Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on Social Benefits of Homeschooling

OK, it's been a really long time since I've posted, and maybe few people are even checking in any more. But as I was posting a comment on someone's blog today, it occurred to me that perhaps others would benefit from reading more about the social benefits of homeschooling.

In spite of mounting evidence that homeschooling is positive for most kids socially, there are still a lot of people who believe homeschooling produces social misfits. This is my response to a few of them.

I see here there are several who have said homeschooling is a negative for kids socially. Current research and the experiences of real homeschoolers say otherwise: homeschooling exposes kids to the real world far more effectively than sending them to school. After all, when in the adult world do you EVER spend hours every day sitting in a room with 30 other people exactly the same age you are? Homeschooling is work, no doubt about it, but it produces tremendously positive results in the lives of most homeschooled kids, academically, socially, emotionally and in many other ways. For more on the subject, take a look at this book: The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling, by Rachel Gathercole.

I'm not saying you should necessarily homeschool. Homeschooling, in my opinion, isn't for everyone. But don't let the naysayers convince you it will hurt your child socially. I know MANY homeschoolers - the vast majority of them are much better socially than most schooled kids I know. In fact, it's a standing joke among many homeschoolers: "Oh, yes, but that (schooled) child is so well socialized" (or the reverse: "Yes, poor, undersocialized homeschoolers"!).

Homeschooling allows kids to interact with others naturally, in real, everyday situations. It provides opportunities for parents to see how their child is interacting with others and provide immediate feedback. It allows the child to watch as their parents model proper social skills, and to experiment with new ones. If parents make reasonable efforts to keep their children engaged (Scouts, sports, clubs, church activities, etc.), kids have the opportunity to make friends the same way adults do - based on common interests and not limited in terms of age. Older kids learn to help younger ones; younger kids make close friends of older ones and find good role models. You don't get the artificial "we don't play with you because we're in 5th grade and you're only in 4th" baloney.

I've been involved in the homeschooling world for 37 years, off and on. I was homeschooled for 1st grade, 6th grade, and all of high school. I went on to have a very positive experience in college, graduating successfully from a solid private university. I have since worked with homeschooling families in several different contexts and have homeschooled my own daughters for 9 years, since my older daughter was 3 1/2. In my experience, the vast majority of homeschoolers are outgoing, friendly, polite, and articulate. They are generally far more pleasant to be around, and interact better with younger kids, same-age peers, older kids, and adults, than most schooled kids do. And if you really stop to think about it, that makes sense; just as you'd find if you crammed 30 rats in a cage all together, 30 kids crammed in a classroom together (or worse, hundreds or even thousands of kids crammed in a building together) end up biting and devouring each other.

Homeschooling has tremendous social benefits; be sure to take a look at Rachel Gathercole's book for more. In the meantime, don't be afraid to consider homeschooling. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A "Biblioblog" - what a great concept!

I recently discovered a wonderful new idea - "biblioblogging"! Over at "Reading to Know,", Carrie blogs about her favorite books, and her kids' favorites as well. She's a great resource for reading moms as well as those of us looking for resources for our kids - funny, thought-provoking, with some wonderful video clips and some great guest bloggers as well.

Check it out! :)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Something Fishy About Health Care Reform

OK, so I rarely post on this blog about anything unrelated to homeschooling. But this issue concerns me deeply, because it affects all Americans' most dearly-held rights. On the site, you can currently find the following notice:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Does this concern others as much as it does me? This sounds as if the White House is asking ordinary people like you and me to report on our neighbors and on those companies and charities who are telling us what they believe about the President's health care reform plan. What are they going to do with this information? There is no way this is a Constitutional position for a President or his administration to take - it is a blatant effort to curtail our freedom of speech. Even if you agree 100% that everything the President says will turn out exactly as he hopes it will, can you really support this kind of censorship?

I sent the following email to the link they posted for reporting something "fishy." I hope you will too - and I hope everyone else in America will flood this mailbox with protests, making it clear that we will not stand for this kind of thought control.

I want to report something fishy I found on the web regarding health care reform. Here is the site:

Our Constitution guarantees the people freedom of speech. Asking people to report to the White House when others disagree with the President's position (even if that means posting facts the President happens to disagree with) is a blatant violation of that freedom of speech. The truth is, the right to free speech means people even have the right to post flat-out lies about policy issues; and while I certainly would prefer they didn't, stopping them or even threatening to stop them is a violation of the Constitution the President swore to uphold only a few months ago. Guaranteeing free speech only to those who agree with the government's position is the definition of totalitarianism, and it has no place in America.

I urge you to remove this IMMEDIATELY from your website and ensure that proper Constitutional protections are preserved for the people. The American people love our liberty; we will not stand idly by and allow it to be usurped in the name of "truth." The President, of all people, ought to be defending the right of ALL the people to believe, to say, and to publish what they choose.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

And On a Totally Unrelated Topic . . .

This blog has almost exclusively become a blog about homeschooling; however, the vast majority of homeschooling families include two married parents. Therefore, an occasional link to an article or post that will strengthen marriages doesn't seem totally out of line - and today I have a good one for you.

In tough economic times, many of us are looking for inexpensive ways to stay close to our spouses. Over on the blog Mom's Notes, there's a wonderful post entitled "30 Ideas for Dating Your Mate." What the title doesn't tell you is that these are cheap-but-fun ideas. So click on the link, read the article, print it, and enjoy! :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Homeschooling Helps Schools Financially?

For years, one of the favorite criticisms of homeschooling has been that it "drains resources from the public schools." After all, the reasoning goes, schools get paid per-pupil, so homeschooling, by removing students from the schools, reduces the amount of money the schools make. (Of course, this argument ignores the fact that the reason schools get paid per student is that each student also COSTS the school money, but why point out the obvious, right?) :)

But an article in yesterday's Washington Times online highlights a new study that finds that homeschooling actually benefits the schools' bottom line.

What Mr. Wenders and Miss Clements found, however, was that home-schoolers save the state of Nevada between $24 million and $34 million per year, decreasing schools' expenses far more than the decrease in revenues, thus creating a net gain for the school districts.

The article also shares findings from a similar study by the North Carolina Department of Non-Public Education, and points out that homeschoolers also save taxpayers money by not becoming prisoners (!). It's a good article, and not very long, so click over and read the whole thing. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Field Guide to Homeschoolers?

Dana over at Principled Discovery (incidentally, one of my favorite bloggers) is hosting the latest Carnival of Homeschooling: A Field Guide to Homeschoolers. It's fun and there are TONS of great entries by dozens of different bloggers. Be sure to stop by and take a look!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How To Teach Kids Diversity

There's a really excellent article over at Simply Catholic, entitled "Racism and Homeschooling," that every homeschooler and public or private school educator needs to read. The author answers the criticism common to many anti-homeschoolers that only in a public school can kids really learn to appreciate diversity, and really be properly socialized, by pointing out how many better opportunities are available to homeschooling families. I've read a lot of posts and articles on socialization, but this one takes a unique angle in showing how homeschoolers can - and DO - teach our kids to appreciate and respect other cultures and races, far more effectively than what can happen in a classroom full of kids. The author concludes with a list of 10 ways you can teach your kids to appreciate other cultures, even if they don't live among them.

Here's just a very small sample of the great material in that post:

There is something about learning in school that just sucks the life out of anything exotic. Where are the smells of basil and curry? Where are the lilting tones of another language or music? Maybe you glimpse a foreign culture in a film-strip or an assembly? What unique cultural experience awaits the student within the walls of the classroom that can not be duplicated or improved in the home? Do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that just existing in a classroom with a child from Russia or Guatemala serves to immerse you in that culture. . . . When they are in class with you everyone is sitting in the same desks, looking at the same book, eating the same school lunch, taking the same standardized test and swinging on the same swing set at recess. Talking and interaction, learning about each other are NOT what school is about. The classroom couldn’t withstand that kind of interaction on a regular basis — I know I sat in one for 13 years.

Now let me make a radical suggestion: I am purposing that the homeschool setting is actually more likely to expose the average child in the average community to different cultures, peoples and experiences than the school setting. I would suggest this even if it was not the parent’s intent to expose their children to different cultures, but if the parents value their children learning about different cultures in the least they can quickly and easily surpass even a good public school in this area.

Schools have one huge disadvantage when it comes to immersing a child in the diversity of real life: they remove the child from real life. Children are segregated in schools by age, by ability and often by language. On top of this children then commonly segregate themselves by neighborhood affiliation, race, creed, or special interest. . . . Even in my rather homogeneous high-school the band geeks and chess club sat at one table, the jocks at another, the cheerleaders never mixed with the glee-club and the poor students and rich students sat on opposite sides of uncrossable divides. If you want to learn about segregation between races, creeds and class go to a public high-school.

Darcee has some great insights, many of which I've not seen before. It's a rather long post, but it's well worth reading - you'll be glad you did!

A "Profound Shift"?

There's been a lot of comment on homeschooling websites about the article in USA Today a few days ago entitled "Profound Shift in Kind of Families Who Are Homeschooling Their Children." My biggest criticism of the article has to do with their use of U.S. Department of Education study recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics, "The Condition of Education 2009." After having reviewed that study, it simply does not appear to support the claims in the first sentence of the USA Today article that "Parents who home-school children increasingly are white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in a decade."

Here are some of the problems in that statement and in the reporter's support for it:

1) The fact that "3.9% of white families homeschool, up from 2% in 1999," does not in fact mean that homeschoolers are increasingly white, but rather reflects the fact that the total number of homeschoolers has doubled since 1999. A review of additional material associated with the study makes it clear that while the percentage of blacks who homeschool has declined over the years of the study, from 1% of black families to .8%, the percentage of Hispanics has increased from 1.1% to 1.5%, and the percentage of families of other races has increased from 1.9% to 3.4%. All this is not to deny that far more whites homeschool than those of other racial/ethnic groups; it is simply to point out that when the number of homeschoolers overall is increasing, an increase in the number of white homeschoolers does not mean a corresponding decrease in those of other races. Looking at the table further makes it clear: In 1999, 75.3% of homeschooling families were white; in 2003, 77% of homeschooling families were white; in 2007 (the year the most recent survey was done), 76.8% of homeschooling families were white. But because this distribution for each of these has a standard error of over 3%, this difference is not statistically significant; in other words, the 1999 number COULD have been as high as 78.6%, and the 2007 COULD have been as low as 73.5%. But of course, this would not have supported the reporter's contention that "homeschoolers are increasingly white" - because the study simply does not support that conclusion.

2) The reporter's contention that "homeschoolers are increasingly . . . wealthy" is questionable because neither the article nor the study mention the effect of inflation on family income levels over the years between 1999 and 2007. The table is quite clear that in 1999, 30.1% of homeschoolers had incomes below $25,000; 32.7% had incomes between $25,001 and $50,000; 19.1% had incomes between $50,001 and $75,000; and 17.4% had incomes over $75,001. In 2007, the distribution of homeschooling families had changed: only 15.9% had incomes below $25,000; 24.1% had incomes between $25,001 and $50,000; 26.8% had incomes between $50,001 and $75,000; and 33.2% had incomes over $75,000. That clearly represents a huge increase in income - but it's important to remember that during that time, the median household income increased from $38,885 to $50,233.

In 1999, the federal poverty threshold for a family of 4 was $17,030; in 2007, it was $21,203. Thus, in 1999, many families who made under $25,000 who were not under the poverty level; by 2007, most families who made under $25,000 were. In 1999, many families who made less than $50,000 made more than the median income; by 2007, none did.

The median income for families increased from $47,469 in 1999 (under $50,000) to $62,359 (halfway into the third group). These changes in income levels are obviously going to have a very significant effect on homeschoolers as well as the non-homeschooling population. I do see one trend that seems significant: there has been an increase in the homeschooling among those who make over $75,000 per year. This increase is greater than can be accounted for simply by inflation; it seems likely that as it has become clear that homeschoolers can do very well, those who make more money are willing to give it a try.

The reporter, however, does not mention that increase as support for his contention. Instead, he uses this statistic: "In 1999, 63.6% of home-schooling families earned less than $50,000. Now 60.0% earn more than $50,000." In light of the above-mentioned increase in median family income, that change is exactly what would be expected if homeschooling families simply kept pace with the rest of the nation, and shows no increase at all in the "wealth" of families who are homeschooling.

3) As for the contention that "homeschoolers are increasingly . . . well educated," the data in the study does not seem to support that well. Among those with a graduate or professional degree, homeschooling has actually declined since 1999. In 1999, 47.4% of homeschoolers had at least a bachelor's degree; in 2007, 49.9% did. This difference is not statistically significant. In 1999, 81.1% of homeschooling families had at least some college; in 2007, 86.3% of homeschooling families did - so if you consider "some college" to be "well educated," I suppose you might agree with the reporter's statement.

Articles like these are frustrating, because the authors appear to be searching for data to support their own pre-drawn conclusions. On the other hand, Albert Mohler has a new article, drawn from the same study, that provides a much more solidly supported perspective. It's entitled, "A Major Force in Education," and I encourage you to check it out. :) He points out some interesting, and some concerning, trends indicated by the report. Here's his conclusion:

Education cannot be reduced to statistics, but the trends revealed in this new report from the Department of Education deserve close attention. In our day, education represents a clash of worldviews. Increasingly toxic approaches to education (or what is called education) drive many schools and many school systems. In that light, the fact that so many . . . parents are taking education into their own hands is a sign of hope. As this new report makes clear, we should expect homeschooling to be a growth industry in years ahead.