The homeschooling movement has been expanding incredibly rapidly: from approximately 50,000 children in 1985 to about 1,000,000 children in 2000 (Scheller; Bielick, 5; Basham, 6). The premise of the movement is simple: parents can and should provide better education for their children than do public schools. This idea is strongly attacked by the NEA and various other public education supporters: the NEA stated “home schooling cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience” (Rizzoni). It also maintains “instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state licensure agency” (Lyman “What’s Behind”). Nevertheless, the public has been gradually accepting the idea (Paul). Why? The results of homeschooling children have been remarkable, producing a better education at a much lower cost. In homeschools, the average yearly expenditure is $546 (Ray, “Strengths”). The average per pupil expenditure in America 's public schools is $6,993 (Lyman, “Back to,” 2). What exactly are the results of homeschooling? Homeschooling results in more capable people, in general.
Homeschooling has a different educational environment than public schooling. This environment, of more supervision, less peer-pressure, more one-on-one teaching, more caring teachers, moral instruction, and customized curricula leads to different standards in the homeschool. High standards of personal accountability, self-esteem and confidence, morals, and academics lead to far different results in homeschools than in public schools. What are the results? A more accurate and well-rounded education, strong social skills, trustworthiness, independence, creativity, and higher academic achievements; these are characteristics that define of capable people.
1: A Different Environment
Homeschooling is a different educational environment. The key aspects of this method that differ from public schools are these: more supervision, less peer-pressure, more one-on-one instruction, more caring teachers, more moral instruction, and more customized and friendly curricula. I will address each of these points.
There is more supervision in homeschools than in public schools. The pupil to teacher ratio in public schools is 16.0-1 (Public and Private). The student to “teacher” ratio in the homeschool is 3.1-1, and that is assuming only one parent is doing the teaching (Rudner). These ratios are directly connected to the amount of supervision possible. Others may point out that some families may take advantage of homeschooling by letting the children run loose without supervision while the parents do other things. This is doubtless true in some cases, but most, including my family and all others that I know about, enforce discipline and focus on schooling the children. Are schoolteachers better supervisors? Perhaps, but the large number of pupils they have to control more than counterbalances any advantage there. So then, there is more supervision, on the whole, in homeschools than in public schools.
There is also less peer-pressure in the home than at schools. This is self-evident; at home kids are not segregated into age groups and don’t have a crowd of peers to run with. Whether peer-groups are beneficial or not is another question, and hotly debated. Some say that for proper socialization a peer group is necessary. Is this logical? Socialize is “to make social; especially: to fit or train for a social environment” (Miriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). Who are better than parents are for this? AtHomeSchool.com, in describing their philosophy of education, says:
We believe that socialization should not be limited to the child’s peers, indeed, we feel that this can be detrimental. The reason 30 or more kids of the same age are grouped together in schoolrooms is one of necessity, not desirability. The competitive atmosphere of school, coupled with inadequate supervision often brings out the worst in children. Much school socialization is negative. Homeschoolers can socialize in a loving, caring environment while they learn to get along with others. Children will gain positive social skills as they interact with their siblings, relatives, and other children and adults of all ages under the supervision of their parents. In this manner, self-esteem, self-worth, morals, and ethics are not based on peer environment. (Philosophy)
Homeschools eliminate this portion of the “normal” education experience, and this lack of a peer group is not a major loss, if not beneficial.
There is far more one-on-one teaching in homeschooling, as well. In What’s behind the Growth in Homeschooling, Isabel Lyman notes:
No matter the method employed, studies indicate that one-on-one involvement with homeschooled children, especially during their primary years, is high. Theodore Wagenaar of Miami University notes that homeschooled children “are considerably more likely to experience someone in the family doing the following activities with them three or more times a week: tell a story, teach letters, teach songs, do arts and crafts, play toys and games indoors, play games and sports outdoors, take child on errands, and involve child in household chores.”
This again follows from the student-to-teacher ratios, 16-1 in public schools and 3.1-1 in homeschools (Public and Private; Rudner). One-on-one education is really the only possible method in homeschooling, as the children are usually at different levels of capability. In the public school, the reverse is true. This is an important difference between the homeschool environment and that of the public schools.
The teachers are more caring in homeschools, as well. The parents will naturally be considerate of their children’s feelings, while public school teacher have no real incentive to do this. Many are committed to their work, but some do not care enough. This boils down to a key difference: parents have a vested interest in their children’s success, while public school teachers do not. This leads to many benefits regarding “teachers” in the homeschool. Philosophy of Education states, “The best teacher for any child is someone who loves and cares about them and their particular way of learning—someone who has the time and the patience to provide one-on-one instruction. Parents do what teachers wish they could do in the classroom but cannot for lack of time and an excess of students.” The success of the children is paramount, so the instruction will be better, the parents will be more considerate, and every pain will be taken to ensure the child’s success. This is an obvious advantage of homeschooling, and more than makes up for the greater training in education that public school teachers have. Homeschooling parents will be more caring than public school teachers will.
The moral instruction in homeschools is also improved. There is little or no such teaching in public schools, as religion is not allowed. With no solid basis for the teaching, the little instruction given crumbles. In homeschools, it is a different story. Basham notes in Home Schooling: from the Extreme to the Mainstream, “Today, 75 percent of American home schoolers are practicing Christians.” The National Center for Education Statistics, in its report Homeschooling in the United States : 1999 gave another interesting statistic: 38.4% of homeschooling parents gave “Religious reasons” as a reason for homeschooling, and 15.1% gave “To develop character/morality” as a reason (Bielick, 11). It was the primary reason for my family’s decision to homeschool, and in every other homeschooling family that I know as well. Thus, this area of education is vastly more emphasized in homeschools than in public schools.
The customization of curricula afforded by homeschooling is another great benefit. Many homeschoolers choose different curricula for each subject for each child, depending on the learning styles, interests, and capabilities of each. Dr. Brian Ray notes:
The informal environment of homeschooling affords natural opportunities for teaching and learning to become more personal, thoughtful, and individualized. When children are at home and not in large groups, time management is more flexible, and parents, who know their children intimately, can respond to their children’s individual talents and needs. (Ray, “Customization”)
This method was used in my family for each of the six children. Every other homeschooling family I know uses a similar method. Some homeschoolers do use a lockstep method similar to the public schools, but the customized method is very popular. “In a study of 1,657 families, 71.1% indicated that they custom design their curriculum to suit their offspring’s needs…” (Lyman, “What’s Behind”). The customization allowed by homeschooling is far greater than that possible in public schools.
Homeschooling is a different educational environment than public schools in several ways. There is more supervision, less peer-pressure, more one-on-one teaching, more caring teachers, more moral instruction, and more customized curricula. These key aspects of the homeschooling environment are why home education has the standards and results that it does.
2: Different Standards
The different educational environment leads to different standards in education. Specifically, these are greater personal accountability, higher self-esteem and self-confidence, higher moral standards, and different academic standards. These all follow directly from some or all of the various aspects of the different educational environment.
Personal accountability follows directly from the increased supervision in the homeschools. There is a lack of personal accountability in public schools, such as U.S. Schools: Finding some Answers notes: “Business Week compiled a list of what can be done (page 66). These are its main conclusions:… Make Students and Schools accountable” (U.S. Schools). In homeschools, the children are taught to be responsible for their own success in education. Again, the consistency of accountability in homeschools may be questioned. Some families may allow the children to avoid responsibilities, but in general, self-discipline and accountability to authority is well taught in homeschools. Personal accountability is much greater, overall, in the homeschools than in the public schools.
Self-esteem in also significantly improved by homeschooling. The caring teachers who give positive feedback, the customized and friendly curriculum, and the lack of a peer group that gives negative interaction all contribute to higher self-esteem in homeschoolers. Dr. Brian Ray states:
Regarding the aspect of self-concept, for example, studies have revealed that the homeschooled are significantly stronger than are public school students. One researcher concluded: “A low anxiety level could be a contributing factor. . . . More contact with significant others, parental love, support, and involvement, peer independence, and a sense of responsibility and self-worth may be other contributing factors” (Ray, “Research”)
Public schools and their inherent peer groups damage self-esteem in children. Stronger self-esteem is a benefit of the homeschooling environment.
High moral standards are also a result of homeschooling, usually. They are the direct result of moral instruction. Moral standards are strongly taught by most homeschoolers, as the documentation regarding moral instruction showed. Moral standards follow directly from the moral instruction of the homeschool environment.
Different academic standards follow from the customization of curricula. Each student may have his own objectives, depending on his or her capabilities, motivation, and interests. This is a major flaw of public schools: until high school, every student has the same (or very similar) curricula. That is unnecessary, as Dr. Ray points out: “Differentiating instruction to meet the individual needs of student, family, and community is the ideal kind of education. With individualized curriculum and instruction, ‘the teacher can provide the student with sustained personalized attention’” (Ray, “Customization”). Does this change in standards hurt the results? Not at all, in fact it allows many children to proceed at a faster pace than their peers in public schools: 24.5% are at least a grade ahead (Rudner). They also learn the material better; they score higher in standardized tests…but I will discuss that later. Different academic standards result from the customized curricula.
There are different standards in homeschools because of the different educational environment. More supervision leads to greater personal accountability. More caring teachers, the customized curricula, and the lack of a peer-group contribute to greater self-esteem in students. Moral instruction leads to higher moral standards. Customization of curricula results in different academic standards for homeschooled children. These different standards are results of homeschooling.
3: Different Results
There are different results, as well, from homeschooling: a more accurate and well-rounded education, strong social skills bred in self-assurance, different qualities such as trustworthiness, independence, and creativity, and higher academic achievements. These all follow directly from the various aspects of the different standards in home education.
A more accurate and well-rounded education results from the academic and moral standards of homeschooling coupled with the lack of government restrictions on curricula. This allows the student to examine a wide range of views on any issue, even sensitive religious ones upon which the public schools are limited by “separation of church and state.” (Incidentally, this “separation” does not exist in the constitution or in the documents of the founding fathers— at least, I have heard of no documents that endorse this idea as it now stands when taken in context.) This freedom in curriculum choices allows a more well-rounded education. For example, the Creation-Evolution debate on the origin of the earth is ignored in schools, which accept the evolutionary position implicitly. A close study of both theories and the evidence available, however, reveals the scientific strength of the creationist position and the relative weakness of the support for evolution—however, I shall not try to prove that opinion. I and all the homeschoolers I know could be classified as young-Earth creationists. Furthermore, extracurricular activities can bolster the education. Ray states, “In an environment that respects their individual traits, homeschooled students can take advantage of their flexible schedules and academic requirements to jump into internships, apprenticeships, field trips, volunteer service, jobs, trade schools, and college” (Ray, “Customization”). This freedom to consider controversial topics, and the religious viewpoints on them, allows homeschooling to be more all-encompassing and well-rounded. The homeschooling environment and high academic and moral standards allow and encourage a more well-rounded education.
The homeschoolers have strong social skills as well, because of the self-esteem, self-confidence and self-assurance they possess. The primary complaint aimed at homeschoolers is that they lack in socialization. The NEA-aligned groups attack homeschoolers on this point. “ Charges Annette Cootes of the NEA-affiliated Texas State Teachers Association: ‘[H]ome schooling is a form of child abuse because you are isolating children from human interaction. I think home schoolers are doing a great discredit [sic] to their children’” ( Anderson ). Homeschoolers, though, are very active in society (Home Schooling Achievement). Homeschoolers do not lack in socialization. Ray states:
Do homeschooled students miss out on socialization? Studies have revealed that in terms of social, emotional, and psychological well-being, homeschooled students are doing well (Medlin, 2000). Of course, not all homeschooled students do extraordinarily well academically or thrive in terms of psychosocial development. In spite of some problems, however, the evidence suggests that the failure rate is lower than that of students in public schools (Medlin, 2000). (Ray, “Customization”)
Furthermore, “socialization,” as it is now thought of, is not always a good thing:
In a sense this is like a stronger version of 'learning to acquire social skills', but rather than learning through imitation and, perhaps, gentle reminders, 'socialisation' suggests deliberate behaviour modification. The idea of sending a child to school - however good and friendly it might be - to learn to have his behaviour modified suggests firstly that parents have little influence, and secondly that all children should behave in the same way, all the time. The idea of expecting our children to 'conform' to the demands of social life, suggests that they should suppress their natural desires and beliefs, and conform to the majority. (Social Aspects)
Social skills do not lack in homeschoolers. Robert Reasoner, president of Self-Esteem International, explains how higher self-esteem helps:
Through studies conducted by these researchers they found that a critical factor in the type of response one gives is related to one’s level of self-esteem. The higher the level of self-esteem, the less individuals feel threatened by different world views. They found that raising the level of self-esteem significantly reduced the level of anxiety and the human response, both emotionally and physiologically. Finally, they concluded that a requirement for cultures that value tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect for those who are different is the fostering of self-esteem. (Reasoner)
The self-esteem and self-confidence they have usually sets them in good stead when they leave their homes and go out into colleges or the workplace. Homeschoolers have strong social skills because of these traits.
The standards of homeschooling lead to different qualities in the students. Particularly, homeschoolers tend to be more independent than public-schooled students are. When studying homeschooled adults, Gary Knowles found some interesting things. “Nearly two-thirds of the formerly home-educated adults were self-employed, indicating, says Knowles, a high level of autonomy and independence. None were unwillingly unemployed, although some chose to stay at home to care for children” (Priesnitz). Other qualities such as responsibility and creativity also grow out of the standards of personal accountability, high moral standards and self-confidence. Jon Reider, Stanford’s senior associate director of admissions, says, “Home-schoolers bring certain skills—motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education—that high schools don’t induce very well” (Even More). Some may say that religion caused this, but homeschooling allows maximum effectiveness in the parent to child transmission of morals. The personal character qualities prevalent in homeschooled student are another good result of home education.
The most important result, to most people, is the overwhelming academic success of homeschooled students. The first thing to note is the average scores of homeschoolers on tests. On the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, 20,790 homeschooled students averaged at the 77 th percentile or better in all twelve grades (Rudner). All scores, in all grades, in all subjects, were at the 66 th percentile or better, on average (Rudner). On the ACT, they scored an average of 22.7, or 1.7 points above the average (Even More). This puts their average at the 65 th percentile. My fifteen-year-old brother and I both scored 35. On the SAT, they averaged 1083, 67 points above the national average (Even More). At the national spelling and geography bees, they do excellently as well. In 2000 homeschoolers swept the top three places in the National Spelling Bee, and finished second and third in the National Geography Bee (Emerson). And if that isn’t enough, they have been doing well in colleges, too. About 69% of homeschoolers go on to college (At Home). Stanford University accepted 27% of homeschooled applicants, almost double the overall acceptance rate (Even More). Once in college, few universities have kept track of the homeschoolers performance, but those who have have demonstrated that homeschoolers have a higher than average GPA (Even More). These results stem from the academic standards, the personal accountability, and the self-confidence of homeschoolers. Are there other influences that cause these scores? Not necessarily, though some doubtless play a part. Income does not. Homeschoolers, overall, have lower incomes than the national average—primarily because most are one-income households (Even More; Bielick, 7). What about parental education? Homeschooling parents are much more highly educated than the norm: 47.4% have at least a bachelor’s degree, while only 33% of non-homeschoolers have a bachelor’s degree of better (Bielick, 7). Interestingly, the different education level of the parents has little effect on the scores of homeschooled children. All the different sectors, from high-school dropouts to college graduates, have children that average at least in the 79 th percentile (Home Schooling Achievement). So these possibilities are inconclusive. The only obvious correlation is that homeschooling caused this high academic achievement. This link is plausible because of the customization, different academic standards, and thus different academic results homeschooling brings.
Thus, there are different results caused by the different standards in homes education. The well-rounded education springs from different academic standards and high moral standards, along with the freedom from government-mandated positions on certain issues. The strong social skills spring from self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-assurance. The different qualities of homeschooled children and adults are the result of moral education and personal accountability. Finally, the high academic achievements of homeschoolers arise from the different academic standards, the personal accountability, and the self- confidence. Different standards yield different results.
These results are what make up capable people: academically successful, with strong social skills, with a well-rounded education, and with character qualities like responsibility and independence.
Homeschooling, then, yields more capable people. Homeschooling has a different educational environment. This environment, of more supervision, less peer-pressure, more one-on-one teaching, more caring teachers, more moral instruction, and more customized and friendly curricula leads to different standards in home education. These standards, of personal accountability, high self-esteem and self-confidence, high moral standards, and different academic standards, yield different results for homeschoolers. These results, of higher academic achievements, and more accurate and well-rounded education, strong social skills, and strong character qualities are what make up capable people.
Original Definition of Education:
“Education is the bringing up, as a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline, which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts, and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.” (Philosophy)
Homeschooling is an excellent form of education that leads directly to more capable people, on average. Ray sums it up: “[H]ome education appears to prepare students to be successful and productive adults” (Ray, “Strengths”). I cannot say it any better.
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