by Melissa Clouthier | January 12, 2009 12:55 pm
U.S. News reports that homeschooling is increasing overall but the percent of evangelicals homeschooling is declining:
Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says recent studies suggest that evangelicals still account for roughly 70 percent of home-schooling families. But the picture has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when conservative Christians launched the movement, he says. “In the early years, you had to be a pretty big believer in something to home-school because there was a lot of adult peer pressure not to do it,” he says. “There are a lot of people who now consider home-schooling who would have never 10 or 15 years ago.”
The National Home Education Research Institute, which supports home schooling, puts the number of home-schooled students above the Department of Education’s estimates, at just over 2 million. The institute’s research has found that home-schooled students score about 15 to 30 percentile points above their public-school peers on standardized achievement tests.
I homeschooled last year and put my kids back in school this year. Despite my worries, they were two years ahead academically. The biggest problem with public school is curriculum. Far too much time is spent on tangential silliness.
Really, education is simple: Make sure a child can read, write, and do arithmetic. Push them so that it’s challenging. My son and daughter both do well at science. In fact, my son’s teachers felt it was his best subject. Guess what? I didn’t “teach” any science. However, as we went through history, we learned about weather (affects war outcomes), volcanoes and earthquakes (destroys societies), earth (certain foods were new in the New World), etc. They had books to read about all that. Their curiosity sought answers. Geography and history are so intermingled as to be one subject. Sociology and psychology is revealed through good literature. History teaches forms of governance.
Parents who want to give their kids an elite education would be wise to check out home schooling. Even if it’s only for a year or two, homeschooling can accelerate a child’s learning and also give them confidence and autonomy. The last is counter-intuitive. My children were forced to learn and figure stuff out because I refused to save their bacon every time they found a topic challenging. They also couldn’t get the privilege of reading until they finished their work. And there was no pressure. They could take ten minutes or two hours to conquer an idea. They could take the time they needed.
I was going to do a book review on Outliers: The Story of Success “>Malcolm Gladwell’s book and may still do that, but one point he noted is that the rush to do work, the time-pressure–especially in math–often causes kids to give up and conclude, falsely, “I’m not good at math”, when the problem is really just not enough time to understand an idea. His book was an unintentional endorsement of homeschooling in many ways. (He also talks about year-around school–something many homeschoolers do anyway.)
Homeschooling will continue to grow because it is an excellent form of education. Parents can choose curricula. Kids can learn at their own pace. This is something that doesn’t just appeal to evangelicals, but all parents wanting to give their kids every possible advantage.
Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com
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