Home And School Education What do George Washington, Thomas Edison and Theodore Roosevelt have in common besides fame? None of them joined school formally (Winger and Kantrowitz 6). In recent years, many have followed their example and started learning at home in the United States. The number of home schooled children has greatly increased over the past decade. Many have argued against home schooling while many others see no negative outcomes involved. Although homeschooling has no major benefits over public schooling, evidence shows that parents can help children achieve a level of education similar to other school students and that homeschooled children do not lack in social skills.
Home schooling was previously favored by religious people who wanted their children to conform to their own values and beliefs, which they believed could be altered in a public school (Wingert and Kantrowitz 1). Home schooling was made legal in 1993 in the United States (Wingert and Kantrowitz 1). Some states have minimum qualifications for parents and provide supervision from the government. Today, 1.5 million, almost 1 percent of the total population of students are learning in their own homes (Lyman, “Not home alone” 3). Now home schooling and home schooled children are more acceptable by the public than in earlier years. One of the oppposing arguments states that parents do not have the knowledge required by an educator to take responsibility of teaching, therefore the children would be poorly educated in comparison to other students (Wingert and Kantrowitz 2). However, this is not so.
Parents are not alone, as there are many facilities available today to help them. To begin with, home schooling parents form groups in their community to help each other out. They take turns teaching small groups of children. For instance, where one parent might be good at teaching math, the other might be better at language (Wagner 5). In addition to the help they get from each other, there are many tools and services available that enhance and enrich childrens learning experience. For example, various on-line services are available on the world wide web, which include interactive classes and virtual libraries. Also, educational CD-ROMS, workbooks, and magazines are good sources that provide the parent with information on new educational tools (Wingert and Kantrowitz 3). Furthermore, support can be found at public schools (Hawkins 1).
In Des Moines, Iowa, a program was developed that allowed home schoolers to use school computers, books and teachers guides, and provided biweekly supervision from a teacher that records the childs progress and offers advice. Parents and their children are also allowed to participate in extra curricular and group activities, as well as field trips (Wagner 2). Similarly, in Oregon, home schooled students are allowed to take different classes of their choice at different schools (Wingert and Kantrowitz 3). Although these advantages are not available in every state, parents who chose to take education into their own hands will work to hard to use what is available, regardless of their own educational degrees. This is illustrated well in a recent report from the Departement of Education (DOE), which states that “student achievement in a home school has little to do with the level of education of the parent..it is consistent with tutoring studies that indicate the education level of a tutor has little to do with achievement of a tutored child.” (qtd.
in Wagner 4). Several studies have been conducted that show that homeschooled students are reaching close and sometimes higher achievement to their peers, proving that parents are doing their job well. One example is a study that showed home schoolers performed better than 79 percent of other students on reading on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (Hawkins 3). Also, home schooled children score above the 60th percentile in math, science, and verbal skills on the Stanford Achievement Test when compared to the average of other students (Latham 2). Another study in Washington found SAT scores of home schooled children to be higher than average (Lyman, “What’s behind” 9).
In more than 65 other studies, the results show that home schooled children perform better or average in comparison to traditionaly schooled children (Hawkins 2). All this scientific research is genuine evidence that verifies that parents can teach and help their children achieve high educational levels. Another major argument against home schooling is that confinement to a home environment where children have little or no contact with their peers will deprive them of social skills necessary in their development (Wingert and Kantrowitz 2). However, there are many ways homeschooled children can get involved in social activities. For example, home schooled children that join support groups engage in sports matches, field trips, scouting trips, church or part-time employment (Lyman, “What’s behind” 7). Also, those who take classes and join extrra circular activities in public schools and other learning centres interact with peers (Wingert and Kantrowitz 3).
Even if some children do not have contact with people of the same age because of the small size of a suport group, they are still gaining a lot of social skills. For example, the oldest learns leadership when speaking to or guiding younger children. The youngest learns to respect elders. This offers the same or even more self-esteem and social understanding than a traditional school environment would provide (Wagner 2). Scientific research also supports the fact that homeschooled children are not socially deprived.
One study at the University of Florida was conducted in which eight to ten year old children, some of them home schooled, were taped on video while playing. Professional counselors, who were unaware of which children were home schooled, watched the video and found no difference between the home schooled children and the others. Social development tests showed that the children rated closely in self-concept and assertion (Lyman, “What’s behind” 7). Another test showed that home schooled children scored higher on self-concept than public school students (Latham 1). To study long term effects of home schooling on socialization, a different study was conducted with 53 adults of the first generation of home schoolers.
The researcher, Gary J. Knowles of the University of Michigan, states that he has “found no evidence that these adults were even moderately disadvantaged..Two-thirds of them were married, the norm for adults their age, and none were unemployed or any on any form of welfare assistance. More than three-quarters felt that being taught at home had actually helped them to interact with people from different levels of society.” (Lyman, “What’s behind” 9). The studies and research so far shows that home schooling is not disadvantageous in comparison to normal schooling. I believe that there is still no strong evidence that verifies that home schooling is more beneficial to children than public schooling. Perhaps the new generation of homeschoolers will reveal that this is not so, but that remains to be found.
In the meantime, as long as parents have the time and patience, can provide their children with social exposure, and have access to educational tools, there is no reason why they cannot home school their children. However, this is where the government comes in. If home schooling is legalized, then there should be services and schools to support home schoolers. Parents can teach their children efficiently, it they have other homeschoolers to help them and if services are available. Research on test scores proves that parents are succeeding. Support groups, public schools and other services help children acquire social skills, and research again confirms that they do not lack in social skills. Home schooling rates closely to public schooling in the overall educational and social experience of the child.
And yet it is still quite a surprise that a parent can raise a child to be president. Perhaps it is the opportunity home schooling gives youngsters to follow their interests, beliefs, and dreams that may be pulled away in school years before they are even discovered. Or perhaps it is the bond created between the mother when for the first time she watches her child write his name. Whatever the case may be, things would have probably been really different if Washington, Roosevelt, and Edison were watched over by the high school principal, instead of their parents.