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All children will walk by age one and talk by age two. This is a bit ridiculous to state as it is a known fact that there are many variables that must be considered to determine when a child will walk or talk. The same is true when discussing the overall effects of homeschooling. Just as children learn primary skills at various speeds and levels, children react differently before, during, and after being homeschooled. Statistics may indicate various trends; however, overall, just as one parenting style does not work with all children, homeschooling will not have the same effect on all children or on society overall.
According to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “the modern homeschool movement began in the 70’s when an educational theorist and supporter of school reform, began arguing that formal schools’ focus on rote learning created an oppressive classroom environment designed to make children compliant employees” (A Brief History). In the 80’s, more individuals joined the movement and created friction with the local school boards. As the situation got worse, the homeschoolers urged the Federal government to intervene and pass amendments to accommodate homeschooling. Homeschooling has become more accepted throughout the years and a growing number of individuals have thus decided to homeschool their children.
Homeschooling was born or developed from the need for children to have an alternative mode of education that could be accomplished in the home setting, typically ran by a parent in the household. Many religious families have opted for homeschooling to instill the beliefs and values throughout the education of their child without outside influences. In this frame of mind, parents have the choice to teach their child anything they deem to be necessary based on the laws of the State in which they live. These decisions could be regarding their children’s education as well as their philosophies and desire to socialize the child. Dependent upon what the instructor teaches the children, the children will reap benefits or negative outcomes.
Multiple studies have been conducted in the recent years to attempt to determine whether homeschooling has more positive or negative effects on the children. The results are scattered because it is nearly impossible to compare children that are being taught by different methods by different people with different educational levels and backgrounds. Some individuals argue that homeschooling is not as beneficial for children as public and private schools are. Their biggest concern is the socialization of the children. They argue that children are not able to develop social skills they need if they do not attend school with other children.
Because of this growing concern, many homeschool groups have banded together in various locations to ensure their children, although receiving their education at home, can interact with other children in the groups at regular intervals, and even often attend field trips as a group. Opponents to homeschooling further argue that the curriculum is not closely monitored to ensure children are taught adequately and the protection of the children are not ensured (Cooper & Sureau 112). The basis for this argument stems from the fact that various states have varying degrees of oversight and accountability in relation to homeschooling. The Federal Government allows the individual states to govern all forms of education, including homeschooling.
The varying degrees of regulation and oversight make it even more difficult to truly understand the effects of homeschooling. Some States have strict guidelines as to the children’s welfare and school attendance, and other States are much more lenient. Advocates of homeschooling show studies in which children achieve better both academically and socially by being homeschooled. Renee Norman states she experienced the academic and social benefits of homeschooling first hand, but they do not compare to the benefits of attending a public school (122). She further argues that the benefits realized within a homeschool setting can also be realized in the public or private school setting to a higher degree (123). Another author, Bobby Terry, argues, “When parents experience the moral and academic short coming of the public-school system and do not have the finances to pursue the private school alternative they are left with one viable option and that option is homeschooling” (8).
In a search for less control, more creativity, more leeway in teaching methods, as well as a safer, more ethical learning environment, many parents lean toward homeschooling. “As the twig is bent. I can’t help but think that homeschooling’s unctuous critics have betrayed the American vision of freedom with which I grew up, and rationalized the extension of social control in a way my peers and I learned to see and resist” (Mills 219). Studies have shown thus far that children have higher scores on tests when they are home-schooled. These studies have also shown that a number of variables have also been shown to increase children’s test scores in the classroom as well (Taylor-Hough 6). It is far less difficult to individualize lessons in a one on one environment within the home than it is in the conventional classroom setting however, which is attributed to why homeschool children sometimes perform better than children in classrooms.
According to Taylor-Hough, through her research, there were several determining factors in the outcomes of homeschooled children as well as the overall effects of homeschooling (6). These included the level of education of the parents, the parents’ political views, and the parents’ level of dissatisfaction with the public-school system (Taylor Hough 6). There is no way to determine the overall effect of homeschooling because some children adjust very well socially both while they are in homeschooling as well as when they are out or they transition to college (Terry 2011). Furthermore, children who are within the public or private schools have tested well when variables have been adjusted and they are taught in ways that are most beneficial to them. Just as the public-school systems and the regulatory authorities that govern them are ever changing, so are the individuals that choose to homeschool.
The lack of uniformity and the tremendous number of variables among children that are homeschooled make it very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the overall effects of home-schooling (Taylor-Hough 7). Just as no parenting style is adequate for all children, no educational plan or environment will work perfectly for all children. Home-schooling has great benefits, such as the leeway in teaching methods, the lack of strict guidelines, the one on one capabilities, the ability to move at any pace, and the ability to create any culture desired within the learning environment. Many parents who do not agree with the standards of the schools find homeschooling to be a viable option. The effects entirely depend on the variables in each individual home-school setting.
Homeschooling in becoming more common in many states and the rules that govern these States are becoming stricter with more transparency and accountability. In the years to come, we will understand more about how the uniform homeschooling methods have worked. We will also know more about what does and does not work well across various demographics. The effects cannot be realized until this is accomplished. With the growing technology as well as the more accessible free homeschooling programs and tests, more studies and research will be completed to understand these effects.
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