are wanting their children to get out of school (Thomas,2016). Knowing their expectations and trying to help their children achieve to the best of their abilities may encourage the parents to leave their children in the traditional school setting, although this is no guarantee. There was a mention of allowing the students to cater their schedule to their interests, which again is in part to try and engage the students more (Thomas,2016). One of the ways in which we catered our schedule was by adding in time for a Bible course each year I was in school. As discussed more in depth later in this paper, this was a product of our religion influencing our choices.
Developmental Outcomes focused on the tendencies of homeschoolers based on their religious affiliation and the magnitude to which they followed their religion. While reading this study it became more and more apparent that homeschoolers cannot be grouped all together. The children that are being homeschooled in one home can have a completely different experience than another child who is also being homeschooled. This study points out the seemingly important influence a family’s religion and their commitment to it has on the development of a child (Green-Hennessy,2014). While this study was in no way conclusive, the data supported the claim that religious affiliation has an effect on not only substance abuse but also socialization and perceived grade-level (Green-Hennessy,2014). This study was also quick to point out that the group that was homeschooled and claimed to have a high level of religious affiliation although previously thought to achieve higher academically, in this study was two-times as likely to say that they were behind their grade-level (Green-Hennessy,2014).
One of the problems with this statement is that it was academic level based on what the student perceived to be the normal grade level, not how they had tested (Green-Hennessy,2014). While there are cases when students fall behind while they are homeschooling, there are many cases when this happens in the traditional school setting. When looking at homeschooling as a whole it is hard to place everyone into one category. One of the biggest factors in whether or not homeschooling children will work is who is doing the homeschooling. The parents can either significantly help their children or hurt them developmentally. Personally, my family has very strong religious connections and I have seen how this has affected many of my developments and decisions throughout my life. My Mom also made sure we were tested at the end of the year to ensure that we were at least at the grade-level we were supposed to be, although this is not a South Carolina requirement for homeschoolers. Since there are a lot of things not mandated by South Carolina, that leaves room for parents to implement what they want, whether good or bad.
Took a deeper look into the issue of substance abuse and whether a student’s type of schooling influences these choices. The study looked at several substances and how homeschooled students compared to those who are traditionally schooled in the use or approval of these substances (Vaughn & Salas-Wright & Kremer & Maynard & Roberts & Vaughn, 2015). The study found that while homeschoolers were less likely to condone such behaviors as smoking and drinking, both groups were very leery of smoking (Vaughn & Salas-Wright & Kremer & Maynard & Roberts & Vaughn, 2015). For me, I was always taught that these behaviors were wrong and the friends I hung around shared these same beliefs for the most part. Since I was not exposed to all these behaviors it made it a lot easier not to participate. While a lot of people want to say this is too much sheltering and it can be, I am very thankful that I was not faced with continual peer pressure to participate in drugs and alcohol.
Although I already had some knowledge of the effects of homeschooling on some students, I was also shocked by some of the findings. One of the biggest things I found to be true was that there are a lot of studies which contrast each other. I did not find a definite answer to the age -old question that I was asked repeatedly, “How do you make friends?”. There were some studies that supported the perceived stereotype that homeschoolers don’t socialize enough, while others didn’t find a discrepancy in this area. In general, the three articles that I read were agreed upon the influence of religious affiliation with student behavior and the direction in which their homeschooling went. As future teachers, while this may not be something that we have to deal with directly, there may be some students that are coming into our classrooms that previously were homeschooled. Having knowledge of what they may have come from and how you can help them best, knowing that their parents will more than likely have higher expectations, will be very beneficial. Overall there are many types of homeschoolers which makes it hard to make a judgment on how homeschooling will affect each child’s development. In the end it is a choice that needs to be made based on the needs of each student and their family dynamic.