Homeschooling: Reasons, Benefits and Negative Aspects

Introduction

Mahatma Gandhi asserted that “Live as if you die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” These words stress the importance of education, especially in the contemporary world. Education plays a critical role in the cognitive development of an individual by enabling us to view the world from an abstract perspective. The United States of America is one of the nations that has the oldest history of education in the world. In the United States, education is mainly provided by the public sector under the control of the local, state, and federal governments. However, the private sector is also involved in the provision of educational services from elementary to tertiary levels of education.

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Over the last several decades, the education system of the United States has been facing many challenges that have developed due to the social, economic, and political changes that the nation has been experiencing. However, the effects of these changes have had more impacts on public education as compared to private education. This phenomenon has forced many parents within the United States to result in homeschool their children to ensure that they get the best education and avoid the social, economic, and political challenges that the public education system is facing. This paper will therefore focus on the challenges that youths are currently facing which need to be addressed by their parents, critically analyze the public education system in the United States in comparison to Asian education systems, and finally, focus on homeschooling and the factors and preparations that parents have to consider to ensure that this practice if effective and efficient.

Youth Issues that Parents need to Address in the Contemporary World

The issues that the youth are currently facing originate from the family, peer interaction and pressure, drug and substance abuse, the environment in which they live, the prevailing economic situation, and levels of poverty. Peer pressure is one of the main challenges that youth face during their teen years as they grow up into adulthood. Peer interactions dominate the relationship of individuals at this stage. The groups that adolescents form at this stage also comprise members who share similar interests. It is during adolescence that people start dating and to some extent, engage in sexual activity. Peer influence at this stage is strong and is characterized with greater consequences as compared to the prior stages of development. At this stage, negative influences might lead to activities such as drug and substance abuse, violence, crime, and so on.

Egocentrism is usually common at this stage especially because image and identity play a significant role in the cognitive development of an individual by influencing their self-concept, psychological, and emotional traits. Teenagers usually develop the notion that they cannot become victims of unfortunate circumstances of the world due to the exaggerations of their beliefs and ideologies they develop as a result of egocentrism. This, therefore, explains why adolescents engage in risky activities such as crime, unprotected sex, and disobeying the law for males while females have additional characteristics such as obsession with their looks and weight. Adolescents believe that the resultant image of these activities makes them be considered as great individuals especially among their peers.

While trying to fit into different peer groups, teenagers face a lot of pressure. At this stage, it is considered ‘cool’ among peers if a girl is a member of the most beautiful girls in school or the cheerleading squad. Failure to become a member of these groups might have serious self-esteem damage to the individual. On the other hand, male adolescents might join gangs that usually require them to commit an act of crime as an initiation process. Many teenagers have been arrested and sentenced due to such acts hence losing an essential stage of their life. Being left out of these groups usually diminishes the self-esteem of an individual leading to adverse effects that are mainly characterized by a rebellious character.

Divorce, domestic violence, death of a parent, poverty, or low income might be some of the family issues that have immense pressure on an adolescent. To overcome this pressure, adolescents usually seek support and advice from their peers. Due to their vulnerability, they might easily be recruited into gangs or become addicts of different substances as a means of trying to get away from reality by being high. Some adolescents usually develop violent behavior due to the stress and tension that comes about as a result of conflicts within the family. In some rare cases, adolescents have ended up killing their parents or killing themselves as a means of overcoming such pressure.

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Other than having an impact on their social life, these issues also play a significant role in the education of youths. For instance, an individual might be frustrated as a result of consistently having poor grades as compared to his/her friends. Another challenge that the youth might face originates from the quality of education that they enjoy. Given the family background that an individual comes from, an individual might have a better education as compared to his/her peers. Most of the youth who come from well-off families are usually enrolled in private schools where the quality of education is better as compared to public schools where many youths from middle-income and poor families are enrolled in. This education disparity is also prevalent on the grounds of gender and race. This phenomenon greatly diminishes the chances of employment of the youths who study in public since the job market is highly competitive and the quality of education is a critical factor that employers consider during their recruitment processes.

Challenges Facing Public Education in the USA

According to educators, scholars, parents, and students, the American education system has been facing immense challenges for several decades now. As Hunter (1994) asserted, the main challenge that the American education system is currently facing is identifying the problems that are responsible for reducing the quality and standards of education in America. Without proper measures and strategies in place, it is impossible to come up with solutions that will enhance the quality of American education.

Like many parts of the world, the United States of America has been experiencing an increase in population over time. This phenomenon has had an impact on the education system of the nation by increasing the size of the classroom. Learning is an interactive process that requires participation between teachers and students. This interaction is greatly enhanced if the teacher has contact with every student. However, a teacher will face quite a several challenges in achieving the curriculum goals and meeting the needs of every student if the classroom size is big. For instance, in an attempt to try to minimize the education costs, the state of Georgia had no option but to increase the classroom size to accommodate the limited budget. This move had immense negative impacts on the quality of education within this state. Most teachers asserted that it would be difficult for them to effectively teach if the classroom size exceeds thirty students. At this point, it is essential to note that there are regions within the United States where it is a norm for a class to have more than thirty students. This can be considered as evidence of why the teaching standards of this nation have been deteriorating with time.

Since 2007, the world has been facing an economic crisis that has greatly increased the levels of unemployment and poverty in the United States and the world at large. According to the study that was conducted by Shyers (2008), approximately 22% of the students in the USA live below the poverty level. Poverty has always hurt education since it is associated with high dropout rates. Consequently, the performance of students from poverty-stricken families is usually lower as compared to those who come from well-off families. This phenomenon can be attributed to constraints such as family conflicts (divorce, single parenthood, domestic violence, and so on) and lack of essentials (food, appropriate shelter, healthcare, and so on). The US government in conjunction with educational institutions has tried to come up with means through which they can provide such students with essentials. However, these efforts have not been effective enough to alleviate the challenges that are associated with poverty.

Some challenges originate from social factors especially regarding the changes in society. Currently, quite a fair number of students have developed negative attitudes and behaviors. These characteristics have mainly been related to students who are at the adolescent stage of development. Cases of disrespect, apathy, tardiness, bullying, and absenteeism among students have greatly increased over time. Even though these cases were mainly cited at the secondary level of education, there has been an increase in their occurrence at the primary level of education in contemporary society.

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We are currently living in the age of technology. Even though the advancements in technology have enhanced the quality of teaching, they have also brought about some negative effects in the overall process of learning. From a critical point of view, however, students have greater access to technology as compared to their teachers. This access has been reported to have a distracting effect on the learning process of students. Social network sites (SNS) are one of the main avenues that individuals of the current generation are using to interact with one another. However, the usage is very addictive especially to students, and can have profound effects on their performance. Consequently, technology has also provided students with a new avenue for bullying. Instances of cyberbullying have become a major issue within American schools. Most suicidal cases within American schools have been traced back to cyberbullying.

To overcome the challenges that public education in the USA is facing, the local, federal, and state governments in conjunction with educational institutions have come up with new laws and policies. However, some of these policies have been greatly criticized and linked to the deteriorating standards of education within the nation. The No Child Left Behind Act, for instance, has been greatly criticized even though its main aim was to enhance the performance of disadvantaged students. Through this Act, critics believe that the current education system mainly focuses on academics and assessments (as means of securing funding to support the learning process) at the expense of extra-curricular activities that play a significant role in the physical and mental development of students.

Parents play a significant role in the education of their children. Parents can be involved directly or indirectly in the learning process of their children. However, the level of involvement has been reducing with time. Teachers enjoy working with parents to ensure that the educational needs of the students have been met. However, there are those parents who refuse to collaborate with teachers to achieve this goal. There have been reports where parents have failed to attend school meetings or disciplinary cases of their children even though they have been summoned by the school. Such acts make students feel neglected hence affecting reducing their self-esteem. As a result, such individuals become vulnerable to social ills such as drug abuse, joining a gang, or violent behavior.

Comparison between the American and Asian Public School Systems

The education system of a given nation is tailored to meet its social, economic, and political needs. It is these specific requirements that make the education system between different localities. Within the United States alone, the education system differs from one state to the other even though they follow a similar curriculum that has been standardized by the local, state, and federal governments. From a larger perspective, the American education system has some similarities and differences as compared to the European, African, or Asian education systems.

In the USA as well as many Asian nations, there are specific requirements that individuals must meet before they can be considered as qualified personnel to hold a teaching position within the nation. In China, for instance, an individual must be a graduate and possess at least two years of teaching experience before he/she can become a teacher at middle and senior school levels of teaching. In the USA, an individual needs to undergo a four-year undergraduate teaching course within institutions of higher education. Additionally, the same individual has to undertake a certification examination in the state that he/she hopes to teach. There are also additional requirements depending on the level of teaching and the technicality of the subject/units that the individual wishes to teach.

In the USA and Asia, students study together in the same class. However, several differences are present in the teaching strategies that are employed in the process of teaching students within a classroom setting. For instance, American classrooms comprise approximately thirty students per class. In Asia, most classes have more than fifty students. On the other hand, Asian schools organize their lessons using the cohort concept where a group of students studies all subjects together as they advance through the educational ladder. Therefore, the students stay in the same class for different subjects. Therefore, as the students progress through the grades, they will still be taught by the same teachers. This is an effective technique since it ensures that a teacher understands the strengths and weaknesses of all students hence giving him/her a better opportunity to meet the needs of the students as well as achieve the curriculum objectives.

In the USA, however, students are grouped according to the lessons they are learning. Therefore, an English class, for example, will have a different composition of students as compared to a math class for students of a particular grade. As a result, students move through different classrooms to attend the different subjects that they have enrolled in. In this system, a specific teacher will only teach a given class for one academic year. Even though such a teacher will have a chance of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the students, he/she will not have the opportunity to develop these students to meet their educational needs.

The teaching strategies are also relatively different in the USA as compared to Asia. Chinese teachers prefer to teach their students using a group approach other than an individual approach. If one student will have an academic problem, the teacher together with the other students will try to assist this student. In the USA, teachers take an individual approach. In an event where a student will be perfuming poorly, he/she will be identified and critiqued. Instead of assisting the student to overcome the challenges that he/she is facing, this strategy will affect the self-esteem of the student, a move that will impact negatively his/her performance.

Discipline is an essential factor in determining the success of a student within and outside the school system. Despite the efforts that American schools have put in place to ensure that their students are disciplined, the level of discipline in Asian schools is higher. In China and Japan, teachers must supervise their students, especially between breaks. This is because most of the unaccepted behaviors from students are conducted during breaks, especially in the hallways. This strategy has greatly enhanced the level of discipline within Asian schools. On the other hand, minimal supervision is conducted by teachers in American schools, especially during breaks. It is as a result of this fact that unaccepted behaviors such as bullying are quite common in American schools.

Benefits of Homeschooling

In the USA and many other parts of the world, more families are resulted to homeschooling their children as a means of overcoming the challenges that are being experienced in the public and private educational systems. According to McLaren (2009), the parents result to homeschooling as a result of:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the public and private education systems
  2. Concerns about the environment in which their children learn in
  3. Lack of moral and religious teachings in public schools

Even though it is difficult to gather information regarding the success rates of homeschooling due to its decentralized nature, it is evident that homeschooling has remarkable outcomes as compared to the traditional education system. However, surveys that have been conducted on adults who have undergone homeschooling have revealed that such individuals end up being more successful in life as compared to the adults who have passed through the traditional education system due to the high college enrolment and attendance rates and the subsequent securing of well-paying jobs.

Homeschooling has always been associated with specific benefits over the traditional approach of education. First, this system is regarded as being very flexible. Unlike in the traditional school system where students have to attend classes for specific days of the week, this schedule can easily be adjusted in the homeschooling approach to consider unforeseen events such as accidents, illnesses, unfavorable weather, and so on. Consequently, the lost time can be easily recovered by adjusting the schedule either by extending the hours of learning or by utilizing resting days like weekends. As a result of its flexibility, it is possible to take a break during a school day and let the students interact with other individuals who undergo the same mode of learning in social places like parks where they can socialize, interact, and play together.

Homeschooling also supports a variety of learning styles to ensure that the needs of the students are met. Under this approach, learning is not confined to the classroom alone. Traditionally, students spend hours in a classroom in the course of learning. This is monotonous and may hinder the process of acquisition. Through homeschooling, however, learning is not just about the curriculum and computer work since students have the opportunity to ask questions about their surroundings. It is as a result of this fact that homeschooling has always been regarded as an essential life learning tool. For instance, a student can ask questions while watching TV, at the shop, in the hospital, and so on. This is critical especially in the cognitive development of a student has he/she is exposed to a lot of factors.

Homeschooling also encourages socialization between the students and other individuals within the society. Through homeschooling, parents have the opportunity of spending more time with their children. This increases the bonding process, as they understand each other in a deeper context. Consequently, siblings also have the chance to bond and interact with each other through this teaching approach. From a larger perspective, students who are homeschooled also have the opportunity to interact with an individual from outside their family circle. This includes their friends from church, other students who are homeschooled, members of different clubs which they have enrolled in, and so on. Consequently, such students have the opportunity to interact with other people within the society such as store attendants, medical personnel, neighbors, and so on.

Finally, homeschooling ensures that the individual needs of every student are met. Unlike in the traditional approach where a teacher has to attend to at least thirty students at any given time, teachers have a one-on-one opportunity with the students that they are teaching. Thus, parents have the opportunity to determine the academic strengths and weaknesses of their children. Furthermore, parents are also in a position of determining how their children are coping with different subjects. From this analysis, a parent will determine the areas that his/her child needs to improve on. At the same time, a parent can also determine the areas that his/her child is talented in and work on developing them in the future. This ensures that the education of children under the homeschooling approach is geared towards achieving the goals and dreams of the students.

Preparation for Homeschooling

Homeschooling is not an easy exercise since parents have to put in the effort, time, and patience to ensure that they realize the learning objectives and goals. Therefore, rigorous preparation is required before parents can commence homeschooling. First, parents should undertake thorough research to determine the homeschooling options that they have. Clark (2009) asserted that parents should undertake this research after the end of the academic year so that they have ample time to prepare themselves for the task ahead. Consequently, parents should use relevant resources such as homeschooling journals to gather information and techniques that have been successfully implemented in this practice.

Parents can also consult and join homeschooling organizations to gather the best practices that they can apply to realize their family educational needs through homeschooling. Parents should also be familiar with the legal requirements that govern homeschooling within their states. In the USA, all states advocate for homeschooling. However, the laws that govern homeschooling vary from one state to another. For instance, some states require parents to register as private schools. Furthermore, some states require the students who are homeschooled to take standardized tests when they reach certain grades. Therefore, a parent needs to be aware of these laws.

Parents should also decide on the teaching approach that they want to utilize to achieve the learning goals and objectives. There are those parents who would wish to replicate the traditional school systems through homeschooling. On the other hand, there are those parents who will want to instill or focus on specific aspects of education such as morals and religion that they feel were lacking under the traditional teaching approach. It is from these considerations that parents should generate their teaching curriculum and determine the teaching materials that will be utilized to ensure that their specific goals and objectives for learning are achieved. From this curriculum, parents should set up specific learning goals and objectives that should be achieved through the learning process.

Parents should develop a learning schedule that should be followed. This will ensure that all subjects are taught within a specified period to achieve specific learning goals and objectives. The presence of a teaching schedule will ensure that parents teach with a mission by having an organized approach. It is therefore strongly advised that parents should purchase a guidebook that will assist them in determining the subjects to teach their children, the amount of time they should spend on each subject, and how time will be utilized for academic purposes in the day, the week, and academic year. Most importantly, a parent should also include extra-curricular activities in this schedule.

Finally, parents are advised to be patient while starting the process of homeschooling their children. A parent should be patient with his/her children as well as themselves. During the early days of homeschooling, parents usually face many challenges such as isolation, following a teaching approach that does not conform to the student’s needs or finding it difficult to cope with the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling. However, with careful research and planning, some of these challenges can be avoided while others can be easily solved.

Training Parents to be Teachers

Several considerations need to be put in place to train parents into becoming homeschooling teachers. First, parents need to understand how to set the learning vision, goals, and objectives. It is thus necessary for parents to understand how to develop a curriculum by considering the needs of their children in addition to other requirements such as state regulations, the preferences of the parent, and so on. To ensure that proper vision, goals, and objectives are set, a parent should conduct thorough research and contact groups and agencies that are involved in homeschooling to gather opinions and ideas that can be implemented in the homeschooling program.

Parents should also learn how to train and discipline their children before the commencement of the project. This is an essential factor as it ensures that children respect their parents as teachers and not a father or mother. Therefore, parents should attend training clinics and/or courses to ensure that they utilize the desired approaches to realize this goal. Discipline is an essential factor in the learning process since it facilitates the cognitive and moral development of the students.

Parents should also gather the relevant resources that are required for the learning process. First, they need to select a favorable location where the learning process will take place. The home library is usually the most convenient place to conduct classes in. Parents are also required to identify effective resources such as blackboards/whiteboards, textbooks, teaching guides, and so on to support the learning exercise. Most importantly, it is advised that parents should undergo basic training in teaching so that they can act as professional teachers in the process of teaching their children.

Benefits of Biblical Teachings in Homeschooling

Contemporary society is characterized by challenges that have a huge impact on the moral behavior of individuals. Children are exposed to several substances most of which arise through the rapid development of technology. Parents play a significant process in renewing the minds of teenagers as a means of enabling them to become positive thinkers. Through homeschooling, a parent can use biblical teachings to develop moral characters within their children. Through these teaching, the students will stand a high chance of differentiating between the right and wrong choices in life hence stand a high chance of being successful individuals in the future by avoiding acts such as premarital, drug abuse, crime, and so on.

Biblical teaching is an essential aspect that should be considered in a homeschooling curriculum since it promotes the spiritual, moral, and cultural development of teenagers. This considerably increases the chances that teenagers have in making a sound decision especially with regards to the opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences that they might face in life (). Biblical teaching develops positive values in an individual. These values are mainly exhibited in the behavior of an individual and how one communicates and relates with other people in a given societal setting. From the beliefs that youth will develop, he/she will be able to differentiate between what is right and wrong and ultimately make a sound decision that is based on the principles of Christianity.

Teenagers who possess strong biblical teachings are always made positive progress in learning, have confidence in learning and life, and they tend to develop into responsible citizens who strive to achieve positive developments within society. Therefore, biblical teachings not only lead to the personal development and well-being of students but also ensure cohesion within the society by building trust and mutual respect. From a critical perspective, therefore, biblical education leads to the development of a society that is characterized by ambition, respect, trust, and most importantly, faith in God.

Conclusion

Parents have resulted in homeschooled their children as a result of the challenges that the public school system is facing. Through homeschooling, parents are capable of monitoring the physical, mental, and emotional development of their children hence tailoring the learning process to achieve their future needs in life. Consequently, homeschooling enables parents to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their children through one on one teaching. Finally, parents can also instill morally accepted behaviors in their children by adopting and implementing biblical teachings in the curriculum. From this analysis, therefore, it is evident that homeschooling enables a parent to achieve the goals that they could not realize through the public school system in the USA.

Bibliography

Balke, Eric. “Children’s Rights and the World Summit for Children.” International Journal of Early Childhood 3, no.24 (2008): 2-6.

Cazden, Charles. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review 3, no. 66(2006): 1-27.

Clark, Simon. “Home Schooling: Is it a Healthy Alternative to Public Education?” The Congressional Quarterly Researcher 3, no. 4 (2009): 33-40.

Hunter, Richard. “The Home School Phenomenon.” Unicorn 1, no. 3(September 1994): 15-31.

McLaren, P. Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education. New York: Longman, 2009.

Sanchez, Andrew. Technical Support Essentials: Advice to Succeed in Technical Support. New York: Apress, 2010.

Shyers, Lin. “A Comparison of Social Adjustment between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students.” Home School Researcher 2, no.8 (2008): 3-8.

Yeping Li. “A Comparison of Problems That Follow Selected Content Presentations in American and Chinese Mathematics Textbooks.” Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 6, no. 31(Mar., 2000): 234-41.

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