Parents are faced with a myriad of decisions surrounding their children’s education. Location, cost and quality are just a few. The latest trend in the United States is homeschooling. In fact, more than 2 million children are homeschooled today, which is almost double the number of kids learning at home 14 years ago. The number of primary school children whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is actually growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in schools. (At times the need for a homeschool tutors can be advantageous for parents needing a little help. The tutoring fees would be applicable to public school students as well.)
Reasons to Learn at Home
The concept of homeschooling began when parents pulled children from schools citing a concern about the lack of values or “negative” values that were permeating public school curriculum. However, parents are now increasingly choosing alternative schooling for other reasons. A Department of Education study found:
- 31 percent of parents cited concerns about safety, drugs or peer pressure
- 30 percent opted for homeschooling because they could provide religious instruction
- 16.5 percent were dissatisfied with public schooling academia
- 14 percent said their children had special needs better met in a home setting
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are many reasons homeschooling has become a popular choice among parents. For example, educating a child at home provides one-on-one instruction with much more focused attention. This enables a parent to cater a lesson or teaching methods to the child’s learning style. Additionally, parents can encourage their child’s natural talents and interests.
Other advantages to homeschooling include:
- Controlling what a child learns and when
- Building a closer relationship with your child
- Creating a schedule that fits the needs of the family
- Removing constraints associated with traditional learning and utilizing hands-on applications
Learning at home may not be for everyone. Parents who are considering homeschooling should take into account potential disadvantages or hardships. Some parents may have difficulty spending so much time with their children without a break. Additionally, homeschooling can be costly, as parents have to purchase all the learning materials themselves.
Many studies have shown that homeschooled children outperform their counterparts on standardized testing. In fact, a 2009 study by the National Home Education Research Institute found that on average, homeschooled students score between 34 and 39 percentile points higher than the norm on these tests. Another study found homeschoolers:
- Average a higher first-year GPA in college
- Average a higher fourth-year GPA in college
- Homeschoolers have a higher college graduation rate
One reason for the superior performance is that there are no achievement gaps in a homeschooling environment. Testing revealed there are no differences in performance between sexes or among income levels or race, a problem that has long plagued the public school system. One-on-one or small teacher-to-student ratios can mean a better, more meaningful learning experience for the child.
Parents who are considering homeschooling should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Studies show that children who learn at home perform better both on testing and then in college. However, teaching your children yourself is an enormous undertaking, requiring spending all day, every day with your child. It is a financial commitment as well. Parents should research their options thoroughly before making a decision about their child’s education.