Monday, September 22, 2014

My daughter's essay on: Why Homeschooling is a Viable Educational Option

My daughter wrote the following essay for her college writing class:


When you hear homeschooling, what do you think? Some people think about kids that eschew technology, stay inside, and hide from the rest of the world. Other people think about academic geniuses who are too gifted for a typical education. The real answer is neither of those. Homeschooling is an effective education option where the parents are diligent educators and the children take responsibility for their education. Yet, homeschooling is often overlooked because of the many misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about how it can function well. I will refute several common misunderstandings about homeschooling and present some of the benefits.

There are many misconceptions about homeschooling such as homeschoolers are not socialized, can’t get into college, and can’t survive in the “real world.” Having been homeschooled myself, I think I have enough firsthand experience to realistically address these assumptions.

 The one criticism I hear most frequently is that homeschoolers are completely inept around their peers because they do not have any social opportunities. True, we don’t spend eight hours a day sitting in a room with our peers, it doesn’t mean we don’t get to experience social situations. Personally, I don’t think sitting in a room with someone for eight hours really counts as a social opportunity. Second, I would argue that homeschooling means we get to choose our social situations, which is much more reminiscent of real life. There are many extracurricular activities open to homeschoolers in their community or through homeschooling groups. I had the opportunity to participate in sports, music, choirs, and countless extracurricular activities with kids my age. Most homeschoolers have many opportunities to make friends with many different types of people. Homeschooling, when well rounded, won’t limit social development.

Another common stereotype is that homeschoolers can’t get into or do well in college. Without a high school transcript it does make things trickier, but it’s not impossible. Each school has slightly different conditions, but an increasing number are quite open to homeschoolers. Responses from a recent survey stated the following:

“In addition to Harvard, prominent schools like Yale (CT), Princeton (NJ), Texas A&M, Brown University (RI), the Carnegie Mellon Institute (PA), the Universities of Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and many others all have flexible transcript criteria, accept parental evaluations, and do not require any accreditation or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). At Kansas State University and others like Lipscomb University and Middlebury College (VT), transcripts are optional.” 1

Some states’ schools have more picky criteria, but normally this can be remedied by taking placement tests or submitting community college transcripts. With any college application process, important factors are always ACT and SAT scores, extracurricular activities, and in the place of high school GPA, a community college transcript or placement tests. These are all equivalents to opportunities students have in public school, so by no means will homeschooling limit a student’s college options if they strive for a well-rounded education.

Additionally, once they reach college, homeschoolers are proving that they can handle the coursework. According to an article analyzing a recent study in U.S. News Education, “Students coming from a home school graduated college at a higher rate than their peers-—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earned higher grade point averages along the way.” 2

Lastly it is often thought that homeschoolers can’t survive in the “real world.” What constitutes the “real world”? First, it is true that homeschoolers do spend a lot more time at home or in controlled situations, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a lot of ways homeschooling prepares students better than the typical classroom because it gives them more of an opportunity to see life outside of the classroom. In a functional homeschooling situation, the homeschooler can observe competent adults and learn life lessons from them. There are so many things that are important about how the world works that can only be learned by watching or doing, not through passive learning in a classroom. I’ve learned real life skills such as cooking, managing finances, working a job, and dealing with difficult situations thanks to my homeschool lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief homeschoolers, can deal with the world because they are properly prepared by their family.

In addition, there are many overlooked, beneficial aspects of homeschooling. Homeschooling can be a very positive education experience. It provides an opportunity for building closer family relationships, learning life management skills, and personalizing education.

First, homeschooling helps improve and maintain closer family relationships. Let’s face it, school takes up a lot of time. In between classes from eight to three, extracurricular activities, and homework, it’s a wonder that family dinner is ever squeezed in. I’m not saying that homeschooling isn’t busy, but there are more opportunities to spend time with family. For instance, you can do homework and classes around one another. I did homework with my sisters. My mom had to supervise the education of four kids in very different grades and learning positions. As a result of this she would delegate sometimes. I remember my older sister going helping me with math fact sheets when I was in grade school. My younger sister and I helped our little brother learn to read. Homeschooling didn’t just mean that my parents were deeply involved in our education; it meant that we were all involved in helping each other learn. We were excited about learning. My family spent a lot of time around each other a lot. I am really close to my siblings. I would not trade my family relationships for the world. If anything, to me, being homeschooled is worth it just for that reason alone.

Second, homeschooling teaches life management skills. With kids in different grades, the parents have to let the children take a certain degree of responsibility for their education. The older I got, the more responsibility I had for my education. My mom let me plan my own schedule and take initiative for which subjects I wanted to study. She trusted me to make good decisions and to stay focused. Additionally, because of this flexibility there were more opportunities for employment during high school. Since I wasn’t tied to my schedule, it was easier to adjust for exceptions or other opportunities.

I was able to work throughout my high school career. I worked as a nanny ($8-10 per hour) or a clerk ($9 per hour) most weekday mornings. These were great opportunities for learning and money making. I would not have had the chance to save nearly as much money for college without such a flexible schedule. I learned valuable time management skills because I was getting an education, involved in extracurricular activities, and working all at the same time. Because of this unique opportunity, I have not had the common freshman short coming of lacking self-control. I can get my homework done, stay focused, and not waste time because I have been responsible for my time management for years.

Third, homeschooling provides an option to personalize education. Usually in public schools, the teacher either has to adjust the course material to the lowest common denominator in the class and let the other students get bored or teach to the quicker learning students and let others fall behind. It’s definitely a tricky balancing act I don’t envy. With homeschooling, you can take it at your pace. Sometimes, that means flying through course work quickly. Other times it means adjusting your schedule and really taking time to master the material. Homeschooling provides a way to accommodate for quirks and find a learning method that works best.

In my case, it was about adjusting for me being slightly dyslexic and a very late reader. My mom was able to make the best educational choice for me by utilizing books on tapes while slowly covering phonics- many times. Had I been stuck in a classroom with thirty other children it is unlikely that I would have gotten the patience I needed. It’s much more likely that I would have been put into a remedial class and come to view myself as less able to learn. Because I was homeschooled, I wasn’t comparing myself to thirty other kids who could read better than I could. I wasn’t even aware of how delayed my reading was until years after I had overcome it. I didn’t lose my love of learning or become discouraged because I had time to bloom in my own season.

Homeschooling is a worthwhile education option that can provide a quality education if well implemented. The benefits of strong family relationships, time management skills, and an individualized education enabled major educational and social growth in my life. As more people become aware of the advantages of homeschooling it will gradually become an accepted educational decision.

Works cite

1. Klicka, Christopher J. “Homeschooled Students Excel in College”. Home School Legal Defense Association. September 20, 2006. Web. Np. September 17, 2014.

2. Sheehy, Kelsey. “Home-Schooled Teens Ripe for College”. U.S. News Education. Np. June 1, 2012, Web. September 17, 2014

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