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What do George Washington, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Jefferson, and I have in common? We were all homeschooled.
The National Home Education Research Institute reports that homeschooling hasn’t just been trending in the United States, but growing all over the globe from Australia to Kenya. Also, the National Center for Education Statistics confirms homeschooling in the US has grown from 1.7% of students in 1999, to 3.4% of students in 2012—almost two million children.
Yet many do not even know what homeschooling is or that homeschooling is legal in the US, much less a fundamental right, making it hard to separate the actual facts from homeschooling misconceptions. Although homeschooling is an excellent learning option, many parents, when choosing what type of education they wish to enroll their children into, do not consider homeschooling as worthwhile because they do not understand what it is, its history, or its advantages and disadvantages. As a result, they may not choose the optimum education for their children.
There are many forms of schooling: homeschool, public school, private school, charter school, and online school. Overall, parents choose to homeschool their children for four main reasons (National Center for Education): One, concerns about the school environment (91%); two, a desire to provide religious instruction (64%) and moral instruction (77%); three, dissatisfaction with the academic instruction of schools (74%); and four, to provide a nontraditional approach to education (44%). Yet how did homeschooling become another legal option to education in the first place?
Homeschooling started out as the main source of educating ones’ children at the inception of the United States, with mothers raising and teaching their children in the house. Slowly, education started migrating towards organized education in small school houses. Homeschooling then would become illegal after the enacting of truancy laws and a push for compulsory education.
After the start of compulsory education in 1852, a controversy arose between those who espoused that parents had a right to keep their child to learn at home versus those who believed in organized public schooling.
Before the 1970s, homeschooling was a secreted, underground way to learn, yet by the 1970s, parents had had enough and with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association—HSLDA—began pushing for the rights of the parent to home school their children. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that parents have a fundamental right to educate their children.
In 1989, forty-seven states, excluding Michigan, North Dakota, and Iowa, homeschooling became legalized, and by 1993, homeschooling was legal in all fifty states. Though homeschooling has been deemed a fundamental right, there is still debate going on about how much control each state has over how educated the parent has to be to school his or her child, if the state can force homeschooled children to take mandatory standardized tests, and how much states can influence curricula. As a result, regulations on homeschooling varies widely among states. As an example, in Ohio homeschooled students need to take either a standardized test or submit a written portfolio, and present an academic assessment to the school district’s superintendent every year.
Even though homeschooling is a growing trend, many countries have not only legalized homeschooling, but in some cases, such as Italy, homeschooling is a right provided by the constitution, not just a court ruling. Indeed, homeschooling has arisen as a worldwide movement towards a different way of educating.
There are many benefits to homeschooling that other institutions of education do not have. A prominent advantage is the ability to customize a student’s learning to what he or she is exceptionally interest in. Secondly, the student can learn at his or her own pace, and has the flexibility of a daily start time and end time, meeting the emotional, educational, and social needs of the individualized child. Thirdly, there is also less distraction and more one on one time with instructor, and no wasted time going to and from school; this extra time gives the child more time for activities, socializing, and work. Lastly, Homeschooling strengthens family ties, and also provides more time to concentrate more on actually learning the material and less worrying about grades.
Though homeschooling is a great way of educating children, like other ways of teaching, it has some drawbacks. There is the actual dollar amount cost to the family. According to the HSLDA the average cost of homeschooling one student per year is $900 dollars. A second disadvantage is the loss of a parent’s time and ability to work and have an income. Homeschooling has a heavy workload and can even like working a fulltime job. There is also the potential possibility that with only one teacher, the parent, there would be a lack of diverse ideas and values taught to the child. A fourth problem is college and job discrimination and misconceptions of homeschoolers still prevalent in the US today with colleges such as Harvard only now allowing homeschoolers admittance. Yet overall, homeschooling is an efficient way of educating one’s child and has proven it makes successful adults that are college and real world ready.
As a result, homeschooled children have proven to score higher on standardized tests, such as the SAT and the ACT, compared to other types of education as researched by the National Home Education Research Institute. The NHERI also concludes that homeschoolers have also shown that they participate in the local community, vote and involved in public meetings more frequently, and succeed at college equally or better than the general population. Homeschooling is not just a trend, but has become a viable option to not only children in the US but around the world, creating a more diversified student body and a more desirably educated population.