As the accessibility of homeschooling increases and the number of families choosing this traditional school alternative grows, it becomes more and more important for parents to understand what it means in political, social, and academic spheres.
In the political sphere, through homeschooling parents have more influence to raise their children according to their beliefs, religious and otherwise, passing on to their children the morals and ideas that they suspect public school would not.
In the social sphere, though often viewed as unsocialized misfits, several observational studies have confirmed that a homeschooled environment, where students learn under the tutelage of mature adults, encourages healthy social skills that traditionally schooled students may not develop in the company of same-age peers.
Homeschooled students transition as well as traditionally schooled students into society, and may even have an advantage because of exposure in school-aged days to people from different backgrounds and of different ages. In addition, homeschooling gives families more opportunities to form close ties, which relation many studies have linked to emotional health and academic success.
In the academic sphere, much support comes from evaluation of standardized test scores, but the unreliability of testing and the small percentage of homeschoolers that take part casts the alleged academic success of homeschoolers in doubt. Still, homeschooling does offer academic benefits apart from standardized testing performance that should not be disregarded.
To be sure, homeschooling is not a panacea for student underachievement, misbehavior, lack of focus, or other social or educational shortcomings. However, potential drawbacks are not reason to suppress homeschooling, but rather are indications that home schools and public schools require greater cooperation and collaboration.
An atmosphere of mutual distrust surrounds the relationship; by breaking this hostility, homeschoolers can maintain the current academic and social advantages and affirm the legitimacy of homeschooling, and public schools can help guarantee student acquisition of a full liberal arts education through reasonable regulation, i.e. request for letters of intent and/or education plans, as well as provision of co-institutional resources.
While homeschooling may not be an option for every family, the emergence of better resources and new alliances make it more plausible for more families. Contrary to beliefs from years ago, and even beliefs still held today, homeschooling is not a subordinate form of education and, by and large, it does not harm the socialization or learning of students. This conclusion is paramount to developing policies now to accommodate homeschoolers in the changing education field of the 21st century and to help home schools co-exist with public, private, and charter schools.
Whether a family educates their children through public school, private school, or home school, the research implications and policies surrounding homeschooling will impact the whole of society. Homeschoolers are part of a growing movement of parents with the potential to initiate new social processes (Mayberry 221). One would do well to watch how the landscape changes and take note of the rise and effects of homeschooling.
This post was slightly edited on January 13, 2021 to make the language more inclusive of different types of homeschooling families.