Homeschooling is one of the alternative methods of education in the world. It presupposes educating children at home. Consequently, the main teachers are parents who conduct classes and control the learning process. The history of homeschooling is complex; it starts in the 1970s and still continues. The rising number of countries uses this alternative method for educating the young generation. The USA is one of the countries that legally support homeschooling. It is worth noting that this approach has many advantages as well as disadvantages. Every parent considers both of them before applying it in real life. The paper provides the historical background of homeschooling and proposes the basic benefits and drawbacks of this alternative way of education. Additionally, the paper analyzes the main characteristics of homeschooling. Apart from basic characteristics, the paper offers information on homeschooling in various countries. It analyzes why parents are interested in homeschooling and their attitude towards this alternative way of educating people.
Homeschooling – Pros and Cons
The choice of homeschooling instead of school education is quite debatable. Many scholars believe that this way of education is effective and brings more results while others stick to traditional methods. However, the number of homeschoolers has gradually increased. Consequently, there are many schools that work with diverse educational methods and are significantly different from conventional schools. In any case, homeschooling as an alternative to school requires extensive reflection. Fears that home education can be complete in vain are not always justified because there are some examples of the individuals who gained home education and became clever politicians, teachers, and other successful professionals. Some parents believe that home education is better than school one, so they take into consideration such factors as duration, complexity, high cost, and low quality of schooling. They state that these factors may have a negative impact on children’s health. Consequently, the paper analyzes all possible ideas concerning homeschooling, including its advantages and disadvantages.
Historical Background of Homeschooling
Homeschooling as an alternative to school is allowed by law in 45 countries, and the number of fans is growing (Stollar, 2015). Such trends in the world are not accidental: in the twenty-first century, a traditional public school cannot meet the needs of all segments of the population and is rightly losing its monopoly on education. Homeschooling is one of the most popular alternatives to the traditional way of gaining knowledge. It has a lasting and fascinating history. If someone has a look at the historical timeline of the U.S. homeschooling, it may be pointed out that this movement started in 1904 (Stollar, 2015). It showed versatile aspects of homeschooling with its peculiarities.
Initially, the first fact about homeschooling is connected with the Indiana Appellate Court and the case State v. Peterman (Stollar, 2015). The court identified a traditional school as a place where instructions are taught to children, and a school at home was counted as a private school. With the flow of history, homeschooling was shaped and formed according to several factors, namely political, social, and cultural. In 1949, it was influenced by the Catholic Worker Movement (Stollar, 2015). It was a time when Norbert and Marion Shickel started subsistence farming. Consequently, they taught their thirteen children at home and named that school Mary Hill Country School (Stollar, 2015). The local school was impressed by the way how the family taught children because they managed to solve some educational problems without any difficulty. Another example of early homeschooling took place in Illinois. Marjorie Levisen and her husband Lincoln were found guilty for violating the state law (Stollar, 2015). The woman decided not to send her daughter to the public school and insisted on teaching her in the Home Study Institute. It was a course of Seventh Day Adventist (Stollar, 2015). The representatives of the course believed that children had not to be educated in a competitive environment because it caused a pugnacious character. Consequently, the required atmosphere of faith in the Bible could not be got in the public school. Moreover, they pointed out that children at the age of eight and nine would get the best knowledge by working in the fields or gardens, and the mother would be the best teacher ever.
In 1962, many Protestants did not send their children to public schools on account of Supreme Court decisions (Stollar, 2015). It forced racial desegregation and forbad school religious activities. They complained about the fact that by putting black people into school, they put God away from schools. In two years, there appeared many books dedicated to homeschooling. Paul Goodman wrote Compulsory Miseducation (Stollar, 2015). He stated that by forcing children to attend school, parents did not use their youth at all. He admitted that education was more a community function rather than an institutional one. Consequently, this idea was further supported by many writers. Another book was written by John Holt. It was called How Children Fail. The writer stated that when parents forced children to go to school, they made them unnaturally self-conscious about the learning process. They lowered children’s initiative as well as creativity. Actually, John Holt was one of the founders of homeschooling.
In the 1970s, John Holt established the homeschool movement (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). He was a supporter of various school reforms, so he argued that classical education paid attention to rite learning, creating an oppressive learning environment. Consequently, the mentioned learning atmosphere focused on making students future employees rather than versatile individuals. Holt tried to persuade parents to liberate their children from classical education and turn to such a method as “unschooling” (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). He believed that this method would help create educative as well as skillful individuals. Apart from Holt, there were many other scholars who supported the idea of homeschooling.
One of the greatest theorists following the idea of homeschooling was Raymond Moore. He stated that early schooling was complicated for children, and they had to study at home until the age of eight or nine. In such a way, parents would be able to give children a firm educational, moral, and psychological foundation. This method has positive results and contributes to children’s development. Alternately stated, children are in a warm environment, so they may learn faster and more effectively. Actually, when both theorists, Holt and Moore, began spreading homeschooling, educating children at home was legal, but there were some strict regulations. The bright example may be a necessity for parents to have teaching licenses. That is why the first homeschoolers worked with the local school. It presupposed meeting with teachers and submitting educational plans. Thus, in the 1890s, Moore admitted that in 80 to 90% of classes, local staff and primary teachers were understanding (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). In other cases when homeschooling had some obstacles, Holt and Moore proposed help in coping with local officials, and sometimes they helped to solve problems legally.
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In the 1980s, the content of homeschooling changed because of a new way proposed by individuals that came into the movement (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). A religious basis of education had the biggest impact. The newcomers were fundamentalist Christians who thought about public schools as something inappropriate for children. By focusing on James Dobson, the Family founder and support of Moore, they took a negative outlook on the public school staff and were not ready to cooperate with them because they considered them as evil (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). Consequently, there appeared some arguments because homeschoolers faced a negative attitude from the local public schools. It created a negative reputation for homeschooling. Furthermore, some public schools were threatened by the growing numbers of homeschoolers that started emerging in the 1980s ( Miller, n. d.). Nevertheless, homeschoolers did not want to stop their activity, so they turned from the local level to the state level. They petitioned state legislatures to review the laws for better accommodating for homeschooling. It created arguments among homeschoolers over how much oversight the laws had to have. On the one hand, some homeschoolers supported standardized testing and submitting plans respectively. On the other hand, other homeschoolers believed that such requirements were depressing. In fact, the process of legalization of homeschooling had fifty separate stories. The reason was that every state considered homeschooling in a different way. In other words, some states supported the idea that educational policy should not be changed and there was no need for legislative actions. Other states added only a couple of words to their statutes, and some of them totally changed the home school statutes. As a result, the oversight of the modern homeschooling differs in every state. In fact, by 1989, many states agreed with homeschoolers while only some states rejected homeschooling.
One more important fact to be mentioned is that the 1980s were the time called “the changing of the guard” (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). At the mentioned period of time, homeschooling was not connected to the liberal-leaning educational movement but rather to religious ideas. When Holt and Moore created the foundation for the home school movement, and their books, as well as publications, served as a treasure for the home school movement, their leadership did not continue till the 1980s. Holt passed away, and Moore was marginalized by new leaders who did not believe that he was a Christian enough. At that time, homeschoolers worked together with local, state, and national organizations. They had fruitful cooperation. Nevertheless, they started to fracture at the end of the decade. The most influential figure among the new homeschoolers was Michael Farris.
Michael Farris was a founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 (Stollar, 2015). Moreover, he was a homeschool parent as well as a lawyer. As it was mentioned before, the earliest homeschooling cooperated with local public school staff. Nevertheless, due to the fact that relations with local officials became more controversial, several organizations, both religious and secular, wanted to work together to change state laws. Consequently, the organization founded by Michael Farris was one of them. In the 1990s, it made a name for itself with the help of bringing about the end of the last holdouts (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.). Micahel Farris used the connections with other influential homeschool leaders and his acclaim for fighting the last battles to make the organization the center of the homeschool movement. Consequently, Farris conducted a virtual coup of the homeschool movement, and he also managed to control the public image and the movement’s networking system (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). Nevertheless, secular homeschool organizations existed but were darkened by political power.
If former home school leaders emphasized on liberating children from classical schools, the new leaders had different objectives. They created a new vision according to which children would be taught at home with a further purpose to be launched into education, entertainment, and government to change the United States into a nation with religious beliefs. Moreover, there were radical leaders who had extreme ideologies. One such ideology was not to allow women to attend college. In contrast to the former ideology, the new one paid attention to the proper training of children and also focused on religion rather than education (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.a). At the same time, when homeschooling continued to develop, it started to be considered as an alternative way of education. A great number of families began homeschooling not because of pedagogical or religious reasons but for individual purposes. They also started applying to homeschool for avoiding bullying as well as poor quality of the local school education. Taking into account the historical background, one may admit that homeschooling has gained wide popularity among teachers and parents. The last ones are more involved in homeschooling because they consider it more effective.
Homeschooling in Different Countries
Every parent who sends their child to school is quite suspicious. They think of such questions as children’s safety, protection, and relevant knowledge school provides. Some parents start thinking about homeschooling and try to understand how it works in practice. Below, there is some information that sheds light on the situation with home education in different countries.
The leader in this field is the United States where homeschooling is legalized in all states. About 3% of all students, that is more than half a million children, are engaged in a home study (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.). Parents choose homeschooling in order to provide their children with proper spiritual and moral education, safety, learning environment or because they are dissatisfied with the level of schooling.
In other countries, the conditions for home study are more limited. In Ukraine, home study and external training are also functioning, but requirements for students are much higher (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.).
In Russia, recently, the interest in homeschooling has significantly increased. Here, the number of students educated at home has increased from 10 to 100 thousand, but in general, their percentage of the total number of students remains quite small. Parents can choose between family education and externship (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.). One of the main reasons for the refusal from school there is dissatisfaction with the level of education.
In Turkey, the so-called homeschooling is prohibited by law (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.). In Spain, homeschooling is not recognized as an official form of training (except for cases with children having serious health problems). In this country, homeschooling is not regulated by law. According to the decision of the Constitutional Court, parents have no right to choose a different kind of learning than school. They can only choose between private and public schools or establish educational institutions, in accordance with paragraph 27.6 of the Spanish Constitution (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.) To circumvent the law, some parents from Spain may enroll children in schools in other countries where homeschooling is practiced.
In Germany, compulsory education is acquired solely at school (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n.d.). There were cases when parents were arrested for the failure to comply with school duties. Teaching children at home is considered as an offense. Some parents try to circumvent the law and secretly teach their children at home.
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In the Czech Republic and in Poland, homeschooling is not that popular. Accurate statistics do not exist. Only a few hundred people study at home. In addition, there are many statements on account of the fact that the education system is far from ideal (All countries compared for education: Homeschooling legal status, n. d.). Consequently, every parent should pay attention to the fact that society is not fully aware of what in fact involves homeschooling. They have to decide on their own how to educate children.
Parents’ Decision on Homeschooling
Most parents in the USA provide different reasons for homeschooling. In 2003 and 2007, NHES conducted a survey in which parents were asked to give reasons for homeschooling (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.b). There were many causes of homeschooling such as school environment, religious preferences, academic proficiency, special needs, and mental problems. Nevertheless, the researchers identified three main reasons such as school environment, religious instructions, and academic instructions. Consequently, from 2003 to 2007, the number of parents reported homeschooling to supply religious instructions increased. In 2007, the most important reason parents provided was a desire to give proper religious instructions (Coalition for Responsible Home Education, n. d.b). That is why one may admit that religious preferences play a significant role in choosing the way of education. This reason was followed by another one about the school environment. Most of the parents worry about it because there are many unpredictable issues that can influence children’s development. The bright examples may be drugs and peer pressure. Among other factors that can influence parents’ decisions may be finances, travel, and distance from school. Additionally, some parents want their children be more socialized and involved in various activities. They may include traveling and outdoor education. Parents believe that such activities may help teach children faster and more effectively.
Although some parents name religious instructions as the primary reason for homeschooling, many young people who gained home education are not religious at all. Moreover, their peers from school are more religious. Also, homeschooled adults are no more religious than other adults from the same location who visited the school. Additionally, the results from the Cardus Education Survey carried in 2011 proved that homeschooled young people attended religious services with a low frequency in comparison with their peers (McKnight, 2011). Furthermore, homeschoolers attended church more than school peers. It proves the fact that homeschooling has a focus on the Christian religion.
Apart from religious preferences, many parents choose homeschooling because of poor academic characteristics of schools. Many teachers are not able to provide necessary information using a certain approach. They follow a traditional way of teaching without paying attention to modern advancements in education. Furthermore, children differ greatly. Every child is unique, so he or she requires an individual approach. The task of the teacher is not only to explain the information but be assured that children understand it and will use it in the future. Consequently, in order to achieve fruitful results, teachers have to use different learning strategies, namely cognitive, metacognitive, and language learning strategies (Malamed, n. d.). They will help create a plan on which the teacher may rely during the class. Unfortunately, some teachers do not pay attention to the mentioned issues, so education becomes unproductive. That is why parents decide to teach children at home by appealing to different methods and approaches. There are various peculiarities concerning homeschooling that parents may consider.
The first and foremost peculiarity is the way how a child is treated during homeschooling. All parents understand the fact that teaching their own children demands showing all affection to them. Consequently, providing knowledge to children can be compared with giving them love and hugs. That is why parents try to present education in this way. They create a perfect environment for children to develop. Children get relevant respect and love, and it forms a positive attitude towards studying. Additionally, all parents can show their enthusiasm as well as creativity. They may exceed expectations and provide as much material as possible in an appropriate way. Parents may create such a person who will be able to show his or her full potential. Nevertheless, everything depends on the environment in which children get knowledge.
The next characteristic of homeschooling is a scope of information. In most cases, children need a great variety of new facts. That is why parents try to avoid rehashing the same material many times. After covering one subject, parents move to another one. It makes children more engaged in the learning process because they are eager to get as much as possible.
Apart from the scope of information, there is another feature that needs attention. It is the availability of the material. Parents are responsible for providing all the necessary equipment for learning. In other words, parents usually have everything that is needed for teaching. It may involve books, games, educational kits, and other useful material for learning. Most of the parents take benefits from the environment in which they teach children. In other words, there is nothing wrong in allowing children to watch BBC channels that are useful for their development. Moreover, parents may use household objects to demonstrate how they work (Justraa, 2013).
Additionally, parents pay attention to children’s moods. That is why they conduct classes when children are ready and in a positive mood for studying. The reason is that when the child is bored or sad, there is no use in such education because he or she will not perceive information properly. Nevertheless, when the child is cheerful and is in a positive mood, learning will be effective. What is more, most parents never bore their children. Once the child understands the material, there is a need to move forward. Actually, parents will see when children comprehend the material.
One of the most important characteristics of homeschooling is the duration of the lesson. Initially, parents stop the class when they see that the child achieves success. When parents notice that children are engaged in the class and they get all the necessary information, then they may have a break or even end the class. Moreover, most parents feel relaxed while teaching. It helps decrease the level of tension during the lesson. Parents should get satisfaction from teaching their children. In such a way, they will get the desirable result respectively.
Apart from the relaxed atmosphere, parents who teach children at home are usually open to alternatives. Stated differently, parents may try all possible methods and approaches to get the result. Consequently, flexibility is a core tool of success while teaching children at home. It enables parents to choose the perfect method of learning that is ideal for their children. Taking into consideration the fact that every child is unique, parents have to provide an individual approach to developing their children. One of the methods of teaching applied by homeschoolers is the method to give children only right answers. Parents encourage children to think wider. Even if they give incorrect answers, parents help them to find the right ones. The cooperation between children and parents makes the learning process more effective.
Initially, all parents trust their children during the learning process. When a child is completing the task, parents give them absolute freedom. They believe that children will not use additional material to complete the task but will use the knowledge they gained with parents. In such a way parents help children realize the fact that they are independent. Furthermore, parents usually keep their promises, and it encourages trust between them and children. Actually, everyone respects people who keep their promises, and children are not exceptions. They respect parents when they do the things they have promised. Apart from the mentioned information, there is one key issue that all parents rely on while teaching children from home. They try to explain everything with the help of facts and honesty. Parents want their children to have a clear understanding of the material they cover, so they explain everything in detail and even use facts to prove their words. In such a way, children understand better and are satisfied with a broad explanation of the different concepts.
Taking into consideration the information concerning the home school peculiarities, one may admit that this type of schooling is focused on the development of the individual. Everything is done to help a child develop personal characteristics as well as creativity. Moreover, the cooperation between children and parents encourages honesty and respect towards each other. Children become more open, and they can easily trust their parents. Actually, homeschooling helps create conditional relationships in the family. Nevertheless, this type of schooling has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Homeschooling
Basically, most parents who decide to homeschool their children take time to consider all the benefits and disadvantages of this type of schooling. The first benefit that homeschooling has is the determination of the curriculum. Every parent can create a curriculum that will suit their children perfectly. They will determine the curriculum according to physical and metal preferences of the child. It enables us to manage the time and have lessons at the preferable periods.
The second advantage is connected to demonstrating education as a fun and easy thing. Parents may explain the material with the help of funny stories and pictures. As a result, children will be interested in taking classes with parents and will be looking forward to the next class.
The third benefit is the selection of teaching methods (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). Every child needs a certain approach that totally matches his or her demands. Consequently, parents may select such a method that children will get only effective results rather than drawbacks.
The fourth advantage is time management. Parents may spend more time on difficult concepts and less time on easy ones. In other words, parents may manage their time in accordance with their needs and needs of children. Moreover, parents can identify when children are more active and conduct classes at that time.
The fifth benefit is connected to the explanation of religious and ethical instructions for children (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). Children get less information about religion at a common school rather than at home school. At home, parents can depict and explain the most important religious concepts and their impact on their life. At a common school, such information is limited because of the lack of time and other additional factors. That is why homeschooling helps create children’s religious understanding of the surrounding world.
The sixth advantage is the protection that homeschooling gives to children. Homeschoolers are protected from the impact of drugs, violence, and the negative behavior of children (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). They are educated in positive conditions under the supervision of parents.
The seventh benefit is the extra time that parents give their children to complete the tasks (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). It helps develop children’s special talent in a particular activity. Furthermore, parents are totally engaged in the children’s development, and they may freely discuss different topics. Therefore, parents and children will have fruitful cooperation that will bring beneficial results in the future. The mentioned advantages of homeschooling prove the fact that this type of education is effective and should be applied in every country.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
One of the disadvantages of homeschooling is the all-day presence of parents (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). Children do not have the possibility to be alone and make their own decisions. They are always under the control of parents, which sometimes puts them under pressure. Moreover, parents do not have much time for themselves. They are always keeping track of children and do not have time to relax. It may have negative consequences in the future because children will not be able to be independent and will always rely on parents rather than on themselves.
The second disadvantage is fewer friends. Sometimes, children do not have many friends while studying at home, and they may be less socialized (Justraa, 2013). Speaking about common schools, children make many friends and usually spend time with them. On the contrary, homeschoolers cannot have many friends, and they often befriend only their neighbors.
The third disadvantage is the amount of money spent while teaching children at home (Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling, n. d.). Many parents face the problem of spending a lot of money on equipment. Parents usually spend money on books and additional material; sometimes, it may be very expensive.
The fourth disadvantage is the inappropriate curriculum and learning process. In other words, no matter how well the system is created, it does not fit traditional regulations. Moreover, even if parents have the qualifications of the teacher, they will not be able to teach as professionals.
Another negative impact of homeschooling is the lack of interaction. Children who are taught at home do not have the possibility to communicate with peers. Consequently, it may have a negative impact on the further social development of the child. The interaction is a key skill for solving problems in the working environment as well as in personal life. Additionally, children may miss the school experience that they might gain while studying at school, for instance, high school prom. Even without the school setting, the information that they do not attend school may single them out.
Actually, education begins in the child’s family. Parents are the first teachers for them. Their influence remains for a long time. Close relatives help expand horizons and teach a child to be interested in any type of activity. Apart from the created conditions in the family, successful homeschooling also depends on a desire to learn, a desire to acquire new knowledge. However, when parents choose only family education, they may have the following difficulties.
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First, there is a need to choose the educational programs, training, and kind of knowledge that will meet the requirements of the curriculum. The child who gets home education is deprived of the most valuable thing at school such as teamwork. School education provides the ability to focus on the teacher’s explanations, and students are able to compare their achievements with the success of peers. Through this comparison, children are aware of the quality of their knowledge.
Second, there is continuous control of parents, which can lead to passivity and egoism. Children understand that they are in the center of attention, and everything is going to be like he or she wants. In the future, it may cause serious problems in communication. Nevertheless, if there is such a control in the family, parents must be very organized and strict because they are responsible for training, education, and development. Not every adult is able to organize the training of children professionally and efficiently.
Third, parents are not always able to give a professional answer to all the questions their son or daughter asks. Some parents have a lack of knowledge, so they may even provide the wrong information. As a result, children will get it and then feel misunderstandings concerning the particular issue. Moreover, parents cannot educate the child in all diverse subjects in the same way as many school teachers, whatever knowledge, wisdom, and experience they possess. The reason is that teachers are professionals, and each of them covers a specific subject. Their knowledge is versatile, and they can provide information in the most understandable way.
The fourth difficulty of homeschooling is the inability to learn from the mistakes of others. Being five-six hours in school, a student watches other children, analyzes their behavior, and differentiates between good and bad actions. Moreover, children are able to recognize the lies, insincerity, and hypocrisy while studying at school. It makes them learn how to behave properly and be ready for various obstacles that may happen on their way to success.
All in all, homeschooling is a quite complex notion because it is comprised of many factors. The history of homeschooling started in the 1970s and still continues to develop. Nowadays, many countries support the idea of homeschooling, but the USA is a leader in this field because of the increasing number of homeschoolers. Despite such popularity of this alternative way of teaching, there are some advantages as well as disadvantages. The most common advantages are parental care, friendly environment, and the complexity of teaching methods. The basic disadvantages are connected with the lack of communication with peers, poor parents’ knowledge, and inappropriate learning material. Taking into consideration both advantages and disadvantages, one may admit that homeschooling is the alternative way of education, and it may be treated as a legal one because many parents support it. They get a possibility to control the learning process and add more additional material for covering.