We’ve all seen them. They were the unfamiliar and often socially awkward kids who joined our tee ball teams or showed up to the Girl Scout meetings. “Who are they?” we all whispered. Maybe they went to a different school. Maybe they were new in town. But when we asked our parents about these kids, they replied in that slightly condescending tone, “Oh, they’re homeschooled.”
Despite the stigma which still surrounds homeschooling, parents who choose this form of education are finally getting their payoff. Since 1999, the number of parents who choose to homeschool their children has grown by 75%. And although the number of children in a homeschooling environment still only represents a mere 4% of the total number of school-going youth, the number of parents choosing to forgo “traditional” public education is growing seven times faster than the rate of children being enrolled in public schools each year.
For those who argue that these numbers do not justify the effectiveness of a homeschooled education, we might instead look to the statistics. The typical homeschooled child scores in the 65th to 89th percentile on standardized testing, while the average child in a public school environment scores somewhere around the 50th percentile. Further, homeschooled children have been shown to score consistently higher on the ACT and go on to earn higher GPAs as college students. Homeschooled children have even been shown to attain four year degrees at much higher rates than students from public school and private schools.
The benefits don’t stop there. Whereas the average total expenditures for a child in public school near $10,000 a year, those for the homeschooled child average somewhere between $500 and $600 a year. So not only does homeschooling provide educational benefits, but it provides financial payoffs as well.
But what about socialization? Often plagued with the stereotype that homeschooled children lack basic social skills and cues, proponents of homeschooling claim this is not true. The National Home Education Research Institute claims that homeschooled children have actually shown to become more socially engaged individuals than their peers, demonstrating “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.”
So what might the future bring? Will more parents opt for homeschooling than public schooling? And what can be done to remedy the apparent downfalls in public schooling that are causing more parents to choose homeschooling?
It appears that the issues with public schooling really come down to a few things. First, there seems to be a lack of individual communication between students and teachers. In larger public schools, there may be as many as 40 some students in a class, often severely decreasing the amount of time a teacher may spend one on one with each student. Particularly at young ages, this one on one communication can be vital to the strength of a student’s education. A student struggling with reading or math is easily overlooked in a large class and often does not have the confidence to approach the teacher on their own.
Public schools may also limit the achievement of a student. Some schools are ill-equipped, whether financially or faculty-wise, to provide advanced or accelerated level courses for those students who have been shown to consistently score well academically. Often these students are then forced to learn at a much slower rate due to the capabilities of their classmates and thus are stunted intellectually. Although this system is acceptable to parents of students who may be struggling compared to classmates, it could well be detrimental to those high achieving students.
Finally, as is evident by the strong anti-bullying push present in nearly every modern school, public schools often foster social anxiety and damage to mental health. When a child learns to associate school and education with unease and even dread, it becomes a difficult perception to change. Many students who are bullied in primary school struggle with their academics, too caught up in the social aspect of school to remember that education is the true purpose.
So what is to be done? Given that the issues above have long been present, it seems unlikely that there will be an easy change. Thus, it seems to be left at the hands of the parent, whether they believe in the merits of public education or prefer to foster their child’s learning in the home.
Source: Education News