Students and parents broaden their horizons

-A A +A

By Tom Hanlon

Home, sweet, home when associated with education, is what many kids these days know better than everyone else.
With the growing popularity of home schooling, more kids are taking part in this alternative form of education.
In fact, a recent study has shown that home schooling has more than doubled in the last 10 years.
The U.S. Department of Education said that nearly two million students are being home schooled nationwide, which is a 74 percent jump since 1999.
To add to the numbers, there are 9,000 registered home school families in New Mexico this year.
But why such a rise? A few of the main reasons are that the parents don’t like the public school environment or that their children are bullied.
Other parents home school for moral and religious reasons. According to the Department of Education, 36 percent of parents remove their children from the public school system because of religious reasons; 38 percent don’t like the way the teacher is teaching or they don’t like the school environment.
Others maintain that public schools are not meeting the needs of individual students.
There are some advantages to home schooling, which include learning at one’s own pace. When stuck on a subject, the student can take as much time as he or she needs to master a problem before moving on.
Donny Thompson is a home schooler who did not like the middle school environment and thought home schooling was a good option to public school.
“I like home schooling because you can get your work done faster than in public school,” he said.
Matthew Davenport, a high school home schooler likes it because home school has more flexibility than public school. He takes advantage of online courses.
Another home schooler, Andre Green, agrees that home school has much more flexibility than public school. “I can progress at a faster pace in my work,” Green said.
His mother Eileen Green, has been home schooling for 15 years. The process went well for their oldest son Harry, who now attends the University of New Mexico. “We started then and have never looked back,” Eileen Green said. “The beauty of home schooling is that you can custom fit the training to the needs and the pace of the student. Also, we have the flexibility and freedom to teach the values we think are important.”
Many families center their education curriculum on their Judeo-Christian faith, teaching the moral and traditional values that homeschoolers feel is often dismissed in today’s society and public education institutions.
Despite the advantages in flexibility, home schooling has its disadvantages too. For many homeschoolers, socializing takes an extra effort. Thompson said, “I don’t get to see my friends from public school as often.”
Thompson’s mother Monica, finds challenges with home schooling as well. “For me it is that I am not an expert in things that could help him more, but I make up for that by hiring tutors,” she said.
Eileen Green said that home schooling is like a calling. “There are ways to work through weaknesses by letting God work through you,” she said.
There are thousands of resources available for home schooling, especially with today’s technology and support from local groups.
There are also more accredited online “schools” throughout the country. Annual national home school conventions offer teaching seminars, presentations on current issues and curriculum resources.
Many parents looking into home schooling may worry that their kids won’t be able to handle the “real world” because they are not interacting with other kids, but home schoolers often are able to socialize with other children that are not their own age, just like the “real world.”
In contrast to school children that are inside a classroom for six to seven hours a day, followed by homework, home school students have more opportunity to be in the real world.
They often take advantage of being on their own schedule and travel, get involved in extracurricular sports, music and arts activities and volunteer in their communities.
According to a study by the Fraser Institute in 2001, home school children are, on average, more academically and socially advanced than public and private school students.  
Ninety-eight percent of home schooled students are involved in two or more outside functions on a weekly basis, including cooperative programs with groups of other home schooled kids.
The research also suggests that home schooled students are more sociable than their school peers, as well as more independent of peer values as they grow older.  
“Popular belief holds that home schooled children are socially backward and deprived, but research shows the opposite: that home schooled children are actually better socialized than their peers,” said Claudia Hepburn, director of education policy at The Fraser Institute.
“Some studies have shown that home schooled children are happier, better adjusted, more thoughtful, mature and sociable than children who attend institutional schools.”  
Still, for the average teenager the teen years are filled with physical and emotional challenges regardless of how or where they are schooled.
According to their website, the Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 to redirect public attention to the role markets can play in providing for the economic and social well-being of Canadians.
More than 350 authors in 22 countries (including six who have subsequently been awarded Nobel Prizes) have contributed to 250 Institute books and thousands of articles.
Some famous home schooled people include Sandra Day O’Connor, who was home schooled for a short time before going to a private girls school in El Paso, Texas where she received most of her education.
Justin Timberlake went to public school in elementary, then was home schooled in middle and high school.
And Winston Churchill was educated by a governess, and then sent to a boarding school.