One of the very first questions that most parents ask about homeschooling is whether it works. They are only too well aware of the fact that the public schools have problems but wonder whether they can do any better. One natural response for some parents is to try a little harder to see if they can afford private schooling but, even if this were possible, are the private schools faring any better than the public schools?
The simple fact of the matter is that many, quality studies show that, on average, homeschooling produces superior students. To an extent of course this is understandable as parents affect education no matter which route they take. A parent who is genuinely interested in the education of his or her children will help to motivate them, producing better results.
But there is certainly more to it than this and there are many cases, in a great enough variety of situations, to take even this into account and still come to the conclusion that homeschooling produces better results.
Even the United States Department of Education agrees. In one study in which they sponsored themselves homeschooled students produced exceptionally high test scores. The median scores in every grade were far higher than those of public schools and even higher than those of private school students. The average home-schooled student in grades one through four was a grade level above that of public school peers and, by the time home-schooled students reached the equivalent of the 8th grade, they were as much as four years ahead of students attending public school.
As if this were not enough, costs were also lower. On average, government schools spent $6,500 per student each year and private schools spent $3,500. By contrast, parents undertaking to homeschool spent about $550 per student each year. This figure for homeschooling does not of course take into account the time spent by parents on homeschooling for which a public school teacher would be paid.
The public school system as we know it today evolved during the second half of the 19th century as one state after another made school attendance compulsory. Perhaps the most interesting question, however, and one which rarely seems to be asked, is why, if public schooling offered such superior value, it was necessary for the states to make it compulsory and to force parents to put their children into the public school system.
It could be and sometimes is, argue that this was due to the ignorance of rural parents who did not see the value of education. However, it is interesting to note that adult illiteracy rates in 1840 Massachusetts were a low 2% and that, by 1995, this figure had risen to 19%, despite apparently enormous advances in the intervening years. In 1840 libraries were rare and today they are everywhere as books are both relatively inexpensive and easy to trade.
Today over a million children are homeschooled in the United States and thousands of home-schooled students have attended colleges and universities, including many of the most prestigious and difficult to get into.
Whatever your thoughts about homeschooling vs public schooling there is no doubt that the results clearly show the advantage of homeschooling.
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