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homeschooling essay.

Hey everybody,

I just joined the community, and it looks great! My name is Hillary, I'm 13, and I've been homeschooling nearly all my life. I'm currently taking classes at the Voyagers Homeschool Cooperative (located in Westford, MA), as well as a few through Stanford University's EPGY, plus things on my own.

Oh...I don't know if anyone'll be interested in this, or if this is appropriate to post here (if it's not, let me know, all right?), but I just wrote a causal analysis of homeschooling in America as a recently popular trend (since the numbers have been growing a lot of late). (This was an assignment from my non-homeschooling-affiliated English class.)I figured I'd post it here, if anyone's interested.

Homeschooling in America, which emerged as early as the 1600s, has recently become an increasingly popular alternative to public education. During the 2002-2003 school year, a whopping 1.7-2.1 million students were homeschooled in the US! The roots of homeschooling in America go back centuries: home education in this country began with the 17th-century Pilgrims and Puritans, both of whom believed that educating children was the responsibility of the parent, whether personally or through a tutor or governess. Education at the time was largely led by the predominant Christian faith: by schooling at home, parents could monitor their children's learning, and tailor it to their belief systems. In the mid-1800s, however, public education came into play, and though homeschooling has existed since, throughout the19th and earlier 20th centuries it was definitely not the most prevalent of education options. Recently, however, homeschooling has become increasingly popular: it is estimated that, currently, the number of homeschoolers and the number of charter-school students are equal.
But why the sudden increase of homeschoolers? I believe that more and more Americans are turning towards home education for three main reasons: freedom, family, and future success.

Freedom is an extremely important part of today's society. Our value systems, beliefs, and even our Constitution are based on the idea of freedom. However, ironically enough, it seems that homeschoolers, not students at public schools, experience the most freedom of education; because they are not confined to a classroom or a strict curriculum, homeschoolers are granted an educational freedom that most school kids don't get to partake in. Homeschooled students are free from the set, inflexible curriculum of the school system; and whereas, in a typical school, every student has the same textbooks and handouts, every homeschooler's books, subjects, and learning methods are a bit different. While public or private school tends to deal in conformity, almost shunning individuality, school at home embraces differences because of its one-on-one focus. Perhaps it is this that causes so many gifted, talented,or special-needs children to turn to homeschooling.
Homeschooling offers the freedom to follow one's interests and go at one's own pace. Homeschoolers can, for example, focus on one interest and base many of their lessons on that particular interest. They can finish their subjects much faster than they would in school: much of a school day, including bus rides, lunch breaks, and homeroom, is, in essence, time wasted. Also, a homeschooler does not have to contend with many other students vying for the attention of a teacher: homeschooling is a much more personal form of education than school, especially public school with its large classes. Homeschoolers have the freedom to take some classes at local community colleges, with homeschooling resource centers, through accredited distance education courses, or even at local public schools. (In 1999, according to the U.S. Department for Education, 153,000 homeschoolers were enrolled in school part-time.) Homeschoolers also have the freedom to travel during the school year, which can offer inspiring educational experiences, and the freedom to incorporate their religious beliefs into their studies. Religion was once the main reason for homeschooling, and although, now, many other reasons spark home education, studies show that over 75% of all homeschoolers attend religious services. In essence, home learners have much more educational, spiritual, and individual freedom than public-school attendees.

Family is another key defining factor of homeschooling. It's almost needless to say that homeschoolers spend much more time with their families than school kids, especially if they have homeschooled siblings. This increases the ties between families, which are also strengthened by the one-on-one learning style of most homeschoolers, and the fact that parents can emphasize their belief systems and values through homeschooling. For example, a strict Catholic family (or a family of any other faith) may not want their children exposed to the cliques, alcoholism, and drug abuse of school (especially high school) and might prefer having a say in their child's education, including the range of subjects and the content discussed. Also it seems that many parents simply enjoy rediscovering academics with their children. Homeschooling parents tend to be successful teachers: a study by Dr. Brian Ray showed that "the home educated did well even if their parents were not certified teachers and if the state did not highly regulate homeschooling."
One big reason, it seems, that more Americans don't homeschool is that homeschoolers are stereotypically labelled as 'social outcasts'. Many people believe that homeschoolers are socially deprived, or even isolated. However, homeschoolers are by no means social outcasts: according to a Delahooke study (1986), homeschoolers were well-adjusted socially and emotionally, like their private school comparison group (who were better socially adjusted than their public-school counterparts), and less peer-dependant than either private or public students. Likewise, in 1992, Dr. Shyers found that homeschooled students had 'significantly lower problem behavior scores than do their conventional school age-mates, and the home-educated have positive self-concepts.' As for being socially deprived, American homeschoolers are involved in many, many extracurricular activities, clubs, teams, homeschooling co-ops, and social situations that most school kids don't get the chances to participate in. Public (and even sometimes private) school can be one big mêlée of cliques, bullying, and peer pressure. Homeschoolers can escape the vicious cycle of exclusion, unhappiness, doubt, fear, and even violence, while still maintaining strong social relationships and skills. According to a 1989 study (conducted by Dr. Montgomery), 'homeschooled students tend to have a broader age-range of friends than their schooled peers, which may encourage maturity and leadership skills.' By homeschooling, it seems, children can build self-confidence and strong relationships (especially with their families) -- stronger than those of many school children.

A third reason for homeschooling is future success. Homeschoolers, studies show, score higher on standardized tests than the average student, and go on to live very successful lifestyles as adults. A 1990 nationwide study found homeschooled students to be scoring, on average, at or above the 80th percentile in all areas on the SATs: the national average is 50%. Other studies show similar numbers: homeschoolers tend to be more successful with test scores than their public-school counterparts. Some studies even claim that homeschoolers have higher college acceptance rates than other students, although this hasn't been confirmed. Nonetheless, it seems that a homeschooled student's application would stand out in an admissions office: after all, they're different, successful, and diverse. According to Dr. Montgomery's 1989 study, homeschooled students are just as involved in out-of-school or extracurricular activities that predict leadership in adulthood as are those in private school (private school students being even more involved than public school students). Many homeschoolers are actively involved in community service, and a homeschooler is unique: doubtless, they seem at least a bit less typical and more intriguing than the traditional "captain of the football team"/"head of the cheerleading squad" résumé.
Beyond college, adults who were homeschooled as children are successful. Just a few extremely successful homeschoolers were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, Agatha Christie, and Claude Monet. Homeschooled graduates seem to be attracted to a variety of jobs, in which they, on average, perform admirably. A recent study, by J. Gerry Knowles, of adults who had been homeschooled showed that none were unemployed, none were on welfare, 94% said that home education prepared them to be independent persons, 79% said that it helped them interact with individuals from different levels of society, and all surveyed strongly supported homeschooling. Another study, conducted at a large, liberal-arts, Christian university, showed that the students there who had been homeschooled did just as well as formerly private- or public-schooled students did in various tests and examinations.

Essentially, at the very heart of homeschooling is the idea of independence, or freedom. Homeschoolers learn independently, which prepares them extraordinarily well for the "real" world. They are exposed to freedom during a time where many students are, essentially, stuck in classrooms, following explicit rules and regulations, not their hearts and minds. Thus, homeschoolers are more prepared for life on their own, as they've been independant the whole time! Homeschoolers, while independent, also form strong bonds with their family, something that most school children shy away from, but something that these students will treasure for the rest of their lives. Homeschoolers are also socially well-adjusted. Generally, homeschoolers are well-adjusted, confident, and moralistic individuals, many thanks to the strong role their parents or guardians had in their education. Homeschoolers are extremely successful in their test scores, college admissions, and adult lives, and support homeschooling for their children, and their children's generation. In summary, if these trends continue, and school at home continues to be as successful as it has been, home education is facing a bright future.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks!

I know -- it's amazing how many great historical figures were homeschooled!
Apr. 20th, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
That was great! I wrote one recenlty on homeschooling too! But it was 15 pages long.
Apr. 20th, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow! 15 pages! It's such a cool topic to write about, though...that must've been fun.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC)
That was a very nice essay. I blogged it here: http://www.cobranchi.com/archives/002900.html

Daryl Cobranchi
Apr. 23rd, 2004 04:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats!
Oh, wow! Thanks!
Apr. 23rd, 2004 05:12 pm (UTC)
Very Well Done
Very nicely done! I blogged it at http://www.odonnellweb.com/mtarchives/001002.html
Apr. 24th, 2004 12:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Very Well Done
Awesome! Thanks for letting me know.
Apr. 24th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
Hi! I'm 13 also, and I've been homeschooled since the fourth grade. ^_^ May I add you to my friends list?
Apr. 25th, 2004 07:05 pm (UTC)
Sure thing! I'll add you back.
Apr. 25th, 2004 09:00 pm (UTC)
^_^ Cool beans, gotcha added.
Apr. 26th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC)
Howdy there -- I see you've given refs in your paper, so I assume you had a works cited list. Could you post these, please?

As well, which EPGY courses are you taking? My child is still yet a baby, but I've decided to get a good look into all the possible educational choices for her future, curricula, etc... mainly so I can teach my husband lots of these things before he teaches our children ;)
Oct. 26th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)
Junior in high school very impressed!
I'm 16 and just recently wrote an essay on homeschooling as well. I loved how you used examples from history. No one can argue with the past! I've homeschooled all my life and never have I seen such a well written essay by so young an author. Keep up the good work Hillary.
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:30 am (UTC)
I was just wondering what "large, liberal-arts, Christian university you referred to? Thanks, ahead of time.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


Home Education Support
"A homeschooling parent in Canada recently sent me a letter which ended with a quote by Roque Dalton: 'May we keep hauling up the morning.' I like the metaphor of a sailing ship upon the sea for parenthood and for homeschooling. There are no completely reliable charts, and so we must often navigate without them. We must learn for ourselves how to find the currents, avoid the reefs and storms, and enter the harbors. As we haul up the sails to go on sailing, so we haul up the morning for the adventures of each successive day. There is room for everybody on this ocean, and there is no pilot's license required or worth having. We must trust ourselves and our children. May each of us keep hauling up the morning."

-Earl Gary Stevens, Home Education Magazine, 1990