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Friday, July 15, 2011

Homeschooling: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The words ‘home school’ have been known to bring to mind certain images. Among these is the fanatically religious family that wishes to suppress their child’s contact with the evil world.

But in today’s society of increasing violence, especially on the public school playground and in its hallways, more and more parents are considering this option. In fact, between 1.5 and 2 million children are home schooled in the United States every year and the number is still growing according to The National Center for Education.

Not only school violence, but also the inability of many schools to offer higher academic standards to their students adds to the increasing numbers of home schoolers. But is this the best option for your family?  Only you can decide this. But here are a few things to consider.

One of the best things about home schooling is the obvious interaction between parent and child. A natural part of every parent’s job is to teach and train their children. But many parents leave that completely up to teachers or day care centers.

Not just academically, but learning basic guidelines and principles for a successful life are left up to the television, video games and peers. So making the decision to home school your child is an important step towards improving communication between parent and child, thus benefiting the overall relationship.

Now this is not to say that a good relationship and great communication cannot be achieved by a family whose child is in the public school system, it certainly can. Parents must take an aggressive attitude toward cultivating an active interest in their child’s school work and other school activities, such as his relationship with his teachers, social skills with other students, etc.

Another positive aspect of home schooling that has been noted is the improvement in grades. Since parents can give more personal attention and tutoring to the child, the likelihood that grades will be higher is significant. Parents also immediately discover that the freedom to choose the curriculum is a factor in their success.

Some parents have offered their children courses like A+ Certification and Network Certification which is not usually available in public schools. According to the EPAA (Education Policy Analysis Archives), 47% of mothers and 37% of fathers that home school their children possess Bachelor’s Degrees.

Another 28% of fathers and 10% of mothers possess a Doctorate or Masters Degree. From these figures, we can see that a large number of home schooled children are receiving their education from very qualified teachers. And while it is true that home schooling can be a protection from certain exposures to violence or other negative influences, parents must take up the challenge of providing positive association among children of their age group.

Social interaction skills are important in life and can be achieved with a little ingenuity from parents by including plans for getting together with other children as part of their regular routine. According to Richard G. Medlin, Ph. D., “The social skills scores of home schooled children were consistently higher than those of public school students.”

The public school system can present many types of stress for a child. Pressures to excel both academically and in the sports arena, pressures to be accepted among their peers and pressures from the opposite sex are a few typical sources of stress. Many children are affected so much psychologically from these pressures that they suffer from stress related illnesses even at a very young age. Home schooling can help to eliminate these types of pressures.

Some have reported financial benefits to home schooling their children. The first thing that comes to mind though is the probable loss of one of the parent’s income in order to home school. On the other side of the coin is the fact that school clothes and school supplies won’t have to be purchased.

Although clothes and home school supplies will still be a regular necessity, parents won’t have to purchase what teachers and public school peers will require of them. In some cases, parents are not putting any forethought into planning the child’s curriculum, and it is left up to an online purchased home study course that is difficult to monitor.

If this is the case, then the chance that the child will neglect studying altogether becomes greater. As regards public school social stress, some parents have been known to feel that the type of pressure a child experiences in public school builds character and coping skills for stress that will be experienced later in life.

Again, this depends greatly on how well the parents have done their job in teaching coping skills, wherever the child has been educated. Many parents that have tried home schooling their children have reported difficulty with time management and scheduling issues. If both parents have to work full time, this is especially the case.

It is almost completely necessary that one of the parents be willing to relinquish their personal career in order to give their full attention to their child’s education. If the parent is not willing to sacrifice the time that it takes to manage their child’s home schooling efforts, then haphazard results will most likely occur.

In conclusion, the success or failure of a home schooling project depends greatly on the parent’s involvement. Their willingness to work at scheduling, teaching, training, keeping good records and planning social interaction for their children will mean the difference between a well educated child ready for life’s challenges and an ill-prepared child headed for trouble.

But the same is true for a child in the public school system. Good parental involvement in a child’s education is critical.

National Center for Education, National Home Education Research Institute, Education Policy Analysis Archives.

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