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Home Is Where The School Is

The New York Times today has a good article on the trend towards home schooling. The number of children being taught at home has more than doubled in past ten years, now numbering at least 850,000, but still a small part of the total number of K12 students in the US. The reasons why people make this choice for their children’s education is varied but largely boil down to the parent’s disatisfaction with the local schools – poor learning environment, no religious training or the belief they can do a better job.

Before I rant any further on this topic (and risk another email flame :-), I need to make the point that I have no problem with a family making this choice for their kids. My sister home schools her three children and seems to be doing a good job. They are all elementary age, however, and I disagree with parents who continue to home school their high school-age kids. Not because I think American high schools are uniformly great but because most parents aren’t equipped to teach many high school topics. But it’s still their choice as long as they fully understand the positives and negatives.

Many home school advocates also claim that students do better in that environment than they would at a public school and I believe them. However, look at the demographics of the families making this choice (primarily white, two-parent, one-income according to this article). But there’s also the fact that children from almost any home with parents who actively participate in their education do much better than those who don’t – no matter where they go to school. If we could just persuade all parents to get involved with their kid’s schools (and get schools to uniformly welcome such involvement), the quality of education in this country would improve tremendously almost overnight.

1 Comment

  1. bob

    You are correct that all races do well at homeschooling. And it is indeed because the parents are involved. But it is also because parents focus on what the students need. A one on one relationship in schools would be great. 1 on to is good too. One on 3, etc, etc. When does the relationship degrade?

    A great quote I read…When schools become institutions, they will have institutional problems. That is why parents move to homeschooling. They want what they want. Regardless of their reasons, they want what they want and the schools can not provide that.

    The biggest barrier is the pacing schools must use. With four 9 week quarters pacing is very important. Homeschoolers slow down when the material gives students problems. Parents speed up when the material is learned easily. Homeschoolers can take 15 weeks on bisecting angles if needed, while only taking 3 weeks on conjugating verbs. Parents dont have the time line driving learning.

    Take this class for example. If you grade everyone after class next week you will have one set of grades. Check us out in 10 weeks and see who knows their stuff. Some will have forgotten it and others will have learned it all and more to bott!

    I dont understand the difference between public school and private school…it seems like same thing, different place. Homeschool changes all the rules. Who wouldn’t want to play in a game where you control the rules.

    In the end, the only thing that matters is what the kids learn!

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