Home schooling has a long tradition in the United States. Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and other greats were all educated at home. While a relative outsider to the scene, home schooling has managed to carve out an important niche and establish itself as a credible, viable, and effective means to educate children.
Earning the legal right to home school was a hard-fought battle in some states, and continues to be challenged. Most states, however, now recognize the right of parents to educate their children at home. There are legal variations relating to state accountability requirements and meeting state education standards. Parents of home schooled high school students also need to consider college recognition and acceptance standards.
Home school is difficult to define because it takes on so many different forms. Some home school families literally create their own curriculum and find nontraditional means to educate their children that range from creative to out-and-out strange. Other home school families purchase and use services or packaged curriculums that are highly regimented and structured. Still others use blends of various techniques including the ones already mentioned.
Above all other education methods, home schooling requires the most from parents. Their involvement is key to success and is often intense and challenging. Commitment level, available time, and teaching skills are significant factors to be considered before parents begin home schooling. Today's marketplace provides unprecedented support for home schoolers, making this option more feasible than ever.
One of the major objections to home schooling is a supposed lack of socialization of children. This objection is based on the observation that children who spend most of their time at home do not have daily interaction with their peers like their institutional counterparts. Supporters of home school point out that there are many relational alternatives to six-hour days at school and they have taken action to intentionally provide their students with activities that include most, if not all, of the options available to students in more traditional schools.
Today, home schooled children participate in athletic teams, academic competition, band, and the like. They also enjoy freedom to learn through experience and real-life interaction such as travel, field trips, and internships. Progressive home school practices have all but debunked the socialization objection.
Generally, in academics home schooled students compare favorably to their public- and private-schooled peers. But the variance between students can be great. The key is a skilled parent-teacher who is up to the task and who utilizes available resources to maximize the opportunities.
In the past, home school families were on their own and had to create or discover curriculum and material for instruction. Many families still opt for a homegrown approach, but there are many excellent home school organizations that provide curriculum, teacher training, parent and student support, and even cooperative learning programs. Some you can research include Alpha Omega Publishers, Sonlight Curriculum, K-12, A Beka, and Bob Jones Home School for curriculum, and for local home school associations for direct connection and support.
Home school families have complete latitude to provide religious instructions without limitation. Successful families have a good plan, good support, and a passion for their work. The keys are intentionality and sufficient knowledge to lead a long-term education process.
Trends in home school include the following options:
Pros of Home Schooling
Cons of Home Schooling
Adapted from Handbook on Choosing Your Child's Education, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.