Why homeschooling is bad for kids: Debunking the myths

It’s called “social affirmation” and we all need it: we crave affirmations from our peers for our parental choices.

As parents, we may struggle to answer our friends’ simple question of “what school are your children going to?” when they are not attending a traditional “bricks and mortar” school. Are we are afraid to admit that we have decided to home school our children, or to “unschool” them entirely?

The ‘old-school’ model of education still fails to make the distinction between school attendance and education. Just because our children attend class, does not automatically mean that they are receiving the education they need in our rapidly changing world. The ‘old-school’ model is more suited to the 18th century industrial economy and in many ways, has become redundant in today’s digital age.

Ken Robinson’s “Changing Education Paradigms”

Arguments against home-schooling

One of the lasting myths around home-schooling is that social learning cannot happen unless our children attend a formal “bricks and mortar” school. This myth of socially inept home-schoolers is difficult to address, because longitudinal research is required in evidence of adequate socialisation. A study entitled “15 years later: Home-Educated Adults” from the Canadian Centre for Home Education compared home-schoolers who are now adults with their peers. This study uncovered that in all areas of life, from economic activity (such as gaining employment), to social engagement (such as participating in civic activities, e.g. voting), home-schoolers were more actively involved than their government school counterparts.

Despite the research and the experience of countless home-school families worldwide— three further myths have persisted, arousing suspicion that home schoolers suffer from:

1. Home Schooling being a Religious Choice

Although it is true that the first families to adopt home-schooling did so for religious reasons, many non-religious families have embraced home schooling for the educational benefits. Some learners also require more flexible school times, due to their special circumstances, and this isn’t easily accommodated by traditional classrooms:

  • ‘global nomads’ can’t match their families’ travel schedules with the myriad school calendars worldwide
  • children with serious acute or chronic medical conditions can’t comply with student attendance rules
  • international high performance athletes and artists can’t train and compete effectively without compromising their academic development

2. Inferior Academic Results

The academic success enjoyed by home-schoolers is now accepted as they outperform their public-school peers. The most recent study: “Home School Progress Report 2009” conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyed more than 11 000 home-schooled students (out of an estimated population of 2 million home-schoolers in the USA). It showed that the average home-schooler scored 37 percentile points higher on standardised achievement tests than the public-school average.

3. Inability to Access Higher Education

This myth is more easily debunked by choosing an internationally accredited curriculum like Cambridge International. Cambridge serves as a “passport” to tertiary education in 160 countries: Cambridge International Assessment Exams is a world-renowned examination authority.

The SA Constitution states that we, as parents, have the right to choose the form of education that is in the best interests of our child. Home schooling is perfectly legal in SA, while other countries, such as Brazil and Germany, still lag.

Hence, the Pestalozzi Trust – an SA home school legal defence association – provides the legal backing to support you. They do not recommend registering home-schoolers with the Department of Basic Education, despite the legal requirement to do so (for children up to 16 years of age). They rightfully believe that a distinction needs to be made between certification by the SA government and education.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Education Faculty at Stellenbosch University) referenced the World Economic Forum’s survey which ranked SA state education 133rd out of 142 countries, “Education has not improved over the years in SA and all the promises that were made did not bring good fruit.”

When it comes to truly personalised and customisable forms of education, nothing compares to online learning

1. Real self-paced learning

  • courses are divided into manageable units over 34 weeks of a year’s syllabus
  • students specialise in their course selection, as per their personal passions, reducing their subject load

2. Flexible timing of learning

  • direct online access to subject specialists and to learning content anytime, anywhere, anyhow
  • open enrolment, allowing students to begin and end courses at any stage of the year

3. Multi-sensory and interactive learning

  • continuous assessment and feedback, by full time Cambridge-trained professional teachers
  • all content is designed for students to grasp fully the Cambridge exam requirements

4. Constant support

  • live weekly Q and A tutorial sessions with our world-class teachers
  • live chat between our subject specialists and their students on secure instant messaging forums, 24/7

5. Affordable pricing

  • easy monthly payment options
  • free assistance by educational consultants with buying textbooks, exam registration and course selection

I interviewed a South African homeschooling mom, Coleen Lotter, about her experience as a homeschooler. Watch as she talks about her son’s educational journey, the reasons she chose homeschooling and the pros and cons of homeschooling:

I interviewed a South African homeschooling mom, Coleen Lotter, about her experience as a homeschooler. Watch as she talks about her son’s educational journey, the reasons she chose homeschooling and the pros and cons of homeschooling: