Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Educational Reform/Home Schooling
The Pros and Cons of Home Schooling
By: Megan Galligan
Many believe that home schooling has its roots in the 1960s though the 1970s when educational reform became an issue on the national forefront (Dobson, 2000, paragraph 5). Actually, until 1852, public school attendance was not mandatory. It was only in 1852 that the state of Massachusetts made the first compulsory attendance law and eventually all other states followed suit. (All About Parenting). This issue has become increasingly debated because the number of students enrolled in home school has been increasing 15 to 20% each year for the last fifteen years (Dobson, 2000, paragraph 9). Parents are faced with the option to send their children to public or private schools, or to keep their children at home to educate the children themselves. The parents must consider many aspects of education to make this decision including their educational aptitude as teachers, the possible social effect on the children, the production of good citizens, the attention the children need to learn, and the external pressures of the school systems placed on the children.
Pros of Home Schooling
Home schooled children had many more freedoms than other children in public school settings. They have Educational freedom giving them choices to learn what they want with subjects that interest them. They have physical freedom to have more hands on experiences such as field trips to museums or aquariums. Religious freedoms is one of the largest gains of home schooling for most families. They have the opportunity to incorporate their religious and spiritual beliefs without standards and rules to abide by. According to the Journal of College Admissions, home schooling is the fastest growing forms of educating children (Ray, 2004, paragraph 2). It is estimated that there are 1.7 to 2.1 million students in grades k-12 that are enrolled in home school as of 2003 and that number seems to be growing every year (Ray, 2004, paragraph 2). Home schooling began as a way for parents to have more control over the curriculum being taught to their children (Cooper and Sureau, 2007, paragraph 9). There were two major view points considered when deciding to remove a child from public school and continuing the education at home. Parents either believed that public schooling developed topics that conflicted with the religious teachings or believed that they, as parents, could serve as a better educator for their children (Cooper and Sureau, 2007, paragraph 9).
In an article written by Michael Romanowski, a professor at Ohio Northern University, he states that “No other factor in life will have more of an effect on a child's life than the family, and home schooling enables the family to play its important role more actively”(2001, paragraph 6). Home schooling also allows the parents more of and opportunity to become involved in all aspects of the child’s life because they become the focal point in all aspects of their life. In Romanowski’s article, he also states that the intensified relationship with the parents will extend to other siblings that are also being home schooled. He believes that the since of communication is strengthened which allows a more personal relationship (2001, paragraph 7).
There is also the argument that home schooled individuals grow up to become more well rounded citizens. According to a separate article by Romanowski, 71 percent of people who were home schooled were involved in community service(2007, paragraph 14). Moreover, only 37 percent of individuals who were educated in the public school system were involved in public service activities (Romanowski, 2007, paragraph 14). The percentage variations also exist when examining topics such as young voters aged eighteen to twenty-four, contributions to a political party, and active participation in local politics (Romanowski, 2007, paragraphs 15,16,17, and 18)
Another reason for parents choosing the option of home schooling is for the protection of their children. It seems that reports of violence in schools in the news and media are increasing. For example, weapons being brought into public and private schools; increase in gangs; bulling and fights have become more violent; and acts against students are being video taped and broadcast on the internet. These are a few of the reasons why some parents feel that public as well as private schools are no longer safe. Although news reports of such violence seems to be increasing, the percentage of violent acts occurring in public schools has decreased; yet students’ absence due to fear of violence has increased. According to the National Indictors for Education Statistics, “There is some evidence that student safety has improved. The victimization rate of students ages 12–18 at school declined between 1992 and 2005. However, violence, theft, drugs, and weapons continue to pose problems in schools” (“Indicators of School Crime and Safety,” 2007). Furthermore, some parents who home school do so as a way of protecting their children from the exposure to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and premarital sex. Parents who home school are able to teach their children about these issues in a way that supports their beliefs. By home schooling their children they believe that they can provide them with a well rounded education in the safety of their own home.
Public education uses a set curriculum to teach all children in a given classroom. The classroom is filled with a variety of learning styles, interests, and abilities. For the parent who has chosen to educate their child at home, the curriculum can be catered to meet each child's individual needs, interests and learning style. There is also the element of time. More personalized time is given to the child at home and there is not the waisted time standing in line for lunch, recess, others to finish their work, etc. and therefor much of the schoolwork is completed much earlier in the day, leaving time for real life learning experiences. (All About Parenting).
I have also discerned that parents who are teaching their children at home also have the benefit of the one-on-one interaction with the child. The child does not need to pace them self with the other members of the classroom. They have the freedom to spend extra time on a troubling topic or to speed through a trivial part of a subject.
Amos Bronson Alcott, a teacher and writer from the 19th century once said, "A true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence". Is this possible when it is a parent teaching their child?
Cons of Home Schooling
On the other side of the issue there are many downsides of homes schooling that need to be accounted for. Parents who home school their children struggle with time constraints for getting all of the work load done by one person. This can consist of creating a schedule, activities, learning, and hands on projects/trips. Aside from time restraints there are many financial restraints as well, having one parent in the working world and one in the teaching world can cause some financial strain. In the article “The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling” Isabel Shaw says, “Surprisingly, most home schooling families believe that the brief loss of income is well worth the satisfaction of watching their kids grow and learn in freedom.” In an article by Susan Orloff, she states that there are certain things learned in the school setting that do not occur in other environments but they “…in the school setting they are happening every day” (Orloff, 2005, paragraph 5). These things include making friends, learning to follow directions, and becoming able to handle deadlines. Orloff also states that she has “All too often… seem home schooling as an escape from school and pressures that structured environment demands” (Orloff, 2005, paragraph 7). However, note that many home schoolers participate in peer groups that allow for some of these things to happen.
Another factor that should be considered in the choice to home school is that added financial burden. Families spend an average of $400 per child each year to cover costs of curriculum, softwar, field trips, materials for projects, etc. (All About Parenting)
If the reason behind taking the child out of public school and beginning home school is to decrease the pressures that the public school produces, it could only lead to the future detriment of the child. The child needs to be able to develop coping skills to deal with the trials that life would present. Set backs allow a person to grow and develop the skills to combat similar situations in the future. Taking the child out of public education for this reason only teaches the child to escape their problems, not how to learn from them.
Based on the data provided by the Home School Legal Defense Team, 92% of who parents make the decision to home school their children intend to have the child’s entire education at home, grades K-12 (Ray, 1997). Although the majority intend to complete they education at home, only 26% of students can claim to have over ten years of their schooling at home (Ray, 1997). These statistics seem to imply some type of inconsistence in schooling. On average, of high school graduates who were home schooled can claim 6.9 years of home schooling (Ray, 1997). This seems to require quite an adjustment for the children in school. They are required to go in between home and public school and make the required modifications socially and academically.
In Romanowski’s article, “The Strengths and Limitations of Home Schooling”, he states that “To receive a complete education, students need to engage in discussions, share ideas, compete, and work with other students” (2001, paragraph 19). He believes that in order to strengthen the ideas, a person must get feedback and criticism on those ideas. The original idea seems to change, expand, and grow with the input of others. He also introduces the idea that the parent that becomes the primary educator might not have the proper background to adequately teach the upper level subject to the children (Romanowski, 2001, paragraph 24). He questions whether parents have the ability to teach their children “…higher levels of math, complex biological terms, or an in dept analysis of American history” (Romanowski, 2001, paragraph 24). A parent may be knowledgeable in some of the subjects required, but it would be astonishing if they were skilled enough to teach in all areas.
Home Schooling and the Federal Government
Once an isolated practice with little support, home schooling “has now reached a level of unprecedented visibility, politicization, and publicization” (Cooper, p. 111). Parents and advocates have gained significant legal, political, and social ground, substantially raising public awareness. Subsequently, the increase in home schooling’s power and popularity has caused state and local educational leaders to adjust some of their policies. This has brought considerable criticism from supporters of the “democratic, public control of education” (Cooper, pg 112). They claim home schooling “denies democratic accountability” (Cooper, pg. 112) and is “detrimental to the common good” (Cooper, pg. 115).
Despite political pressure to conform, homeschool families have become well informed, active, and influential – all qualities that are critical to the public life of society (Cooper, pg. 132).
In light of this fiery opposition, how far legally and constitutionally can the federal government go to regulate home schooling and overturn parents’ rights? Twenty years ago, home schooling was considered a crime, and although many states began legalization in 1999, the court controversies are far from over. The cases range in variety and often address attendance, parent qualifications, supervision, and dual-enrolment in public facilities (Cooper, pg. 123).
In most recent legislation, the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, CA stated in February of 2008 that “children ages six to 18 may be taught only by credentialed teachers in public or private schools — or at home by Mom and Dad, but only if they have a teaching degree” (Kloberdanz-Modesto). California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, defended parents’ rights for the well-being of their child and guaranteed protest (Kloberdanz-Modesto). This decision is merely another pull by the federal government in the tug-of-war being played with home school advocates.
There seem to be many considerations before deciding which type of schooling is best for a child. What seems to be the overriding factor is that all children are different. It depends of the individual when deciding if home school is a plausible option. There seems to be pros and cons that balance each other. The benefits and the detriments are comparable. The education of children seems to be an extremely important and personal decision that all parents face. Yet, will this decision stay in the parents' hands? The constant influx of court cases addressing the uses and abuses of homeschooling makes the future of home schooling unpredictable.
Multiple Choice Questions
1. When do most people believe home schooling began?
2. The number of students enrolled in home schooling has ______ over the past years.
C. Stayed the same
3. What is not a factor that leads a parent to choose home schooling?
A. Religious Factors
B. Economic Factors
C. Parents believing they could be a better teacher than the system provides
D. To increase personal attention given to the student
4. What does Professor Romanowski believe is the most important factor in a child's life?
D. Physical Activity
5. What is not considered a "Con" of home schooling?
A. Teaching limitations of the parent
B. Limited peer interaction
C. Limited productivity in society
D. Smaller class sizes
Multiple Choice Answers
Cooper, b. and Sureau, J. (2007). The politics of home schooling: new developments, new challenges. Educational policy, 21 no10, 111-132. Retrieved April 16, 2008 from SAGE Publications.
Kloberdanz-Modesto, K. (2008). Criminalizing home schoolers. TIME Magazine. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1720697,00.html.
Orloff, S. (2005). Facts to Consider before Home Schooling. The Exceptional Parent, 39 no4 54. Retrieved February 3, 2008 from ODU Library Database.
Romandowski, M. (2001). Common Arguments about the Strengths and Limitations of Home Schooling. The Clearing House, 72 no 2 79-83. Retrieved February 3, 2008, from ODU Library Database.
Romandowski, M. (2006). Revisiting the Common Myths about Home Schooling. The Clearing House, 79 no3 125-9. Retrieved February 3, 2008, from ODU Library Database.
Ray, B. (2004). Home Schoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us. Journal of College Administration, no.185 5-11. Retrieved February 3, 2008, from ODU Library Database.
Ray, B. (1997). How Long Are They Going to Home School?: Fig 17.1 Parents’ Intent to Continue Home School Education. Home School Legal Defense Association. Retrieved February 3, 2008 from http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray1997/21.asp.
Ray, B. (1997). How Many Years Were Home School Graduates Taught at Home?: Fig.18.0. Home School Legal Defense Association. Retrieved February 3, 2008 from http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray1997/22.asp.
Shaw, Isabel, (2008). The Pros an Cons of Homeschooling. retrieved April 18, 2008 from http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/parenting.
National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2007/index.asp
"Advantages and Disadvantages of Home schooling." Retrieved April 26, 2008. www.allaboutparenting.org