Is homeschooling better than in-school learning?


Fact Box

  • Pre-pandemic, in 2019, roughly 3% to 4% of the school-age population of children were homeschooled. 
  • The modern homeschooling movement in America first emerged in the 1980s and was spearheaded by evangelical Christians.
  • 73% of parents who homeschool their children cite “dissatisfaction with the American school system” as their reason for doing so.  
  • A 2009 study revealed that 67% of homeschooled kids go on to graduate from college, while only 59% of public school students do. 

Sheryll (Yes)

A one-size-fits-all approach to education just isn't going to work for a significant percentage of the student population. Standardized lesson plans, while often useful, cannot be expected to provide the same benefits for every child. 

The primary and oft-cited advantage of homeschooling is that it allows students to learn at their own pace. This approach is known as 'personalized learning' and has been deemed by experts to be especially effective at improving reading and mathematical skills. Using this method, a teacher could expedite the subjects a child excels in, while also making additional efforts to address their weaker areas — a practice that in-school learning would likely not have the resources to do. 

Homeschooled students also have the freedom to dive into subjects that may not usually be offered in public schools. They could choose to study politics in fifth grade or psychology in seventh grade, leaving them with a more holistic approach to education.

Being homeschooled also protects children from the toxicities of traditional school environments, like bullying or physical violence. And while some argue that these experiences may be good for 'toughening kids up,' studies show that those who face social issues often end up performing worse academically. 

There is no denying the superior educational quality homeschooling offers, as homeschooled students are more successful in the long-run. And with the freedom to choose the style in which they learn, coupled with the supportive environment that comes with it, it's easy to see how this approach to learning may evolve to be the preferred alternative to formal education. 

Ellen (No)

Many families wonder, on occasion, whether they should homeschool their children, as public schools don't always seem to provide appropriate learning opportunities for their children. Yes, all schools have their problems and inadequacies--but overall, for most students, the formal modern school environment is much more conducive for learning than homeschooling, which generally has many inherent problems.

Homeschooling means at least one parent or guardian must stay home and teach their child or children. That can be problematic, as far as pedagogical training and classroom equipment. Is Mom knowledgeable enough to teach math, science, career education, and music? It's particularly challenging for older students: can the typical student learn calculus, physics, or foreign languages via online courses, or with Dad? Not likely, or only in a few cases.

Children benefit greatly from being around most students and teachers they encounter. They'll find friends and role models, and others whom they dislike. But this prepares them for real-life situations. Students also benefit significantly from clubs, teams, and activities with which they are involved at school; that kind of socialization is a key to thriving.

There's also a sinister side to some homeschooling situations: families that abuse children, that expose children to a limited set of viewpoints, that neglect their kids so they do insufficient instruction and play video games for hours.

Ask veteran teachers and administrators about homeschooling, and they will tell you about the many weaknesses of home instruction. What if a student hopes to study advanced and esoteric subjects, such as Music Technology, Astronomy, and Printmaking? The typical household doesn't have a recording studio, nor a planetarium, nor printmaking studio. Students do best in schools, not at home. 

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