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Pros and Cons of Homeschooling


Today, a friend told me of a sixty-year-old public school teacher who is undergoing gamma-ray treatments for cancer.  He has about one month to live.  What would you do with your last thirty days?  This man responded, "I can die at home, or I can die doing what I love."  He plans to teach until his last day.  What love and dedication to the teaching profession and to his students!

Please let me clearly state that I've known some remarkable teachers.  This article is not to cast doubt upon the skill, love, ideologies, or motives of all teachers.  Generally, teachers on the elementary and secondary levels (i.e., K-12) provide this critical service subsisting on modest salaries while tolerating increasingly belligerent minors.

Educating our children is one of the most important responsibilities.  Not only does their financial viability depend upon their readiness, but our nation needs highly educated citizens for every generation.  The education of our labor force largely determines our ability to compete in a global environment.  So, are we succeeding?

I am the byproduct of government schools with the exception of two or three years of private school during my early years.  Many of my teachers demonstrated spectacular skill and deserve my humble and sustained gratitude.

However, my overall experience with the public educational system leaves me thoroughly convinced of it deficiencies.  Overall, I give government schools a D or an F on their report card.  Why so low?  I am comparing the Department of Education to what God teaches us about educational goals and methods.  (For more, please listen to The Foundation of All Learning.)  Although there are some successful programs within and genuine achievements from government schools, they are failing in the most critical areas.

Homeschooling was virtually unheard of prior to 1980.  Now there are homeschool support groups all over the country.  "In the spring of 2003, an estimated 1,096,000 students were being homeschooled in the U.S.  This represents a 29 percent increase from the estimated 850,000 students who were being homeschooled in the spring of 1999" (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], National Household Education Surveys Program, Homeschooling in the United States: 2003).  Today the number is much higher.  Reasonable estimates range from 1.5 to 2.5 million homeschoolers in America.  New government stats will be released this year.

Homeschooling's popularity is growing at a rapid rate.  "From 1999 to 2003, the number of homeschooled students in the United States increased, as did the homeschooling rate.  The increase in the homeschooling rate (from 1.7 percent to 2.2 percent) represents about 0.5 percent of the 2002–03 school-age population and a 29 percent relative increase over the 4-year period" (NCES, NHES). There are many advantages that propel this fast growth.

The advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling listed below will juxtapose homeschooling to public schools.  In summary, I've meet scores of homeschooling parents and children across our great country.  The benefits of homeschooling are astounding and some advantages garner eternal rewards for both parents and children.

Benefits of Homeschooling

These benefits are not universal enjoyed by all homeschoolers just as the failures of government schools are not experienced by all.  We are observing trends. 

  1. Flexible schedule.  

  2. Flexible teaching methods for differing learning styles.  

  3. More time with your children for bonding with you.  

  4. Staying in tune with what your children are learning.  

  5. Opportunity to disciple your children with greater depth, with more time, and integrated into all subjects.  

  6. Your children can strengthen their relationships among themselves.  

  7. Your children learn self-reliance at a younger age.  

  8. More efficient learning experience.  

  9. Reduced exposure to physical harm.  In the seventh grade, I witnessed one kid use a knife to slice the stomach of another in a hallway brawl.  In high school, I watched one guy repeatedly cram another guy's head into a locker to the point of cutting his ears.  One girl gave birth in a restroom another was found giving sexual favors to boys in a restroom.  Our principal was fired and arrested for, I think, fraud after I graduated.

  10.  Reduced exposure to corrupt ideologies.  

  11.  Reduced exposure to evil temptations.  Peer pressure is usually the introduction of profanity, cigarettes, underage drinking, drugs, vandalism, sexual experimentation, etc.  Moms and dads are not usually the ones promoting this behavior.  Eliminate the 
    evil influence.  The source of carnal temptations is now coming from teachers as we have seen with unprecedented volumes of reports of both male and female teachers having sex with students.

  12.  Improved socialization.  Are the public schools providing healthy socialization?  No.  The environment breeds a dog-eat-dog mentality.  A school yard fight may be common in schools, but is not tolerated and is, therefore, infrequent in most adult settings.  Our goal is to train that bad behavior out of children.  However, public schools often introduces children to the bullying while college and the workplace usually give relief.  Why ever expose your children to this at all?  It teaches children to relate to their peers, but not to people across the demographic lines.

  13.  Less pressure to fit society's definition of coolness.  

  14.  Opportunity for a better education.  

  15. Higher future income for your children.  "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him" (Pr. 28:22).  I am not appealing to hasty greed.  It is your duty as a parent to equip their your children to generate a future income in the years to come.  It is preferable to prepare your children for high earnings.  There is a correlation between our educational level and our income.  This likely caused by other root components, such as self-discipline, determination, etc., combined with a broader knowledge base.  "As of September 2007, the annualized median income for adults (25 years and over) varied considerably by education level.  Men with a high school diploma earned $36,244, compared with $65,000 for men with a college degree" (U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education Fiscal Year 2007 Performance and Accountability Report Highlights, Washington D.C., 2007, p. 37).  Homeschoolers, on average, test higher than publicly educated kids.  Furthermore, children who are educated by their parents often get an abundance of character training which is one of the most desirable attributes sought by employers and clients.  Consider this lower level of unemployment of those with a higher education.Unemployment Rate by Educational Level - Lower for Better Educated Homeschoolers

  16. Girls remain attached to the home.  The historical Christian view of gender roles has been under such fierce and effective attacks that when many Christians read this benefit, they may roll their eyes in distain.  Yet, confusion about divinely ordered gender roles is one of the greatest causes for the collapse of the American family.  Virtually every person who reads this page has been affected directly or indirectly by divorce.  Please permit me to define the correlation.  The public educational program for young ladies is indistinguishable from the program for young men.  Today, public and private educations prepare both boys and girls to be Adam's, that is, to be providers.  As a Christian, I unashamedly hold that men are to be the providers for and defenders of the family.  The role of men requires that they, more often than not, leave the home to earn their income.  Wives are to be the managers of the home (or, homemakers).  The Apostle Paul instructed Titus to have the older Christian women to be " teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be ... keepers at home" (Tit. 2:3-5).  Along the same lines, Paul wrote Timothy saying, " I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Ti. 5:14).  When young ladies become acclimated to engaging the world as a laborer outside the home and continue their preparations at a distant college, most of them will fully adopt the career mentality suited for men.  The Proverbs 31 woman engaged in commerce outside the home; therefore, we do not wish to have daughters who are incapable or fearful of interacting with others or who are incapable of generating profit.  However, most Christian parents have turned their daughters over to an educational system that slowly transforms their Christian daughters into a full career mentality designed for men.  To put this in football terms, our society has attempted to put both parents on offense (i.e., income producers) and left no one on defense (i.e., homekeepers).  Although both girls and boys need to learn math, science, history, etc., they need to learn these subjects for different reasons.  Boys should be groomed for providing and protecting the family; girls should be prepared for nurturing and educating the next generation.  The end result is that the next generation are trained to be mighty in contrast to the public educational system which is training children largely devoid of character and confused about the healthy composition of the family by God's design.

  17. Less disease in the family.  Schools act as a greenhouse of communicable diseases.  "Nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold alone" (CDC, 1996).  The common cold is only the beginning.  Infectious diseases your child is more likely to get if attending public schools are head lice, the flu, pink eye, mumps, mononucleosis, measles, chicken pox, herpes simplex, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, and many more.  Some of these contagious diseases are spread by a simple cough while others require the intermixture of body fluids.  Despite all the immunizations efforts, pathogens spread like rumors in our public schools.  Many parents cannot leave a sick child home alone and cannot take off work.  So, little Johnny is sent off to school with his runny nose to share his plight with other kids.  Students threatened with academic penalty will attend class knowing they may transmit their airborne afflictions.  What's the result?  Publicly educated children bring the infection home to share the misery with the rest of the family.  You pay for the doctor visits and prescriptions.


Challenges of Homeschooling

As I speak of possible disadvantages to homeschooling, I will attempt to give solutions to the problems.  Some of the supposed harms of homeschooling are built upon isolated cases or uninformed speculations. 

  1. Questions about the legality of home-educating.  No fear!  The Department of Education states, "Parents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have the option to home school their children" (Department of Education, NCES).  Educational regulations differ from one state to the next.  Homeschooling organizations all across this country can help familiarize you with your state laws.  The most prominent legal organization protecting and promoting homeschoolers' rights is Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

  2. Limited access to sports.  Yet, taxpayers have access to school sports in some districts.  Tim Tebow, a homeschooling alumnus, won the Heisman Trophy in 2007.  He participated in public sports in accordance with Florida law which allows home-educated children to participate in sports and extracurricular activities.

  3. Loneliness.  Yet, this would not be true for parents and sibling who interact in a healthy way.  Furthermore, Christians are commanded to build fellowship we one another.

  4. Exhaustion for the mother.  Yet, many moms teach children enough self-teaching skills that the children need less help as they grow older.

  5. Weaknesses in the education received.  Yet, on average, home educated children have superior education.  The home-educated children of an average mom test higher than the students of a certified teacher.

  6. Not all parents are qualified to be teachers.  Granted, not all parents are qualified to be teachers just as not all parents are qualified to have custody of their children.  There are grounds that can disqualify a parent of all parental rights, e.g., molesting your own children.  However, the exceptions should not direct the norm.  Although "[m]ore than 60 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 25 and 64 has no postsecondary education," teachers are required to have certification (U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education Fiscal Year 2007 Performance and Accountability Report Highlights, Washington D.C., 2007, p. 17).  So, people doubt that the average parent is capable of providing a quality education to their children.  Some parents are not literate or have known weaknesses in certain areas of study.  Thankfully, homeschooling parents can join forces with other home-educating moms and dads who are strong in specialized areas.  These relationships are gained through friendships and formal co-ops.  Distance learning also allows parents to connect their children to specialists.  "New data on homeschoolers’ use of distance learning showed that 41 percent of homeschoolers had engaged in some form of distance learning..." (Education Department, NCES, 2003 Survey).

  7. Untrained defenses.  Yet, exposing ourselves to evil is not the proper method for developing righteous defenses.  The purpose is not to have life forever in the home. We don't expose an infant to the same amount of germs as older kids because we recognize that infants have a compromised immune system.  We protect them from crawling 
    indiscriminately in the grass because we know she cannot defend herself against fire ants. As children get older, their defenses grow stronger.  Eventually, we want children to have impenetrable defenses.  They need to become the defenders of truth and those advancing righteousness to a fallen world.  They will be useless if they also defect by way of corrupted before begin life on their own.

  8. Socially underdeveloped children.  However, most homeschoolers converse with adults better than publicly educated children.  Home educated children frequently demonstrate greater character and love for their fellow man.

  9. Parents and children remain too connected.  Yet, our great cultural problem is not children who are too connected to their parents and siblings.  Our crisis is millions of fractionalized families who lack proper connectedness between husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings.

  10. Costs too much money.  It is true that homeschooling parents bear a heavier financial burden than the parents of publicly educated kids.  While others may have dual incomes, most homeschooling families are two-parent homes in which mothers guide their household and care for the children.  If you and your spouse have careers, part of your costs will be the opportunity costs of a sacrificed income.  As tax payers, they are already subsidizing the educational system.  By pulling their children out, they are not directly benefiting from the tax dollars spent.  (Of course this is true for all taxpayers who do not currently have children in the public educational system which means this is another form of socialism.)  Parents dissatisfied with what government schools offer have two options:  enroll in a private school or start homeschooling.  Parents who do not embrace the discipleship benefits, etc. of homeschooling may still elect to homeschool simply because of the high cost of private schools.  "For the 2003-04 school year, national average private school tuition was

    The average home-educated child needs less much than $1000 per year in supplies.  The average cost per student for the public educational system is higher than both the average student of privates schools or home-educating parents.  Fairness, at a minimum, would support parents using vouchers for the education of their own children in whichever system they choose.  Free resources may be available through the public school district, the public library, or your church library. 

  11. Criticism from family and friends.  Although homeschooling is growing at a staggering rate, some people remain prejudiced against home-education.  Mostly ignorance gives birth to this bias.  Question:  Are you spineless to the degree that you will allow others to direct in our life in such a profound way?  Yielding to adult peer pressure is equally as dishonorable as teens succumbing to the crowd.

  12. Reverse discrimination of homeschoolers against non-homeschoolers.  The Pharisees believed they were more righteous than others.  In some ways they were more righteous, but their purity got to their heads and brought them under Jesus' sharpest criticism.  In your heart, dear homeschooler, you must not strut like a peacock.  Your path is better!  But, we are all sinners.  Neither education, wealth, beauty, pedigree, popularity, or righteousness give us the license for arrogance.  You are inherently no better than a thug rutting in prison.  He bears the image of God with you just as you have the potential for the worst forms of sin with him.  If we are saved, we are saved by grace.

What next?  If you feel persuaded to homeschool, I'd recommend that you start by speaking with other parents whom you know who already homeschool.  I also strongly suggest that you attend a homeschooling conference in your area.  Furthermore, become acquainted with the homeschooling laws in your state and county.  Finally, you need to contact homeschooling curriculum companies.

[NOTE:  This article is still being developed.  I hope that you will comeback to read more later.]

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