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Homeschooling
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Homeschooling

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Homeschooling (also called "home education") is the education of children at home and in the community, in contrast to education in an institution such as a public or parochial school. In the United States, homeschooling is the focus of a substantial minority movement among parents who wish to provide their children with a custom or more complete education which they feel is unattainable in public schools.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Support of Homeschooling
3 Opposition to Homeschooling
4 How to do it
5 Freedom of Instruction for Homeschoolers
6 See also
7 Resources
8 External links

Overview

The advantages sought by homeschoolers differ, but can include individual attention, custom curricula, efficient use of children's time, a safer environment, freedom from negative peer pressure, religious instruction, privacy, parental control, a better learning environment, and more positive socialization within adult society.

The disadvantages claimed by opponents of homeschooling include nonstandard instruction, uncredentialed teachers, lack of accountability to society, lessened support for public schools, and improper or inadequate socialization with peers.

Homeschooling was originally the primary form of education in the USA. For example, presidents Jefferson and Lincoln were self-educated or had tutors growing up.

Support of Homeschooling

Studies show that teachers' credentials do not correlate with tested outcomes. In the U.S. in 1999, homeschoolers scored about 27% higher than public-schooled children on refereed nationally-normed tests.

Many people with direct experience with homeschooled children believe them to be better socialized than their school-attending peers. Most large employers find homeschooled persons work with less need for supervision, and have adjusted their hiring policies.

Homeschooled children are not crippled with regard to higher education. In 2001, public school grades are deprecated by many college-entrance procedures, and a GED taken at less than 18 years of age, combined with good scores on the SAT and ACT tests permit entrance to most colleges and apprenticeships. The individualized instruction and customized curricula may compensate for other disadvantages.

Many homeschooling families address socialization concerns by joining numerous organizations, including private, campusless independent study programs, and specialized enrichment groups for PE, Art, Music, and Debate. Most are also active in five to seven community groups, as opposed to the one to three common in other families. Homeschooled children generally socialize with other children the same way that school children do: outside of school, in personal visits and through sports teams, clubs and religious groups.

Most homeschooling families make what many in American culture would consider substantial economic sacrifices to educate their children at home. One parent, usually the mother, refrains from working in order to supervise the children's education.

If there are preschool children, homeschooling can be a better economic use of a parent's time than combining low-paying work with child care and public schooling. Recent research has shown that it is economically viable to school children at home, often with the expenses of school being saved (eg. uniform, transport).

Many homeschooling parents say that the additional time they spend with their children is precious to them.

Opposition to Homeschooling

Homeschoolers have drawn some opposition, which seems focused around boards of education and teachers' unions. Opponents' stated concerns fall into several broad categories: academic quality and completeness; socialization of children with peers; and fear of religious or social extremism. Some proponents of homeschooling believe that opponents' real (unstated) issue is to preserve a political patronage system that benefits school boards, public-school teachers and teachers' unions. They point to the same groups' opposition to vouchers, as well as refusal to provide part-time public school access, as evidence. (Many homeschoolers are also opposed to vouchers.)

However, in the U.S., opponents to homeschooling must overcome a basic legal problem. In U.S. it is a matter of controversy whether it is primarily the government or parents who have responsibility for, and authority over children's education.

The crucial tests of this occurred in attempts to sue public school officials for malpractice, in cases where, for example, illiterate young people graduated from high-school. The U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)) defined the proper goal for education as "literacy and self-sufficiency", that is, an educated, not a socialized child was recognized as the essential goal for the U.S.'s democratic government. Homeschooling advocates regarded this decision as court recognition that parents have a fundamental right to choose the method to achieve literacy and self-sufficiency, that is to educate their children.

Academic Quality and Completeness

Some criticize homeschoolers for using nonstandardized curricula. They argue that homeschooling provides the skills and beliefs that public consensus would choose to prepare young people. (However, some could make the same criticism of institutional schooling.)

Proponents also invoke parental responsibility, and classic liberal arguments for personal freedom from government intrusion. Many also believe that serious academic study should originate with primary sources, rather than with textbooks of questionable quality and obvious bias.

Opponents cite some homeschoolers' study of the Bible for history, and avoidance of the theory of evolution. (This criticism seems to rest on an unfounded generalization about homeschoolers—most homeschoolers are not fundamentalist Christians.)

Proponents of this type of Biblical curriculum defend it on the following points:

In the United States, a percentage of homeschooling parents are conservative Christians who distrust the "secularism" and "liberal politics" of public schools. These were, for about 20 years, the loudest and most visible homeschoolers but now, with the push for smaller public school class sizes, a diverse spectrum of parents are finding homeschooling a viable option for their child.

Socialization of Children with Peers

One of the primary objections to homeschooling is the fear that without traditional schooling, children won't be socialized.

Homeschoolers offer several responses:

1. That in institutional schools, socialization means eradicating any visage of individuality or creativity. This works against self-knowledge, encouraging instead self-distrust and self-hate.

2. That in institutional schools, children are also held to the academic and behavioral standards of the lowest common denominator, and are thereby prevented from achieving their highest potential.

3. That children learn to become productive adults by interacting with productive adults, not by interacting strictly with same-aged children.

4. That the homeschool environment is more like real life than is the institutional school environment. Homeschooled children interact with the entire community, rather than being restricted to interaction with same-aged peers.

5. That homeschooled children are at least as involved with the outside world as are their traditionally schooled peers. They participate at statistically higher rates in youth organizations, church organizations, and sports. They also tend to find employment at comparative (or younger) ages, and enter college at significantly higher rates than their government-schooled peers.

6. That children should be shielded from, not exposed to, the socialization of public schools, which notoriously involves bullying, drug use, early sexuality, defiance, criminality, materialism, and eating disorders.

Fear of Religious or Social Extremism

Some persons oppose homeschooling because they fear that children in such homes could be trapped into a cultic atmosphere and raised entirely without a view of the larger social world.

Such indoctrination has been observed in public-schooled children. Public schooling is therefore not a perfectly reliable solution. Proponents argue that most homeschoolers have a wider experience of society than public-schooled children, because of greater community involvement through clubs, associations, sports, volunteering and other exposure to the broader community outside the school walls.

There is debate about whether this problem exists. Critics argue that it is in the public interest to adequately educate all persons, to assure a cohesive civil society and adequate military service. Proponents of homeschooling argue that since parents are responsible for their children's education (not critics), attempts to "deprive" children of their parents' world-view cripples the authority that parents require to responsibly educate their children. That is, a parent's responsibility is to teach the truth as they understand it. Critics lack this responsibility, and thus should lack the authority to enforce their beliefs. Homeschooling parents are often very concerned about their children's ability and citizenship, which is usually why they take the responsibility of their children's education into their own hands.

How to do it

A family interested in homeschooling should first decide what their educational goals are, and then research options and resources through the Internet and the public library. Because homeschool laws vary widely according to state statutes, homeschoolers in one's own state are the best single resource for accurate and complete information on legalities. It is not necessary to buy "legal insurance" for homeschooling. It can be helpful to attend homeschooling events to meet homeschoolers, learn about various topics and inspect educational materials. Curriculum shops, Web sites and mail-order houses can help locate conventions and conferences, as can a search of the Internet. Most families find a trip to a homeschooling convention fascinating, because of the number and scope of options. Some find the options overwhelming and do better by finding a local homeschool group and learning from experienced homeschoolers.

There is a wide variety of homeschooling methods and materials; there are as many ways to homeschool as there are families homeschooling, and no particular way is the only right way. There are a few basic types of homeschooling methods: unit-studies, special materials, all-in-one curricula, eclectic and unschooling.

Unit Studies

Unit studies teach most subjects in combination around central subjects. For example, a unit study of American Indians would combine age-appropriate lessons in Social Studies (how did Indians live?), Art (making Indian Clothing), History (What happened to Indians in the U.S.), Reading (usually by a reading list), Science (Plants used by Indians). Next month, the unit-study subject would change to "Construction," or some other real-world subject or culture.

Supporters say unit studies make excellent use of student time by combining several fields into one study time, and permit students to follow personal interests. This motivates students and they remember the things they learn more. Unit studies also permit a family to study together. For example, in an Indian unit, a 10th-grade daughter might make a deer-skin coat as her Art project, while a 1st-grade student might make construction-paper tipis.

Unit studies require an organized, motivated teacher, and active students. Unit studies require parental preparation of materials. Homeschoolers often purchase unit-study guides that suggest materials, projects and shopping lists, and supplement them with specialized curricula for math, and sometimes reading and writing. This flexibility is one of the key benefits of homeschooling.

Special Materials

Special materials are used for improving skills, and are generally easy to prepare. Usually they consist of workbooks, possibly with text books and a teachers' guide. Often the teachers' guide will give exact words for a teacher to say--which may come across as stilted and phony. However, parents may opt to alter or skip inappropriate wording. Many specialized subjects are only available in this form. Special materials are frequently used for math and primary reading, when a child first learns to read.

However, children often find special materials boring. Also, some parents may over-focus on skills while excluding Social Studies, Science, Art, History and other fields that help children learn their place in the world.

All-in-one curricula

All-in-one curricula arrive in a box (sometimes referred to as "school in a box"), usually covering an entire year. They contain all needed books and materials, including pencils and writing paper. Most such curricula were developed for isolated families who lack access to public schools, libraries and stores. These materials essentially recreate school in the home, offering little flexibility or individuation of the program of study. As well, they are among the most expensive options for homeschoolers. Still, some parents feel the need to have a detailed plan. Many who purchase all-in-one programs find they outgrow- or tire of them quickly, resulting in a wide availability of used programs for sale. Experienced homeschoolers often suggest that those parents who feel the need to buy an all-in-one program should purchase them second-hand if possible.

All-in-one curricula are easy to purchase and use, and require minimal preparation. The teacher's guides are usually extensive, with step-by-step instructions. They are usually designed around standard grade-levels, so that home-schooled students can return to public school with minimal friction. These programs are usually academically excellent, and may include nationally-normed tests, and remote examinations to yield an accedited private-school diploma.

All-in-ones are also criticized for lack of freedom for children to pursue personal interests. The curricula tend to be generic, with limited resources, and often more repetition and less outside reading than other forms. There is often an intimidating schedule, and a high work-load.

Eclectic

The majority of today's homeschoolers use an eclectic mix of materials. For instance, they might use a pre-designed program for language arts or math, and fill in history with reading and field trips, art with classes at a community center, science through a homeschool science club, PE with membership in local sports teams, and so on. The family may draw from standardized curricula, unit studies, or any other method or material that suits their needs.

Eclectic homeschooling is infinitely flexible, to meet the needs of the family and individual child. Subject matter can be taught on whatever grade level the child is working for that particular topic. Often, materials are purchased second-hand, downloaded from the Internet, or traded among friends or support groups. This saves a great deal of money, which makes it easier to get rid of what isn't working.

Unschooling

Unschooling is a fast growing area of education where students learn by their own volition and through doing, rather than by listening to a teacher. Also known as interest-led, child-led, or delight-led learning, unschooling allows learning to occur according to the child's interest and style. Unschoolers consider life as learning, and rely on children's inborn curiosity to spark learning. Unschooling does not mean "un-parenting," nor does it include shunning textbooks. Unschooled children sometimes choose to use texts. With unschooling, children follow their interests and integrate them into every subject.

A child may learn reading and math skills from playing card games like Yugi-Oh! or Pokemon. She may learn better spelling by using the spell check feature before she sends out e-mails. Or he might learn grammar and other writing skills because he's inspired to write a science fiction novel. There are several books and at least one major Web site about unschooling.

Freedom of Instruction for Homeschoolers

Interesting options are available to homeschooling families. The family education is usually integrated with vacations, religious activities, community organizations, reading and other family activities. Education can proceed flexibly, at students' own paces, year-around, even with frequent traveling. Religion, ethics, and character topics are frequently taught. Some families teach a Classical education, or the Trivium, including Latin and even Greek. Homeschooled children may study a second language. Geography, art and music are often included. Money-management and business studies may be integrated with the family business. Those who use structured math programs usually terminate in Calculus for high-school students.

See also

Resources

External links