19 November 2008
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
Most would remember high school life consisting of early mornings, big projects, stressful exams, and unforgettable dances. But many cannot forget about the cliques, bullying, and peer pressure, all while attempting to balance their family life, friends, extracurricular activities, and self discovery. However, others may describe their high school life as studying at home with their siblings, while developing deep family ties and strengthening religious beliefs. One may wonder which is the best way. Through research many may conclude, home schooling’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages; in fact, homeschooling can improve a child’s education and family relationship.
When hearing the phrase, “I was home schooled,” perhaps most may find the person interesting, but others automatically define the person as different. Many stereotypes about home schooling exist. The first stereotype people may have is that children who are home schooled are not social enough. They seem to believe children who are home schooled are not getting enough social opportunities, because the child is not attending a school with a lot of children their age, and learning the conventional way of the classroom. Home schooling can teach children to accept themselves for who they are, therefore preparing them for healthier relationships with others. Kamala Baudichon shares her story with “Skipping Stones”:
Kamala was home schooled all her life. “Just before freshman year I had a melt down! I was tired of having a small group of friends.” Kamala’s parents let her go to public school; “Being home schooled allowed me to develop a strong sense of self, which helps me to not be influenced by others [in public school]” (9).
Some people may view socialization as hanging out with friends, whereas others believe it is when children learn to conform to culture norms. In Revisiting the Common Myths about Homeschooling, Romanowski argues that home school opens children up to other institutions (e.g. YMCA, Ti Quan Do, or boy/girl scouts), thus exposing them to a wider variety of people. They are not only their peers but a mixture of all age groups, which can help them adjust to multiple people (125).
Many also believe that homeschoolers do not do well in a college environment. According to Romanowski, college admission officers look for home schooled children. These college representatives go as far as attending conferences in order to speak to parents who choose to home school and are interested in scholarships for their child. Romanowski goes further to argue that home schoolers exhibit strong work ethics and high moral values, which he believes play an important role in succeeding in college (125). In fact, research has consistently shown that children who are home schooled score 15 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized academic achievement tests than public school students. Their average on the ACT is a 23, while the average for a public school child is a 21 (Ray, 822).
Lower test scores and many other factors have seemed to upset parents who decided to send their child to public schools. Is home schooling a better alternative? There are many incentives in choosing to home school; this is why there is a 7 to 15% increase in homeschoolers every year. Many parents prefer homeschooling because they like the idea of educational freedom. In other words, the children can learn things they are more interested in for longer periods of time (Shaw).
Others parents choose home schooling, simply because they believe it can teach their children to appreciate education more as a child, so, in return, they will be trained to learn by their natural curiosity and drive rather than aiming to please authority figures. A study in 2004 showed that 31% of families who home schooled did it because they were concerned about the environment they may be potentially placing their children in, and the other 30% declared it was due to religious reasons (Lerner, 428). The 31% of the families who are concerned about the environment they are placing their children in, believes safety has become an important issue in our society today. “Schools have become so dangerous; if you home school you don’t have to worry about who is taking knives to your local schools,” states a concerned parent in Practical Homeschooling.
This may be true, but not every school has murderers running around terrorizing the students, nonetheless, unfortunately, every school does have bullies, cliques, and peer pressure. The fact is six out of ten American teenagers witness bullying in school at least once or twice in their lifetime (Pride). According to Pride, “Moving children away from an emotional pressure cooker of peer pressure and cliques may produce learning gains.” Many parents agree that unnecessary emotional stress would hinder their children’s academic performance. Peer pressure can also affect a child’s academic performance. “Most people don’t get their drugs from home, they get them from school,” says Pride. In line with Pride, Shaw adds, “Home schoolers live in the real world, where their lives aren’t depicted by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentations.” Many parents appear to agree.
Religious beliefs are another key reason parents choose homeschooling. Parents can benefit because they will have the opportunity to instill their morals and values in their children (Ray, 825). In addition to religious beliefs, family ties are an important factor in why many choose to home school. Home schooling is a full time job for both parent and child. Parents are with their children all day and every day. Therefore, they get to know their children much better; the siblings are playing, growing, and learning together, which definitely builds strong family bonds (Pride). Since siblings are together more, they build trusting relationships; for that reason they tend to have stronger relationships (Ray, 822).
Even though there are many pros within the reasons to home school, there are many things to consider before making any conclusions. One of the disadvantages to home schooling is the lack of time. It takes research, preparation, time to set up, clean up, organization, and of course, teaching in itself. This is a lot to factor in, including outside work and the daily tasks necessary to run a family (Alcott).
With much to accomplish and little time to do it all, many may forget about cleaning. It is hard to keep up with routine chores when much of the week is devoted to school (Alcott). Household organization is more difficult; this means regular household chores like washing and shopping have to continually be done, in addition to cleaning the mess home schooling creates on its own (Dewald).
Seeing that home schooling is a full time job, it requires a parent to stay home full time to teach the children; the reality is, there would just be one income. The curriculum can cost up to $500 per child per year, not including the social activities such as field trips and activities with other groups (Dewald). In theory, a family who participates in home schooling has to budget.
With the added difficulties in preparing, teaching, cleaning, and now, managing a thorough budgeting; home schooling can accumulate tremendous pressure. It is human nature to look at what others are doing, then comparing ourselves, and finding undesirable shortcomings (Alcott). Parents have to realize there are no wrong ways to teach. Many parents may lack the ability to teach their own children because they constantly fault themselves for their children academic short comings.
Even though there are some positive arguments about children being social enough, others may argue the opposite. There is the possibility that parents choose to home school for the wrong reasons.
“Too many, although far from all, homeschooling parents do so (home school) for reason I find inconsiderable: keeping their kids from evolution, sex education, or anything that might lead them to think for themselves rather than accept what their parents think.” (Burhart).
Indeed, there are some parents who would rather not see their children socialize. Furthermore, Dewald adds that home schooled children may have a lack of contact with other children. Home schooling can be an environment where children spend little time with anyone other than their family. This can hinder a child’s development of social skills especially in primary or elementary school years.
Most parents feel the pressure of giving their children the best education possible. They research, attend meetings, and help their child with nightly homework. This is a lot on its own. For those who choose to home school, they have accepted the high and lows that comes with the tremendous amount of work and responsibility. Parents who choose to home school have to continuously engage themselves in their child’s academic life, devoting every drop of energy to preparing, teaching, and organizing; whereas, a great deal of families cannot imagine living off one income. The ability to prepare a child for a competitive future is a challenging task. However, if a parent has the time, energy, and income to home school, their child would benefit in many ways.
Considering all of the pros and cons presented in this paper it is safe to conclude that the advantages that support homeschooling outweigh the few disadvantages. Homeschooling can teach children to appreciate learning, will establish strong families, instill essential religious beliefs, and will move children away from unsafe, emotional stresses of peer pressure. Even though studies have proven that anyone can potentially pursue the job, only few do. Parents who undertake the trials of homeschooling have to be commended and supported for their dynamic and challenging work.