We went looking to see if we could find some more homeschooling resources. At this point, in Washington State, school has been out since the end of February with the possibility that schools won’t reopen until January of 2021. That’s what the “authorities” are saying. Is homeschooling better than public schools? What are the latest resources for parents to take over the education of their children? Read on…
In Part 1 we’ll focus on articles and studies addressing the question: Is homeschooling as good or better than public schools?
Is homeschooling as good or better than public schools?
Answer: The Daily Signal says homeschooling is better – Eleven of 14 peer-reviewed studies found homeschooling has positive effects on achievement. In my new video, education researcher Corey DeAngelis explains, “Children who are homeschooled get much better academic and social results than kids in government schools.” Even though they are more likely to be poor, “Homeschoolers score 30% higher on SAT tests.” They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.
“Mass homeschooling during this pandemic,” says DeAngelis, “may actually be a blessing.”
Public School Review says:
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling Your Kids
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but there are some requirements you have to meet. Parents are required to choose or create an educational curriculum that meets certain educational standards set forth by the state. As long as those standards are met, however, parents have more educational liberty with homeschooling than with public school. Students may have more opportunities to choose what they learn with homeschooling, and they can learn at their own pace without having to keep up with more advanced students. Homeschool gives parents the opportunity to incorporate religion into their child’s education and it may promote a closer family atmosphere as well.
This video looks at which student does better: the one who is homeschooled or the one who attends public school.
One of the major downsides of homeschooling is that it takes a lot of time to plan and to implement educational strategies. In most families, one parent needs to make homeschooling the children their full-time concern – it can be very challenging for a single parent to succeed with homeschool. Because one parent may not be able to work, homeschool may put a financial strain on the family finances. Homeschooled children may also have more limited access to extracurricular activities including sports, and they may not have the same level of social interaction as they would in public school. There are, of course, workarounds for these things but they are still challenges associated with homeschool.
The Benefits of Public School vs. Homeschool
Now that you know a little more about homeschool and its associated pros and cons, you may be wondering how public school stacks up. Each child is an individual with individual needs, so the public school may or may not be the best option. However, the only way you’ll know this to be the case is to take time to learn about the potential benefits of public school versus homeschool. Here are some of the top benefits you should consider:
- Public school has a built-in structure. Children, particularly young children, thrive on routine and they require a lot of attention and care. If you are trying to homeschool your children while also being a stay-at-home mom, you may find it more challenging than you imagine.
- Many public schools offer sports and elective options like art and music – these programs may not be available to homeschool students.
- A public school teaches children a certain degree of independence. Depending on the grade, children need to keep track of their own class schedules, find their way from one class to another, purchase their own lunch, and make it to and from the bus every day.
- Teachers are public schools are required to carry education degrees and they may have more experience working with and teaching children. Teaching a child is different from parenting a child and many parents struggle to do both.
- Public school is typically cheaper than homeschool. You could spend $1,000 or more on a homeschool curriculum alone, not to mention supplies. For a public school, you have to buy supplies once or twice a year and you can pack your child’s lunch to save money.
- Children who attend public school have more opportunities for social interaction than many homeschool students. There are homeschool co-ops that can be helpful, but a public school has built-in social benefits.
- Sending your children to public school frees you up to just be a parent. Doing double-duty as both teacher and parent can be both grueling and frustrating at times – especially if you have other non-school-age children to care for.
- Public school gives you and your child some much-needed time apart which helps to foster your child’s independence and gives you a break as well. There is no harm in needing a break from your kids once in a while.
- In addition to the benefits listed above, there are some downsides to public school. For example, public school has a more rigorous and regimented schedule than most homeschool programs and students may not have the same degree of freedom and flexibility to customize their education. But unless you can fully commit yourself to creating and implementing a strong homeschool curriculum, your child may be better off in public school anyway.
Readers Digest (yes it’s still around) ran an article on May 1st from a teacher in Ohio with 9 years of experience. Here’s what she has to say about homeschooling:
I’ve been a teacher for nine years in Ohio, and I’ve worked with students from grades seven to 12, but nothing could have prepared me for life virtual teaching my own students, and homeschooling my children. As a current high school journalism and yearbook teacher, and a former English teacher, I already had strong beliefs regarding the best ways to teach, and best practices for learning. The shelter-in-place order, and teaching preschoolers from home, has challenged and refined those.
Lesson #1: Kids really do want to learn
After the first few days of quarantine with my five-year-old, four-year-old, and one-year-old, I realized quickly that while the kids acted like they didn’t miss school, they did miss learning. When a reading show would come on TV, they were glued. I’d find them devouring books in their closet, making personal time and space for themselves. I’m refreshed and excited to return to the classroom (hopefully, in the fall) with the assurance that kids will seek learning in spite of circumstances. We all crave knowledge and knowing, from ages one to 100. Find out 13 things homeschoolers secretly wish they could tell you.
Lesson #2: Breaks need to be frequent and involve movement
Taking a break is essential for adults and kids. It’s long been established that all children need movement and that recesses improve student performance. But I haven’t witnessed it first hand until I had to teach my son kindergarten-prep material from home. It was more of a buffet of learning than a sit down four-course meal. He’d dabble in an activity, run around the house, ride his bike down the street, and return for more. In a classroom, this would be seen as off-task, screwing around, or being unfocused. But now I see the value in taking a walk, moving your body, and returning to work, for both my preschoolers and high schoolers. When we return, I hope to implement some walking meetings and more classes outside.
Lesson #3: If it’s not working don’t force it
Sometimes kids aren’t in the right head space to learn, and nothing you can do will convince them. I thought I could “beat this” as a homeschooling mom more so than when I taught my high school students, but I was wrong. Practicing sight words with his mom was about the tenth thing on my son’s priority list for his days at home. Convincing him to sit down and even consider the concepts was equally as stressful as bedtime with three kids five and under. We had to try again later, with different tools and ideas, in a different setting. I hope to practice that same flexibility with my students in the future.
Lesson #4: Screen time isn’t the enemy
If my five-year-old will listen to a YouTube author read a book better than me, I’m in. During shelter-in-place, many parents have joked that screen time limits have gone out of the window as they work from home without childcare. Some kids aren’t begging for more shows because they are bored, they want to engage their mind. Choosing quality shows for my kids to watch, including those that teach phonics and STEM concepts, has shown me that in moderation, turning on a video is not a cop-out, but rather another tool in the teaching box. We have to stop fighting younger generations to quit using screens and instead tailor their screen time for educational purposes when possible. Learn the top tips of a mom who has homeschooled her kids for three years.
Lesson #5: Socializing is learning
While I’ve always used socialization as learning in my classroom, I see now, as my children struggle to learn in isolation, how much they are missing. When they can “turn and talk” through a concept with a classmate, work through a critical thinking problem together, or present their findings to their peers, their interest in learning escalates. While I saw this as more of a “social break for the mind” in my pre-pandemic classroom, now I will see it as essential learning. Preschoolers and high schoolers alike can’t learn in isolation, without peer interaction.
Lesson #6: Failure feels personal
Small children have not spent time scrolling through Pinterest or social media learning phrases such as: “Failure is success in progress,” (Einstein) or “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” (Edison). They see failure as a personal attack, a frustrating situation that requires either of the following: A. major meltdowns, B. running far far away from the problem, or C. throwing all learning materials in the trash. Without the context and experience that failure is not only inevitable but also essential for learning, kids check out. Intentionally teaching the necessity of failure and how to properly deal with it mentally is a skill I’ve fine-tuned during homeschooling. I will be applying this lesson with students of all ages. Why are we assuming they appreciate failure for the valuable lesson it is? We can’t.
Lesson #7: Increase practice opportunities, decrease graded work
In my first year of teaching, I graded every single document students turned in, from practice paragraphs in which they attempted various writing styles, to journal entries reflecting on their personal lives. What a mistake. Through my decade of teaching, and now a few months teaching my own preschoolers, I’ve decided to grade more like 10 percent of the work that is turned in. Why was I grading their practice? It’s practice. My young sons also have required many weeks of judgment-free practice, from backward “G’s” in my son’s name “Graham,” to math problems gone awry in which all of the counting Goldfish were eaten before the lesson was learned. In the end, practicing playing with Legos and storytelling has been more educational than true reading lessons.
Lesson #8: Communicating “the why” behind the learning
Try teaching a kindergartner, who doesn’t see any purpose for learning letters and sounds, how to read. It doesn’t work. Instead, I’ve learned I have to teach kids why they’re learning the material, how it’s going to help them as a person, and how working through the process of learning makes them a stronger person. While “the why” behind the learning has always been a key concept in my high school classroom, homeschooling has reminded me of its deep significance in gaining “buy-in” from students to engage in their own education.
In the end, I’ve realized I’m not cut out for homeschooling and I have more appreciation than ever for my own children’s teachers, as well as teachers of all grades. I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned through working with my own children, as a parent and a teacher, and I look forward to applying them to virtual teaching and to “real” school post-pandemic. While I’m missing the opportunity to work with my graduating seniors for their last three months of high school, I know these lessons will benefit incoming classes for years to come.
Finally, here’s an article from Lifehack where they summarize the 10 benefits to homeschooling:
1. Homeschoolers do better on tests
One study of 20,000 homeschooled children revealed that they definitely scored better at tests. This was particularly evident in those children who had been homeschooled right through to high school level. In another study, the homeschoolers in the SAT test were scoring around 67 points more than the national average.
2. They have more emotional freedom
Being educated at home removes a lot of the stress of the normal classroom. There is no need to try to ‘fit in’ and give into peer pressure. There are no cases of bullying, drugs, being ostracized and all the other social pressures. In the book A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls by Susannah Sheffer, the author has found that teenage homeschooled girls had no loss of self esteem and become happier and more emotionally mature adults.
3. There is no homework
Because the children are more directly involved in the learning process, there is little or no homework to be done. Parents never have to struggle to help with impossible and lengthy homework.
4. They are not socially isolated
There has been much criticism of the fact that the homeschoolers do not get to learn social skills. This is only partly true because there will be lots of opportunities for them to do extra activities with other kids. They will more than likely have plenty of friends when they do their swimming, gymnastics and piano lessons, for example. It is up to the parents not to isolate their children.
5. Flexible schedules make life easier for the whole family
No rushing out of the house in the morning and having to meet all sorts of schedules, not to mention meetings and other commitments. The parent can decide the length of lessons and also decide when to take holidays. Many homeschooled children can enjoy educational breaks with their parents at off seasons during the year. There are loads of opportunities for field trips, museum visits and parks. This can tie in perfectly with what they are learning at home at the time.
6. They can learn at their own pace and make faster progress
John Taylor Gatto, the controversial author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, has criticized the public school system. He says that homeschooling avoids confusion in learning as the kids get one-on-one tutoring. The homeschoolers learn autonomy in learning and are not so emotionally and intellectually dependent as the public school kids.
7. Their special needs are catered for
If a child has special needs, they may be labeled and treated inadequately in the school system. This could well be a hindrance and is often a social stigma. ADHD children have to suffer all sorts of prejudice and obstacles. If the child is homeschooled sensitively, his special needs are never forgotten and s/he is always the number one priority.
8. There is plenty of time for “premium” parenting
I usually refer to homeschooling as “premium” parenting because the parent is intimately involved in the learning process. This rarely happens with public school kids. At most, they get grudging help from parents with homework, but it will never be the same quality the homeschooler gets. The parent as the teacher knows the subject well and can share fully in the joy and excitement of learning.
9. Homeschoolers may become happier and more productive adults
Research into how homeschoolers turn out as adults was conducted by Dr. Ray in 2003. He found that 5,000 out of a group of 7,300 adults had been homeschooled for more than 7 years. They were much more active in community and social life than their public school counterparts. A much higher number also went on to higher education and they also scored higher on the happiness scale. In 1999, Stanford University accepted twice as many homeschoolers compared to publicly and privately educated students.
10. They may be more independent
When the homeschoolers were questioned at college, they reported that they were much more independent in their approach to life and learning. They had never felt the need to follow the crowd, and this served them well. In regard to having to solve learning problems, they were much more independent in seeking out the answers themselves.
If you come across other reasons (Pro or Con) Homeschool vs. Public School drop us a note and we’ll update the article.