Until the first section exam of my university stats class, I was doing pretty well. Even I surprised myself at my performance in a math-related course (it required much from me). Since then, I’ve only read research studies, not performed, nor necessarily understood statistics, or their double-blind effectiveness in proving points.
Since that class, I’ve only really paid close attention to statistics that were presented in a homeschool seminar given by an HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) lawyer, Paul Farris, about the statistics on home-grown adults and children. I thought I’d read plenty, understood plenty, definitely created my own happily-believed biases about my lifestyle but was it ever freeing to hear the stats.
I’d already understood that home educated children fared well academically. They scored at average or above average in every subject, whether they were classically trained or unschooled, whether the province was highly regulated or unregulated. Their lowest score was 18 percentage points better than the average schooled student. Anywhere from 18 to 31 percentage points higher. That’s a marked difference. Certainly confirming that our academic process wasn’t going to fail them.
I have my opinions as to its reasons, certainly not validated by double-blind trials.
Parents home educating are intrinsically interested in their children’s education. Though there are loads of interested parents in the schooled realm, there are also plenty of parents that aren’t. Parents impact the habits and focus of the children, intentionally and unintentionally.
Home educated children have loads of time. They have time to master their topic, or glide into areas of interest. They have much smaller class sizes. Even the largest of homeschooling families are less than half that of a typical classroom. Well, maybe not the Duggars, but not too many competing with those numbers (though according to statistics, homeschoolers have more babies than the general population…)
There is less activity competing for the attention of home educating children. Some have wondered if they’re in pjs all day watching Netflix documentaries, but I don’t know too many parents who don’t monitor screen time. As for PJs, there was that time a neighbor came over and we were all in our PJs, except for the two year old–he was buck naked–but this is most definitely the exception to our norm. When our kids have spare time, especially boredom time, they do some pretty cool things. Like write clever stories or plays, paint, play number games, practice instruments, cook meals, earn money for an iPod, bicycle, sew handmade dresses, or play Clue. BTW we definitely watch Netflix documentaries.
Lest you think that I believe home educated children are more intelligent than schooled children, let me dispel you of that thought. I do not. I think every child is born into the world with natural skills and aptitudes, diverse aptitudes even, unique to them. What one child can do, another may not even register as an occupying activity. I think home educated children generally have more time to pursue their interests and aptitudes, discovering what they love and what they don’t love. So. much. time.
They also don’t tire their brains being dulled with wasted time and
space. If they already have read about WWII history, why do they have to reread for social studies? If they understand the math concept, let them move on. At home, they have fewer classmates to wait to understand the discussion or reading. They more closely move at their own pace.
These statistics released me from believing there was some magical academic formula in a schooled classroom that would make my kids smart. I haven’t had regular questioning feedback about homeschool academics as there has been a fairly established public acceptance in the last ten or more years that academics aren’t a reason to drop out of home education.
I was most curious about the research on the ‘s’ word…socialization. The blessed ‘s’ word, to which I am regularly answering questions. And tomorrow, I’ll share the research on that most divisive discussion point.