When we consign our children to public schools, we feel satisfied that they are receiving ‘quality education’. But, are we really getting our money’s worth? More importantly, are the children gaining anything from this kind of a learning procedure?
Socialization is hailed as one of the greatest advantage of schools. This is the place where the child picks up the rudiments of social skills that help him survive. But in truth, a regular school-going child can interact only with his peers. He may bully younger children or fear older ones. He does not know how to behave with an adult. This is because in the school environment he interacts only with his peers. A homeschooling environment brings in a more natural social environment.
A regular school going child cannot read literature. He cannotkeep silent or think in depth about any one thing. The artificial ‘busy’ness imposed upon him by the school disallows quiet contemplation. Rowdy and destructive behavior, as seen among peers, is more noticeable in school-goers.
There is little long-standing knowledge among regular school goers because most things are learnt for the exam. There is no correlation of facts with life. The child may know a lot, but understands very little. This is where the homeschoolers beat theregular school goers. Ultimately, homeschoolers emerge more adept at facing the outside world.
Social skills is an area of deep concern when it comes to homeschooling. Many critics point out that since man needs to hone his social skills, a homeschooling environment where social interaction is limited is detrimental to his growth and development. But studies have proved this wrong.
Children put into the fiercely competitive school environments lack the confidence to hold a conversation. Such children show little genuine interest in the topic of conversation and don’t know how to interact with people of various age groups, especially their elders.
Children who learn at home are more aware of the implications and the purpose of their learning. They will ask intelligent questions and make accurate observations. Children begin their life by imitating their parents. Homeschooled children therefore pickup the sterling qualities they see in their parents. On the other hand, they are protected from the detrimental influences of their peers.
These children are thus better equipped with the tools necessary to face the world. The positive reinforcement that takes place in the homeschooling environment as opposed to being abandoned, embarrassed or ignored in a normal school environment strengthens their self-esteem. Children turn out to be better balanced and well-rounded as they progress into adulthood.
The most common reason today’s parents have for not sending their children to public school is that they feel that public school is no longer a place where children can obtain a quality education. 48.9% of parents in a survey stated that their reason for wanting an alternative to public school was that they could give their child a better education at home. Another 25% gave the reason that public school offered a poor learning environment and another 11% say that public school did not challenge their child (Bielick).
That study just cannot be ignored.
The homeschooling population in the United States has grown from some 10,000 to 15,000 children in the late 1960s to over one million children in 2001 (Bielick). Homeschooling is currently growing at about 11% a year. This obviously says something about the state of public education and theopinion of parents concerning the education of their children.
Homeschooled children appear to perform better on tests, as well. According to Brian Ray, Ph.D., “Home educated students generally score at the 65th to 80th percentile on achievement tests, 15 to 30 percentile points higher than those in public schools.
Parents who homeschool do have some notable differences from the mainstream population though. In a study by L. M. Rudner homeschool parents had more formal education than parents in the general population; 88% continued their education beyond high school compared to 50% for the nation as a whole. The median income for home school families ($52,000) was significantly higher than that of all families with children ($36,000) in the United States. Almost all home school students (98%) were in married couple families. Most home school mothers (77%) did not participate in the labor force; almost all home school fathers (98%) did work (Rudner). This may explain why homeschooled students outperform the public schools students on standardized tests and academic competitions like the National Spelling Bee.
In 1997, the winner of the National Spelling Bee was a homeschooled student. Every year since then, the winner has been a homeschooled student. This year, the first and second runners up were also homeschoolers.
Homeschooling can be the best option for a child if the following conditions exist: the home provides a suitable learning atmosphere, the parent is capable, the child is receptive and the option to homeschool exists. These factors include the enabling of parents, the emotional health of the child, interest and curiosity, the socialization of the child and the teachability of the child.