In America homeschooling is booming. Largely due to the fact that many parents who hold religious beliefs find that the public schools do not instill the values and beliefs they would like in their children. Over 75% of those homeschooled are in families holding religious beliefs. Another reason many families choose to homeschool their kids is because they believe the public school system's standards have been lowered. I am a teen who has been homeschooled since the 2nd grade. Personally I find it very cool and I am a better human being because of it. Many people don't feel this way, even some homeschoolers. I am going to give you some pros and cons to let you see why some kids accept it and some don't and also some of the pros and cons of public school.
Brief History of Public and Home Schools
Public schooling started as a vision by the American people to insure that everyone (regardless of race or income) would be able to receive education. In the late 1800's, around the time America started to boom in population, the public school system was being built-up more then it had been before. Even from the colonial days of the United States, public classrooms were in place. They just weren't available to everyone. It always kind of bothers me to see those shirts that have pictures of famous Presidents, Inventors and Patriots and telling of how they were homeschooled, to justify homeschooling. Most of them were homeschooled because they had to be. The system wasn't really in place. John Dewey (1859-1952) not only laid the groundwork for the public school system, he also secularized the system. His book "Democracy and Education" gave arguments for the abolishment of God and the Bible in school.
Now for homeschooling. Homeschooling has always been in place in America, but it wasn't until after prayer and Bible reading were taken out of schools in 1963 that people started to be aware of the possibility. Even before this Dewey's sway on the education system caused some parents to start homeschooling their children. A culmination of lack of religious ethics, evolution being taught, and the deterioration of the older teaching methods led more and more parents to choose homeschooling. Homeschooling has continued to grow slowly each year since the early 1980's.
Now for the list.
Pro: You get to sleep in and less school.
I know for a fact that for some homeschoolers this is not the case, especially if your mom is a cruel taskmaster, but for me it is. Many public school kids get a high lack of sleep because they wake up early, go to school for 6-8 hours, maybe go out with their friends and then come home and do homework 'til 11 every night. Oh, and I forget to mention that some kids have jobs which make them stay up late trying to make money. As a homeschooler I get a lot more time to sleep, but most of the time I choose not to. It is true that as you get older sleep isn't really a biggie on the priority list, but if you are a teen it's a different story. It can get kind of stressful being a teenager. I hear more and more about kids I know getting ulcers. Which is why R & R should be a daily part of a teens life.
Con: Diminished social interaction.
Now this can be debated. I really don't have much of a problem with it because I have friends and I see them all the time at work, church and other extra-curricular activities. I also have a wide scope of what kind of friends I have. I have Christian and non-Christian friends, punkers, preppies, goths, geeks, jocks, and even some popular kids. But for some kids they are separated from the world because their parents kept them that way or the kids just decide they don't want to have any social interaction or they are just introverts.
I cannot speak on authority about social interaction within public schools, but as far as I can tell there is a lot of peer pressure (depending on your view, that can be a bad or a good thing) and there are a lot of hard choices to make. It's how you personally deal with it. I also must stress though that I know many kids that are homeschooled that aren't perfect angels either. I guess it depends on who has the biggest effect in your life. In homeschooling, your parents have the big effect and that can be a good or a bad thing depending on what your parents are like. In public school, your friends have a bigger influence on your life and that can be a good or a bad thing depending on what your friends are like.
Pro: Your way of learning can be stretched and exercised.
In the short time that I was in public school I always had the hardest time understanding and grasping the concepts I was being taught. My teacher couldn't help me. All she ever did was yell at me over and over. I believe part of the problem was the blasted desks. The chairs were so uncomfortable that after awhile my hiney became sore. I couldn't concentrate on anything because I was so uncomfortable. Then when I became homeschooled, I realized the joy of lying down and doing my school. I was comfortable and it allowed me to focus more on my schoolwork. Of course I started listening to music and talk radio while doing my school which didn't help my concentration level much, but after awhile I got used to it.
When I entered High School it became easier for me to do my schoolwork on my own and I find that this is the case with many High School homeschoolers. The curriculum basically explains itself and all you really have to do is practice the principles in the book. Now for some kids it is not this way, because people learn different ways. Some learn by seeing, hearing or doing the work. Homeschooling allows a person to find which way is the best way for them to learn.
Con: May or may not improve your relationship with your parents
Sometimes being a parent is stressful enough, but having to be a teacher too can make it even more stressful. There are parents who handle it very well and there are others who totally breakdown over it. For some kids homeschooling may not be the way to go, because they know they couldn't deal with it. Some kids need that interaction with friends and a group setting. For some kids, it's whether or not your parents could even take being at home with their kids ALL DAY. I think some kids do need constant supervision though. For instance: I have a friend who is homeschooled, but his mom is never home because she is a truck driver and always on the road. He is TWO grades behind because of this. His mom can't be home because she needs to make money and she can't pay someone to teach him one-on-one. Many have said (including me) that he needs to go to public school, but his mom refuses to let him go.
What a lot of people don't realize is that homeschooling doesn't just entail buying books and throwing them at your child. It takes planning and spending time with the kid to make sure they understand what they are supposed to do. It means being there when they have a question and also being ready to answer. There is a flip-side to this though. Some parents go way too gung-ho. They even try to make a room in the house look just like a classroom in a public school. This may work for some kids, but it never worked for me. When my mom first started, she did the whole she-bang. I couldn't sit at the table and just quietly do my work though. I eventually got my mom to let me go into my room, lay on my bed and do my work. All of a sudden, I could concentrate better and I became able to do the work without supervision.
Pro: Individual attention and higher grade average.
One of the main reason parents choose to homeschool their children is because of the one-on-one factor. In public schools it is hard for one or even two teachers to make sure that each and every child receives the attention needed to grasp the concepts in school. Some would say that this is what homework is for, but even then how does a child understand their homework. In this day and age it is hard for a working parent to spend enough time and energy to give their kids the attention neede to make sure they understand their homework. Many parents can do this and I commend them, but for some parents (especially single parent homes) to give this type of attention is extremely hard. In some ways (like lack of individual attention) public schools need to be reformed or they will continue to go down hill. Many children fall through the cracks and it's not always the teachers fault. No one can be in two places at once. I must also give mention to some of the "special" schools that have unique learning techniques, such as the Sylvan Learning Centers and other local alternative education schools. Side note: It is virtually impossible for both parents to work and give the necessary attention to a homeschooled child. Some states do not even allow this.
Con: May have problems getting into
I am a senior so I am about at the stage of looking, but I haven't had any trouble yet. I know it is an uphill struggle for some homeschooled graduates. One thing I would recommend is if you are able to afford it, there are satellite schools that offer curriculum packages. They also grade your work and send tests. Liberty Christian Academy offers these options and a transcript once you graduate. If this is not an option, many parents choose to keep records of papers and tests. It has been proven that many homeschoolers earn scholarships and grants by excelling in things such as spelling and geography bees and writing contests.
The whole point of this node is to give out the practical information on both sides of the issue. We all know that the public school system is not perfect and yet we also know that homeschooling is not perfect either. But in either case it all boils down to personal and parental responsibility. We live in a world to day where many people are royally screwed up and we all know it. So what do we do? Here's a suggestion. Be a mentor, a tutor, or even just someone who cares. It is true that children are our future, but if we let them drown in ignorance we won't have a future.
www.homeschools.org/ (Liberty Christian Academy)