To Homeschool or not

Within the past few decades home schooling has jumped from obscurity to prominence, with thousands of Australian youngsters now educated at their homes.

Professor Roger Hunter, commenting on the revival of home schooling in Australia, believes that up to ten thousand students were home educated in 1994, a figure that has steadily increased by 20% annually.

Home schooling involves parents providing education for their own children instead of sending them to school. However, this is not to be mistaken for the government supervised distance education program.

For most of its adherents the home schooling movement has more to do with parental choice than sickness or geographical isolation, as is the case with many in the government program.

According to Dr.Terry Harding, former principal of Southern Cross Educational Ent. Ltd., suppliers of home schooling curriculums within Australia, ‘The responsibility to educate one’s child oneself comes with the role of being a parent... should a parent not wish to implement this primary responsibility, he may delegate this responsibility to an institution... The responsibility and thus the choice in the matter lays with the parent, not with an outside authority.’

Significantly, though more than 90% of home schooler’s live in areas of easy access to public schooling, they choose to avoid what is convenient and publicly funded in favour of teaching in their own home.

The reasons parents choose home schooling are as diverse as the families involved, the big four being:

1. Home-schooling is a religious obligation (one third of parents have religious reasons).

2. Home-schooling is a parental obligation.

3. Homes-schooling is more effective academically.

4. Desire for greater input into child’s overall growth, free of negative peer pressure.

Other reasons include: Disappointment with public system; greater freedom; more rewarding; safer environment; escape bullying; enhances family closeness. And the list goes on.

Supporter's say that if results vindicate method, then the fruits of this system lend it weight as a legitimate means of education.

Although limited Australian research figures are available, American statistics are more comprehensive. Leading home education researcher Dr. Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute Oregon, reports that between 1996-97, 700,000 to 1.15 million children where home educated in the US.

This amounts to an estimated $31 million saved in taxes—home schooled families being unreliant on public, tax-funded, resources.

Dr. Gary Knowles of the University of Michigan, in a study of home-educated adults, found that all were employed and none on welfare. US research also found that the home educated scored consistently higher academically than those conventionally schooled, with behavioural problems also less in the home-educated sector.

Researchers Tisard, Hughes, Pinkerton, & Carmicheal in an early 80s survey found that parents made more intellectually stimulating demands than teachers, demands more often answered by children at home than those at school.

Children in school also asked fewer questions; 1983 research found that ‘children seem to learn very quickly that their role at school is to answer, not to ask questions.’

Research also indicates that older home-schooled children up to 15 do better academically than the average out-of-home schooled child, a fact documented by academic researchers in Western Australia, Canada, and most US states.

And the list of home schoolers who’ve gone before —including self taught and privately tutored— reads like an illustrious who’s who list; Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Agatha Christie, Douglas MacArthur, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Schweitzer, John Wesley. To name a few.

Each State has it's own regulation involving those wishing to home-school. Janet Andrews of the Department of Education QLD, says to those not happy with what or how children are taught in the available educational programs, and seeking alternatives, laws apply.

Firstly, approval must be sought from the Minister of Education. An application for dispensation will require either a) the teaching parent is a registered teacher. b) A registered teacher is engaged/employed by the parent(s), or, c) A teaching parent who is not registered but is enrolled in an approved distance education program.

When asked, other parents responded to the idea of home educating their children with some trepidation, comments like, 'I couldn't, I'm not a trained teacher ', 'I need my free-time and sending the kids to school provides that time', 'The kids would drive me crazy', were common concerns.

In response to such concerns, the A.C.A Home School Guidebook advises, ‘All the evidence supports the fact that the average high school educated mum, able to read and write and who is warm and caring, makes the ideal supervisor of her child's learning program... Parents do not need to know everything in order to teach. Nor to they need a piece of paper certifying that they have met some external criteria for teaching... One has only to look at the mess the conventional educational system has produced to put the lie to that assertion. The example and enthusiasm of loving parents as they involve themselves in learning with their children will do much to motivate and encourage their children to learn.’

This raises the contested question: How much authority should a government have over the private lives of its citizens and their preferential choices in regard to their families education? Whose decision should it be?

However, regardless of ones opinion on that, the attitudes of home schooled kids, with few exceptions, seems positive. According to some home-schooled students I interviewed, the advantages were, ‘Work can be done at a pace best for me’, ‘I get to to spend more time with my family’, ‘Greater freedom of time’, ‘More relaxed’. And disadvantages? ‘More involved in housework’, ‘Same teacher every year’, ‘Limited time spent with other children’.

In regards to that last statement, the objection often raised loudest against home-schooling is the lack of social skill development. This has been voiced by many as a misgiving toward the home school system, believing a child kept at home, away from his/her peers, risks growing up socially inept.

However, home-schooling families argue the opposite, saying that the out-of-home schooling system is more likely to create social inaptitude than a home-schooled one.

They stress that the excessive peer-to-peer ratio at schools, six hours a day, five days a week, represses social maturity. Creating peer dependent individuals who conform to peer pressure in order to gain approval, even though the conformity may entail foolish, rebellious or immoral behaviour contrary to the better judgment of the child.

On the flip side, they emphasis that the home environment is more evenly proportioned. The frequent adult-to-child contact encourages children to think, communicate and imitate on a mature level, not a juvenile one, the child free to be itself without fear of rejection, learning its social skills from adult rather than peer.

Financially the impact of home schooling would deter many, most families foregoing that tempting second income.

Difficult or not however, these parents want to spend as much time as they can with their kids. The cost and sacrifice, one home schooling dad said, ‘... will be more than worth it, when as adults our children prove we did the right thing, for them and us.’

In an age of generation segregation —day care, kindergarten, primary & secondary schools, retirement homes— to meet parents who aren’t eager to see their kids off every morning, lamenting holidays and encouraging out of home activities, seems rare.

Have these kids missed out on the ‘joys’ of ‘normal’ schooling? Have they become socially inept from being at home for twelve years instead of at school ‘Where they belong’? Or are they enjoying something that our society is perhaps slowly abandoning—Intimate family life?

Some are saying we have missed the mark in education agenda and policy, and that fixing the problems requires not reformation of the existing system, but a shift away from it. Some of these advocates see the home -schooling system as the path to take.

Speaking personally, this writer made the choice to home school their children over twenty years ago.

Although entered into with trepidation, it has proven one of the best decisions we ever made. It is not easy, but nothing of worth ever is. It takes sacrifice, but things of great value always do. And it reaps at the end, in our case at least, a return of blessings that makes it all worthwhile; for parents as well as children.

To homeschool or not

In which category do you fall?

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16 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Good hub. There are some great community programs in my city that support homeschoolers so they can have group activities and the children aren't so isolated.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

We home-schooled my daughter until she was entered junior high. Of course then we had to give her a crash course on curse words to get her caught up with the rest of the kids. Thanks


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 6 years ago from Canada

parrster...I have rated this up and have stumbled it...this is excellent...I did not homeschool my children because I did not know I had the choice to back then...since then I have been exposed happily to many families that do homeschool and if I could do it all over again I would home school in a heart beat. The value far outweighs the imagined losses. I have since also experienced a child who has graduated and is in a much better position to evaluate what they want in life and how to get as they have learned how to do that...how to ask questions...and how to set out a plan to get something done!

Very good Hub loved it!

Blessings

UlrikeGrace


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz Author

~Pamela99~

Thanks for your comment. We have a good network in our area as well. My wife was an organiser of weekly events for a number of years. Networking is an important element to successful home-schooling I believe.

~Micky Dee~

Yes, unfortunately much of what we don't want our kids to learn is abundantly available in the school yards. Thanks.

~UkrikeGrace~

Yes, our experiences also have been very positive. With two grown daughters having finished schooling and two still in it, we have come to appreciate home-schooling many advantages, practically, academically, socially & spiritually.


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 6 years ago from New England

Hi Parrster,

Wow. What a wonderful hub. I have written a couple of hubs about my home-schooling journey with my daughter. Many people are divided about it here in the US, too.

Because my daughter missed the "cutoff date" for registering for Kindergarten last year (they admit children born on or before August 31st), I home-schooled my daughter, and it was such a joy! This year I am sending her to half-day Kindergarten. There is a fee for full-day Kindergarten, and we decided that it is not worth it, and I want her home the second half of the day to work with. There is a level of home-schooling in the US called "after-schooling" where parents fill in what children are not given during the school day. Somehow, my husband wanted to give her "the Kindergarten experience," the one year of school that is actually fun. I consented because I would like to establish some ways of making money from home, then resume home-schooling her full-time. She is ahead of her classmates in many ways (math skills such as time and money are a couple of strengths she entered school with. I am determined to make our transition successful. There is a great network of home-schoolers I am keeping in touch with here to keep the support going. We belong to a church with a higher membership of home-schoolers than others close to our home, too, so she gets to know some of them.

One last thought....love that "fish" cartoon!


lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 6 years ago from Cleveland, OH

I am not a homeschooler, nor do I support it in a general way, although I do see the need for homeschooling in specific situations. But I do love this hub and the thorough nature of the research you have done.

My personal belief is while the ideal of homeschooling is good, the reality depends on the parents involved. There are many alternatives to public school, and many public schools are very good.

I would like to see the homeschoolers put their love of teaching into the community schools to benefit the community, instead of just their own children. I also believe that there is a benefit of teaching children to interact in a real world without all of the cushions that homeschooling provides.

Very thought provoking and interesting hub. It is interesting that the issue in Australia is quite the same as it is here in the U.S. :)


Evelyn Krieger 6 years ago

I have homeschooled my daughter in the US since 2nd grade. She is in 7th now. I'd just like to debunk the prevalent myth that homeschoolers are somehow not in the "real" world. Is public school the ultimate definition of real world? My daughter studies ballet 3 times a week, participates in performances, attends academic classes with other homeschooled kids, volunteers, writes for a girls' magazine, babysits, travels, and gets together with schoooled and nonschooled friends on a regular basis, and pursues her many interests with a passion.


Evelyn Krieger 6 years ago

I have homeschooled my daughter in the US since 2nd grade. She is in 7th now. I'd just like to debunk the prevalent myth that homeschoolers are somehow not in the "real" world. Is public school the ultimate definition of real world? My daughter studies ballet 3 times a week, participates in performances, attends academic classes with other homeschooled kids, volunteers, writes for a girls' magazine, babysits, travels, and gets together with schoooled and nonschooled friends on a regular basis, and pursues her many interests with a passion.


Bel Marshall profile image

Bel Marshall 6 years ago from Michigan

I homeschooled my daughter after the school made our lives miserable because we refused to medicate her.

Yes, my daughter was ADD but she was also very bright and after some serious research we decided not to medicate her. Our lives became hell after that. I still wonder if schools get extra funding for medicated children.

These days you are not left with much choice. Yes, it took away my quiet time but it gave me so much more time with my daughter during those very crucial years in her life. I wouldn't trade that time.

I don't think it is for everyone, as it requires a great deal of time and discipline. Make sure you have someplace to go for subjects that even bewilder the parents. I am still horrible at math, but for my daughter it's her best subject. Obviously, I made the choice to let someone else teach her that subject.


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz Author

@seafaring Mama ~ Yes, the fish cartoon is classic and only understood for its truth by those who have actually home-schooled I think. Thanks for sharing your experience, having a supportive network of fellow homeschoolers makes a huge difference to the experience. Our children regularly attended weekly activities with many other children and have retained some wonderful relationships into their adult lives. I have one married daughter who is a true joy to be with, another shortly to leave for Nepal to care for Orphans, and two younger ones still being homeschooled. Each of them are amazing, and I attribute a lot of it tot he home schooling experience. I just wish I'd been homeschooled too.

@lakeerieartists ~ Thanks you for your comments and praise. you are quite right, the quality of the parent in terms of genuine commitment, emotional maturity and academic capacity is important. However I would clarify that by adding that of the many hundreds of homeschooling parents I know, none are so diminished in these areas as to disqualify themselves. In fact any parent taking on board the role of homeschooling parent has already demonstrated their commitment, and emotional maturity is something homeschooling may even help a parent to develop. As for academic capacity, there are curriculum's available that are very easy for both the child to follow and the parent to supervise from; there are less problems in this area than some would expect.

@Evelyn Krieger ~ In complete agreement with you. thanks for the feedback and for sharing.

@Bel Marshall ~ I appreciate your comments. Your point about maths also debunks the myth that parents have to know the subject for their children to; as you say, your daughter excels in maths, a subject you lack strength in.


FeliciaM profile image

FeliciaM 5 years ago from Canada

Thanks for the hub! I homeschooled my boys until highschool and then they decided to go to school. My youngest is 16 and in grade 11 and this is his first year and his teachers say he is a pleasure to have in class. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect but I think the difference is that he has chosen to be there and chosen which classes to take and has a genuine interest.

My oldest decided to go to school in grade 12! I offered to get him a lunchbox for his first day of school. lol

Our style at home was very eclectic and when they were younger we didn't do a lot of "school", they played for hours on end with lego and we studied things they were interested in, which sadly schools cannot do because the teachers have to follow a curriculum and agenda. I think often kids curiosities at the younger ages are squashed because they can't ask all the questions they want to in a school setting.

My oldest didn't read until he was 9, but then he started reading books like the hobbit. He just wasn't ready until then and it was my own ego I had to let go. If he had been in school he would have been labeled as something, but he really just wanted to climb trees and play lego and when reading became important he did it. I also read only good literature to my boys when they were young which gave them a taste for good writing. My son enjoys creative writing and did awesome in English Literature and Creative writing last year when he attended school. He's thinking of going to college next year to study more English.

O.K. I could go on because there is so much to say, but I will stop now.

Thanks again for the great hub!!!


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@FeliciaM ~ sorry for the delayed reply, I don't get to hub a lot lately. You make some wonderful points, all the more note worthy because you have children both homeschooling and system-schooled. You allude to one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling, and that is the ability of the parent to adapt the education around the individual rather the adapt the child into the curriculum. Appreciated all your comments!


moiragallaga profile image

moiragallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Interesting and very well written hub. I may hold a different view, but I totally respect your decision and those of the others here. Also, you make a very good and strong case for home schooling. the comments here also show that your arguments and the good points are much validated. Bottom line for me, it is a personal choice. Thanks for sharing your views on this. I enjoy hub pages because I get the opportunity here to stumble on issues and topics that helps broaden my mind and appreciation of the world around us, you have certainly given me a new perspective with which to view home schooling.


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz Author

@moiragallaga ~ thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Like you I've found that reading hubs challenges me to think beyond the small sphere of my own perceptions and viewpoint. I aim to read much and let the cream float to the surface. Appreciate you stopping by.


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

Parrster, my friend, you nailed it!

The Smithsonian Institute conducted a study on genius and came up with three criteria intrinsic to the development of genius:

1) Unstructered playtime. This allowed the child to use their mind to problem solve, focus, and explore the depths of creativity without intervention.

2) Increased interaction around trusted adults. This allowed the children to develop mature ideas more quickly and was a source of greater knowledge, comfort, and support.

3) Limit time around other children (peers). Let's face it, children are often cruel little creatures and many tend to be morons. Monkey see, monkey do. The more children are around moronic behavior the more they are likely to develop similar attributes. And, as the Bible has said, "Bad company corrupts good character".

I withdrew all my children from the public school system before they went to junior high school...save one. My eldest child went for one year and it was a complete disaster. I also found out that all the moronic jokes I heard back in my day were still in circulation 30 years later!

Unlike some parents, I cannot see any benefit of the public school system. I think, in most cases, that they want to see something good, because they have their own personal agendas that does not include sharing their knowledge and time with their children in an academic setting. In doing so, they have enabled the State to brainwash their child and steal the natural essence of their child, who is now destined to become just another cookie-cutted-clone.

Again, awesome Hub!!! Voted up across the board, but your biggest prize is winning me as your 341st fan! :0)


parrster profile image

parrster 4 years ago from Oz Author

@CJ ~ That Smithsonian research was interesting and concurs with my own experiences. Your use of the term 'moron' reminded me of a comedian who, having witnessed so much crazy juvenile behaviour, concluded that children must be 'born brain damaged'.

I agree with your verdict regarding the public system, over the decades it has gravitated to the lowest common denominator of education, discipline and ethical position; as you put so well, it has stolen the essence of children.

Thanks for the comments and encouraging words.

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