Home schooling is an alternative to public education. It is a choice that many more parents are making today, and even more are projected to make by the year 2000. It is estimated that at the end of the year 2000 there will be 2,000,000 home schoolers in the United States (Gorder 1996). There are other alternatives to Public School education. Some examples are Catholic or Private schools or a privately hired tutor. There are many reasons why people home school their children. Religious beliefs, academic achievement, social development, moral and psychological reasons are all cited (Wade 1996). However, religious beliefs are often the main reason (Gorder 1996). Some parents feel as if their children are not learning enough academics, but that they are learning moral and social values that conflict with their own (Gorier 1996). Many parents teach their children at home because they feel they can provide a better education for them. Another problem parents see with the school system is the lack of control and discipline in the schools today. “In 1996 every day 35,000 children took guns to school with them” (Gorder, p.15, 1996). Parents feel that since the government funds these schools they are used as podiums for preaching. They see the teacher using the class as an audience to preach to. There are also parents who want to teach their children so that they can spend more time with them. “The average school-age child spends only fourteen minutes a week talking to their parents” (Gorder, p.16, 1996). There are others who think that parents home school their children because they get joy out of seeing them learn and discover new things (Henger 1995). There is some history to the issue of home schooling. There are also many pros and cons, which will be addressed in this paper.
Home schooling has been around for hundreds of years. There are many famous and intellectual people that have had their education through home schooling. Some examples are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Margaret Mead, Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain (Gorder, p.11, 1996). Most of these famous people were home schooled when it was a common occurrence and more than acceptable. Home schooling has grown substantially over the last twenty-five years. In that time the number of home schoolers was increased by 185,000 (Gorder 1996). Over the years there have been many legal battles over home schooling. The reality is that each state has control over its school system. Therefore, each individual state makes their own laws except that all 50 states have compulsory attendance laws. Most of these laws require children to attend school form age seven to sixteen (Gorder 1996). Home schooling your child is a big decision and not always an easy one. The process is long and often hard and when it takes its toll on you there are support groups to lend you a helping hand. Most people have some sort of support system be it a few friends or a large organization. These groups are beneficial in many ways. They provide a good way to make friends for parents and children (Hegener 1995). They help new home schoolers become more confident and revitalize the older ones. They help in keeping the group aware of the newest news on political issues surrounding home schooling. The typical activities of a support group may include meetings, field trips, classes, social occasions, curriculum fairs and many other things. These groups also have common goals. Some of those goals are to provide support and encouragement, share information about home schooling, provide educational opportunities and to represent home schooling to the community (Wade 1996).
There are many positives to home schooling your child. However, it is important to remember that every child and family is different. So what works for someone else may not work for you or your family. Home schooling allows you to teach your own values. “Religion has traditionally been the most commonly cited reason for parents to choose home schooling. They feel that the moral training of their children is their responsibility, not the state’s” (Gorder, p.50, 1996). Parents don’t want to send their children to schools where they feel the child may be taught against what they “should” believe. Religion is a large part of each individual’s family values. Along those lines comes another positive to home schooling: family unity. Home schooled children get to spend a lot more time with their families than the average child. It was stated earlier that many families feel that the lack of discipline in public schools is detrimental to their child. That can also be true if their child is the one who needs discipline. At home the parent can monitor more closely where the child is and what they are doing. They can also tell what work they have and have not accomplished. All of these factors could make the difference in a troubled child’s life. Some parents choose home schooling for their child because they have to. In many small towns the school could be miles and miles from your house. There are times and situation that busing is not available, and if it is it may take an hour to get there. Another part of that reason is if a child can not afford to go to the private school of choice. Parents don’t want them to learn the wrong things so they teach their children themselves (Wade 1996). The last positive that is going to be discussed is the one on one attention that a home schooled child receives. It is close to impossible for a classroom teacher to give each child one on one attention every day. Having only a couple of children per teacher is a very good ratio. The kind of ration you are not going to get in any school.
Like everything in life the good comes with the bad. There are negatives to home schooling as well. There is a lacking of facilities, athletic as well as academic. Home schooling takes a lot of time and energy. It won’t work with a one-parent family unless the parent does not have to go to work. It can cost a lot of money at times because you have to buy the supplies to fit your curriculum. Abuse and neglect is another big issue. Teachers are trained to spot and report abuse and neglect. However, if you don’t know the warning signs, or you are the one hurting the child, that child is not going to get the help that they need. The two biggest negatives are the social aspects and how qualified a parent is to teach. The question is if the child gets to interact and socialize with other kids. Some authors argue that school is not the positive social environment that many say it is. On the other hand, some authors think that it is a great injustice to the child not to allow them to attend school with other children. As far as teaching goes once again the authors have mixed views. Some feel that parents should be trained and certified and others say they can handle it.
I found that there were many things about home schooling that I thought were true that were myths. However, I found from reading that most of the people that home schooled their children were extremists. Some were about religion; some were for other topics. I realized that not many average people home school their children. This movement is going to continue to grow over the coming years. Violence and control of the kids in school is going to have a lot to do with it. Parents are not going to send their children to school if they think that they are going to get shot, stabbed, or even killed. Parents’ feel that it is their job to protect their children and they will do whatever it takes. I can not see this movement taking over, if for no other reason because today two people need to work to run a sufficient household. I think that more people are going to want their children home but not be able to afford it.
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