It is now theoretically possible for a child to receive an approved, socially viable, and state accepted education without ever setting foot into a classroom. Teachers, faculty, administrators, legislators, and unions have less of a say than ever before in how a parent chooses to have their child educated. I’ve written before about special needs children, and how distance education (or home schooling, as it is called for students under college age) can benefit them. But now I’d like to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling a child; because there are many arguments to be made on both sides.
More Field Trips — If you’re as old as me, you remember the buzz and excitement that went through your class the whole week of a field trip. Visiting a dairy, a business, or a pumpkin patch, it didn’t matter; getting the class loaded up on the bus and driving out of school to go learn in the real world was always a highlight of the school year. Based on what I see from my children, field trips are almost extinct. My oldest daughter has one field trip a year… or should I say one school-approved field trip a year. I take her out on the weekends to learn and do fun educational things outdoors, and I see how those young minds just soak it all in. When a child is home schooled, the parent doesn’t need a permission slip, or to coordinate with the board of education – there can be a field trip every week, to illustrate a point or reinforce a lesson plan.
No Standardized Tests – Is anything more widely maligned than the standardized test? A nationally distributed test that assumes every student in every classroom in the country is exactly the same, and has followed the same lessons? Standardized tests exist as a way for schools to be graded and rewarded (or penalized) with money and grants from the federal government. Because money in schools is so tight, many schools teach FOR the test. Instead of giving children a well rounded education, they focus on coaching the kids so that they know the answers to that specific test. And to me, that isn’t an education, that’s learning how to take a test. Standardized tests have also shown to have cultural bias, and can be harder for students from economically depressed, rural, or inner city schools.
In a home school environment, there are no standardized tests. The student is required to follow a curriculum and learn the appropriate lessons, but that can be customized specifically toward that student and how they learn.
What is Appropriate? – Every family is different, and parents from all walks of life choose to instill different values and beliefs into their young. A problem schools often face is trying to keep everyone happy, and find middle ground that is appropriate for all students. At home, this becomes a lot more simple – a child will not be shown movies that the parents feel are inappropriate, and will not be taught something that is diametrically opposed to a parents beliefs. When the parent has control over the education, the parent can guide and focus that education in a way that they feel serves the child (and their family) best.