Essay, Research Paper: Home And School Education


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What do George Washington, Thomas Edison and Theodore Roosevelt have in common
besides fame? None of them joined school formally (Winger and Kantrowitz 6). In
recent years, many have followed their example and started learning at home in
the United States. The number of home schooled children has greatly increased
over the past decade. Many have argued against home schooling while many others
see no negative outcomes involved. Although homeschooling has no major benefits
over public schooling, evidence shows that parents can help children achieve a
level of education similar to other school students and that homeschooled
children do not lack in social skills. Home schooling was previously favored by
religious people who wanted their children to conform to their own values and
beliefs, which they believed could be altered in a public school (Wingert and
Kantrowitz 1). Home schooling was made legal in 1993 in the United States (Wingert
and Kantrowitz 1). Some states have minimum qualifications for parents and
provide supervision from the government. Today, 1.5 million, almost 1 percent of
the total population of students are learning in their own homes (Lyman,
"Not home alone" 3). Now home schooling and home schooled children are
more acceptable by the public than in earlier years. One of the oppposing
arguments states that parents do not have the knowledge required by an educator
to take responsibility of teaching, therefore the children would be poorly
educated in comparison to other students (Wingert and Kantrowitz 2). However,
this is not so. Parents are not alone, as there are many facilities available
today to help them. To begin with, home schooling parents form groups in their
community to help each other out. They take turns teaching small groups of
children. For instance, where one parent might be good at teaching math, the
other might be better at language (Wagner 5). In addition to the help they get
from each other, there are many tools and services available that enhance and
enrich children’s learning experience. For example, various on-line services
are available on the world wide web, which include interactive classes and
virtual libraries. Also, educational CD-ROMS, workbooks, and magazines are good
sources that provide the parent with information on new educational tools (Wingert
and Kantrowitz 3). Furthermore, support can be found at public schools (Hawkins
1). In Des Moines, Iowa, a program was developed that allowed home schoolers to
use school computers, books and teacher’s guides, and provided biweekly
supervision from a teacher that records the child’s progress and offers
advice. Parents and their children are also allowed to participate in extra
curricular and group activities, as well as field trips (Wagner 2). Similarly,
in Oregon, home schooled students are allowed to take different classes of their
choice at different schools (Wingert and Kantrowitz 3). Although these
advantages are not available in every state, parents who chose to take education
into their own hands will work to hard to use what is available, regardless of
their own educational degrees. This is illustrated well in a recent report from
the Departement of Education (DOE), which states that "student achievement
in a home school has little to do with the level of education of the
is consistent with tutoring studies that indicate the education level of a tutor
has little to do with achievement of a tutored child." (qtd. in Wagner 4).
Several studies have been conducted that show that homeschooled students are
reaching close and sometimes higher achievement to their peers, proving that
parents are doing their job well. One example is a study that showed home
schoolers performed better than 79 percent of other students on reading on the
Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (Hawkins 3). Also, home schooled children score above
the 60th percentile in math, science, and verbal skills on the Stanford
Achievement Test when compared to the average of other students (Latham 2).
Another study in Washington found SAT scores of home schooled children to be
higher than average (Lyman, "What's behind" 9). In more than 65 other
studies, the results show that home schooled children perform better or average
in comparison to traditionaly schooled children (Hawkins 2). All this scientific
research is genuine evidence that verifies that parents can teach and help their
children achieve high educational levels. Another major argument against home
schooling is that confinement to a home environment where children have little
or no contact with their peers will deprive them of social skills necessary in
their development (Wingert and Kantrowitz 2). However, there are many ways
homeschooled children can get involved in social activities. For example, home
schooled children that join support groups engage in sports matches, field
trips, scouting trips, church or part-time employment (Lyman, "What's
behind" 7). Also, those who take classes and join extrra circular
activities in public schools and other learning centres interact with peers (Wingert
and Kantrowitz 3). Even if some children do not have contact with people of the
same age because of the small size of a suport group, they are still gaining a
lot of social skills. For example, the oldest learns leadership when speaking to
or guiding younger children. The youngest learns to respect elders. This offers
the same or even more self-esteem and social understanding than a traditional
school environment would provide (Wagner 2). Scientific research also supports
the fact that homeschooled children are not socially deprived. One study at the
University of Florida was conducted in which eight to ten year old children,
some of them home schooled, were taped on video while playing. Professional
counselors, who were unaware of which children were home schooled, watched the
video and found no difference between the home schooled children and the others.
Social development tests showed that the children rated closely in self-concept
and assertion (Lyman, "What's behind" 7). Another test showed that
home schooled children scored higher on self-concept than public school students
(Latham 1). To study long term effects of home schooling on socialization, a
different study was conducted with 53 adults of the first generation of home
schoolers. The researcher, Gary J. Knowles of the University of Michigan, states
that he has “found no evidence that these adults were even moderately
disadvantaged...Two-thirds of them were married, the norm for adults their age,
and none were unemployed or any on any form of welfare assistance. More than
three-quarters felt that being taught at home had actually helped them to
interact with people from different levels of society." (Lyman,
"What's behind" 9). The studies and research so far shows that home
schooling is not disadvantageous in comparison to normal schooling. I believe
that there is still no strong evidence that verifies that home schooling is more
beneficial to children than public schooling. Perhaps the new generation of
homeschoolers will reveal that this is not so, but that remains to be found. In
the meantime, as long as parents have the time and patience, can provide their
children with social exposure, and have access to educational tools, there is no
reason why they cannot home school their children. However, this is where the
government comes in. If home schooling is legalized, then there should be
services and schools to support home schoolers. Parents can teach their children
efficiently, it they have other homeschoolers to help them and if services are
available. Research on test scores proves that parents are succeeding. Support
groups, public schools and other services help children acquire social skills,
and research again confirms that they do not lack in social skills. Home
schooling rates closely to public schooling in the overall educational and
social experience of the child. And yet it is still quite a surprise that a
parent can raise a child to be president. Perhaps it is the opportunity home
schooling gives youngsters to follow their interests, beliefs, and dreams that
may be pulled away in school years before they are even discovered. Or perhaps
it is the bond created between the mother when for the first time she watches
her child write his name. Whatever the case may be, things would have probably
been really different if Washington, Roosevelt, and Edison were watched over by
the high school principal, instead of their parents.
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