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Addressing the Pros and Cons in the Homeschooling Debate

From a certified teacher's perspective, Susan Schaefer responds to the points made by both sides.

Last week I wrote about homeschooling, specifically my bias against homeschooling before doing the research. The article went "viral."

Like most certified teachers I did not hold this method of education in very high regard. After all, I have a Master of Arts in Teaching, I did my time doing internships and student teaching, and I am experienced at teaching in the classroom. So what makes your average mom or dad think they can do my job with no degree and no experience?

Then I did the research and found, for the most part, that they are doing a fine job and I said so. The next thing I know there are thousands of readers “recommending” my article on their Facebook pages.  I have written more than a hundred articles for this column and this has never happened before.  Obviously, I touched a nerve and found out first-hand the extent of the cohesiveness among homeschooling community.

After reading all the comments attached to this article I would like to address some of them:

  • Thank you for your encouragement to homeschool my boys. However, one is in college and the other is going to be a junior in high school this fall, so that ship has sailed. 
  • While homeschooling is becoming more secular, the No. 1 reason (36%) parents give for homeschooling is for religious reasons. Actually, after reading the comments, that is about the same percentage as my readers who choose to homeschool. 
  • I have been known to crunch some granola myself and do not view this as a bad thing.
  • I was rather offended at the teacher bashing. If you show respect to the teachers, they just might return the favor. Actually, I don’t remember any teacher I worked with ever saying a negative word about homeschooling.
  • Many parents commented that they can get through their lesson plans in just a few hours as opposed to the six hours of instruction it takes in school. This is because there is no classroom management to deal with, and there are often questions and discussion during lessons. In a class of 25 this takes some time, but I believe it is a good thing for students to hear the various perspectives and express their views among their peers. 
  • Homeschooled students do have more time to pursue extracurricular activities as opposed to their exhausted public school peers.
  • Teachers teach to the test because that is what they are instructed to do by administrations that are under pressure for government funding. I found it fascinating that homeschooled children, who are not being taught to the test, on the whole do much better than their public school counterparts.
  • The statistics showing the higher test scores may be skewed because parents of homeschooled kids are not required to take or report scores for standardized tests in many states. In public school everyone must take standardized tests and schools must report the scores.
  • The cost of homeschooling varies widely. Some parents bring in tutors or enroll their children in enrichment programs driving up the cost. Many parents recycle curriculum among siblings, get groups together for the group rate when visiting museums, and get free materials from the library or online to cut costs.

One of the biggest myths about homeschooled kids is that they are poorly socialized. A study by the Canadian Center for Home Education found homeschooled young people at 15-34 years of age more socially engaged (67%) compared with their public school educated peers (44%). Home educated children are also more involved in their communities, as are adults who were homeschooled. Actually, my son had a homeschooled boy on his hockey team for several years. He socialized just fine and was exceptionally bright, though judging from his fascination with my garage door opener, seemed a bit sheltered. 

The top reason my friends say they didn’t consider homeschooling is because they are sure their kids won’t listen to them. I have to say, I’m with them. Many readers addressed this saying it’s a matter of discipline and good parenting. Although there is a huge homeschool community out there that makes it work, I still can’t imagine my boys cooperating. Someone out there should start a consulting business teaching parents how to get their kids to listen to them while homeschooling. 

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