Homeschooling weaves together two elements that have normally been separated in our modern culture—parenting AND educating.
There are parenting books, seminars, and classes for those who want to be great parents. And there are teacher-training colleges and courses for those who want to be great educators.
Both provide extremely valuable insight and information regarding children, how they grow and how they learn. Though a “certificate” is not required for parenting, teachers normally need an education degree and certification to work in a school.
With that in mind, what happens when a parent begins to teach academic subjects to his/her child at home? Much to the surprise of researchers, homeschooled children tend to score much higher than their public school counterparts.
According to Dr. Brian Ray, in the Homeschooling Progress Report 2009, (published by HSLDA), compared to the average score of 50% for public school students, homeschoolers scored:
- 88% on K-12 Basic Battery for those whose parents are certified teachers,
- 85% on K-12 Basic Battery for those whose parents aren’t certified teachers.
(This high scoring for homeschooling students has been observed across a wide range of studies, ranging from academics to socialization to success at university, and, unexpectedly, is not dependent on parental income or education.)
Why does homeschooling work so well?
One of the first things that any parent of a two-year old discovers is that there is an insatiable curiosity—a hunger to know “WHY”!
Children who have the opportunity to learn at home tend to remain curious because asking questions is not penalized. Their curiosity is not crushed by a be-quiet approach.
In fact, when students have the freedom to explore their interests and discover answers, a love of learning naturally develops—which increases the motivation to learn more. This is why homeschool students have earned the reputation for being highly self-motivated and independent learners.
Close relationship between teacher and student
Another element in the success of homeschooling is the close relationship between teacher and student. When parents—who know and love their children extremely well—homeschool them, the nurturing environment and small teacher-to-student ratio provide a safe and secure place for learning.
It is the best place for developing creativity and critical thinking skills, for experimenting with knowledge and following the “rabbit trails” in learning.
Learning from what is "caught" not just "taught"
Perhaps as significant as the two previous points is the fact that children learn best from what is “caught” than what is “taught.” If the homeschool parent loves to read, chances are that love of reading will be passed on to the children. If a homeschool parent enjoys learning new things, the children will discover how much fun it is to explore a new topic or gain a new skill.
This is one reason why homeschool encouragement is incredibly helpful. When homeschool parents know how and why homeschooling works, they experience the freedom to experiment and try new approaches in homeschooling, which can make a huge difference for both parents and children.
What challenges are unique to homeschooling parents?
Homeschooling is demanding
First of all, by its very nature, homeschooling is an extremely demanding job. The mom or dad is not only a parent (nurturing, playing with, training, and caring for a child) but also a teacher (planning lessons, “grading papers,” explaining concepts, finding resources, and learning about intelligences, learning styles, and other educational concepts).
Add to that nurse, chauffeur, chef-in-residence, tailor, counselor, house cleaner, and financier—the list and demands feel endless at times. And, because those receiving all these services are children, there is no monetary reward and few pats on the back. (There are, however, priceless memories being stored up in the hearts and minds of both parents and children!)
Homeschooling happens at home
Add to that the fact that homeschooling generally takes place at home. That means a parent at home alone with children most of the time, for years on end. It can be very isolating for both parents and children if one is not careful.
Finding occasional opportunities to interact in play groups, church groups, co-ops, sports teams, music classes, etc., can bring much needed engagement with others. There are also ways to serve in the community, in nursing homes, and in churches that will benefit both children and those who are served.
Homeschooling can be discouraging
Also, because results are seldom seen quickly, homeschooling can be discouraging. If a homeschool parent reads or hears about others’ success stories, it can increase that discouragement to a feeling of failure.
Not knowing that all homeschoolers struggle with certain things—like getting laundry off the table and dinner on the table, while teaching reading, writing, or arithmetic at the same time—can burden a mom or dad with unreasonable expectations of how easy it’s supposed to be!
That’s another reason homeschool encouragement is so critical. Parents who have taken on the massive task of both parenting and educating need to know what’s normal, what’s to be expected, and what an incredible job they’re doing by daily nurturing and teaching their kids!