Homeschoooling as a concept can be defined as a form of education in which children learn at home and not in a school setup being supervised either by a teacher or by their personal tutor. Homeschool in another concept can be defined as receiving instructions at home from what are known as correspondence or umbrella schools that instruct a learner at home (qtd. in Distefano et al). Before the introduction of compulsory education, homeschool was the norm (Distefano, Rudestam, and Silverman). The introduction of compulsory education took place by the beginning of the 20th century, at the time; most states had adopted laws for free compulsory education (Patricia). Patricia further notes that "homeschool has grown steadily over the last decade". In it's report in titled Homescchooling in the United States in 1999 The National Centre for Education Statistics noted that an estimated 850,000 students were being homeschooled nationwide, a bigger percentage of those homeschooled were whites compared to the non-Hispanic at the time, in addition, the study also found out that the income in a household of the students who were homeschooled did not have a great difference than those of the children who attended school institutions, however it is important to point out that the education levels of the parents of homeschoolers was higher than those who attended school. The study further revealed that there was wide array of reasons why parents made the decision on whether to homeschoool their children or to take them to school.
With all the above literature, questions such as; where did the concept of homeschooling start? What are some of the reasons why parents take into considerations when considering to either chose between homeschool and attending school? This article seeks the reasons that guide parents in knowing and deciding whether they take their children to attend a school or to decide on whether they will be homeschooled; there is also need to find out the legal mechanisms in place guiding the concept of homeschooling, in total it is important to find the reasons why parents will prefer homeschool for their children other than letting them attend school, in addition there is need to find out the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling as compared to attending schools. Furthermore, the methodology of study in homeschoooling will also be put under perspective.
HISTORY OF HOMESCHOOLING
Historically, employing professional teachers either in a formal education setting or as tutors at home for children has been a preserve of a selected few with the means of doing it. As Distefano, Rudestam, and Silverman notes "Thus, until recently, the vast majority of people were educated by parents (especially during early childhood)". Initial obligatory education began in the 17th and early 18th centuries in the West. This was mainly in Prussia, Calemberg, and Gotha which were German states ("Education"). However, it is important to note that, a big number of people from Europe did not have formal education; this essentially means that they either learned at home (homeschooled) or did not attend school at all. America as a colony also went through the same extending the same to United States until at 1850s (qtd. in "English").
Formal education taking place in a school has been the commonest of forms for schooling the world over, specifically so in the developed world. Traditionally, Native Americans used apprenticeship and homeschooling, they in turn resisted mandatory education vigorously (Distefano et. al). Albert asks the following questions "Are children empty boxes into which we pour knowledge and wisdom? Or are they naturally predisposed to acquire knowledge and wisdom?" the pioneers of the concept of homeschooling seem to base their arguments for homeschooling on these two questions focusing mainly on the outcomes in an education setup. Holt notes that "academic failure of schoolchildren is caused by pressure placed on children by adults", he tried further to demonstrate a child's learning process and his reasons for believing that a school as an institution of learning had an effect of short-circuiting this process. Holt therefore was one of the advocates of homeschooling and with his background as a teacher he started it on his children. Another couple known as the Raymond and Dorothy in their advocacy for homeschooling found out that ethnic and uneducated mothers in Africa shaped their children in a more advanced than the typical way a western child will be shaped, both emotionally and socially. Their work, together with that of Holt led to a clamor for more and more parents to want to practice homeschooling on their children marking the beginning to set and put legal mechanisms in place in support for homeschooling inAmerica, since it was a cncept not recognized by law.
Legal Status of Homeschooling
The Educational Resources Information Center notes that "today homeschooling is legal in all states", by law parents are required to file essential or basic information, this with either their local education or state agencies. Although the United States Supreme Court has not openly ruled on homeschooling, there is need to allow reasonable regulations on homeschoooling. It is important to note however that the court has established that there are constitutional problems with compulsory school requirements in Wisconsin v, Yoder (1972). Yoder has led to extension of protection to homeschooling families based on a religious orientation, compared to those based on a secular orientation by the lower courts. There is also an emergence of legal tension over request for accessing although on a part-time basis public schools' curricular and extracurricular programs by the homeschool practitioners. However, much is dependent on a state's legal and policy culture. For example, some states in their statutes mandate provision of access to curricular and extracurricular programs to the homeschoolers.
Why Chose homeschool?
Reasons for choosing homeschool vary from one parent to the other; it was evident in the data according to a 1999 survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that a majority of those for the choice of homeschooling(49%) stated that the quality of education in schools made them prefer homeschooling while 39% cited religious reasons as their main reason bejind the choice for homeschooling, a further 26% cite the environment at school while 17% cited family reasons as to why they would prefer homeschooling to their children attending school. In another census survey conducted in 2001, 33% of homeschooling households said that religion was their main reason for their choice of homeschooling, in the same study 30% felt that the environment in shools was not conducive for their children to be in. Moreover, 14% were of the opinion that the content or material taught at schools was not what they wished their children to learn while a further 11% there was no enough challenge in schools for their children to be subjected to a school setup. Finally in the same study 9% cited morals as the reason for their choice of homeschooling.
According to the U.S. DOE's "Homeschooling in the United States: 2003", the trend on the choice of homeschooling completely changed, a whooping 85% cited what they called the social environment as the main reason for choice of homeschooling, these factors they cited included amongst others; safety, drugs, sexual harassments, bullying , and negative peer pressure). A further 72% cited religious or morals as the reason they would chose homeschool. 68% cited the quality of education or their dissatisfaction with what their children were being taught in other schools. In addition, 7%cited the special needs of a child while an equal number cited physical or mental health state of a child. Other reasons included parent's careers and child disabilities.
The resources and methodology in homeschooling
The Educational Resources Information Center notes that "parents are the primary resource in homeschooling", usually a mother is the one who plays the biggest role though at times the father plays a supportive role. However, according to the ERIC one out of only ten fathers is involved usually take the responsibitlity primarily. The are various ways through which parents get resources, including colleges, libraries, schools, museums, local businesses , parks department amongst others. In addition, there are a number of large scale and small scale publishers offering a wide range of materials for use in homeshooling like periodicals, books and curricular packages. According to the NCES report of 2003, 78% of homeschoolers utilized the public libraries; 77% made use of an individual specialist; 60% made use of education published materials not affiliated to homeschooling; 68% used retail bookstore; 50% used curriculum or books from a homeschooling organization; 37% got their materials from a church, synagogue or other religious institutions; 20% used the television, video or radio, 19% made use of the internet, e-mail, or the World Wide Web.
The methods and paradigms used in homeschooling include among others; Classical education, School at home, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, A Thomas Jefferson Education, Radical Unschooling, Montessori method, School-at-home, Montessori method, Waldorf education and many others. However, it is important to note that some of the methods like Montessori and Waldorf are used in both public and private schools. Moreover, whether homeschooling or not, it is important to note that not a single method a\can be applied on one individual learner only, most families choose a mixed approach.
Pros and Cons of homeschooling
The pros and cons of homeschooling are easily identifiable, the pros include: education freedom to a child, since the child is in apposition to study what they want, there is also emotional freedom on the part of the child(meaning they can study at peace away from bullies), there is closer family relationship since the child spends more time with the parents therefore attaching themselves emotionally with their parents growing a good emotional bond, there is guarantee of stability as far as disturbances were concerned, pressure and stressors are quite less when a child attends homeschool, and personal attention to a child when homeschooling is given to a child in turn if a child tends to be slow in the learning process then the parent is able to dedicate more time to them.
The cons amongst others include: homeschooling at times can take a lot of time of the parent, in turn this leads to an acute restraint for the parents, homeschooling also requires a parent to be a full time worker, ineffect reducing the income of the family, team sports can at times be forgotten by the child since the only people they come across is their own family members not enough to form a team and play a game that requires teamwork like football or soccer, it is also important not to forget that, homeschooling is an odd concept and in a way there is a lot of negativity associated with it.
According to the ERIC "Researchers cannot tell whether the same number of children would perform better or worse academically in a classroom or at home." This is so because the data usually collected on learning outcomes does not necessarily reflect all homeschoolers since not all of the homeschoolers abide to the testing obligations. However, while still considering the fact of no enogh data in mind, it is important to note that in instances that testing data is in place, homeschoolers have been known to do very well. For example, in the state of Alaska, in a study commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association studies show that, the homeschooled children placed in between the 62nd and 91st percentiles of the nationally.
Moreover, it is intriguing to note that student achievement for homeschoolers does not relate to the educational achievement of the parent (Distefano et al). This in a way goes hand in hand with the tutoring studies which mainly suggest that the level of education of the tutor has little to do with the achievement of the child who is being tutored.
There is argument that homeschooling contributes in hindering a child's social development. Children who spend less time with their peers and spend more with people of different ages, they usually participate in associations such as scouting or church activities, as such volunteering in their communities. The homeschoolers generally spend more time with elder people and gain a lot in their interactions.
Letters to the Editors
To the editor, Morning Light Daily
I write to you as a mother and a teacher in a pubic high school. A lot has been said about the benefits of homeschooling, I beg to differ from the views of those in support of the concept on homeschools. As a teacher for more than twenty years, I have gained experience and seen the disadvantages of homeschooling and the ones being peddled in the media are half-truths. A professor at Stanford University who studied homeschooling determined lack of access to different teaching styles as his main premise for criticism of homeschooling, I agree with him to a very great extent. There is no way a parent who has no any training in education purport to be a better teacher than a teacher who endured years of training to perfect the art of teaching. It makes me wonder the type or method of teaching that they will put in place to educate their children.
Other factors include with dealing with a truant child, how can a parent separate the role they play as teacher and that they play as a teacher? I find it so absurd. Additionally, there are no any interpersonal relationships that exist in a homeschool in my own opinion. I once taught a learner in high school who had gone through homeschool in the junior level of his education complain about gaps arising from mistakes their parents committed in terms of the choice of curriculum.
Oh please give me a break, there is no way homeschool can match a normal school setup.
A concerned teacher.
To the editor, Morning Light Daily
I will give you a story of two boy one named Mark and other named Mark his best friend. Yes, they had the same names. In fact that is what triggered their friendship to start with. By nature however, the two were different to each other in many aspects other than their names. Mark Hamilton was homeschooled while his friend Mark John went to a public school. Mark Hamilton was very neat and quiet too, on the other hand his friend was into the punk look and a bit boisterous. They both were very good in studies. Mark Hamilton was good in History and Mathematics and went on to join MIT and pursued a career in statistics, on the other hand his friend Mark John liked sports and theater and went on to become a professional footballer.
The differences were inspired by the difference setup of education in which their parents chose for them. Either method has its own advantages or disadvantages or none is more superior to the other, with that I rest my case. Go figure the best!
The cartoon work says it all!