Wyatt Webb, an MIT graduate and homeschooling father from Oregon (and lead programmer with Inspiration Software in Portland, Oregon) wrote a great article about "The Benefits of Home Schooling."
If you need a good summary, look no further.
Among the benefits Mr. Webb mentions:
- Permits children with unique learning needs to have those needs met.
- Permits children (and parents!) to avoid the "drugs, violence, and excessive political correctness" that seems to pervade public schools.
- Provides a low-cost alternative to private schools.
- Enables parents to impart their values to their own kids.
As Mr. Webb puts it:
If you want to teach your child why gay marriage should be legal or spend a few weeks explaining how deforestation is threatening the planet, you can do that. You do not have to lobby the principal or fight the school board to do so. If you want to teach your child about the Christian backgrounds of the founding fathers or study evidence that contradicts the theory of evolution, you can do that, too. We simply do not have to deal with the concern that what our child is being taught may contradict our personal values.
- Provides greater freedom for children (and parents) to go deeper into subjects of particular interest.
- Permits parents to control their children's social environment.
"Whoa! Whoa!" you can just hear people say. " ‘Control children's social environment'? So what homeschooling is really all about is control, isn't it? So you homeschoolers are a bunch of control freaks!"
Mr. Webb offers a very reasonable answer:
Controlling anyone's life is a bad thing…if that person is a capable adult. When that person is not capable though, it is a generous thing to care for someone and control the parts that they cannot. We do it with infants, we do it with the mentally disabled, and we do it with the elderly. Heck, we even tell our children how much TV to watch, when to use the phone and what time to be home. We do these things because they do not yet understand how to control those parts of their life without harming themselves in some way. It seems clear that, until they reach adulthood, children are not capable adults. They need help controlling the parts of their lives that they are not yet prepared to deal with on their own. The difference is that, as a society, we have been conditioned to entrust our children's education and socialization to an institution. Why not keep the reins and do it yourself?
- Offers exceptional socialization.
Mr. Webb has much to say on the subject, but I believe this is the nub of his argument:
One dictionary definition of socialization is "the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture." Now, when you are asking children to "adopt the behavior patterns" of their surroundings, wouldn't it make sense to surround them with good examples? Think about it; we are asking our children to learn how to behave in society by isolating them from real society with twenty or thirty other children who are learning how to behave, too. Sheer numbers dictate that the impressionable child will learn more from the other children than from the one or two teachers they observe. Additionally, the effect of peer pressure is that a child is more likely to want to be accepted by his peers rather than please his teachers. This seems to be a fundamentally flawed way to teach children to interact in society.
There's more great stuff where this came from. Check it out!