The concept of home-schooling has grown significantly over recent years. A study in 2019 found that there are nearly 5 million home-educated children in the US, with that figure representing a
4% increase since 2011, across all age groups. It is clear that an increasing number of parents are choosing to provide a home-schooling or education for their children, for a range of reasons.
This article considers the evidence which suggests that home-educated children do, indeed, do better than those who attend traditional schools.
Reasons For Home-schooling
The perceived benefits of home-schooling have been the key factor driving the significant increase in demand for it, from parents. Reasons for this include seeking an education which is founded in religious ethos or beliefs, wanting an education which takes into consideration the known learning needs of a specific child, seeking to provide a child with an education which is tailored to their individual needs, wanting a child to receive an education which is adapted to current events or societal concerns, or wanting to protect a child from bullying or negative issues which they might experience at school.
Investment and Benefits of Home-schooling
The investment of time, energy and resources which parents provide when they opt to home-school their children are considerable. This investment is seen through the considerable number of hours a parent might be required to research, plan and prepare the day-to-day content of the syllabus ahead of providing the individual education of each child. On top of this, parents are also engaging with their children on a daily basis to help provide answer and develop the learning and understanding required for each subject.
The benefits associated with this approach can be significant, as it allows parents to introduce content which is both tailored to the individual needs and interests of each child, and to provide a variety of approaches to learning which support distinct cognitive abilities and requirements.
Equal Opportunities and Access
Home-schooled children are provided with opportunities and access to education which can be offered in a more equitable way, without feeling disadvantaged. For example, access to online courses and remote learning allows children to access courses which may be unavailable to them within their local area due to factors such as disability or financial constraints. Moreover, home-schooling often facilitates children enjoying learning more, and this benefits their academic achievements.
By not having to adhere to the conventional classroom environment, home-schooled children can be encouraged to explore difficult concepts in a more relaxed space, and tackle topics which they may not be confident tackling in traditional classroom settings. Furthermore, it allows them more time to focus on their particular interests, as they are more likely to receive guidance which is tailored to their specific needs, as opposed to attending traditional classroom which often deal with all individuals as a collective.
There is a variety of evidence which suggests that those children who are home-schooled do perform better academically than those who attend traditional school settings. A study conducted in 2011 suggested that the average home-schooled student achieved achievement test scores which were approximately 30 percentile points higher than their peers who attended traditional schools. What is more, graduates who are home-schooled have traditionally achieved stronger college entry scores in comparison to their peers, which falls in line with the general findings in favour of home educating above school-based modes of learning.
Similarly, further evidence exists which suggests that home-schooled children are often superior in terms of achievements in the areas of science and mathematics when compared to their counterparts. They typically exhibit a propensity to increase their proficiency with individual topics at faster rates, and, as their attention does not need to be diverted away from the subject matter in order to attend to distractions found in traditional classroom environments.
The social implications which come with being home-schooled have often been subject to scrutiny, as many assume that being isolated in a home environment can lead to children missing out on important social interaction and experiences. However, in real terms, there is a wide variety of resources available to ensure that home-schooled children do not miss out on socialisation.
Home-schooling networks are increasing, and many parents are engaging in activities with other home-schooling groups, which their children can also benefit from. What is more, parents typically plan activities and excursions to supplement the home-schooling experience, so this ensures that there is a strong emphasis on socialisation in the process of education.
Home-schooled children benefit from an individualised approach to learning, tailored to their own needs. This means that the learning can be adapted to cater for each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop their learning around their interests. Traditional schools often teach in a way which conforms to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
This can therefore be problematic for those children who have specific educational needs or those who may have specific aptitudes or interests which need to be nurtured and developed. Home-schooling provides children with the opportunity for learning which is tailored to their individual needs, giving a deeper connection and fostering a higher level of learning, too.
The cost of home-schooling is often much lower than attending a traditional school, making it an attractive option for many. Parents might simply utilise the internet and the large range of online resources which is available, or they may opt to purchase educational packages. In the latter instance, these can still work out much cheaper than traditional modes of education, and parents of home-schooled children benefit from the sizeable tax breaks which are afforded to those who choose this route for their children.
The evidence suggests that home-educated children do, indeed, do better than those who attend traditional schools. An individualised education tailored to the needs of each child leads to a greater connection to learning and facilitates the fostering of higher levels of understanding. Home-schooling also provides children with more equitable access to resources they might not have access to were they to attend a traditional school setting.
As well as this, the cost savings associated with providing an education outside of a conventional school context are considerable. Furthermore, parents can be assured that their child will engage with activities that are akin to the interests of the individual, ensuring that the learning experience will be enjoyable and beneficial.
The significant rise in the demand for home-schooling would suggest that parents are recognising the considerable benefits associated with it. Indeed, from the evidence discussed, it is clear that home-educating their children can have significant long-term beneficial impacts on the academic and social development of children.
As such, it is understandable why the number of families opting for this route of education for their children continues to increase.