Mention the word “home schooling” and one will get a lot of eye-rolling and under-breath laughs. “Home schooling” is a dirty word. Do not say it, do not even think about it, and everyone gets along wonderfully. What is so wrong with the word “home schooling?” An average middle-school child can mouth every “cuss” word at length and merely get a shoulder shrug from a nearby adult. However, mention the idea of home schooling and people get nervous. If a pro-home schooler can get a word in edgewise, perhaps one who opposes it can be enlightened to its benefits while being persuaded away from the stereotypes that haunt the home schooling organization as a whole.
In an educational society that emphasizes multiculturalism and accepting others without prejudice, we are overtly against parents educating their children in their homes, even well organized parents with successful home schooling students. Even as this paper was being discussed verbally between myself and classmates, many of my classmates assumed that my position would be anti-home school. Upon stating my topic for my paper, my statement was met by “oh, yeahs,” as if saying, slam it (the idea of home schooling)! To their dismay, my confident smile was met with their dropped-faces to suggest, “you’ve got to be kidding me? You’re in favor?”
The average student in the education department would be quick to admit that the proper choice for education is public or private schooling. Professors in the education department will be honest and admit that the public education system in the
One has to question where the money is going and how we have lost sight of educating students without the main concern being money. Meanwhile, students in the public education system are being cheated out of learning some amazing things. This brings me to the first benefit of home schooling, if parents do not have $10,000 per child, per year, they can still afford to educate their children. As public education educates more and more children the tax payers pay more and more money to go to an unknown source. Parents who home school know exactly how much money goes into their children’s education to provide them with the best resources possible.
A study was done by Brian D. Ray in 2004 which concluded that the total annual household income for home schooling families was eighteen percent, making under $25,000; forty-four percent making $25,000 to $49,000; twenty-five percent making $50,000 to $74,000 , and thirteen percent making $75,000 or more (Ray, 2004). If the average home schooling household makes an annual $25,000 to $49,000, the parents are going to be aware of how their educational dollars are spent. This should help enforce the need for every resource possible to be used to better educate the children. It does not work that way though.
Let us put this into perspective: If the government gives $10,000 per student, per year, then a family with three children should get an extra $30,000 per year. What could a family of three making under $49,000 do with an extra $30,000 a year? A lot! Even though parents who home school never see the kind of money public schools are rewarded, their resources far exceed the public school system. The home schooling student gets immediate benefits when money is put into the educational resources, as opposed the public educated students who rarely sees the thousands of dollars the school receives on their behalf. Even parents who fit into the lower percentage, making under $25,000, take advantage of the resources available including libraries, museums, colleges, parks, churches, local businesses, and free literature materials (Lines, 2001).
Another benefit of home schooling is curriculum enrichment. Imagine the things a teacher can do with her class if only she had more time with the students without a set of rules on what to test; notably, the standardized test. A teacher with time to take her students outside for science, or to a museum for history would help stop boredom in its tracks while engaging the students in discussion and deep interest; that is what home schooling parents get to do. Without a set schedule, parents can involve children’s touch and sights into the lessons. For example, taking children outside when discussing the seasons and involves children in the change of nature helping them accept change as it takes place. As a child, I never liked Autumn; this season meant things were dying, which was very depressing. A parent could take their child outside and explain to them why Autumn exists. Sure leaves change color due to the absence of chlorophyll, but why? Children will always be asking, “why?” Parents can go beyond what a teacher takes time to teach and explain to their children about ideas and concepts not normally taken into depth. Leaves die so trees can rest in Winter due to less water and sunlight, helping them to be ready for Spring time again.
Teaching children at home offers flexibility not allowed in the schools so children can grow and learn at their own pace with far less limitations. Suppose a child is very advanced academically and strives for more information; or what about the child that is further behind academically and needs more time for understanding concepts? Parents can tailor to each of their children’s needs, unlike a teacher would be able to. Teachers have many limitations that they simply cannot avoid. Parents of publicly educated children are expected to make up for those limitations at home, or the child misses out completely. Often the latter most likely takes place. Parents are better able to use the proper learning styles that suit their children, rather the one-style-fits all method of teaching. Understanding a child’s learning style is important in insuring they get the most out of their education.
When it comes to children with disabilities, many public school teachers find themselves out of their comfort zones as schools move to all inclusive classrooms. My professor recently proposed the question, how many classes does an education graduate leave with that will prepare him or her to work in a classroom with a student with a learning disability? One is the answer. Suddenly a teacher goes from having “normal” students to having one with a learning disability: what happens then? The teacher will most likely have a hard time including the student and be more likely to fail to educate the student properly.
Unfortunately, a teacher might unknowingly present underachievement to a child in order to avoid challenge without even realizing he or she is doing so. However, when the parent is home schooling her child with a learning disability, it goes beyond statistics and learning on a conceived one-size-fits-all time table. However, the parent recognizes that her child is special and that for the child to make achievements at her own timing, that itself is rewarding and demonstrates success. Jacque Ensign wrote, “Defying the Stereotypes of Special Education: Home School Students.”
Ensign gives great examples in her work that wonderfully illustrates the benefits of a child with learning disabilities being home schooled. She contends (1998):
The hallmarks of the educational philosophies and pedagogies of the homeschoolers are: 1)focus on the whole child rather than primarily on the child’s disability or extreme ability, 2)Individualized attention, and 3)care, patience, and respect for the child to lead the teacher in both the timing and the content of what the child is ready to be taught. (p. 7-8)
This simply cannot take place within the public school system.
One of the biggest reasons parents choose to home school is for religious purposes. Parents who want a certain religion instilled into their child’s life should consider how public education plays a part in his or her religious experience. The negative implications would be more apparent given that approximately seven hours a day is spent with peers and authority with different religious backgrounds. While there is nothing wrong with working along side someone with a different religious background, if a parent is working to foster their child’s spiritually, time spent outside of that religion can be crucial. For example, I want my children to be brought up under strong Christian values. To teach my children about living a Christian life, that lifestyle would need to be nurtured under my close supervision, most would call this “sheltering”. This is another “dirty word”.
The next post will contain the "Sterotypes of Homeschooling" and the references.