Homeschooling families are on the rise in the United States and across the globe. In the United States alone the number of homeschooled children more than doubled in just over 10 years. Today, homeschooled children represent 3.4 percent of the population. Families are recognizing the many advantages from increased learning, flexibility, improved social-emotional health, and more.
Homeschooling has the same benefits of traditional schooling: friendships, quality academics, extra curricula’s, online learning, but it comes without some drawbacks you might find in traditional schools such as bullying or rigorous evaluations. Here are some reasons why I believe that homeschooling can provide the right conditions for optimal learning and development:
- Recent research shows that homeschooling provides an excellent education. For example, results from “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Research on Selected Aspects of Homeschooling as a School Choice” by Brian D. Ray (2017) published in the Journal of School Choice showed a statistically significant positive correlation with home education and achievement. Of the 14 peer-reviewed studies analyzed, 78% of the them showed a positive correlation with achievement for the homeschool students. More specifically, Ray, B. (2017) found that homeschool students perform 15-30% percentile points higher on standardized tests, they score above average on SAT/ACT, and they graduate college at higher rates than their non-homeschooled peers. The conclusion here is that homeschooling can serve as a fantastic way to educate your children so that they can lead a happy, successful, and fulfilling life.
- Providing your children with the opportunity to take control of their learning more readily can build their autonomy and resilience. Self-directed learning provides children the opportunity to more readily explore and expand their skills set in something that they are truly interested in and passionate about. It allows for them to more freely explore their natural inclinations and curiosities. In turn, your child will be more likely to figure out what they need, or don’t need to learn best. Neurologist’s Todd Gureckis and Douglas Markant recently found that self-directed learning has positive correlations with cognitive processes such as memory and attention. In self-directed learning individuals can better encode and retain information over time. In addition, as children explore their own interest they develop a strong sense of identity which is critical to building confidence and self-esteem.
- Increased opportunities for experiential learning which is learning from experience. How do we know that we have learned something new? Neuroscientist’s have this figured out. They have unlocked the secrets to how we learn. When we learn something new the neurons in our brain re-wire into new patterns. In other words, to re-wire is to learn. The cells in your brain can actually change shape and the pathways of communication throughout the nerves in your brain strengthen. Your brain is plastic, this is called neuroplasticity. Your brain can change based on how it is used, or not used. How do we get neurons to fire and re-wire into new patterns? It is through experience, an active form of doing, rather than a passive form on receiving. But it is not just any experience, it is an experience that is real or authentic, relevant and meaningful to the learner. Allowing the world to be a child’s classroom exposing them to real world scenarios which brings project based learning and place based learning to the forefront each day.
- A customized curriculum that is tailored to the specific needs of your child. Unlike in a traditional school setting where the curriculum is chosen for you, in a homeschool setting you and your child can choose the curriculum that best meets their specific needs, learning styles, and preferences.
- A personalized learning environment. A learning environment is the platform in in which we engage with one another and our surroundings to acquire new knowledge and skills. This environment can help or hinder growth, productivity, and transformation. A supportive, safe, and positive environment can help children thrive. At home, we have the ability to create the best conditions possible. If your child needs a quiet spot to read and concentrate you may be able to provide that more easily than in a traditional school setting.
- Children can reach goals more efficiently and effectively than in a traditional school. Little time is wasted on transitions, behavior management, waiting for others in your class, etc. The amount of time spent on school work truly depends on your values, the curriculum, and approach to homeschooling. Regardless of the approach you chose, the environment can prove less distracting overall which can allow your children to operate with increased concentration, attention, and focus.
- You will have the opportunity to create a more consistent and progressive educational experience because you and your child will know more clearly what they have learned and not learned. The process of evaluation and feedback to identify gap or areas in need of improvement will be more personal and efficient.
- A unique and diverse college transcript that may be a less stressful process since your child can focus on what is most important and meaningful. You will have opportunities to enroll in a wide range of interest based classes including college level classes. In addition, colleges are often attracted to homeschooling students since they bring unique and diverse experiences.
- Less pressure from ongoing evaluation and testing. It is hard to think more critically, problem solve, be creative and inventive when you know that you are going to be tested. It is also hard to feel intrinsically motivated to learn, change, grow, overcome challenges, when so much weight is placed on evaluation and expectation.
Social – Emotional Benefits
- The opportunity to spend more time with your children to build and improve relationships.
- The ability to engage in a lifestyle and model core values, beliefs, and a worldview that is meaningful to your family.
- Devising a routine or rhythm for the day that best meets the needs of your child so that they are appropriately challenged yet not feeling lost or overwhelmed.
- Flexibility of your family’s schedule permitting you to live in freedom and harmony finding a rhythm that works for everyone. Does your family likes to travel? You do not have to bound by the school calendar. Would you like to stay up late one night star gazing with your new telescope? Sure because tomorrow you can just sleep in!
- Increased opportunities to engage in social interactions with peers and adults. Research shows that there are no significant differences in social development between homeschoolers and those in conventional schooling experiences. Since homeschoolers are engaged in real-world community based experiences socializing with people of varying ages and backgrounds, they are shown to be more prepared for real life than those kids who spent most of their childhood in a traditional school environment.
- You can provide a safer learning environment that is free of experiences that may be inappropriate or dangerous including physical violence, drugs, alcohol, racism, or improper sexuality that may be found in traditional schooling. In addition you will find fewer negative peer influences and bullying incidents.
- Opportunity to develop greater confidence and sense of self-worth and esteem by engaging on a regular basis with community members of all different ages. When children have opportunities to display their skills in a wide range of contexts with a variety of different people, not just their peers, they grow in their self-confidence. You will also have more opportunities for your child to try new things as they engage in real world experiences such as visiting the library, museums, traveling, camps, classes, co-ops, and more. Trying new things will help them feel even more confident and capable than they already are.
- Cross cultural interactions that are more in depth and varied than those that can be experienced through traditional schooling. For example, they might participate in community groups through local charities, churches, libraries, clubs, volunteering opportunities, etc.