Benefits of Homeschooling
The benefits of homeschooling are many. Not only do homeschooled children receive a broad and well-rounded education, but the entire family is brought closer together through the homeschool experience. Parents and children get to know each other better, they share experiences they otherwise would have missed, and their homeschool years provide a myriad of memories that will last a lifetime.
Above-Average Test Scores
Studies on the academic achievement of homeschoolers continue to demonstrate that they consistently score at or above average on standardized tests. In a 1997 study of standardized academic achievement tests (conducted by Brian Ray, PhD, with the NHERI), homeschooled children averaged at or above the eightieth percentile. The national average for traditionally schooled children on standardized tests is the fiftieth percentile.
A 1999 study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner, former director of the Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse (ERIC), found that test scores of homeschooled students ranged in the seventy-fifth to eighty-fifth percentiles. Although test scores vary from state to state, recent studies clearly indicate that homeschooled children are testing at least as well as, or better than, the national average in many cases.
Homeschoolers also tend to score higher on SATs and ACTs, especially in the areas of English, reading, and vocabulary. In math and science reasoning, they scored at or above national averages. A 1997 study conducted by Dr. Rhonda Galloway and Dr. Joseph Sutton, College Success of Students from Three High School Settings, showed that homeschooled college students ranked higher than other students in the following areas: academic, affective-social, cognitive, and spiritual.
The College Experience
Aside from test results (which is a controversial subject in itself for many people), homeschoolers are welcomed — and in some cases, actively sought — by colleges and universities today. And many now offer scholarships to homeschoolers. College professors continue to speak out on their experiences with homeschoolers in their classes. In many cases, they have found homeschoolers to be more mature (emotionally and socially), better prepared academically, strong in class participation and leadership skills, and high achievers.
As Jay W. Wile, a university professor with a PhD in nuclear chemistry, says, “I experienced thousands of students. By far the best students that I had were the homeschooled ones. They were serious about learning, they could teach themselves, and they were far more likely to be able to think critically than any of their counterparts.”
With more opportunities to socialize with a wider group of people on a more regular basis than traditionally schooled children, homeschoolers develop excellent social skills. Since their learning takes place in the real world, away from the confines of a classroom or institution, they develop social skills that are applicable to everyday situations.
On the whole, they socialize more often with varied age groups, as well as with people from all walks of life, rather than the same age group in a classroom, day after day. They have more opportunities to interact with businesspeople, community workers, group leaders, volunteers, neighbors, and friends.
The stress and chaos of morning rushes to catch the school bus, to send children off in the early hours of the day without a nutritious breakfast, and to realize that the children will spend the day with a crowd of strangers is unsettling, to say the least. And the evenings are not much better — pages of homework to do, tears over not understanding the assignment, extracurricular activities to attend (after an already long school day), basic chores to do, and, if you're lucky, squeezing a quick dinner into the schedule.
A relaxed child learns more easily than a stressed child. Some studies show that stress inhibits the formation of new neurons in the brain. Dr. Carla Hannaford, biologist and educational consultant, states, “Chronic exposure to stress inhibits full brain development.” This can result in learning problems, such as ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), or behavioral problems.
When children receive their education at home, the morning ritual is far more relaxing. There is time for preparing and eating a nutritious breakfast together, chores are done together and completed early in the day, and children are calm and relaxed in their own homes as their learning day begins. And all the while, parents and children are talking, interacting, laughing, playing, learning, and generally sharing their days and their lives.
By evening, homework has already been completed during study times earlier in the day, and there were no misunderstandings regarding assignments on either the children's or parent's part. Extracurricular activities are a part of the regular school day, and chores are completed before the home-school day begins. That leaves the evenings open for family time together, a relaxing dinner, and free time for reading, game playing, and other enjoyable activities.
The benefits of homeschooling continue to make themselves well known. When studies on homeschooled students — as well as firsthand knowledge of homeschoolers — clearly demonstrate the students' academic abilities, social adeptness, leadership skills, concern for family and community, and well-adjusted attitude toward life and learning, the results speak for themselves.