Symposium 2016: Many elite educators, politicians and bureaucrats believe that homeschooling deprives students of “in the classroom experience.” Current education secretary, John King feels that students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids.” Does homeschooling limit student learning, or is it a viable education alternative?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- To claim that homeschooled students are “deprived” of in the classroom experience implies that all classroom experiences are desirable. What is so desirable about a classroom that contains forty students, is led by a teacher who has no control over the class’s behavior and may not even be qualified to teach the subject, and contains one or more children who are intent on either disrupting the class or doing physical harm to students or even the teacher?

In an ideal world, all teachers are excellent, all students are well-behaved and eager to learn, every day in class is enjoyable, and students learn what they are taught. If the education world were ideal, there would be no homeschooling because parents would see no need to homeschool their children.

Admittedly, many parents aren’t qualified to teach their children a full range of subjects and enable their children to learn what is needed for a high school diploma. However, parents must have final say in the education of their children, as long as they observe the laws that require students to be educated until the child is age sixteen (in most states).

Homeschooling can often lead to more and better experiences for children because of the flexibility of a parent to tailor learning to their own children based on interests and opportunities. Many homeschooled children feel their educations were far superior to what their friends received in public schools.

More important in this day and age is the choice of curriculum that parents have when they home school. Many parents don’t want their children to be exposed to topics like sex education, evolution, certain literature, or schools of thought such as multiculturalism and gender identity. Some parents also want to ensure their children receive specific religious training that isn’t offered by their local school district.

Whether we agree or disagree with homeschooling preferences, it is the inalienable right of parents to teach their children as they see fit. Homeschooling is the best way to guarantee that every parent has that opportunity.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- Homeschooling does not limit student learning and it is a viable education alternative, and reports from the National Home Education Research Institute indicate homeschooled students outdo their public school peers by an average of 40 points on the  SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), which is one of the standardized tests for college admission.

In spite of verified statistics concerning home school success, the education secretary is still worried that homeschooled students aren’t receiving the options available to them or the rapid instructional experiences that they would get through the public schools.

If Mr. King is worried about homeschool students receiving a wide range of options and rapid instructional experiences, he simply needs to take a long, hard look at what is reported and recorded concerning homeschooling statistical results. The Home School Legal Defense Association found in 2009 that homeschool students score 30 percentile points higher than average on achievement tests, and 75 percent of homeschooled students go on to  college where they earn higher grade point averages and graduate at higher rates than those who are not homeschooled.

As far as limitations on learning, homeschool instructors (usually the parents) spend considerable time in one-on-one teaching style situations that includes both rapid instructional experiences and slower, more deliberate instructional approaches that incorporate student learning styles and other strategies   to assist students acquire learning in a number of different ways and settings. Children don’t have to be in a classroom setting to learn and, in fact, many perform better in a freer home-friendly environment where they can get up, move around, read and write at an individual chalk board or pace the room to gain a better understanding of a reading passage.  Home school instructors are better able to identify learning problems as well and can quickly address the issue and make adaptations where necessary. This type of observation and follow-up would be difficult in a regular classroom.

Homeschool students are not deprived of “in the classroom experience” as they can and do participate in a wide range of social and cultural options sometimes through their public school district or through private organizations and facilities. Many homeschool students participate in sports, choirs, theater groups, musical instrument instruction, volunteer endeavors and other outside activities that make them just as involved and socially interactive as students in public schools.

Instead of casting doubts on the efforts of homeschoolers and understanding  that homeschooling does not deprive kids but enriches, Secretary King needs  to review the decades of  homeschool statistics as well as interact with a few homeschool parents and students to understand the benefits of homeschooling and its positive results.  Maybe he could find it within himself to admit that homeschooling provides numerous options, rapid learning and school success.

Though homeschooling isn’t the answer for every child, it is an excellent option for many, and families should be free to choose the education style that best fits their children and helps them succeed whether through homeschooling or other schooling choices.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- Homeschooling, to me, comes in two distinct forms.  The first is the parents who are deeply suspicious of the “book learnin’” handed out at the schoolhouse who are determined to keep their kids on the farm and teach them only what they need to get by according to their own rigid worldview.  You don’t need to learn about fossils when the world’s only a few thousand years old, and you surely don’t need to learn about other cultures and religions when yours is the One True Way.  These people are not doing their kids any favors. However, the vast majority of homeschooling parents are doing a great job teaching their kids, and the array of resources to help them is mind-boggling.  Here in the Charlotte area, there are numerous homeschool groups that provide everything from field trips and science fairs to “school” dances to allow the kids to socialize with each other.  I see the education establishment’s opposition to homeschooling as much the same as the cab companies’ hatred of Uber:  The business model is being challenged, and rather than change to fit the new market, the old guard is trying to squash the competition.

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