Homeschooling: Pros, Cons, and Facts

by Michael J. Cawley IV


One of the main topics which I will be writing blog posts on is the debate over whether public schooling, homeschooling, or private schooling is the most beneficial to students, and whether or not public policy should be reformed in regards to which type of education is most promoted. To that end, the goal of this first post shall be to provide a preliminary overview of the concept of homeschooling, its advantages and disadvantages, useful facts and statistics pertaining to it, and common myths associated with it.

The concept of homeschooling is a simple one. Basically, rather than send their children to a traditional public or private school to be educated, parents choose to educate their own children themselves at home. Homeschooling is older than many people think it is, as it has been recorded in the United States as early as the colonial times. However, homeschooling did not really take off until the familiar modern homeschooling movement, which began in the 1970s. Reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children vary widely, from the belief that they can provide a better education than public schools to safety concerns to the desire for a religion-based education. Over the years, Americans have gradually become more and more accepting of homeschooling and willing to allow homeschooling to remain legal.

Studies have shown that there are many advantages to homeschooling. When compared to public school students, homeschooled students have equal or higher SAT scores on average as well as equal or higher scores on college admissions tests and state assessments. Homeschooled students have also scored notably higher on average than public school students on the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, which measures socialization skills. These results contradict one of the more popular and enduring myths about homeschooling.

There are a number of popular and enduring myths about homeschooling. One of the most popular and enduring is the idea that homeschoolers are isolated from society and socially inept because they do not get to interact with classmates on a daily basis. In fact, a 2006 study found that ninety-two percent of high school superintendents believe that homeschoolers are isolated from the real world and do not get enough socialization experience. However, many studies, including ones in which homeschoolers scored better than public school students on the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, have proven these myths wrong, proving instead that homeschoolers are just as socially competent as public school students, if not more so. Another popular and enduring myth is that homeschoolers grow up to be bad citizens. On the contrary, a 2006 study found that homeschool graduates are more likely than non-homeschool graduates to work for or contribute money to a political party or cause or to participate in a protest or a boycott, that seventy-one percent of homeschool graduates participate in community service, compared to thirty-seven percent of American adults, and that seventy-six percent of homeschool graduates aged eighteen to twenty-four vote regularly, as opposed to twenty-nine percent of overall Americans from the same age group. Another popular and enduring myth is that homeschoolers find it difficult to be admitted to college. This myth has been debunked by studies as well.

There have also been valid criticisms made of homeschooling which should be taken into account in this debate. Some say that homeschooling may increase the risk of unreported physical abuse. Also, the immunization requirements of public schools do not apply to homeschoolers, creating a possible health risk. However, less data has been found to support the accusations made against homeschooling than there has been found to support the advantages of homeschooling.

Overall, homeschooling, or the decision for parents to educate their own children rather than send them to traditional school, has many advantages as well as disadvantages. Studies have shown that homeschooled students have equal or higher SAT scores on average when compared to public school students as well as equal or higher scores on college admissions tests and state assessments. Studies have also shown that homeschooled students score considerably higher on average than public school students on the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, which measures socialization skills. This shows that, contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers are socially adjusted. However, there are those who will point out that homeschooling presents risks in regards to physical abuse and immunization. Overall, the benefits of homeschooling seem to outweigh the risks, but public schooling’s benefits to not seem to be substantially lower.



4 thoughts on “Homeschooling: Pros, Cons, and Facts

  1. Brenna Fisher

    Okay I am totally biased in my response because I was homeschooled, but let me start off my reply by saying I’m really glad you chose this topic! I am so happy you mentioned that we can be socially adjusted, and while your cons to homeschooling do have merit, they are definitely the exception to the rule. Overall, I completely agree with the facts about homeschooling.

  2. Corey Capooci

    This is a very interesting article. I have never been given the information about how home-schooled children seem to be just as or even more socially adept and prepared to attend colleges and universities as public school students. The benefits do seem overwhelming, but are there any other detriments for homeschooling. I would think that the cost of homeschooling might be more than for attending public school, but I do not have data to back that up.
    Homeschooling does seem like a viable option to anyone who has the tools and such to do so. Overall, it does compare rather well to public schools, but not every family will have the time and resources necessary to home-school their children.

  3. Michael Joseph Cawley Post author

    @jow5365 I suppose that could be a factor. However, children do not always inherit all their parents’ traits, and intelligence can be negated on a test by lack of motivation, bad time management, lack of knowledge of a particular topic, etc. Your argument highlights the inherent problem of all statistics, which is that we can’t always know if correlation equals causation.

  4. jow5365

    I wouldn’t say I have anything against homeschooling; I think it can be a valid option for some. However, I’m going to totally disagree with the statistic you provided, based off of the simple concept of confounding variables, or hidden variables we are not considering that affects the data. The reason home-schooled students have higher SAT scores is because they are naturally better students more so than the fact that they have been homeschooled. This is because in order for a student to be homeschooled, they must have a driven parent/parents, who are likely more intelligent if they want to homeschool a child. Genetics will lead to the intelligence being passed onto the child as well.

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