Homeschooling: A Step Forward Or Two Steps Back?

In 1904, when the Indiana Appellate Court defined the school as “a place where instruction is imparted to the young” and ruled that a school at home was to be counted as a private school, the history of homeschooling in the US began.   

Homeschooling, as a concept of providing education to children inside their home, kept gaining momentum ever since its beginnings. As opposed to the formal settings of the classroom, the home provides a more relaxed environment where studying is not approached as an obligation. However, the lack of structure can cause real problems with procrastination, incomplete knowledge, and improper studying skills.

Can this blast from the past keep growing side-by-side with the current educational system? This trend is getting more widespread, but is that for the better?

The Origins of Homeschooling: Bright Future for Bright Individuals

During its beginnings, homeschooling was tightly connected with religious studies. In the early 1960s, when the Supreme Court of the United States banned school-officiated religious activities (including Bible readings at schools), many conservative Protestant families started pulling their children out of the public school system.

With time, homeschooling became a privilege. Public schoolhouses were considered appropriate for everyone who needed education, whereas homeschooling was a better option for children from rich families.

When we see that the list of successful homeschool alums includes individuals such as Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, Agatha Christie, and Alexander Graham Bell, it’s easy to understand why this system was identified with the epithet privileged.  

According to the research data provided by StatisticBrain.com, homeschooling has become a trend over the last two decades. From 975,000 homeschooled students in 1999, the number grew to 1,770,000 in 2015. This research identified the following factors as the main reasons for parents turning to homeschooling:

  • The greater efficiency of moral or religious instructions through home-based education,

  • Dissatisfaction with the public schooling system, and

  • The need to provide better education to children.

It’s easy to see that today’s parents believe that homeschooling will bring their children towards a better future.

Is Homeschooling Better than General Education?

Experts and parents haven’t found a common ground. For some of them, homeschooling is the solution to all gaps in the general educational system. For others, the lack of socialization of homeschooled children is a serious problem, in addition to the opinion that their learning routine lacks structure and commitment.

Lisa Burns (a mother, educator, and lifelong learner, as she introduces herself) didn’t plan to educate her children at home. Since she made that decision, she found that homeschooling enabled “purposeful learning and deep inquiry.” She revealed other advantages in addition to learning with a purpose:

  • Greater engagement

  • Greater ability to make connections between different concepts

  • Desire to learn more

  • Self-direction and self-motivation

  • Personalized education

  • Freedom to explore interests, and more.

One of the most notable reasons to choose homeschooling is the ability to move at the student’s own pace. At home, parents can adjust a slower or faster pace, depending on their children’s progress.

Eva Glettner has a different opinion: she will never choose homeschool for her children. Among the many arguments she gives, this is the most realistic one: she doesn’t have the skills needed to transfer knowledge to them. As she says, “math terrifies me. I have a son delving into algebra with fervor. There is no way that I can teach that kid what he needs to know.”

What Makes Homeschooling Attractive?

The arguments against homeschooling make sense. There are several drawbacks that parents should consider:

  • Parents lack real expertise, education, and knowledge to teach their children with the same efficiency as educational facilities.

  • Homeschooling consumes a great deal of time. The children’s routines and schedules have to be organized and managed to perfection. Otherwise, they will lose pace with the curriculum and they will lag behind their generation. If a parent decides to homeschool their children, it usually means they will have to sacrifice their own career or job for that purpose.

  • Homeschooling keeps children in their homes. They will lack interactions and socializing with their peers and educators.

  • The parent cannot have the same authority as the teacher has.

Despite these obstacles, homeschooling remains an attractive alternative to the public educational system. There are several arguments that go to its advantage:

  • Parents are disappointed with the educational system they went through. They want better for their children, and they can definitely boost the learning processes if they are committed enough and they get access to all needed resources.

  • One of the greatest myths about homeschooling, the one about homeschooled children being socially backwards, is not necessarily true. Children can still be involved in team sports and all sorts of activities that don’t have to be tied to the classroom environment.

  • Many parents stand behind the statement “don’t let the school choose you.” Instead of pushing their children into the theory-based traditional educational system, they turn to practical techniques of homeschooling that prepare them for the real world.

  • The access to powerful educational and informational resources can turn parents into successful teachers.

  • Parents have the flexibility to adjust the curriculum’s pace in accordance with the skills and personality their children have. With such level of personalization, homeschooled children can fill in the gaps and emphasize their strengths.

  • At schools, children are subjected to negative influences of mass media and mass cultures that can be violent and destructive. Which is why many parents decide to protect them as much as they can in the safety of their homes.

In conclusion, the level of effectiveness of homeschooling is based on how parents work and homeschool. They have to find the perfect balance between being parents, educators, professionals, and individuals at the same time. Only if they achieve that goal, homeschooling can be a step forward from the traditional educational system.