Home Education: A Viable Educational Alternative
Education is a prime concern for most Americans. A steady flow of reports and studies being released indicate that despite various educational reforms initiated and instituted, the condition of public education continues to decline. Issues ranging from budget restraints, school violence, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, and government control over curriculum produce passionate reactions from parents. Christian schools are an alternative for Christian families. Due to present economic conditions, however, many parents have been forced to turn to home education as another means of providing the same godly instruction while maintaining high academic standards. Still other parents choose to educate their children at home because of their personal conviction that it is the Lord's will for their family. There are many distinct advantages to home education as well as some possible disadvantages.
So what are the advantages of home schooling? The most fundamental advantage of home education is to provide an environment where spiritual development can thrive. With a large portion of home school families professing to be born-again Christians, parents believe that the Word of God clearly sets forth their responsibility, not the government's, to teach their children. They take very seriously the command of Deuteronomy 6:5-6: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thine might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Parents feel they can best teach their children these biblical principles throughout the day by educating their children in the home.
As a result, families experience the unifying benefits of home schooling because of the amount of time and energy parents can invest in their children. Both parents take an active part in the education of their children with the mother being the primary teacher. The one-on-one teacher-student relationship enables more to be learned in less time. In addition, learning schedules can be flexible and highly individualized based on specific family needs. Parents are able to spend much more time in training, nurturing, and interacting with their children. In today's society, harmonious relationships between siblings are often lacking. Home schooling provides a unique interaction among brothers and sisters which allows them to learn and grow together.
Parents can teach a biblical worldview to their children. Much of today's secular curriculum promotes humanistic philosophies, such as evolution, attacks on the character of our founding fathers, sex education, New Age philosophy, and outcome-based goals which involve behavior modification and values clarification. Therefore, choosing Christian curriculum is of utmost importance. Parents teach biblical principles in every subject and train their children to apply the Word of God to everyday situations.
Research is documenting the tremendous academic advantages to home education. Families are able to accomplish more academically by one-on-one training. In 1991 the Home School Legal Defense Association, working in cooperation with the Psychological Corporation, publishers of the Stanford Achievement Test, compiled one of the largest-known studies on standardized test scores for home schoolers. The achievement test was administered to 5124 home schooled students from every state, ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade. According to the results, the composite scores on the basic battery of tests indicated that home schoolers scored 18 to 20 percentile higher than the public school students in the areas of reading, language arts, and math.
Home education offers opportunities for a variety of educational experiences not only for children, but for parents as well. Support groups provide the means whereby children can get together for specific educational workshops, such as music, art, etc., as well as enrichment activities that afford special interaction with other children. Parents attend home school conventions, seminars, and workshops in order to equip themselves to do an effective job and also to receive encouragement.
Many parents feel that academic excellence can be achieved because they are able to control the curriculum, allowing them to make wise curriculum choices. The curriculum can be tailor-designed to meet the individual grade levels as well as individual needs of each child. To provide truly "Christian" education, instruction should be Christ-centered and tested by the Word of God.
So what are the possible disadvantages of home schooling? Juggling a home school schedule while maintaining a household proves to be the greatest challenge. Organizing and implementing daily schedules and chores can be quite demanding and cause stress. As a result, physical and emotional fatigue are factors that home schooling mothers must constantly deal with, especially first-time home schooling mothers. Frustration can be kindled when a woman's personal activities and/or church-related ministries get set aside because of lack of time or energy.
Additional responsibilities as home teacher create potential problems for a wife and mother. Children must adapt and adjust to mother's new authority role. Many times a mother must make educational decisions she has never had to make before, such as curriculum choices, lesson plans, and how to teach more than one child. She faces increased pressures to get the job done effectively and efficiently while still meeting the individual needs of her children as mother as well as the needs of her husband as wife.
In addition, academic limitations are a concern for many mothers. Teaching reading in those beginning years is often regarded as a tremendous responsibility, because mothers are afraid that they won't do an adequate job. Mothers also become intimidated on the secondary level because higher math and science courses become more technical. Home schooling parents recognize the importance of the high school years and want to insure that their children are adequately prepared to enter the job market or college. It is usually at the secondary level that they begin to re-evaluate not only the academic needs of their high schoolers, but enrichment activities as well.
The question of obtaining a high school diploma is of constant concern for parents. As graduation comes into view, teens and their parents turn their attention to the necessary requirements to enroll in a university or college. This can be an apprehensive time for both parent and teen because of the uncertainty of what is expected from home schooled graduates seeking admission.
The critics of home education consider the lack of opportunities for socialization as the greatest disadvantage of being schooled at home. The fact is, socialization, which often translates into peer pressure, is the very reason why many parents choose to educate their children in the home in the first place.
In conclusion, it is important to note that parents are ultimately directed by God to be responsible for the education of their children. Whether they choose public, private, or home education, parents realize that there are advantages and disadvantages to each educational alternative. These must be considered as a decision is prayerfully and carefully made in accordance with the will of God for each family.