Homeschooling remains, despite the fact that growing numbers of people are doing it, a decidedly counter-cultural choice no matter where in the world you live. Counter-cultural choices have a way of causing raised eyebrows, and if you're new to homeschooling or thinking about it, it's easy to get bogged down by slightly nosy questions with a negative undertone. You know — what about socialization, how will your kids ever learn to deal with conflict, are you even a teacher, but what about college?
Academic Benefits Of Homeschooling
Plenty of parents would almost kill for smaller class sizes, and rightfully so — they've been proven to lead to better academic performance during the elementary years . Why?
- Small class sizes enable teachers to get to know their students better.
- Small class sizes ensure that no student gets lost in the crowd, and each receives one-on-one attention.
- Discussions in smaller groups mean every student can more easily be encourage to participate actively.
- It's easier for students in smaller classes to be allowed to work at their own pace.
Yup, homeschools have small class sizes by design — even the most fruitful parents have many fewer children than the average classroom, after all — but they also produce the same benefits smaller classes do for another reason. As a parent, you already know your children intimately, and are thus better able to anticipate and meet their academic needs.
An education tailored to the individual's needs is another core benefit of homeschooling. Teachers call it "differentiated instruction", and researchers agonize over ways to make it reality . As a homeschool family, you're free to choose your own resources (curriculum, "real books", online materials, co-ops, workshops, and on), and you don't have to take any fictional "average child" into account when making your "policy decisions".
The available research — which suggests that homeschooled children score highly on standardized tests [here, for instance: 3] — is often conducted by parties with their own agendas and doesn't predict how well your children will do in your family homeschool, but it does show that homeschool students can indeed excel. The fact that increasing numbers of colleges actively seek out homeschool students (they are often, one college Dean says, "innovative thinkers with a lot to bring to the table" ) should put the myth that homeschooling shuts the door on higher education to rest as well.
What is also rather interesting is that parental educational achievement has been found to have a profound impact on a child's academic attainment in public schools , but not in homeschools . So, if you're an intellectually curious high school dropout, that predicts your child does less well in school — but if you're the one actually teaching your kid, it doesn't have to? Fascinating stuff, I say, and the answer may lie in the fact that lower-income folks are less likely to be able to send their children to good schools, but you can still avail yourself to all the Latin and logic you want if you homeschool.
Homeschooling can also be a way to step out of complex culturally-ingrained negative cycles (yup, institutional racism) that are linked to lower academic performance among minority ethnic groups. African American homeschool students have been found to score higher on math, reading, and language than their public school peers, for instance .
Social Benefits Of Homeschooling
"You've got to be kidding, right?" Homeschoolers are thought, among naysayers, to be unsocialized, awkward, shy, and weird, after all. It's why "Oh, You Homeschool? What about socialization?" is such a common sentiment. (Yes, sentiment, not question — these folks have already made their minds up.)
Looking at it that way, the undoubtedly biased research that suggests that...
- Homeschool students are more socially mature than their public school counterparts 
- They have better-quality friendships, better relationships with their parents, an increased sense of social responsibility, and a more optimistic life outlook 
- Homeschool children spend a lot more time doing volunteer work than do public school students 
...becomes a whole lot more believable. Nope, spectacular social things don't happen automatically the minute you pull your kids from school or decide to just not enroll them when Kindergarten comes around, but they're possible. And that's pretty cool.
(Homeschooling doesn't, contrary to what I've heard some folks say, necessarily protect kids from bullying, consumer culture, gun violence, dating drama and teen pregnancy, drunk driving, and other inserted societal evils you may be concerned about — especially if your kid has an internet connection and a wide social circle.)
The Bonus Benefits Of Homeschooling
You can go to the dentist during school hours without needing a bit of paper to justify it. You can go on vacation during the off-season, when it's cheaper and less crowded. Your child child can sleep in — something that's been proven to help adolescents learn better . You can take the day off and do school on Saturday instead, just because you feel like it, or school during evening hours if that's when you and your children are more productive.