Why Parents Home School
This piece is based on articles from e-newsletters. Statistical facts are from materials produced by the Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org) and the National Home Education Research Institute (www.nheri.org).
For many years parents have been handing over their children to public educators, often in the mistaken notion that they themselves did not have the training or background sufficient to educate their children at home. Sometimes they haven't liked what they got back. Now is the time for parents to reassess and possibly take action. Therefore the question they might pose is "Why homeschool?"
For Social Reasons
The most common question asked during the early years of the homeschooling "movement" was, "What about socialization?" The question was directed at the notion that children must spend a lot of time with their peers so that they will grow up having learned how to interact properly with others in various social contexts. If a child is removed from daily interaction with other children his age — the kind of interaction typically found in a public school setting — parents fear that he will grow up socially stunted and harmed for life. This has remained one of their major fears.
To address this concern, researchers began to take a serious look at the generally accepted idea that peer socialization is necessary. Homeschooling parents had already found that children spending a lot of time with their own age mates actually made them peer dependent, unable to think and act independently, causing them to grow up with an unhealthy need for peer approval. There is less pulling away from parents by homeschooled children because peer contact and peer pressure are reduced.
What researchers found — and what homeschooling parents have long contended — is that children who spend more time with adults become better socialized than children who spend most of their social time with their age-mates. This is true mainly because when a child spends a lot of time with adults, he observes models of a far more mature set of social skills. He tends to become conversational and pleasant to be with.
Researchers also found that the homeschooled child is more involved with other children than most people assume. They participate in an average of five activities outside the home. They have plenty of time for such activities, because they watch only about one tenth as much television as public school children.
The real question one should ask is not "What about socialization?" All children will be socialized. The question that should be asked is, "In order for our children to best learn social skills, with whom should they spend most of their time, their parents or their peers?" Some homeschooling parents are even beginning to ask friends who are parents of public school children, "In sending your children to public school, aren't you concerned about their socialization?"
For Moral Reasons
One of the reasons children should be socialized mainly by their parents is that the moral foundation of one's life is laid through hundreds of small interactions on a daily basis. Through these interactions parents are able to fill their children's need for a life lived within the boundaries of moral principles.
Spending time with mature, Godfearing people is critical to establishing a Godly foundation in life. It makes sense that Orthodox children who spend most of their time with their Orthodox parents will end up with a better and more sound moral foundation than those who do not.
For Safety Reasons
More and more parents are becoming fearful for their child's safety in public schools. Nationwide, violence apparently is becoming a way of life, and, as recent events clearly demonstrate, our public schools are not exempt from this trend. One superintendent of schools who had been a principal in an upper middle class neighborhood for many years reports that when she began as a principal, a successful day meant that the pupils had spent the day being educated. By the time she left the principalship, a successful day meant that the pupils had made it through the day safely.
For Contextual Reasons
One public school educator states that education separates a child from necessary daily life-preparing experiences. Public education not only does not provide enough of these experiences, but often the wrong kind. It can fill a child with ideas acquired experientially that he must overcome if he is to lead a full and Godly life.
One reason why the homeschooled child does well is that children taught at home tend to have a more real-life approach to learning. Since homeschooling permits self-directed and self-paced learning, they do not spend large amounts of time doing busy work, or, worse yet, no work at all.
For Quality of Learning
Too often a pupil who is about to graduate has no idea what field of endeavor he wants to pursue, much less what he wants to do with his life. Most public schools educate for employment, not for the well-rounded, culturally-enriched life that could be the end-product of learning.
Homeschooled pupils focus, work at their own pace, use self-instructional materials of their choice, and work one-to-one with an adult when necessary. This often results in cutting the traditional time for their courses by half — an amazing demonstration of how much time is wasted in traditional schools. The additional time they have can be used in any number of productive ways.
The "dumbing down" of public education to the ability level of the least-talented seems to have acquired a life of its own. It is to be hoped that the homeschooling movement can reverse that trend and other undesirable trends in public education.