Is homeschooling a better option than publicschooling? As an individual who has had the opportunity of experiencing both I would say that there are greater benefits to home schooling. The numbers of homeschoolers are increasing at a rate of 11% per year. But why is that? Many parents are feeling that traditional schools are not meeting their child's educational needs. In a recent study, 48.9% of parents stated that they felt that they could give their child a better education at home; another 25% of parents said that public school offered a poor learning environment; and another 11% said that public school did not challenge their child.
Are homeschoolers meeting or excelling the standards their public school peers? The answer is yes. 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 in public schools." A report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) states that on average students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public school peers, and by the time homeschooled students reached 8th grade they are four years ahead of their public school peers. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for homeschooled students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide. Homeschoolers had an average ACT composite score of 22.8 which was .38 standard deviations above the national ACT average of 21.0 in 1998.
So why are these children doing so much better than their public school peers? Are their parents more qualified to teach? Do they have better curriculum? Perhaps it is the fact that homeschoolers are allowed and encouraged to think for themselves. Perhaps it is the absence of common distractions that haunt the pubic school classrooms; or the lack of bullying and peer competitions for the in-crowd'. The fact that most homeschoolers come from a stable home may have something to do with it too. A study shows that 98% of homeschooled students were in married couple families. 77% of homeschool mothers do not go to work, and 98% of homeschool dads did work. Also, homeschoolers are not limited to the strict curriculum of pubic schools; they have many options: they can choose curriculum from catalogs, enroll in a course, attend online classes, enroll in correspondence schools, or have no curriculum at all. This allows them to study lessons in depth while teaching them the self discipline necessary to complete the courses.
But, where does socialization fit in this picture? First let's take a look at the definition of socialization. So*cial*i*za*tion,
n. The process of learning interpersonal and interactional skills that is in conformity with the values of one's society.
The main focus of public schools is education; socializing is discouraged, and what little socializing students do is limited to their peers and teachers. On the other hand; homeschoolers interact with a wide variety of people and different age groups. They are more likely to go with their parents to the grocery store, bank, post office, and other places, and experience daily interaction with the wide variety of adults that exist in every day situations. When the family participates in a homeschool group, the children play and interact with people who range from newborns to grandparents. Homeschoolers are also more likely to participate in community projects and functions. They get to see first hand how adults respond to daily life, and its little surprises. Homeschoolers have more time for sports, hobbies, church activities, volunteer opportunities, apprenticeships, and clubs; all of which increase their social skills.
Homeschoolers are also excelling in college. There are over 1,000 colleges and universities that routinely accept homeschoolers, including: Haverford College, New York University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, The United States Academies, Washington and Lee University, and Yale University to name a few. In 1997, Dr. Irene Prue, Assistant Director of Admission of Georgia Southern University, released a nationwide survey of admissions personnel's knowledge, attitudes and experiences with home educated applicants. The report from most of the colleges and universities that responded was that homeschoolers are academically, emotionally, and socially prepared to succeed at college.' Studies consistently show that homeschooled students are more capable of thinking for themselves and are not so dependent on their peers; this is why a lot of colleges actively recruit them.
Here are some of the results from the 1996 survey of colleges and universities throughout all 50 states conducted by the National Center for Home Education:
"A Harvard University (MA) admissions officer said most of their home-educated students "have done very well. They usually are very motivated in what they do." Results of the SAT and SAT II, an essay, an interview, and a letter of recommendation are the main requirements for home-educated applicants. "[Transcripts are] irrelevant because a transcript is basically a comparison to other students in the school."
In addition to Harvard, prominent schools like Yale (CT), Princeton (NJ), Texas A&M, Brown University (RI), the Carnegie Mellon Institute (PA), the Universities of Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and many others all have flexible transcript criteria, accept parental evaluations, and do not require any accreditation or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). At Kansas State University and others like Lipscomb University and Middlebury College (VT), transcripts are optional.
Pennsylvania State University had 20 homeschool applicants in 1995, double the previous year. They prefer a portfolio with as much information as possible, including extra curricular activities that demonstrate leadership. "Homeschoolers show strongly in that," said the admissions officer for Penn State."
Homeschoolers are doing well in the work force too. Employers have discovered that they are available, part time, at odd hours, and during busy seasons. A study conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute in HR Magazine states, "homeschoolers are self-starters, reliable, and creative, intellectually prepared, better than average, read voraciously, and watch TV less." Andy Lorenzen a recruiter for, Chick-fil-A's which recruits some 30,000 homeschoolers, says, "They're smart, ambitious, and very driven. They have a high level of loyalty to the business, are diligent, and have a good work ethic."
So is homeschooling a better alternative to public school? I've given you the facts, you alone can decide.