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Q: I am preparing a speech on homeschooling and I wanted to know some of the reasons why parents decide to teach at home. Any information would be helpful.
A: Basically, parents who homeschool feel they can do a better job. Few parents realize how much time is really wasted in school. It has been estimated that an average of less than one hour out of each school day is actually spent learning -- after administrative duties, discipline issues, changing classes, and distractions. Of course there are exceptions, but the point is that hours of precious time are simply wasted. Add hours of homework into that mix, as well as getting to and from school, and it's easy to see why many parents have decided it is simply not in their child's best interests to go to school. They believe their children can learn more in less time in a different environment.
And they're right. Consistently, homeschooled kids score higher than their schooled peers on standardized tests. In fact, by the time homeschooled kids are in the eighth grade, they are four years ahead of their schooled peers. Often, this learning takes place in less than two hours a day. And what do these homeschooled kids do with all that free time? Mostly, they enjoy doing what every other child has to wait until the weekend to do -- ride their bikes, roller blade, ice skate, hike, build forts, swim -- you name it.
Another big reason parents choose to homeschool is for socialization. The teens I know have a rich and varied social life. They have many friends and go places with those kids they choose to be with, rather than being thrown into a classroom every day where cliques, peer pressure, and unspoken dress codes are the norm. Midweek sleepovers, camping trips, and movie nights are weekly occurrences for kids who homeschool. They also enjoy sleeping late, dressing as they please, and having frequent get-togethers with friends. Younger kids usually meet weekly in a park or playground with groups of homeschoolers, and share play dates during the week. Do they miss out? Yes -- on bullies, daily tests, being compared to other students, and being told what to do and how to do it throughout each day.
Many parents find it unthinkable that kids have to go through metal detectors before they can enter their schools. School violence has increased at an alarming rate. It is my understanding that the number of homeschoolers skyrocketed after the school shootings and violent incidents that occurred in this country last year. Parents and kids who no longer feel safe in school often decide to homeschool. And lastly, every week I receive letters from kids who simply hate school. They hate being there, are often bullied or frightened, can no longer bear the peer pressure and meaningless busywork, or are "bored out of their minds." Luckily, for many of these kids, homeschooling offers a lifeline, an educational alternative.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.