Why in the world would someone homeschool their child? Many teachers and society in general are against the concept. How could a parent do as well as a trained professional?
The National Center for Education Statistics cited an increase in the number of children homeschooled. It rose from 850,000 in 1999 to 1.5 million in 2007 in the United States. The reason for homeschooling may vary between families, but the National Center for Education Statistics reported that these reasons were important for those homeschooling:
Religious or moral instruction – important for 83%
Concern about school environment – important for 88%
Dissatisfaction with academic instruction at school – important for 73%
Unique family situation – important for 32%
Desire for a nontraditional approach to school – important for 65%
Child has special needs – important for 21%
Child has physical or mental health problem – important for 11%
But when asked the most important reason homeschooling families responded:
Religious or moral instruction – most important for 36%
Concern about school environment – most important for 21%
Dissatisfaction with academic instruction at school – most important for 17%
Unique family situation – most important for 14%
Desire for a nontraditional approach to school – most important for 7%
Child has special needs – most important for 4%
Child has physical or mental health problem – most important for 2%
You can see the full report here.
From these results we can see that although religious instruction is important for most homeschoolers, it is only the most important reason in 36% of families. I cite “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at school” as my main reason. While many of the other reasons are important, I do believe that no school can give my child a personalized education. Time is wasted so much in a classroom setting. Children of a particular age are grouped into a classroom setting. In general, the whole class is focused on learning on concept. What happens if a child already knows the concept? Some more difficult busy work may be given to the child who has already mastered a concept or the child may just bid his time until the teacher is done. I remember one particular teacher I had. She was a wonderful teacher. She explained concepts beautifully so within five minutes I was ready to move on and complete the assignment. However, I had to wait until she was finished explaining the concept to the entire class which could leave me sitting for forty minutes waiting for my assignment. Hearing an additional forty minutes of explanation wasn’t harmful, but for me it was wasteful. When you homeschool you can spend as little or as much time you want explaining a concept. When your child gets it you can move on. A classroom teacher has to focus on the needs of the class as a whole.
Homeschooling parents know their child much more than a classroom teacher would know the child. Homeschooling parents know what their child knows. I don’t have to spend my time teaching my child something he already knows. I can take that time and spend it teaching him something new.
A classroom education also wastes time with things like lining up to go to the lunchroom or packing up a backpack to go home. A homeschooling parent doesn’t have that wasted time. Sometimes my boys want me to read a school book to them while they are eating lunch. So homeschooling families often have shorter school days than the public school counterparts. Some younger elementary students can complete the required courses in two hours.
Since my focus on homeschooling is to provide a better education than public schools I keep our schedule the same as public school hours. By doing so my kids are in school the same number of hours that public school kids enjoy. By eliminating all that wasted time I am able to add subjects and expand on others. I can also approach instruction at my child’s skill level. So my child might be doing math in grade 2 and reading in grade 4. If you read this blog at all you will see that we not only spend time on the typical subjects, but we are learning four languages, learning in depth about different countries and time periods, as well as religious instruction with a mission focus. Too much? Some may think so, but it is just using time more effectively. Public school students still spend more time than us though since homework does not exist in our house. The only schoolwork done outside of school hours in our house is schoolwork that my kids choose to do on their own.
So can I give my kids a better education than a trained education professional? Yes. I may not be able to explain a complex math project like a mathematician, but I can find a curriculum or get my child to someone who could explain. The options of homeschooling parents are endless. Have you checked out the lasted Rainbow Resource catalog? They have a massive phone book sized catalog describing what is available and there are so many more resources not found there. There are live classes, local classes, computer programs, books, videos, step by step instructional guides, and so much more. A classroom teacher is limited to what the district allows. A homeschooling parent is limited by her imagination. Tell me now, which education is better?