For a long time I was paddling back and forth between the idea of homeschooling and sending Gavin to regular school. It was hubby who laid down the law and stated that Gavin would go to school that finally crushed any lingering thoughts about homeschooling. Well, okay, it didn’t crush all lingering thoughts, but it did put an end to our discussion of homeschooling.
I know it seems odd that I should write this since I am not a homeschooler so what would I know about homeschooling? Perhaps because it allows me to comment with less bias since I am not attempting to defend my decision? Although we do not homeschool, I do see a lot of merit in homeschooling and often wonder if I have made the right choice not to homeschool. In the past, whenever I have put forward the idea of homeschooling, it was often shot down by arguments against it not because they are valid arguments but because there is a certain stigma about being homeschooled.
What’s the stigma? That homeschooled children are “weird”. Because they lack a “normal” education, they somehow become misfits in society and behave strangely. The irony is that these comments often come from people who hear from other people about homeschooled children. They are never first-hand experiences with a homeschooled child. It seems to me that much of these are misconceived notions being spread around like a hoax chain-email.
When I speak to individuals who have met homeschooled children (some now adults), I hear a completely different story. These children are bright, successful, engaging and socially pleasant individuals who appear to be everything I hope my children turn out to be like as they grow up.
And if there really are “weird” homeschooled children, then let me ask this question: does every child that goes through “normal” school turn out “normal”? I’m sure we have more than our fair share of “weird” children coming out of schools but we don’t hear about them because they took the road commonly travelled.
And if you need further convincing, read what Shaunti Feldhahn from The Seattle Times has to say in Home-schooling in the modern world: Success of home-schooled children.
Why Consider Homeschooling?
Why NOT consider homechooling? It is not news that a growing number of parents are turning towards homeschooling because they are dissatisfied with what the schools are offering their children. As Penelope Trunk put it the “school system is really just the biggest babysitting institution in the world”. Of course she was referring to the US school system, but I think there are plenty of parents around the world who might say the same of schools in their country with the possible exception of Finland. Then again, if we had more schools like the ones in Finland, it wouldn’t be a problem.
But I digress… Why consider homeschooling? These are just some of the reasons put forward from Isabel Shaw on Family Education:
- Homeschooled kids consistently score higher than their schooled peers on standardized tests.
- By the time homeschooled kids are in the eighth grade, they are four years ahead of their schooled peers.
- It takes as little as two hours a day of homeschooling to keep up with and exceed the amount of learning going on at school giving children more time to pursue other things they enjoy.
She also talks about less bullying, less peer pressure, unspoken dress codes, social cliques, and safety issues (some schools have made it mandatory for children to pass through metal detectors before entering the compound).
But what about socialisation? Aren’t homeschooled children socially inept because they lack adequate exposure to other children of their age? This has been a common argument I hear against homeschooling and this is what one parent has to say about it:
True socialization is not about 45 children in a classroom regulated by bells and being asked to concentrate by a harrassed teacher. It is not 20minute recess breaks where one has to fit in a toilet break, a snack, catch up on home work and perhaps a little bit of play.
True socialization is not about being told off when you help your classmate with work he struggles with. Nor is it about being segregated in to Malay, Chinese and Indian for the class quiz. And it sure as HELL ain’t being rushed off from one tuition class to another so you can score enough A’s to get into a better class.
My friends come from all over the world. They range from 20 years older to about 15 years younger. Some of us are poor and some are rich. Some live in Malaysia, some elsewhere. Some are HSers, most are not. Some are religious, some chronic athiests. Some are married with kids, some are dating. Some are straight and some committed homosexuals. Each and everyone is special and precious and almost ALL I DID NOT MEET IN SCHOOL.
I guess the point is that if a parent is going to take the trouble to homeschool their children, they will certainly ensure that their children receive the opportunities to socialise. Now with homeschooling on the uptrend, socialisation is becoming easier than ever because homeschooling networks make it easy for homeschooled children to meet up and socialise.
What about Homeschooling Success Rates?
How can parents without any background in education teach their children better than fully qualified teachers? Unfortunately, not all the teachers in schools are “fully qualified” as I am sure many parents can attest to. Neither are all teachers bad, because like everything else, there are good teachers and there are bad teachers. However, when it comes to homeschooling, the results are often usually better because parents are possibly some of the most motivated teachers around because it involves their children. Personally, I would never have the patience to teach a group of children, but my children? That’s a different story. When you are the parent, it is always different.
If you want success rates, there are plenty and the results are very positive:
- Academic Statistics on Homeschooling
- “The test results do show clearly what happens when you compare the best with the best: The best home-schooled students systematically outperform the best non-home-schooled students.” – Home-Schooling: Testing Proves Success of Grads (Washington Times).
- Achievement and Demographics of Home School Students – Education Policy Analysis Archives
With all the positive feedback on homeschooling, I would like to end with a quote from Jada Pinkett Smith that I thought was rather apt, “The school system in this country—public and private—is designed for the industrial age. We’re in a technological age. We don’t want our kids to memorize. We want them to learn.”