Friday, August 12, 2011


The Home Education Option
by The Husband

    A parent is a child's first teacher. We often think of teaching beginning when children start kindergarten, but by the time children are five years old, these small people have already gathered a wealth of information. Susan Wise Bauer states, "Teaching – preparing the child for the twelve formal years of classical education – begins at birth" (Bauer 26). But even after parents spend five years building a foundation, most do not consider homeschooling a viable option for their children's formal education. Home education is chosen in place of the traditional classroom setting for a variety of reasons, and, with proponents of each side, academic success is of primary importance. However, only one of these options affords parents the opportunity to incorporate real-life learning with school, broaden peer groups, and create custom academic plans.

Children gain wisdom from experiencing everyday life in conjunction with their academic education. Common processes as simple as renewing the tags on Mom's car, grocery shopping, and home repairs help to mold the young adults we are training. In rural America, children are often picked up by the school bus at 6:30 a.m. and are not returned home until 4:30 p.m. They have missed out on the majority of the day's events in the household. They have time to eat, complete homework, and possibly play for a short while before bedtime. Home educators use events such as remodeling as opportunities for children to learn how things happen outside of the classroom. Because they save hours a day not riding buses, waiting in lines, and switching classrooms, they have more time for life learning alongside academic work. Specialized electives can be explored in the context of family life. Woodworking class might be repairing the Martin box. An electrical class can begin when a ceiling fan is replaced. Vacations can incorporate history and science. Hence, interest is sparked in coursework by applying it to everyday life.

Young children are like sponges soaking up information including moral values and mannerisms. They then imitate many of the actions they observe. Educating children at home gives parents the opportunity to instill strong moral values unhindered by peer pressure in the classroom. Also, there may be extended family and siblings close by to reinforce these values. Church, 4-H, Scouts, and sports can be added to this list of examples to further enlarge children's peer groups. Peers greatly influence how children interact to fit in. If their group is limited to children of the same age in the same classroom, this very small scope of society is not preparing them to perform in a large, diverse adult society. Home education exposes children to the benefits of interacting with a broad range of peers while simultaneously maintaining a close relationship with parents who have the most at stake in their children's outcome.

    Finally, home education allows parents to tailor children's educations to fit their individual needs. The advanced children who would be bored in a classroom can excel at home. The children who are more challenged by academics and might be lost in a classroom setting can benefit from one-on-one attention that keeps them from falling behind. Homeschooling as a better academic option is not a new idea. In 1876, Robert L. Dabney went so far as, "The home education has so much more potential than that of the school that the little modicum of training which a common school system can give to the average masses is utterly trivial and impotent" (Dabney 197). Curriculum varieties at home may include a rigorous or relaxed approach, online coursework, and homeschool cooperatives. Nothing hinders parents from teaching Latin, Logic, or in-depth Civil War history to their fifth grader even if it is not common in most school scenarios.

    The traditional classroom setting is sufficient in teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic and has the advantage of certified teachers. But according to research by Brian D. Ray, Ph. D., the home educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education (Ray). Home educated children have the advantage of everyday life learning, broader peer groups, and customized academic opportunities preparing them for their future in the workforce. But most of all, home educated children have the advantage of teachers who have a vested interest in the success of their students.

Works Cited

Bauer, Susan Wise, and Jessie Wise. The Well-Trained Mind, a Guide to Classical Education at     Home. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2009. Print.

Dabney, Robert L. Discussions, Volume 4. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 1876. Print.

Ray, Brian D., Ph. D. "Research Facts on Homeschooling," National Home Education Research     Institute. N.p., 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 9 Aug. 2011.

No comments: