These days many more people are considering homeschooling their children. The reasons they choose to home school are varied. As a mom of a five year old, this is something I debate in my head constantly. I do not want to harm my children. I only want the best for them. But yet I can see possible harm in either choice. So today I'll lay out what I see as the benefits and risks of both choices.
The first thing I think we have to ask ourselves is "Why do we send our children to school?" The main answer, in my opinion is, "To give them an opportunity to acquire knowledge in a variety of subjects so that they can become successful in life." There are other answers, and we'll get to those in a moment.
So far, homeschooling has produced outstanding results, compared with public schooling. Homeschooled students score 30-37 percentile points above their public school peers on standardized tests. Furthermore, while a big minority gap exists in public school test scores, the gap is basically gone among homeschoolers. This idea that homeschooled kids do not get a good education simply is not backed up with any data. For example, homeschoolers average higher college GPAs than their public/private school counterparts, from the first semester all the way until graduation. Home schoolers are also more likely to graduate college than their traditionally educated classmates.
Many people will probably agree that homeschooling provides an obvious advantage on the education point, but where many have a problem is on the "social education" point. They would argue that home schooled children are too isolated. That they won't be able to function, socially speaking.
The idea is, kids need to be around other kids all the time in order to learn how to function in society. To keep them in the home all the time is to deprive them of social interaction, which is vitally important to a child's growth. However, there are many flaws in this argument. Ask the vast majority of homeschoolers, and they'll tell you that they go on field trips, get to interact in the real world more often than those in traditional schools, and in general have an excellent social life.
Let's take this argument in a different direction. Which makes more sense? A child being directed in his everyday life and studies by his parents, or rather have him guided by children who are by and large immature? Teachers, for all the good they do, simply cannot substitute for parents. Furthermore, in what other situation in life (think job, church, other social gatherings) are you with a group of people who are exactly your age? You're not. Real life dictates that you constantly interact with people of varying age groups. As it turns out, homeschooled children actually are more active
in their communities and a much larger percentage of them vote as well. (For statistics see this article)
This idea of sheltering goes hand in hand with the socialization argument. The argument is that if you home school your kid, you won't teach him opposing viewpoints. Some would accuse home schooling parents of giving their children a very one sided education.
First let me say, I believe the best thing you can do for any child is to give him all possible sides of the argument. But what's very interesting is that the same people who will accuse home school parents for teaching creationism, are not shouting from the rooftops that creationism needs to be taught in schools. In other words, public school instruction is, for the most part, extremely one sided, and those who agree with the one sidedness do not mind it being one sided. They only care if the one sidedness opposes their viewpoint. Science, as it is taught in schools today, has become much more like a dogmatic religion than it is actual science. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should watch Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled".
Again, while the danger does exist that a homeschooled child will not learn ever side to every argument, that doesn't disappear by putting him in a public school. In addition to that, parents can and do overprotect their kids, whether they put them in public, private, or home school.
So far, I've decided to homsechool my kids. In fact, I've already kind of started. Even though my son is only 5, he's able to read simple books, and he can do simple math. Not a bad start, I'd say.
If you have any comments or additional points to add which I didn't cover, please comment below!