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Homeschooling (also called "home education") is the education of children at home and in the community, in contrast to formal education in an institution such as a public or parochial school. In the United States, homeschooling is the focus of a substantial minority movement among parents who wish to provide their children with a custom or more complete education that is unattainable in public schools.

The advantages sought by homeschoolers differ, but can include individual attention, custom curricula, efficient use of children's time, a safer environment, freedom from negative peer pressure, religious instruction, privacy, parental control, a better learning environment (no homework, detentions, bells, bullies, or potentially bossy teachers), and more positive socialization within adult society.

The disadvantages claimed by opponents of homeschooling include nonstandard instruction, uncredentialed teachers, lack of accountability to society, lessened support for public schools, and improper or inadequate socialization with peers.

Support of Homeschooling

Studies show that teachers' credentials do not correlate with tested outcomes. In the U.S. in 1999, homeschoolers scored about 27% higher than public-schooled children on refereed nationally-normed tests.

Many people with direct experience of home-schooled children believe them to be better socialized than their school-attending peers. Most large employers find homeschooled persons work with less need for supervision, and have adjusted their hiring policies.

Homeschooled children are not crippled with regard to higher education. In 2001, public school grades are deprecated by many college-entrance procedures, and a GED taken at less than 18 years of age, combined with good scores on the SAT and ACT tests permit entrance to most colleges and apprenticeships. The individualized instruction and customized curricula may compensate for other disadvantages.

Many homeschooling families address socialization concerns by joining numerous organizations, including private, campusless independent study programs, and specialized enrichment groups for PE, Art, Music, and Debate. Most are also active in five to seven community groups, as opposed to the one to three common in other families. Homeschooled children generally socialize with other children the same way that school children do: outside of school, in personal visits and through sports teams, clubs and religious groups.

Most homeschooling families make what many in American culture would consider substantial economic sacrifices to educate their children at home. One parent, usually the mother, refrains from working in order to supervise the children's education.

If there are preschool children, homeschooling can be a better economic use of a parent's time than combining low-paying work with child care and public schooling. Recent research has shown that it is economically viable to school children at home, often with the expenses of school being saved (eg. uniform, transport).

Many homeschooling mothers say that the additional time they spend with their children is precious to them.

Opposition to Homeschooling

Homeschoolers have drawn some opposition, which seems focused around boards of education and teachers' unions. Opponents' stated concerns fall into several broad categories: academic quality and completeness; socialization of children with peers; and fear of religious or social extremism. Some proponents of homeschooling believe that opponents' real (unstated) issue is to preserve a political patronage system that benefits school boards, public-school teachers and teachers' unions. They point to the same groups' opposition to vouchers, as well as refusal to provide part-time public school access, as evidence. (Many homeschoolers are also opposed to vouchers.)

However, in the U.S., opponents to homeschooling must overcome a basic legal problem. In U.S. law parents have responsibility for, and authority over their children's education. The crucial tests of this occurred in attempts to sue public school officials for malpractice, in cases where, for example, illiterate young people graduated from high-school. The U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)) defined the proper goal for education as "literacy and self-sufficiency", that is, an educated, not a socialized child was recognized as the essential goal for the U.S.'s democratic republic. This decision is now interpreted as court recognition that parents have a fundamental right to choose the method to achieve literacy and self-sufficiency, that is to educate their children.

The issue of nonstandardized curriculum is significant. It's not clear that home-schooling provides the skills and beliefs that public consensus would choose to prepare young people. Opponents cite study of the Bible for History, and avoidance of the theory of evolution. Proponents defend curricula point by point (the Bible is said to be confirmed by archeological studies, for instance), and invoke parental responsibility, and classic liberal arguments for personal freedom from government intrusion. Also, most families are not homeschooling for religious reasons, and study other things, like primary sources for their curricula.

The fear of extremism deserves attention. In the United States, a significant minority of homeschooling parents are conservative Christians who distrust the "secularism" and "liberal politics" of government schools. These were, for about 20 years, the loudest and most visible homeschoolers and their homeschool organizations have done much to create the common belief that all homeschoolers fit into this category.

Some persons oppose homeschooling because they fear that children in such homes could be trapped into a cultic atmosphere and raised entirely without a view of the larger social world.

Such indoctrination has been observed in public-schooled children. Public schooling is therefore not a perfectly reliable solution. Proponents argue that most homeschoolers have a wider experience of society than public-schooled children, because of greater community involvement through clubs, associations, sports, volunteering and other exposure to the broader community outside the school walls.

There is debate about whether this problem exists. Critics argue that there is a public interest in adequate education for all persons, to assure a cohesive civil society and adequate military service. Proponents of homeschooling argue that since parents are responsible for their children's education (not critics), attempts to "deprive" children of their parents' world-view cripples the authority that parents require to responsibly educate their children. That is, a parent's responsibility is to teach the truth as they understand it. Critics lack this responsibility, and thus should lack the authority to enforce their beliefs. Homeschooling parents are often very concerned about their children's ability and citizenship, which is usually why they took the responsibility of their children's education into their own hands.

How to do it

A family interested in homeschooling should first decide what their educational goals are, and then research options and resources through the Internet and the public library. It can be helpful to attend homeschooling events to meet homeschoolers, learn about various topics and inspect educational materials. Curriculum shops, Web sites and mail-order houses can help locate conventions, as can a search of the Internet. Most families find a trip to a homeschooling convention fascinating, because of the number and scope of options. Some find the options overwhelming and do better by finding a local homeschool group and learning from experienced homeschoolers.

There is a wide variety of homeschooling methods and materials; there are as many ways to homeschool as there are families homeschooling, and no particular way is the only right way. There are a few basic types of homeschooling methods: unit-studies, special materials, all-in-one curricula, eclectic and unschooling.

Unit Studies

Unit studies teach most subjects in combination around central subjects. For example, a unit study of American Indians would combine age-appropriate lessons in Social Studies (how did Indians live?), Art (making Indian Clothing), History (What happened to Indians in the U.S.), Reading (usually by a reading list), Science (Plants used by Indians). Next month, the unit-study subject would change to "Construction," or some other real-world subject or culture.

Supporters say unit studies make excellent use of student time by combining several fields into one study time, and permit students to follow personal interests. This motivates students and they remember the things they learn more. Unit studies also permit a family to study together. For example, in an Indian unit, a 10th-grade daughter might make a deer-skin coat as her Art project, while a 1st-grade student might make construction-paper tipis.

Unit studies require an organized, motivated teacher, and active students. Unit studies require parental preparation of materials. Homeschoolers often purchase unit-study guides that suggest materials, projects and shopping lists, and supplement them with specialized curricula for math, and sometimes reading and writing. This flexibility is one of the key benefits of homeschooling.

Special Materials

Special materials are used for improving skills, and are generally easy to prepare. Usually they consist of workbooks, possibly with text books and a teachers' guide. Often the teachers' guide will give exact words for a teacher to say--which may come across as stilted and phony. However, parents may opt to alter or skip inappropriate wording. Many specialized subjects are only available in this form. Special materials are frequently used for math and primary reading, when a child first learns to read.

However, children often find special materials boring. Also, some parents may over-focus on skills while excluding Social Studies, Science, Art, History and other fields that help children learn their place in the world.

All-in-one curricula

All-in-one curricula arrive in a box (sometimes referred to as "school in a box"), usually covering an entire year. They contain all needed books and materials, including pencils and writing paper. Most such curricula were developed for isolated families who lack access to public schools, libraries and stores. These materials essentially recreate school in the home, offering little flexibility or individuation of the program of study. As well, they are among the most expensive options for homeschoolers. Still, some parents feel the need to have a detailed plan. Many who purchase all-in-one programs find they outgrow- or tire of them quickly, resulting in a wide availability of used programs for sale. Experienced homeschoolers often suggest that those parents, who feel the need to buy an all-in-one program, should purchase them second-hand if possible.

All-in-one curricula are easy to purchase and use, and require minimal preparation. The teacher's guides are usually extensive, with step-by-step instructions. They are usually designed around standard grade-levels, so that home-schooled students can return to public school with minimal friction. These programs are usually academically excellent, and may include nationally-normed tests, and remote examinations to yield an accedited private-school diploma.

All-in-ones are also criticized for lack freedom for children to pursue personal interests. The curricula tend to be generic, with limited resources, and often more repetition and less outside reading than other forms. There is often an intimidating schedule, and a high work-load.

Freedom of Instruction for Homeschoolers

Interesting options are available to homeschooling families. The family curriculum is usually integrated with vacations, religious activities, community organizations, reading and other family activities. Education can proceed flexibly, at students' own paces, year-around, even with frequent traveling. Religion, ethics, and character topics are frequently taught. Many home-schooling families teach a Classical education, often even the Trivium, including Latin and even Greek. Homeschooled children often study a second language. Geography, Art and Music are often taught. Money-management and business studies may be integrated with the family business. Math programs usually terminate in Calculus for high-school students.


Like any industry, the home education world suffers its own fashions. An example of this is unschooling, a fast growing area of education where students learn by their own volition and through doing, rather than by listening to a teacher. Unschoolers consider life as learning, and rely on children's inborn curiosity to spark learning. Unschooling does not mean "un-parenting," nor does it include shunning textbooks. Unschooled children sometimes choose to use texts. With unschooling, children follow their interests and integrate them into every subject. Unschooling requires more preparation on the part of the parent than other variants - parents must be ready to fan any appropriate 'spark' of curiosity into a 'flame' of learning. It is predicted that by the end of the Culture Wars, the better parts of unschooling will be synthesized into more traditional methodologies.

External Links

One of the most popular curriculum guides, based on the classical model of the trivium is outlined in the book The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Resources for The Well-Trained Mind can be found at Many of these authors' other books have been published by Peace Hill Press, available at

In the U.S., prominent national organizations include:

The National Home Education Network (NHEN),, which offers free membership and a tremendous amount of information about all aspects and types of homeschooling, and

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA),, an advocacy organization that charges $100 for membership and generally provides information only about organizations that are affiliated with it and aligned with its conservative Christian agenda. contains links to UK, US, European and Australian home education organizations

How Parents of Home Schooled Students Can Get Their Children to Use the Library

See also: educational philosophies

Homeschooling From a Homeschoolers Point of View

Homeschooling is hard work but well worth it when you can focus on one area you are having trouble on, such as math.

Homeschoolers often band together to offer classes, fieldtrips and other group activities. Local support groups (eg )are wonderful resources for novices and experienced homeschoolers as well.