This post is in response to an article I read recently on e-how. The article was titled Why is Homeschool Bad? Well, I challenge that question. I think homeschool is good and I am going to respond to the challenges in that article one by one.
The article begins by claiming
The traditional choice for most parents is to send their kids off to school every day and greet them when they come home. Some parents, however, prefer to actually run the school in their own homes and act as their children’s teacher. They may decide this for religious reasons, emotional reasons, financial reasons or a variety of other considerations, but there are compromises involved. Homeschooling can have some negative aspects to it, so if this is something you are considering, be aware of the cons before you make your decision.
My first response is, well duh!, of course most people send their kids off to school, it’s mainstream. However, the sentence implies that mainstream school is cons free. For many parents, there are many cons to sending their children to a mainstream school. For example, a lot of research indicates that, for minorities, there are major problems with schools that necessitate these parents massively involving themselves in schools. However, the involvement can have challenges, for example, as Archer (2010) (paywall) states:
Whilst on the whole parents seemed to challenge schools with confidence on a range of issues, they also appeared to be sensitive to the danger of being negatively stereotyped by schools as ‘pushy’ (Phil) or ‘complaining’ (Ann) parents. This sometimes meant, as Phil put it, being strategic, to ‘choose your battles’.
The quote from Archer (2010) suggests that there are risks to parents who choose the traditional school route, and that these may actually be far greater than those faced by home educators.
I’d also like to investigate the reasons parents decide this [is the educational choice for them] for religious reasons, emotional reasons, financial reasons or a variety of other considerations. There are a lot of reasons for parents to home educate. Moreton (2012) argued that many of the discourses constructed by the home education families she interviewed mirrored those of parents who chose a private school for their children. For example, she argued that the rationales used by parents to explain their choice to home educate mirrored rationales for educational choice used by middle class parents about their choice of private school, such as social milieu, acquisition of wider life skills and the transmission of values (Moreton, 2012, p. 47). Similarly, as I’ve said in previous posts, Van Galen (1988, 1991) argued that there are two groups of home educators, idealogues (religious) and pedagogues (unschoolers). I have to say, in my research, I’ve never seen anyone home educate for financial reasons. What on earth would they be?
The post then argues five points about why home education is bad. The first is social life. The article states (without reference to any research)
In a traditional school setting, children interact with peers their own age, which teaches them valuable life skills, such as sharing, making conversation, making friends and compromising. While you can try to teach this at home, it often is not as effective as in the classroom without your help and supervision
However, research indicates that there is no benefit to children playing with peers, especially in the early years. There may actually be some problems including increased social problems, and that it is actually quite stressful for young children to be in that kind of setting.
The second problem is time. While I acknowledge this can be a problem, it has been found in studies of schooled children that the time commitment, particularly on the part of the mother, is intense. The specific time problems listed in the article are that it is not easy to develop an entire curriculum on your own. However, why you would do that is beyond me. If you want to take a school-at-home home education path, then buy your curriculum, or download the curriculum from your local studies authority. Or unschool, which, incidentally, would overcome the hours that it should take you to prepare your lessons problem. And the statement that national requirements for homeschooling, so you may be expected to keep to normal school hours even within the privacy of your own home is completely asinine. Most school authorities accept unschooling as a choice, in Australia you can even buy unschooling curriculum so you don’t have to keep school hours at all.
The third problem is financial commitment. While I accept that, as a stay at home mother, it may be an expense to the family, but only if that woman’s work is considered in purely economic terms. In addition, as my research is indicating, there are home education families where both parents work.
The fourth problem is downtime. However, who considers the drive to the office to be downtime is beyond me. Similarly, as the numbers of children in before and after school care indicate, the statement you send your children off to school, even if you go to work afterward, you have some time to yourself, seems absurd. Mostly, I’d imagine, it’s a stress to get the children off to school/before school care and make it to work on time yourself.
The final problem is social stigma. The article states that anything that is done that is outside what society considers “normal” is sometimes attacked, questioned or made fun of, however, is that a reason not to do something? At the extreme end of the scale, it was unusual once to not hit your wife, even Sean Connery supposedly advocated it, but now that’s assault. It was also once wrong to marry outside your ethnic group. Just because it was made fun of and attacked in the past, we’ve moved on. The article also states that even if you think that you are strong enough to handle the negative feedback, you must take your children into consideration as well. However, as the parent, isn’t that your job no matter what choice you make for your child’s education? Also, as many home education families are child led and are following their child’s needs, maybe it was the child that requested that they stay home? And who, honestly, hasn’t at some stage felt attacked for choosing an educational path?
The article was ridiculous and I really wanted to make that point.