A Vote for Home School

Homeschooling is not as daunting for students or parents as it would seem. While the learning capacity and patience of the parent is important, they do not need to be experts in many locales. The curriculum I was taught on 20 years ago, before the computer streamlined the concept of self-paced education, was largely self teaching and all my mother had to do was administer tests, monitor my progress, answer occasional questions, and report the results to the school district every quarter. Until high school this approach works well and I was excellently prepared.

My education includes attendance at a private religious school, home school, public elementary school and public high school, as well as stints at a religious college, public community college, private 4 year college, public university and a technical institute, where I finally attained a BS. The longest duration, 6 years, was spent in home schooling. I graduated from a public high school after 3 years with a NYS Regents diploma and 4.0 average.

Based on my experience, I would recommend enrolling in a group school of some sort by ninth grade. Unless a home provides sophisticated scientific and artistic equipment, valuable practical experience will be lost for high school aged students. Musical and athletic opportunities are easier for homeschooled students to be involved in with private lessons and community athletic teams. Social interaction is a concern that I have heard many times, but if the homeschooled students are proactively involved in community events, sports, lessons, or in groups with other homeschooled families plenty of socialization occurs.

Homeschooling is a great opportunity to instill a love of creative exploratory learning. Classroom learning is rarely tailored to each student to grab and hold their attention, while parents have a greater grasp of their children’s personalities and how to involve them in learning effectively. This is especially important for younger kids. Long school hours and extensive homework loads required by today’s test-based system also risks burning out the enthusiasm for learning and leads to flagging interest as students get older. When education occurs at home on an individual level much less time is needed to instill the same amount of knowledge. Not only is the process more efficient, but the students are motivated to work with the learning process since arbitrary time requirements can be eliminated and they have the reward of more free time to look forward to.

Breaking out an average 10 period class day, 10 period being the standard in the local public school district here in New York State, I have found that much time is spent on administrative, bureaucratic and redundant activities that can be cut out in a home environment. For example, the first 15 minutes of every day is spent taking attendance and listening to announcements, often 5 minutes every period is spent switching classrooms, every class period loses 2 – 5 minutes getting started and calming students down, and often the last few minutes of class are lost on students who can’t wait to get out and know the bell is about to ring. Assuming at a minimum that eliminates two 45 minute periods and lunch, the school day will have shrunk from 6 hours to about 4. In my experience it was often less than that, but this will often correlate to the reading comprehension level of the student. This included all homework. Imagine what else a student could be involved in with only 4 hours of school work per day!

This insight is drawn from experiences 15 to 20 years ago before the computer. For my mother, the worst part was tracking and submitting grades and progress reports. With today’s technology this is eliminated. Progress can be tracked with simple software and reports printed out in seconds. Wireless networks enable students to learn anywhere adding flexibility to the most flexible educational solution available. In addition, the internet offers up video lectures from Harvard, MIT, and countless other institutions for free to supplement traditional material. With homeschooling the vast resources of the internet can be tailored to your child’s interest and personality by the person who knows them best.