By Donna Gundle Krieg, Mancelona Township Trustee
Homeschooling is a great option for many families and children, and really fits a libertarian lifestyle and philosophy.
However, those forced to keep their children home to follow a public school curriculum and schedule have the worst of all worlds. Sitting in front of a computer screen listening to a teacher, for a set amount of time each day, does not at all resemble the homeschooling done by people independent of the government.
Independent homeschooling offers parents and families total control over their schedules and curriculum. In addition it gives flexible time for outings, trips, family, friends and community. On the other hand, the “schooling from home” being done through the pubic schools is not flexible, and can be isolating, rigid, and depressing.
We homeschooled our children many years ago. Both of them ended up graduating early, with fully paid four-year college scholarships. More importantly, both of them are happy and thriving adults.
In 2016, 2.3 million children were home-schooled in the United States. Before the pandemic, this number is growing at about 5 percent per year. About 50,000 children are home-schooled in Michigan.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), the choice is often a beneficial one: “The home-educated are typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development.”
Academically, NHERI finds that home-school students consistently score 15 to 30 points above public school students on standardized academic achievement tests, regardless of their parents’ formal education or income. While some might argue that the homeschooling community “skims from the top,” that is absolutely not true. In fact, those with children who have trouble learning in the public schools are the most attracted to homeschooling.
Well-meaning family and friends of home-schoolers often worry about “how the kids will be socialized.” Yet research shows that “home-schoolers do very well with peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.” The flexible nature of home-schooling allows children more time to develop both hobbies and relationships. Downstate, we belonged to a home-school group at our church, in addition to several groups for sports, music, and much more.
There are also many home-school church and social based groups throughout Michigan. Support and friendships with other families are important to home schooling parents and children. There is also a legal firm called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is a great resource for anyone who is considering taking the leap.
In summary, home-schooling was a great experience for our family, and more and more families are trying it all the time. It is not for everyone, but is a great option for many.
If you or your children are not happy with your local public or private school, why not try home schooling?