Family, food, homes, health, friends - without a doubt these blessings are the core of many people's reasons to be thankful during this Thanksgiving season. However, homeschoolers have some unique motivations for gratitude that are easy to overlook. Take some time this season to reflect on the things you appreciate about homeschooling, and the blessings that homeschooling brings to yourself, your children, and your family.
- Homeschooling produces academically superior children. Without a doubt, homeschoolers know their stuff! Research has shown the national average for homeschoolers to be in the 84th percentile for Language, Math, and Social Studies, and 89th percentile for Reading. The national average for public school students is in the 50th percentile for those subjects[i].
- Homeschooling allows parents to disseminate their values to their children, since they are the ones around whom children spend the most time. Parental influence has been shown to be stronger than peer influence for homeschooled children[ii]. Moreover, those who are home educated are more likely than those who are not to adopt the values of their parents; one study showed that 94% of homeschoolers keep the faith of their parents, as compared to 15-25% of public school children[iii].
- Homeschooling allows parents to individualize education to each child in order to maximize their success. There's no "teaching to the middle" – every lesson can be tailor made for each child's strengths, learning style, and interest. Rather than fitting the child into the curriculum, the curriculum can be chosen to fit the child. Click here to read more about using learning styles in the home school.
- Homeschooling allows parents to spend quality time with their children. Homeschoolers get to spend one-on-one time with kids each day, and enjoy plenty of positive interactions during focused teaching time. Some of the less enjoyable activities of parenting such as getting children fed, disciplining children, or accomplishing household chores are balanced by the enjoyable aspects of engaging with kids in their learning, and encouraging their progress.
- Homeschooling allows parents to have more control over their children's safety. According to the National Center for Education Statistics[iv], 85% of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes occurred during the 2007-2008 school year. That same year, there were 43 school-associated violent deaths in public schools in the U.S. Homeschooled children spend a much greater amount of time at home than non-homeschooled children, thereby reducing their exposure to public school violence.
- Homeschooling provides more time for children to engage in worthwhile activities. Because academics can be accomplished in much less time than public school, children have extra time to spend with parents, become involved in extra-curricular activities, and engage in family time. For example, a study by Dr. Brian Ray found that 71% of homeschool graduates were participating in community service such as volunteering or coaching, as compared with 37% of similarly aged U.S. adults[v].
- Homeschooling helps children to get real world socialization. Instead of learning how to socialize only with same-age peers in an environment (the public school classroom) that does not mirror socialization in the real world, homeschoolers have the opportunity to be socialized around adults of all different ages, backgrounds, races, and types. Research by Deani Van Pelt of homeschoolers in Canada revealed that students educated at home were involved in an average of 8 activities outside the home[vi]. Likewise, a study by Dr. Larry Shyer demonstrated that homeschooled children had significantly fewer behavior problems than their public school peers, when playing with other children who had been educated via both methods[vii].
- Homeschooling is flexible, so that life can revolve around the family rather than around a school schedule. Families can choose to school through the summer and take time off some other time in the year when travel rates are lower. Children can school in the morning or late at night to work around Dad's work schedule. Academics can be taken on the road, or to the park, or anywhere else the family chooses to go.
- Homeschooling allows parents to experience the joy of watching their child learn. Instead of finding out what their child has learned second-hand, homeschoolers get to drink in every minute of their child's education. Homeschoolers get to revel in the spark of excitement at a new concept learned, and bask in the satisfaction of a new competency gained. They get the opportunity to intimately know their child's personality, interests, strengths, and weaknesses, to cherish the totality of whom their child is.
- Homeschooling parents get to learn new things along with their children. No matter how educated the parent, every home educator will learn something he or she did not know throughout the process of homeschooling. It can be exciting to not only teach, but to become a student again as you are exposed to new facts, ideas, and concepts as a byproduct of helping your child gain an education!
Rebecca Capuano is a regular contributor to TheHomeSchoolMom Blog. She is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her two children. Rebecca earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She has also served as copy writer for HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia).
[i] Home School Legal Defense Association (2004). Academic Statistics on Homeschooling. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp
[ii] Klicka, C. (2007). Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000068.asp
[iii] Home School Legal Defense Association (2003). Homeschooling Grows Up. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/Conclusion.asp
[iv] National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Facts. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=49
[v] Ray, Brian (2003). Home Educated and Now Adults. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.nheri.org/Home-Educated-and-Now-Adults.html
[vi] Faris, P. D. (2006). Home Education in Canada: National Poll of Homeschooling Families Shows Startling Results. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:WHoVV4TuN3wJ:www.imfcanada.org/article_files/Home_Education.pdf+Van+Pelt+2003+home+education+in+canada&hl=en&gl=us
[vii] Bunday, K. M. Socialization: A Great Reason Not to Go to School. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html