Which is the BEST Option for Your Family?
Maybe your child is fast approaching school age or maybe you are finding yourself increasingly frustrated with educational options for your family. Whatever the reason more and more families are exploring the aspects of homeschooling vs. public schooling. As the homeschooling movement has gained popularity from the 1970’s until today it has brought with it a surge of educational options that rivals most other educational arenas. When you couple that with what some families are finding to be a less than ideal environment in many public schools, you have room for debate and questions. But how does homeschooling really stack up to the public school system that has been in existence since most of us can remember? Are children who are homeschooled at a disadvantage? Are public schooled students better socialized? Read on to answer some of these tough questions.
How does the educational experience differ between public school and homeschool?
With public school systems a classroom is typically comprised of approximately 20 students. This means that for any well meaning teacher it is a constant battle to decipher the needs of 20 individual personalities and learning styles to create the optimum learning experience often in a shortened time span. With homeschooling you may have a large family but the teacher (usually the parent) knows the student intimately and knows what tools they need to succeed. There is also more freedom and time to explore topics of interest and areas of difficulty as there are no bells ringing to signal preset time constraints.
Are Homeschooled Students at a Disadvantage Academically?
With all the freedom allotted to homeschoolers, do they wind up disadvantaged in the sheer academia? According to a number of studies on test scores and academic performance, the answer is pretty astounding. The home educated students typically score 15-30 percentile points more than publics school students on standardized academic achievement tests. That is an increase in test scores that most parents would love to see.
What About Socialization?
This seems to still be a question at the forefront of most people’s minds. How could a child surrounded by other children all day long in a public school setting not be at an advantage over a child who may only be surrounded by siblings and a parent for most of their time? The answer is that homeschooled children view the world as their classroom so they are more often not inside the confines of 4 walls when learning. What this means is that the socialization experience of homeschooled students is more often with a greater variance of people. They come in contact with not only other children their age (at co-ops, church or social events, and extracurricular sports) but also with people from all walks of life and varied ages as they interact with the world at large. There is also more time for the homeschooled child to volunteer to communities where their socialization experiences helps.
Now some of the basic questions may be answered, but for someone who is newer to this whole concept of homeschooling and public school, what are the options? For public school it is simple. When your child reaches “school age” (usually by 6 years old) you take them down to the local school district and register them for kindergarten. Simple as that your child has begun their academic career. Barring any family move from district to district, this is where your child will attend school until they complete the 12th grade and graduate school. There usually are no other major changes save for the situations where a family may decide to take advantage of a technical school, if offered, usually during the latter high school years. In many parts of the country there are also now charter and Montessori schools that accept public funding and therefore operate like public schools allowing children into the school system either on an academic testing basis or a locale basis.
In traditional public schools the parent is simply the compliment to the education. The parent helps with homework, can facilitate assistance in the classroom with parties and field trips if necessary, but is largely left out of the educational part of school. In fact, the parent has no say in what is taught in the school operating system so if there are concepts that are against the parent’s own set of standards and beliefs (certain religions and material on sex education and reproduction) they are taught regardless of the parent’s personal feelings.
What about homeschooling, how does a parent even get started? A good starting point in the US is to review the laws in your state. This can be done by going to this website https://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp? , picking out your state and seeing what the requirements are. Every state is a bit different with some having more leniency and less reporting standards than others. What if you live outside the US and are wondering about international laws? No problem there is a place to view all of those laws as well http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/
If you are interested in completely removing yourself from the home education proceedings but do want to have your child at home while learning there are a number of online schools available. This option, at least in the United States, often comes free of charge as it is still being partially funded by the public school system as a whole. Therefore, while the parent can call it “homeschooling” there is little choice for the parent in the education being provided, however it is provided often free of charge and with the child in the parent’s home. One of the most well known online public schools is K-12.
For a parent who would like a little more control they must first register with their state or locale in whatever manner is necessary (for some there is no registration requirement) and provide whatever materials are asked of them. Beyond that the parent has more choices. A parent can choose to purchase entire grade level curriculum for each child with all of the guesswork taken out of the teaching and lesson planning, a parent can purchase curriculum on a by subject basis for those students who may be more advanced in one academic area than another or a parent has the freedom to develop their own learning protocols. The parent is the overseeing body who is in charge of what materials they want to focus on and what subjects they want taught to their children.
Public School and homeschool are options available to every parent, in every state. This option is not yet available in every country, but there are agencies that are keeping tabs on what is available
Homeschooling is legal in all of the 50 United States and of course public school is the option that has been the norm for educating children since before the turn of the century. A parent must only realize that they have choices and then look at the options available to their family to decide what avenue will best meet the needs of their own child or children. Whether you as a parent reside in the United States or Abroad, there are agencies that can provide you information and the basic concepts of homeschooling remain the same.