Elective Home Education and Special Educational Needs, Term Paper Example
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In recent years, homeschooling has gained popularity. The number of children being homeschooled has increased tremendously, with an estimated 1.6 million students being homeschooled (Collom, 2005). Yet, there are many concerns about the adequacy of the education that those children are receiving. Many educators, policy makers, and other stake holders in the educational system express that they are unsure that parents, who are not certified teachers, are capable of providing an effective education to their children. Others conclude that the materials being used for the instruction is inadequate. The most common concern was the fact that homeschooling does not allow children the full range of curriculum and social experiences. The homeschooling experience does not provide proper educational rigor, students do not obtain necessary social skills, and parents often lack proper materials needed.
Background to Homeschooling
Homeschooling has been surfacing and dissipating for some time. There was a great increase in the number of homeschooled students’ right after the World War I, when government enacted compulsory school laws. After the 1870s, it dissipated for a while, but became popular in the 1960s again. Around this time, John Holt and Raymond Moore, popular forerunners of education, began encouraging parents to school their children at home. Moore believed that it was every Christian family duty to educate their children themselves, while Holt was more concerned with the curriculum and pedagogy being taught in the public school system. Because Moore had worked for the Department of Education, he made the concept of homeschooling very popular. The two put their ideas together and came up with a formalized instruction, with a Christian grounding, that laid the foundation for education of students between the ages of 8 and 12 years old (Beato, 2005). Today, homeschooling is considered an alternative form of education for parents who would rather not enroll their children into a public or private facility because they have little faith in the educational reform system.
The educational rigor of any homeschool depends upon the education of the parent teaching the curriculum. Sadly, many parents are just not properly educated to teach their children with concentrated rigor and strategy. Many studies have been conducted to determine the academic success of homeschooled students and have determined that students who come from better educated, richer families perform better on standardized testing than students from less educated families. As a result of these factors, there should be standards in place to guide homeschoolers in their educational endeavors. Also, parents that have more than one child often have older children giving instruction to smaller siblings. This tactic causes older children to neglect their studies. There are thirty-nine states that do not have parent education requirements and parents who do not have a high school diploma can homeschool their children. Some states have no subject requirements, hours of instruction mandates, or records to be maintained. Another 25 states have no academic progress or assessment requirements (Cooper & Sureau, 2007).
Homeschooled children are often hindered by lack of socialization skills when they enter the world outside of homeschooling. Socialization helps students learn social skills that help them to interact with others by abiding by social rules and behaviors (Arora, 2006). Peer interaction is a great part of general education. In public and private educational settings, students have the opportunity to work with other students and learn how to compromise and work out differences through the experiences they have in school. This is often unlikely in the homeschool setting because the parent is the mediator and solves problems that the siblings may encounter. In a school setting, students have the opportunity to interact with other students from various age groups; whereas, the homeschooled child only interacts with the parent or few siblings. Nevertheless, some homeschoolers have a great network of friends and social outings with other homeschooled children. They may be involved in field trips, recitals, and even dual-enrollment with local community colleges. However, many do not interact with other students and lack the required social skills to adapt to the outside world. One study found that only 13 percent of homeschooled students interacted with other students and were involved in activities. Many home schooled students reported feeling lonely and isolated from the outside world. The same study reported that adults between the ages of 24-39 who were homeschooled reported having suffered from depression, anxiety, and social phobias due to cultural alienation (Arora, 2006).
Most homes are just not equipped to become classrooms. Some classes require labs for experiments and other hands on activities. It can be very difficult for parents to acquire the necessary materials and chemicals to conduct experiments at home. Homeschooling can prove to be very costly, too. Teaching tools, books, and computer software can add up very quickly. Some parents choose to buy homeschooling computer programs. It can be difficult for teachers to keep up with the latest trends in education, so for a parent at home the task can be even more daunting. With Common Core on the forefront, homeschoolers are affected as well (Cooper & Sureau, 2007). Homeschoolers feel they have the right to choose their curriculum, but do they really. With Common Core being adopted by all fifty states, homeschoolers are bound to run into Common Core standards when the leave the home school realm.
Homeschooling is an option that many parents are taking. Yet, some children are falling behind because their parents lack the necessary education needed to adequately educate their children. Often parents are unable to provide the necessary rigor to challenge students. Students also lack the social skills needed because of the limited access they have to other kids their age. Finally, parents are often teaching without the necessary materials and facilities, which in turns short changes the students in hands on experiences.
Solutions and Thesis Development
As the above review of related literature has found, there are several advantages and disadvantages associated with homeschooling. The author of the current study would like to prove that a higher involvement of education authorities in the life of families that make use of the opportunity provided for them could benefit the entire society. The main challenges of homeschooling have been identified as lack of structure, under-developed social skills of children, and the lack of standards. Below, the study will focus on potential solutions to eliminate the above stated disadvantages, and make homeschooling more effective.
Hypothesis 1: Increased government control would improve the academic achievement of homeschooled children.
Hypothesis 2: There is a need for creating extra programs for homeschooled children to help them develop social skills that are equivalent to those who attend school.
Increasing Government Involvement
While – according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (Berlick, 2008), one of the main reasons why parents decide to homeschool their children is their dissatisfaction with the academic instruction and home environment, it is also important to note that the achievement of homeschooled children is not significantly higher than those who attend school. The use of standardized tests to measure the academic achievement of homeschooled students shows that those who study at home can achieve as much as 30 point higher scores on the average (Calvert School, 2010).
According to Ray (2009), however, there is no positive correlation between government involvement and the achievement of homeschooled children. Referring to a recent study comparing highly regulated states with those that minimize their influence on home education, the author concludes that “research by Dr. Brian Ray and Dr. Bruce Eagleston found no relationship between the degree of state control over homeschooling and home-educated students’ scores on SAT-college entrance exam” (Ray, 2009, p. 3). The above research contradicts the statement of Hypothesis 1, therefore, it is not confirmed.
Social Skills Development
Bergstorm’s research (2012) examined the impact of home education on children’s social skills development. The author found based on the results of interviews and surveys of homeshooling parents and children that most of them believed their children socialized with other kids and grown-ups frequently. Homeschooling can also mean that parents are flexible and can enroll their children to extra-curriculum classes and activities.
Dumas, Gates, & Schwarzer (2010) researched evidence related to the impact on academic and social development of homeschooled children. Quoting a comprehensive study, the authors found that “The mean overall score for the homeschooled children on communication, daily living skills, socialization, and social maturity subscales was at the 84th percentile compared to the 23rd percentile for the traditionally schooled students”. This evidence suggests that homeschooled children are not disadvantaged because of not attending classes, and homeschooling does not affect their social skills development negatively. Consequently, Hypothesis 2 cannot be confirmed, either.
The Way Forward and Solutions
It is confirmed that homeschooling without government control does not disadvantage children in the social and academic sphere. However, there are still issues that need to be dealt with, related to regulation and standardization.
Solution One would be to expand existing support networks for homeschooling parents to help them stay up to date with regulations, test requirements, and resources. The Home School Support Network, a non-profit organization is currently helping parents find the information they need to start with home schooling. However, further government support is needed, in order to align the government’s educational goals with those of parents who choose to educate their children at home.
This solution would help parents make the most out of their tools, resources, and prepare their children for the requirements of higher education.
Solution Two would involve liberalization of homeschooling, and making it easier to apply for homeschooling.
Given that – according to statistics detailed above – homeschooled children score better in tests, increasing the number of families allowed to educate their kids at home would imprpove test statistics.
Solution Three would control home education, and set a minimum academic qualification for parents, or require taking courses before they would be permitted to homeschool their children.
Based on the research literature reviewed above, better educated parents’ homeschooled children achieve better standardized test results, therefore, this step would improve the quality of home education.
Overall, it has been found that no further regulation of homeschooling is needed, however, in order to improve the quality of teaching at home, government agencies and researchers, educational professionals need to work closely, creating support networks for parents.
Part III: Possible Disadvantages, Answers, with Visuals
While there are several problems that have been previously associated with homeschooling, many parents continue to select this as a choice for their children. In spite of the lack of regulation of this schooling method, it is important to put forth resources that will allow parents to support the educations of their children. In particular, it would be valuable to expand existing support networks for homeschooling parents to help them stay up to date with regulations, test requirements, and resources.
Unfortunately, providing parents of homeschooled students with additional resources would impose a financial constraint. Since the public school system allocates funds for the advancement of children through their schools, it would be challenging to individually target families that choose to homeschool their children to achieve this purpose. Instead of providing help in the same way that public schools offer, it would be reasonable for school districts to alter their websites in a manner that will allow parents of homeschooled children to readily access the information they need to help ensure that their child maintains academic standards and expectations. Furthermore, there should be one agent in each school district to act as a point of contact through phone or e-mail to answer the questions that parents are asking (Institute of Education Sciences, 2015). In this manner, resources could be provided to homeschooled students in a financially savvy and effective manner.
An additional disadvantage to this solution is that many parents would not be aware of the educational resources that will be made available. It is challenging for the school district to remain in contact with parents of homeschooled students, but in most cases, the public school system is required to have their information on file. Therefore, it would be helpful for the school district to send a letter home to families of homeschooled children to explain which resources are available to them in addition to how they could retrieve them (Wood & Freeman-Loftis, 2011). It is important to get into contact with parents directly to ensure that the vast majority of this specialized audience is met.
In conclusion, even though there are several disadvantages associated with providing resources to the parents of homeschooled students, it is important to consider that doing so will allow parents to have a clear plan to help their children succeed. In spite of the distance learning that these children will participate in, the ability of their parents to access information, curricula, and other resources from their school district will help them be better prepared to teach their children. To address the disadvantage of financial constraints, it is important for there to be internet resources and a consultant available to help parents understand what is available. In addition, the disadvantage of accessibility to these resources can be resolved by having the school district contact parents of homeschooled students in the form of a letter. It is our responsibility to ensure that all children, independently of instructional method, will be able to access the education that they deserve. It is our hope that the children in each and every school district will have the opportunity to become successful in their academic career and providing them with the resources to make this possible is therefore a component of our civic duty.
Arora, T. (C.M.J.) (2006). Elective home education and special educational needs. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 6(1), 55-66.
Beato, G. (2005). Homeschooling alone. Reason, 36(11), 32-40.
Bergstrom, L. (2012). What Effect Does Homeschooling Have on the Social Development and Test Scores of Students?. Thesis Paper.
Bielick, Stacey. 1.5 million homeschooled students in the United States in 2007. US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008.
Calvert School. (2010) Homeschooling: Helping children achieve academic and personal success. Retrieved from http://www.calverteducation.com/downloads/Calvert_Homeschooling_Academic_Success.pdf
Collom, E. (2005). The ins and outs of homeschooling: The determinants of parental motivations and student achievement. Education and Urban Society, 37(3), 307- 335.
Cooper, B. S., & Sureau, J. (2007). The politics of homeschooling: New developments, new challenges. Educational Policy, 21(1), 110-131.
Dumas, T. K., Gates, S., & Schwarzer, D. R. (2010). Evidence for homeschooling: Constitutional analysis in light of social science research. Widener L. Rev.,16, 63.
Institute of Education Sciences. (2015). Public School Expenditures. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cmb.asp
Ray, B. (2009) Home Education – Reason and research. Common questions and research-based answers about homeschooling. National Home Education Research Institute.
Wood, C., Freeman-Loftis, B. (2009). School-Home Communication Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/school-home-communication-strategies
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