Home schooling is the education of children at home. The practice is legal in most countries but the extent to which it is practised varies. Within Europe, for example in the Netherlands parents have a duty to send their children to a school, and Germany forbade home schooling until recent decisions ruled this contrary to human rights legislation. The extent of regulation varies considerably; Austria for instance has an annual testing regime but elsewhere monitoring may be left to regional authorities with varying results or may not exist at all. There is not much data about the number of home-educated children in western Europe, except for Britain where there are three to four thousand children educated at home, and Germany where there are only 200 or so following the recent change in the law. Home-schooling is comparatively popular in the USA and is legal in every state but it is a major political issue and the level of difficulty encountered by parents wishing to teach and parents removing their children from the state system varies between states. Here, the arguments will not be specific to any nation, but take place within the context of liberal democracies with a reasonable standard of educational provision and assumes that home educators would be subject to regulation. Proponents of the practice argue that parents have a right to decide where best to educate their child, and that the home is often ideal as a learning environment. Opponents argue that schools, in contrast, offer ideal learning environments and that education requires properly-trained teachers in appropriate settings, which a home and well-intentioned parents cannot provide.
Homeschooling families do not operate in isolation. There are extensive support networks (particularly in the USA the nation with the largest proportion of the population homeschooling) that exist to provide companionship, promote sports events and social functions. In addition, standard social provisions for children in civic society – scout movements, sports club – are open to homeschoolers. Homeschooling is not a removal from society but just from state schools.1 Homeschooled children often engage with their local community to a greater extent than their schooled peers.
1 ‘Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream’ Patrick Basham, Public Policy Sources http://www.homeschoolersguide.ca/pdf/Homeschooling.pdf
Interaction with other pupils is a crucial element of a child's development and involvement in clubs is not a substitute for the social skills learnt in school. Teaming building, working towards goals, being forced to confront problems with and live alongside individuals one might not like, or come from different backgrounds, is clearly done best in a school environment1. Those that seek to cocoon their offspring from the outside world merely delay the time when their children have to deal with it. Education is about more than academic teaching, it's about educating the whole person, and that is best achieved by educating them within a school with their peers.
1 'School as a context of early adolescent's academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings' RW Roeser, JS Eccles, The Elementary School Journal (2000)
Home schooling allows children to learn in an environment that has the needs of one or a very few number of students as the focus of the educative process. Parents are willing to invest in their children and can provide targeted provision that prioritises the learning needs of those individuals1. Therefore, specific textbooks that are tailored to the child's mode of learning can be purchased. State schools, in contrast, are often very ill-equipped and under-funded, leading to standardized text books and teaching methods. The home also lacks the many distractions and disadvantages of schools: peer pressure, social stigma attached to achievement, bullying, show-offs and general rowdiness.
1'Virtues in to Vices' in The Journal Of Home Education
Schools have significantly better facilities and a much more appropriate and segregated learning atmosphere than the home. The state system pools facilities to allow access for all children to sports and science facilities1. Parents are very unlikely to be wealthy enough to provide the plethora of things necessary to a well-rounded education. Teaching within the home asks children to switch between 'learning' and 'play' mode in the same environment which is confusing especially for young children. Schools provide a specific environment that is dedicated to learning. Homes are more complex environments, ill-suited to teaching and the concentration required to learn.
1 'The Cons and Arguments against Home Schooling' in Educate Expert (2011)
Classroom-based education must, by necessity, cater for the needs of the group as a whole which leaves those the very bright unchallenged and those with special needs falling behind and unsupported1. The state often takes years to recognise the needs of students and they lose years of education in the process2. In addition, even if those needs are identified 'special schools' are underfunded and stigmatised. For many students with identifiable problems that affects their capacity to learn within mainstream schooling but is not severe enough to merit a place within the special needs sector, homeschooling can benefit such students by shaping the learning environment to cater for their needs by being flexible to adapt.
1 'Every Child is Special
Home-schooling is not the best option for exceptional students. The state does not ignore or abandon individuals that have special needs and those with special needs are those that most need the state's enormous resources to focus on their requirements. Once a student has needs of such a magnitude that demands it, they are educated in special schools specifically intended to help them, with staff trained to possess skills beyond that of a parent's instinct.
Even if it were the case that home-schooling is better for the specific needs of exceptional students, the benefits of education in a wider context override the objection to class-based education. The experience of growing up alongside less and more able students produces individuals with greater understanding of their society1.
1'Teacher perceptions of mainstreaming/inclusion, 1958-1995: a research synthesis' Scruggs, Thomas E.Mastropieri, Margo A. Exceptional Children (1996)
Family bonding is a massively important element of a child's development and is prioritised by home schooling1. The value of the family is constantly undermined in modern society; positive parental role models are found less and less frequently. If a parent is judged by a state vetting process to be good enough it is enormously beneficial for society as a whole to approve is an environment that cements both a positive role model and family bonding.
1'The Role of Interpretation Processes and Parental Discussion in the Media's Effects on Adolescents' Use of Alcohol' Erica Weintraub Austen, Bruce E. Pinkelton, Yuki Fujioka, Paediatrics, (2000)
A school education is not mutually exclusive with family bonding. Just because a child attends school does not mean that their parent loses all influence upon their moral development. It is important for children to have a variety of different role models around them1. There is also no guarantee that the moral structure that parents might be instilling in their children away from any effective monitoring is beneficial.
1 'Why a Positive Role Model Is Important for Children', Caitlin Erwin, LiveStrong.com (2010)
Parents who take their children out of school, or choose to home-school due to apprehensions over the quality of state education, should be entitled to do so provided the child is better off as a result. To ensure they are not neglected, parents hoping to home-school must both register the fact they are home-schooling their child and submit to regular, state inspections of the child's progress. If the child is deemed to be falling behind his age group, the parent may be forced to return the child to a school. The parent should be given standards of teaching that they must adhere to before the inspections occur, and the standards should be sufficiently flexible to reflect children learn at different speeds and that not all children's development reflects fairly on their teacher.
Merely ensuring the registration of a child as being home-schooled does not fulfill the state's right to ensure that all children are given a satisfactory education. Inspections will help, but parents will nevertheless be unable to provide to their children the opportunities present in a school environment. The inspections should require that parents offer their children at least an equivalent level of teaching to that he or she would receive at a school, yet how is a parent going to teach practical science? How are they going to dissect animals? The inevitable result of such a policy therefore would be the acceptance of inadequate education. The only policy that respects and protects a child's right to education is to ban home-schooling altogether.
The state constantly fails those with greatest faith needs in schools. There are numerous examples of failure of accommodation: ignorant provision for prayer times, banning of religious dress, unwitting subjection of students to religious festivals that are manifestly unsuitable1. If parents want to avoid such perils altogether, and teach their child within an environment that caters for their religious need then that is and should be their right.
1'Rise in racism in the playground' BBC News (2007)
Those that wish to be educated in a religious environment have the chance to send them to a religious school the quality of which can be monitored by the state1. There are great dangers involved in exclusivity of faith. The adherents of all religions shouldn't shut themselves away, but rather engage in society as a whole, and understand other people's beliefs and points of view.
1'Gove defends faith schools', Riazat Butt, Guardian.co.uk (2011)
Hundreds of experts and researchers ensure the quality of public schools. It is presumptuous for a parent to think they know how to teach a child better than that accumulated wisdom. Just because the child is a product of that individual does not mean that the education knowledge of the parent surpasses that of professionals in that field who have spent years training1. Furthermore, even the best teachers can be improved by the insight of a third-party; such evaluations are not accessible to home-schooling parents. The danger is that 'From the government's perspective, the world of home education is full of unknowns'; there are not sufficient measures of quality control in place to protect the child and their right to a comprehensive education.
1'Home truths: do we need yet another inquiry into home education?' from Guardian website
Schools are often of poor quality and are failing the children. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from bed state schools. If the quality of education is sufficiently low in their eyes, they are entitled to be allowed to make the considerable sacrifice involved in becoming a 'home schooler'. It is reasonable that a parent should want to reject such educational theories and if they pass the inspection process then should not be denied that chance.
"Homeschool freedom works. Homeschoolers have earned the right to be left alone."1
1 'Academic Statistics on Homeschooling', Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, (October 22, 2004)
If parents are not trained or qualified teachers how can they provide a better or equivalent quality of education than a professional teacher at a school. Even if a parent or tutor excels in one area, will they cover all the things a school does? Even if they tried to, they would not do so adequately due to sheer lack of experience and training. The point of a curriculum is that these are things we have decided as a society that children need to learn, and in order to learn they require the support of qualified teachers1. Support groups and educational text books can help, but they alone cannot turn a parent into a good teacher.
1 National Curriculum Website
It is wrong to assume that home schooling will necessarily be of poor quality. Many parents will be fantastic teachers with or without a formal qualification. One parent says that it is often teacher themselves that recognise that teaching qualification are not necessarily the most important factor: 'the more people– mainly teachers – we spoke to, the more it began to seem like school could actually be a damaging place to be.’1 In addition, there are extensive support networks that are capable of providing a range of skills and knowledge that a parent might be lacking. The internet makes these connections increasingly viable as well as providing better research facilities than any school library had ten years ago.
1 ‘Honey, I think we're home-schooling the kids’ from the Guardian website
Being forced to confront problems and individuals from different backgrounds is vital as a preparation for the future as a microcosm of the society they will later enter. Parents and children spending day after day at home re sometimes subject to a phenomenon sociologists call the 'hothouse' relationship the closeness between them becomes exclusive, with reaction to outsiders almost aggressive by instinct. This relationship makes it even more difficult for the child to adapt to life in the wider world.1 While there maybe attempts by parents to socialize their children through other means these organizations and club are centred around similarity. School is a mixture that does not filter out students, and there is an inherent social value to such a mix.
1‘The Cons and Arguments against Home Schooling’ in Educate Expert (2011) www.educate expert.com
Homeschooling is not mutually exclusive from social interaction1. Interaction happens outside the classroom, where it belongs instead of acting as distractions to learning. In addition, homeschooling events involve children of all different ages as well as adults and in this way children learn to interact with a greater range of individuals than they would come across in a class just containing children of their own age and often makes them more confident in interacting with adults in a relationship that is not just a simple teacher and pupil relationship2. Parents still select schools for their children on the basis of common values, cultures and achievements - and even go as far as to move closer to the school they want to fall into its catchment area.
1Mike Fortune-Wood, ‘The “S” Word Socialisation’ from Home Education UK
2‘Civic Involvement’ HSLDA http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/Civic.asp
Homeschooling allows the possibility of parents removing their child from wider society and indoctrinating them with their own beliefs. State schools teach history and social interaction within a framework agreed on by w wide variety of bodies within the social spectrum. If a parent's world view if so far detached from that perspective that he wishes to remove his child from school it is likely that those alternative view are questionable at best. These beliefs can involve can include gross intolerance for particular minority groups supported by false information. These ideas can still reach the child out of school, but the government has a duty to protect children from a regressive upbringing by at least offering a more constructive perspective. 'Andy Winton, the chair of the National Association of Social Workers in Education, said: "School is a good safety net to protect children."' 1
1'Get tough on home tuition to weed out abuse, says review' from Guardian website
The state education curriculum offers only a very limited view of history and as such is itself a form of indoctrination. For example, in the UK, a proud history of achievement and creation goes untaught whilst the sins of colonialism and the faults of class structure are emphasised to pupils year after year. Parents do not necessarily have to have extreme or radical political views to want to home school their child and indoctrinate them. They often actually want to allow them to have broader historical and political education than offered by the narrow curriculum1. If parents are determined to prejudice their children it is unlikely that being in school will prevent that. And these parents who wish to teach tolerance shouldn't be penalised by a minority.
1'Prescriptive national curriculum restricts teachers', Jessica Shepherd, Guardian.co.uk (2009)
‘Academic Statistics on Homeschooling’, Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, (October 22, 2004) http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp
‘A Broad and Balanced Curriculum?’ by Stella Howden in The Journal of Home Education
‘An Open Path to University for Home Educators’, Tamsyn Fortune-Wood, in The Journal of Home Educators
‘Can Children’s rights be a bad thing?’ Mike Fortune-Wood, in The Journal of Home Education
Education Otherwise, http://www.education-otherwise.net/
‘Eight of out 10 disabled children bullied, report finds’, Andrea Lipsett, from Guardian website (Monday 18 June 2007)
‘Every Child is Special – but some are more special than others’
by Abbie Green in The Journal of Home Education from Home Education UK (http://www.home-education.org.uk)
‘Get tough on home tuition to weed out abuse, says review’ from Guardian website
‘Gove defends faith schools’, Riazat Butt, Guardian.co.uk (2011)
‘Home education parents to face council inspections’ by Nicola Woolcock in Times Online (June 2009).
"Homeschoolers find university doors open", The Boston Globe. 2007-03-06.
‘Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream’ Patrick Basham, Public Policy Sources http://www.homeschoolersguide.ca/pdf/Homeschooling.pdf
‘Home truths: do we need yet another inquiry into home education?’ from Guardian website
‘Honey, I think we're home-schooling the kids’ from the Guardian website.
‘Imans, Soliders, Schools and the NUT’ by Mike Baker, www.BBC.co.uk (29th March 2009)
National Curriculum Website http://curriculum.qcda.gov.uk/
‘Prescriptive national curriculum restricts teachers’, Jessica Shepherd, Guardian.co.uk (2009)
‘Rise in racism in the playground’ BBC News (2007)
‘School as a context of early adolescent’s academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings’ RW Roeser, JS Eccles, The Elementary School Journal (2000) http://www.jstor.org/pss/1002279
‘School Class’, in The Journal of Home Education
‘Teacher perceptions of mainstreaming/inclusion, 1958-1995: a research synthesis’ Scruggs, Thomas E.
Mastropieri, Margo A. Exceptional Children (1996) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Exceptional-Children/18761568.html
‘The Cons and Arguments against Home Schooling’ in Educate Expert (2011) www.educate expert.com
‘The Role of Interpretation Processes and Parental Discussion in the Media's Effects on Adolescents' Use of Alcohol’ Erica Weintraub Austen, Bruce E. Pinkelton, Yuki Fujioka, Pedicatrics, (2000)
‘The “S” Word Socialisation’, Mike Fortune-Wood, from Home Education UK
‘Through the Cracks’, By Michele Cohen Marill, in Atlanta Magazine (Sept 2004)
‘TIMELINE Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design’, on All Viewpoints (2005-6) www.allviewpoints.org.
'Why a Positive Role Model Is Important for Children', Caitlin Erwin, LiveStrong.com (2010), http://www.livestrong.com/article/240340-why-a-positive-role-model-is-im...
‘Why Parents are Better Teachers than Trained Teachers’, Posted by Antonio Buehler, in Buehler Education (May 06, 2011)
‘Virtues in to Vicess’, in The Journal Of Home Education