Homeschooling Versus Public Schooling
This paper discusses the differences between homeschooling and public schooling and the effects on the students and families. The paper shows research that homeschooling is a more beneficial form of education than public schooling. Arguments opposing homeschooling will also be addressed.
Many studies have been conducted on the differences between homeschooled students and those who attend public school. The most fundamental difference that sets the two apart is, of course, that homeschoolers receive the majority of their education at home, usually from one or both parents. Public schoolers, on the other hand, attend a government-funded school 5 days a week and usually are given homework to be completed at home and returned later. Homeschooling is a growing movement in the United States. According to Brian D. Ray, PhD, the number of families that opt to teach their children at home in the U.S. is increasing by 2% to 8% annually (2015). Something is clearly drawing in these families. I was homeschooled through 10th grade and I very much enjoyed it. When I began taking college classes, I found the workload to be an easy transition, while many public schoolers I knew had a more difficult time adjusting. This led to my interest in research regarding homeschooling. I found that the research agreed with my personal experience. Homeschooling is healthier and more effective than public schooling and should be used by more families.
Parents take into account many factors, and there are many reasons to consider home education, but one of the major ones is the amount of time they will get to spend with their children. Parents of homeschoolers teach their own children, and because of this parents and children spend more time interacting with one another than they spend apart. In contrast, Public school children spend more time at school than they do with their own parents. More time together means more time to establish and build good relationships. According to Zakaria, homeschoolers generally have better and closer relationships with their parents and with their siblings (2017). This is very important and becomes increasingly so in the teen years when conflict arises. If children and parents have a good foundation for their relationship, they will be better able to work through conflict and maintain a healthy relationship and respect for one another despite disagreements. Also, if children learn how to build good, healthy relationships at home, they will be able to use this valuable skill in every part of their lives until they die.
Of course, the main function of any school system is how it functions academically. Here homeschooling and public schooling are fundamentally different. In public schools, all students do the same work, on the same schedule, in the same environment. Homeschooling, on the other hand, has a completely customizable schedule and can be done anywhere. It’s adaptable on a day to day basis, based upon the needs of both the child and the parents. Homeschoolers go on field trips frequently, as even a trip to the grocery store is considered an opportunity for education. The child is able to learn at his or her own speed in the best environment for the child’s needs. They also have a parent mentoring them one on one in each subject as needed. This is beneficial for all students but especially for students with disabilities. The system can be modified to fit a child’s particular style of learning, helping them to learn more efficiently than the one size fits all system used in public schools. Because of this, homeschoolers excel academically. According to Smith, homeschoolers score 15 to 30 points higher on standardized tests in all subjects than did public schoolers, and their scores were not correlated to the parents’ level of education. This means that even parents with a lower level of education can successfully homeschool their children and watch them achieve great levels of education. Homeschooling even has health benefits. These are often linked to the flexibility of the homeschool environment. One such area is sleep. According to a study done by Meltzer, Shaheed, and Ambler, homeschoolers have better sleep habits and sleep longer than public school students (2016). Sleep is vital for life and for success in school, yet teenagers are known for being tired and for consuming large amounts of caffeine to stay awake. Such a crucial part of development cannot be ignored. Sleep even impacts mental health. In the same study, Meltzer found that public school students, who got less sleep on average than the homeschooled students, had higher rates of depressive symptoms than did the homeschool students. One reason homeschoolers can get more sleep is because they have a flexible schedule. They can begin schoolwork at a later time than public schools begin, allowing them to sleep later.
Many stigmas and stereotypes have been placed on homeschooling which deter people from adopting the practice. One very common stigma is that homeschoolers are unsocialized or socially awkward. According to Smith, homeschoolers are actually better socialized than their public-school peers. This may be due to the previously mentioned relationships between homeschoolers and parents. Homeschoolers also have access to extra-curricular activities just like public schoolers. Some take part in sports and after school clubs provided by public schools. Others take part in other activities like dance or music lessons. Co-ops also contribute to extracurriculars and social activities for homeschoolers. Co-ops consist of groups of homeschool families that meet once a week and form their own group classes. These can be anything from art to band to history to physical education or cake decorating. The classes are usually based upon one parent’s area of expertise. That parent will teach the class and sometimes send the students home with homework to do during the week. This gives students an opportunity to interact with other homeschoolers and to participate in activities they might not have had in a home setting with no classmates.
A part of homeschool education that is not included in the public school system is the idea that anything can be a learning experience. Homeschool families take every opportunity to learn something new. When I was homeschooled, my mom would take my siblings and me grocery shopping with her. While she shopped, she would teach us how to find the best price on an item. She would also teach us about budgeting. She would tell us how much money was in the budget for that shopping trip and the kids would be in charge of adding up the total as we added each item to the cart. As we got older, she also taught us how to account for sales tax to make sure there were no surprises when we reached the register. These trips taught me the importance of budgeting and gave me the skills to do so for myself. They also taught me to be very fast and accurate at adding decimal numbers in my head and at rounding prices up or down. This is just one example of the attitude towards learning that homeschooling gives to students. Every part of life is a learning experience, if only we choose to learn. Homeschool families recognize this and their children reap the benefits.
As stated at the beginning of this paper, Doctor Ray found that homeschooling is growing rapidly in the United States (2015). I believe that this trend will continue into the future as people learn more about homeschooling and the social stigma is destroyed. My hope is that people will learn about the benefits homeschooling has for relationships, academics, and health and begin to homeschool their own children. As homeschooling spreads, children will grow up to be better educated, intelligent, healthy adults, resulting in an overall healthy society whose members are better capable of forming healthy relationships with each other. One significant struggle parents have with homeschooling is an inability to pay for a curriculum and support the family with only one working parent. I believe this could be easily solved if the money that would be given to a public school for the child to be educated were instead given to the parents to support their endeavor to homeschool. Perhaps someday this will be the case and homeschooling will become the norm instead of the exception. Until then, may it continue to grow, and may homeschoolers continue to transform our society for the better.