Debunking Home Schooling Myths

by Christian News

Debunking Home Schooling Myths

Despite the growing popularity of home schooling, misconceptions abound about families who educate their children at home, according to Bruce Merrick, assistant professor of Christian education at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO.

Speaking last summer at a Glorieta, New Mexico, meeting, Merrick listed five common myths about home schooling:

Myth 1: Only "backlanders and misfits" choose home schooling.

To the contrary, Merrick said, home schooling parents come from a variety of professions, including education, law, agriculture, and other vocational areas. He cited statistics which show home schooling is on the rise. One set of government figures indicated the number of children being educated at home rose from 300,000 in 1991 to 1.3 million in 1996.

"But all of these statistics are somewhat suspect," Merrick acknowledged. "Most home school families don't cooperate real well with the government surveys. The number is maybe as much as fifty percent higher."

Myth 2: Parents can't teach as well as trained teachers.

Merrick said the quality of academic results is often better than in public schools, which produce many graduates with poor verbal skills. "Studies suggest that parents can do in two hours a day what it takes a school system an uncertain six hours to achieve," he stated. "One of the reasons home school kids do so well on tests is because they know how to think analytically. We think that learning how to study and how to reason can be better taught in a home environment by a parent...who is working with that student one-on-one."

Myth 3: Home-schooled children suffer from isolation and lack of socialization.

"This is the most foolish and outlandish myth of all," Merrick declared. "Just the opposite is true." He said there are "tons of research" that indicate children educated at home score significantly higher in the area of self-esteem than children from public schools. Home school families also take advantage of numerous community activities, including Scouts and classes in the fine arts or physical fitness. "We just opt to do that with our kids, more so than others many times, because we like to use that as part of our curriculum," he explained. "They socialize with other kids in those groups."

Merrick disputed the notion that children should be educated with peers who are their own precise age. "It's not natural. How much of your life do you spend working with people exactly your own age? We don't even do that in Sunday school classes. We're still in a broad age group," he said. In fact, he said, the modern American public school system, with its strict and narrow age-grading, is a recent innovation. He praised the "prairie schoolhouse" of years gone by, where one teacher taught a wide range of ages from small children to teenagers. "That's the kind of school system America was built around until just recently."

Myth 4: Home-schooled children don't do as well academically as their public school counterparts.

Merrick said this myth is countered by more than sixty-five studies that have concluded home schoolers' performance was either average or above average. In the 1994 Iowa Test of Basic Skills battery scores, 16,000 home school students achieved an average score in the 77th percentile, which Merrick termed a "remarkable achievement."

Myth 5: Home-schooled children can not go to college or get a good job.

More than half of the children educated at home attend college-almost exactly the same percentage as public school students, Merrick said. Schools such as Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have admitted home-schooled students, he added. "College admissions officers now recruit at home school conventions and conferences."

Regarding employment prospects, the speaker said a recent study found two-thirds of adults who were home-schooled as children are self-employed, suggesting a higher level of economy and independence. "They've just got their act together. They're aggressive. They're creative. They're not afraid to take risks. (And) ninety-six per cent said they would do it again.

Christian News via Current Trends & Updates