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Homeschooling - Family Connectedness And Relationships, Effects On Marriage, Edification Of The Natural Family, State Versus Family

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Homeschooling is a form of education for children and youth that is based mainly in the home and is clearly directed by their parents. Parents retain the main responsibility for and authority over their children's education and training, rather than sending them away to classroom institutions where their education would be controlled and conducted largely by nonfamily state or private teachers.

Homeschool students typically study and learn most of their subjects (e.g., reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, geography, art, music) in their homes using a variety of curriculum materials, such as classic literature, textbooks, periodicals, newspapers, computer software, Internet resources, and common household materials (e.g., kitchen equipment; cooking supplies; and tools for carpentry, gardening, and farming). Research has consistently shown that children who are home educated score fifteen to thirty percentile points higher on standardized academic achievement tests than do public-school students (Ray 2000b; Rudner 1999). They also commonly participate in educational cooperatives with a few other families and in a wide variety of community activities, such as Boy and Girl Scouting organizations, 4-H, political associations, as well as activities associated with churches, synagogues, and temples. A growing body of research shows that homeschool children do well socially, emotionally, and psychologically (Medlin 2000).

Although home-based and parent-led education was the norm throughout many centuries of history in most nations, it waned to near extinction in most countries by the mid-nineteenth century. Homeschooling has experienced a remarkable renewal, however, in several Western nations such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. It is also beginning to increase in such other nations as Japan, South Africa, Russia, and Germany (Ray 1997). It was estimated, for example, that about 1.8 million primary and secondary students were homeschooled in the United States and 78,000 in Canada during the spring of 2002 (Ray 2002).

Many scholars and social commentators think that homeschooling is one of the most notable familial, social, and educational phenomena of the late twentieth century. For example, Patricia M. Lines wrote in The Public Interest (2000, pp. 74, 85):

The rise of homeschooling is one of the most significant social trends of the past half century. . . . It is too early to tell whether homeschooling will establish itself as a major alternative to the modern school. But some things are clear: Home-schooling is becoming more common and more widely accepted. American families from diverse backgrounds resort to home-schooling because they are dissatisfied with the philosophy, the content, or the quality of American schools. The great majority of homeschooling families are not separatists and isolationists but active members of civil society. They seek to improve this nation, but they want to raise and educate their children in the meantime. Ultimately, they may help to inspire a great renewal of American education, or at least preserve values and ideas that are out of fashion within the education establishment.

Although Lines specifically mentioned home-schooling in the United States, research and popular writings make it apparent that her observations apply internationally to the parents, children, and youth involved in homeschooling.


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