Home Schooling

The Home-schooled Perform Well

In the well-known ACT college-entrance exam, home-schooled students have outperformed students educated in traditional schools for three consecutive years. The national average score is 21, and the home-schooled scored an average of 22.8 out of a possible 36. Such statistics tend to gain the home schooling movement increasing attention and credibility.

The overall average composite scores for girls remained at 20.9, and for boys they rose from 21.1 in 1999 to 21.2 in 2000. These figures include both traditional and home-schooled students. Minority student scores have also increased slightly. The highest overall scores were posted in New Hampshire (22.5) and Oregon (22.7); the lowest in Mississippi (18.7) and the District of Columbia (17.8).

Not an aptitude or IQ test, the ACT is made up of curriculum-based achievement tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science. Lasting 3½ hours, it consists of 215 multiple choice questions. Besides achievement, the tests measure readiness for college course work. Much like the more popular SAT test, the ACT test results are accepted by virtually all U.S. colleges and universities for application and placement purposes. High performance on these tests indicates a greater likelihood of success in college. The tests also reveal that the courses taken by high school students to prepare for college have been effective.

Overall, the ACT tests show that students are taking more rigorous course work in preparation for college. Ten years ago, fewer than half reported taking a "core curriculum," whereas in 2000 over 63 per cent did.

The total number of high school students taking the ACT test in 2000 was 1,065,138. Of these, 4,593 were home schooled, a 41 per cent increase over 1999, when the number was about 3,200. If home schooling were assumed to be inferior to traditional education, the dramatic increase in the number of home-schooled students might have been expected to lower the overall score, but instead the overall remained the same.

Home-schooled students' scores on other standardized tests have been called into question by critics who claim differences in test administration lead to dramatically different scores. Home-schooled students have been known decidedly to outperform public school students on standardized tests. But the ACT may only be taken in pre-determined environments, such as high schools or community colleges, under the supervision of third-party proctors. The test may not be administered in a home school.

Advocates for home schooling say the test results prove that this alternative education system works. ACT officials say that the higher average score for home-schooled students should not be used to condemn public schools. All such scores tell us, they say, is that this particular group of home-schooled students is well-prepared or reasonably well-prepared for college. Why, then, did they recently add a question about home schooling to the student information section of the exam?

The ACT spokesman "believes" that if broken down by demographics, the home-schooled group would have fewer minorities, fewer girls, and a higher than average family income. His assumptions are being used to argue against facts, and when the facts don't support his assumptions, he rejects the facts. His assumptions might be valid, but neither he nor we know that they are or are not until the demographics have been studied.

A spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association has pointed that some parents fear their children will not receive a quality education from an "unqualified" parent. He goes on to say that one of the most common ways to ensure a quality education in subjects such as higher mathematics and science is for several home-schooling families to come together and hire a qualified professional who then instructs 10 to 15 students at a time in a specific subject. True, that may get the kids properly instructed, but doesn't it put them back into the traditional education mode? On the other hand, an "all or nothing" attitude rejects such program flexibility before it is even tried.

The home-schooling movement continues to grow, one might even say to "mushroom." As with any other system, some kinks will be ironed out with time, but others will not. Parents do not have to become "true believers" in this alternative. In fact, it might be better if they did not, because "true believers" tend to ignore or deny (and thus fail to deal with) the negatives.

Parents should make careful choices, particularly when it comes to structured vs. unstructured programs. Unstructured programs, such as "unschooling," will probably never prepare the child to achieve a high ACT score, but they might accomplish other ends. If parents decide on a structured program, the curriculum should be chosen for quality, not done "on the cheap."

Glory be to God for good parents of all times and all places!

       Billups, Andrea. "Home schoolers No. 1 on college-entrance test," The Christian News, October 16, 2000.
       Foster, Julie. "Home Schoolers Score Highest on ACT," WorldNetDaily.com, October 2000.

Home Schooling Defined

This article is adapted from the following web site:
The site offers a mind-boggling array of information accessible by clicking on phrases within the text which appear in blue. In this print version adapted for THE STRUGGLER, the phrases are underlined, but just to give the reader an idea of what is "out there." Parents should be very careful in making their selections for their children.

Home schooling is the reclaiming of the education of our children. It includes individualized education based on their children's needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Parents who home school are able to teach their children in ways consonant with family values and with the children's individual personalities, learning styles, and interests. They view the education of their children as a parental responsibility.

There are many reasons why a family chooses this style of education. Parents choose to home school their children not only to provide an education better suited to the children's needs, but also for spiritual reasons and to strengthen family bonds. Some enjoy the ability to move or travel frequently while at the same time maintaining a consistent schooling environment. Others home school because they are able to accomplish the same amount of education in far less time. Still others seek to avoid poor quality public schools, discipline problems, harassment, or differences in values and beliefs. Others seek to meet special needs such as the child being especially gifted or having learning disabilities.

There are at least as many philosophies of and approaches to home schooling as there are of and to traditional schooling. Some parents elect to duplicate the processes and routines of public school education by using curricula, while others depend on child-led learning referred to as unschooling.

Those who take the more structured approach have goal-oriented learning days based on a purchased curriculum with lesson plans. The parents are heavily involved as teachers.

Both secular and religious-based curricula are available from many sources. The very high quality, proven Calvert Program has been around since 1906, but other companies have sprung up like mushrooms as the home schooling movement has gained momentum. The internet has played a major role in making curricula available online or through catalogs.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the unschoolers, who believe in letting the child lead the process and learn what interests him. This unscripted approach views life as the child's curriculum, self-directed according to his interests from day to day. John Holt, among others, offers information on the subject of unschooling, not only as a teaching style, but as a way of life.

Parents do not have to be bound by an either/or choice of structured vs. unstructured. Most find themselves selecting methods from both in order to be able to meet their children's learning needs in a particular subject.

Parents wanting their children to have companionship and group educational activities have set up cooperatives offering play groups and learning activities with others who home school. They address the bug-a-boo question of "What about socialization?" by providing large group activities often reserved for public and private schools, such as science fairs, art shows, sports teams, and music ensembles.

Though legal in all 50 of the United States, home schooling is not legal in some countries which have enacted compulsory school attendance laws, as have the Netherlands and Germany. Despite legal issues, the movement is still the fastest-growing alternative education program in the world. Actual numbers are difficult to come by, partly because so many families secretly home school their children to maintain anonymity and avoid dealing with the local authorities. In 1978 there were an estimated 12,500 children being home schooled. Twenty years later the estimates ranged from 700,000 to 1.15 million. [Others say 1.7 to 2 million.]

The National Home Education Network is available to give legal and practical advice in most areas of home schooling in the U.S. In addition, most states have some governmental department that addresses issues unique to their state laws and requirements. In the U.K., Education Otherwise offers information and even emergency help lines.

The sharing of information by home-schooling parents has been immeasurably facilitated by the internet. One of the oldest standing reliable internet resources has been Jon Shemitz's Home School Resource Page. Another internet resource is Ann Zeise's A to Z Home's Cool.

It stands to reason that home schooling is not new. Before there were schools, parents educated their children. Some famous people who were home schooled are George Washington, Queen Elizabeth II, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Edison. [To be noted, however, is the fact that royals are almost always privately tutored (home schooled?), as are other people of wealth. One can hardly envision the "Queen Mum" having taught the future queen to do fractions.] In 1998 the winner of the National Spelling Bee was being home schooled, and, in 1999, the National Geography Bee champion. In 2000, the home-schooled took first, second, and third places in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee and second place in the National Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

The opening sentence of this overview bears repeating: Home schooling is the reclaiming of the education of our children. It's not easy, but what in life is?

Some Additional Resources for Home Schoolers

Internet Sites

Jon's Home School Resource Page

This is perhaps the oldest and largest collection of home school resources on the Web. It has listings of online and offline support groups for just about every region and special interest, frequently asked question files, home schooling handbooks, essays, reading lists, a link farm, and even pointers to vendors, magazines, and newsletters.

American Home School Association

The American Home School Association (AHA) is a free service organization supporting the continued growth of the home schooling movement by providing communications and networking for home schooling families and anyone interested in home education.

Education Otherwise

This is a membership organization with over 2000 families, groups, and individual members in the UK and abroad. It has evolved into a self-help support group which can offer advice and information to families who are practicing or contemplating home-based education.

About.com Home Schooling Guide

A starting place for exploring home schooling..Lycos Home School Links Exactly what the name says — a list of internet links.


This website offers an array of discussion boards for home educators. It is also the home of the Cool Kids' Animation Gallery, where young aspsiring artists (whether or not home schooled) can have their animation artwork displayed on the Internet.


To get a sampling of what Calvert School has to offer:
When the home page comes up, click on "Home School" at the
     bottom of the page.
When the Home School page comes up, click on "Curriculum".
When the Curriculum page comes up, click on a topic on the side
     bar, say, for example, "Complete Grade Level Courses".
When that page comes up, click on the grade you're interested in.
When the grade page comes up, click on one of the underlined
     categories at the top. Etc., etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is home schooling?

Home schooling is the teaching of children of K-12 grade level by parents or their designees. The children are not enrolled in traditional public, private, or parochial academic institutions.

Is home schooling legal?

Yes. Each state has its legal requirements for authorizing the home schooling process. Begin with the local Board of Education, who can explain the district's policies and direct you to other agencies for assistance in academic planning.

Whom must we ask for permission?

Nobody. Most states require notice of intent to home school and also some sort of yearly assessment.

What about socialization?

Yes, what about it? Do you want your children to be part of the body-pierced, tattooed, drugged, New Age, anti-Christian subculture, or would you rather have them socialized in your values?

Do kids enjoy home schooling?

Not necessarily, just as they do not necessarily enjoy public or private schooling.

Are lots of people doing this?

Yes, and the movement is growing by leaps and bounds.

Does it work?


What are home-schooled students taught?

It depends. The curriculum ranges from commercially prepared programs to parent-designed curricula to allowing the student to be entirely self-directed ("unschooling").

How much does it cost?

That depends on many variables, but on average the cost will be more than for public school and less than for private school.

Can home-schooled students get into college?

Yes. Highly selective colleges are actually recruiting home schooled students.

Do the parents do all the schooling?

Not necessarily.

Can any family do this?


Parents who embark on home schooling should enjoy the company of their children. Loving them is not the issue. Loving someone is quite a different matter from enjoying his company almost all day, every day.

Parents should also be reasonably well organized and disciplined themselves. This does not mean that they should be totally rigid or domineering, but they should exercise some judgment about how much of these qualities is enough.

And, since good teaching seems to demand a genuine love of learning, parents themselves should enjoy learning.

Is it hard?

It isn't easy.

Are there home schooling groups and associations?


Can the kids participate in the arts?

Yes, on many different levels. Depending on how large a community the family resides in, there are arts programs in schools and colleges open to residents; there are community-based programs in the arts, including painting, music, dance, and drama; some professional organizations (such as the symphony and opera company) offer children's programs; and libraries and museums offer arts opportunities, as well.

Do they get a diploma?

Yes and no. If a diploma is a just a piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall, any parent can make one and give it to the child. If it is a more meaningful document by which a third-party vouches for the satisfactory completion of a course of study, a diploma might or might not be available. However, such programs as the Calvert School offer testing and credential services which a parent may elect to purchase or not.

Does the mother do all the work?

The mother could end up doing everything, but each family situation is different. Much depends on what interests and talents each parent brings to the endeavor and how much each is committed to it.

Do the kids become clones of their parents?

They could. But if parents value individuality in their children, they will foster that quality by encouraging them to develop in some unique way compatible with the children's interests. This goes back to the matter of flexibility and allowing a child to make choices. If a parent is domineering, it is more likely that a child will be pounded into a clone-like mold.

Can home-schooled students play sports?

City parks and recreation departments offer many opportunities to play just about anything, from basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, and soccer to golf, tennis, swimming, and fencing. Sometimes public schools will allow children in alternative programs to participate in their sports programs. Community centers sometimes offer sports activities, as well.

Do you have to be crazy to home school?

No, but it helps :-)

The Holy Fathers Speak

The Truly Great: Those Who Do and Teach

     "Let the elders that rule be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching" (1Tim. 5:17) This statement is not mine, but the Savior's own. For He says, "Whosoever shall do and teach, he shall be called great." Now if to do were the same as to teach, the second word would be superfluous. But in fact by distinguishing the two he shows that example is one thing and instruction another, and.that each requires the other for perfect edification. "Wherefore, watch ye, remembering that for three years I did not cease to admonish every one of you night and day with tears." What need was there of tears or of verbal admonition, when the Apostle Paul's life shone so brightly? For the keeping of the commandments his holy life might be a great help to us. But when conflict arises on matters of doctrine and all the combatants rely on the same scripture, what weight will his life carry then?

St. John Chrysostom

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