Pros and Cons of Home Schooling

Pros–Benefits of Homeschooling

  • 1.Spend more time together as a family.
  • 2.Spend more time with children when they are rested and fresh rather than tired and cranky from school.
  • 3.Superior academic achievement through individual tutoring.
  • 4.Parents can ensure that their children master the subjects.
  • 5.Children can be daily instructed and vitally involved in the realities and responsibilities of life in the everyday real world context of the home, the community, the workplace and the marketplace.
  • 6.The world is the classroom.
  • 7.Tutoring provides vast amounts of individual attention.
  • 8.Curriculum can be tailor made to suit child’s interests, learning style, aptitudes, special needs, etc.
  • 9.Quieter, more secure, loving and committed environment of home builds stronger foundation for child’s security.
  • 10.Builds stronger family ties as everyone is involved in a 24-hour-a-day project of great importance and vast implications.
  • 11.Parents feel more fulfilled in themselves, and are continually challenged to a higher standard of excellence. Their own potentials are more fully developed.
  • 12.Parents are most committed to the child’s success. No one else will spend the blood, sweat, toil, tears, time and money parents routinely invest in their own children.
  • 13.Children receive superior socialisation through the parents’ positive role models and consistent training. Parents’ standards are not constantly contradicted as can happen in the classroom and on the playground.
  • 14.The child’s learning, rather than the teacher’s teaching, is the focus of the whole exercise.
  • 15.The child’s education will not conflict with or contradict the philosophy and world view of the parents and/or the family’s church.
  • 16.Homeschooled children generally demand a higher standard of excellence in radio and TV programming, theatre, the arts, books, magazines, movies, etc. As more and more such individuals abound, they will not only create a market for better goods in these areas, but may also signal the demise of the NZ porn and sleeze merchants for lack of patronage.
  • 17.Independent, individual, original thinkers, as homeschoolers tend to be, may develop into NZ’s own Shakespeares, Einsteins and Beethovens. Consider the South Island’s own C.W.F. Hamilton, the inventor of the jet boat and revolutionary earthmoving equipment. He declared that his two years in school interrupted his education.
  • 18.Independent homeschooling is a must if we are to preserve our civil liberties from the totalitarian tendencies of the social welfare state. As the Presbyterian scholar of Princeton and Westminster Theological Seminaries, Professor J. Gresham Machen, warned way back in 1926, “If liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children you might just as well give them everything else.”
  • 19.Children and parents are able to form deeper friendships and more intimate relationships with each other….the family unit is thereby drawn closer together and strengthened.
  • 20.Children learn respect for their parents as teachers in all areas of life. They will look to their parents and to those adults whom the parents respect for advice and guidance rather than to whatever teachers, social workers, and peers happen to be immediately available. The Generation Gap is closed.
  • 21.Your child is removed from a peer-dominated environment in which he or she is exposed to countless potential failure situations, damaging both self esteem and love of learning.
  • 22.The parents’ commitment to and intimate knowledge of the child, the individualised attention, the increased flexibility to even follow the child’s individual preferences in study and the parents’ enthusiasm and excitement about learning themselves will more than make up for any perceived lack of a paper teaching qualification.
  • 23.Avoid having to struggle to get children to do the tedious busy work that is so often sent home as homework.
  • 24.Allow children time to learn subjects not usually taught in their school.
  • 25.Allow children to have time for more in-depth study than what is allowed in school.
  • 26.Allow children to learn at their own pace, not too slow or too fast.
    Allow children to work at a level that is appropriate to their own developmental stage. Skills and concepts can be introduced at the right time for that child.
  • 27.Provide long, uninterrupted blocks of time for writing, reading, playing, thinking, or working so that the child is able to engage in sophisticated, complex activities and thought processes.
  • 28.Encourage concentration and focus – which are discouraged in crowded classrooms with too many distractions.
  • 29.Encourage the child to develop the ability to pace her/himself – this is prevented in a classroom where the schedule is designed to keep every child busy all the time.
  • 30.Spend a lot of time out-of-doors. This is more healthy than spending most weekdays indoors in a crowded, and often over heated, classroom.
  • 31.Spending more time out-of-doors results in feeling more in touch with the changing of the seasons and with the small and often overlooked miracles of nature.
  • 32.Children learn to help more with household chores, developing a sense of personal responsibility.
  • 33.Children learn life skills, such as cooking, in a natural way, by spending time with adults who are engaged in those activities.
  • 34.More time spent on household responsibilities strengthens family bonds because people become more committed to things they have invested in (in this case, by working for the family).
  • 35.Time is available for more non-academic pursuits such as art or music. This leads to a richer, happier life.
  • 36.Children will not feel like passive recipients of subject matter selected by their teachers. They will learn to design their own education and take responsibility for it.
  • 37.Children will realize that learning can take place in a large variety of ways.
  • 38.Children will learn to seek out assistance from many alternative sources, rather than relying on a classroom teacher to provide all the answers.
  • 39.A more relaxed, less hectic lifestyle is possible when families do not feel the necessity to supplement school during after-school and week-end hours.
  • 40.Busy work can be avoided.
  • 41.Children will avoid being forced to work in “co-operative learning groups” which include children who have very unco-operative attitudes.
  • 42.Children can learn to work for internal satisfaction rather than for external rewards.
  • 43.Children will not be motivated to “take the easy way out” by doing just enough work to satisfy their teacher. They will learn to be their own judge of the quality of their own work.
  • 44.Children will be more willing to take risks and be creative since they do not have to worry about being embarrassed in front of peers.
  • 45.Children will be more confident since they are not subject to constant fear of criticism from teachers.
  • 46.Peer pressure will be reduced. There will be less pressure to grow up as quickly in terms of clothing styles, music, language, interest in the opposite sex.
  • 47.Social interactions will be by choice and based on common interests.
  • 48.Friends can be more varied, not just with the child’s chronological age peer group who happen to go to the same school.
  • 49.Field trips can be taken on a much more frequent basis.
  • 50.Field trips can be much more enjoyable and more productive when not done with a large school group which usually involves moving too quickly and dealing with too many distractions.
  • 51.Field trips can be directly tied into the child’s own curriculum.
  • 52.Volunteer service activities can be included in the family’s regular schedule. Community service can be of tremendous importance in a child’s development and can be a great learning experience.
  • 53.Scheduling can be flexible, allowing travel during less expensive and less crowded off-peak times. This can allow for more travel than otherwise, which is a wonderful learning experience.
  • 54.Children will be less likely to compare their own knowledge or intelligence with other children and will be less likely to become either conceited or feel inferior.
  • 55.Religious and special family days can be planned and celebrated.
  • 56.More time will be spent with people (friends and family) who really love and care about the children. Children will bond more with siblings and parents since they will spend more time together playing, working, and helping each other.
  • 57.Feedback on children’s work will be immediate and appropriate. They won’t have to wait for a teacher to grade and return their work later to find out if they understood it.
  • 58.Feedback can be much more useful than just marking answers incorrect or giving grades.
  • 59.Testing is optional. Time doesn’t have to be spent on testing or preparing for testing unless the parent and/or child desires it.
  • 60.Observation and discussion are ongoing at home and additional assessment methods are often redundant. Testing, if used, is best used to indicate areas for further work.
  • 61.Grading is usually unnecessary and learning is seen as motivating in and of itself. Understanding and knowledge are the rewards for studying, rather than grades (or stickers, or teacher’s approval, etc.).
  • 62.Children can be consistently guided in a family’s values and can learn them by seeing and participating in parents’ daily lives.
  • 63.Children will learn to devote their energy and time to activities that THEY think are worthwhile.
  • 64.Children will be able to learn about their ethnicities in a manner that will not demean. Children will be able to understand multiculturalism in its true sense and not from the pseudo-multicultural materials presented in schools which tend to depict others from a dominant culture perspective.
  • 65.Children will not learn to “fit into society,” but will, instead, value morality and love more than status and money.
  • 66.Children do not have to wait until they are grown to begin to seriously explore their passions; they can start living now.
  • 67.Children’s education can be more complete than what schools offer.
  • 68.Children who are “different” in any way can avoid being subjected to the constant and merciless teasing, taunting, and bullying which so often occurs in school.
  • 69.Children with special needs will be encouraged to reach their full potential and not be limited by the use of “cookie cutter” educational methods used in schools.
  • 70.Low standards or expectations of school personnel will not influence or limit children’s ability to learn and excel.
  • 71.Children will be safer from gangs, drugs, and guns.
  • 72.Parents will decide what is important for the children to learn, rather than a government bureaucracy.
  • 73.Family will not be forced to work within school’s traditional hours if it does not fit well with their job schedules and sleep needs.

Cons–Drawbacks of Conventional Schooling

  • 1. Political motivation of curricula content.
  • 2.Susceptibility to radical philosophical overtones of pressure groups: relativism, feminism, mysticism, socialism, the worst of the Family Planning Association, homosexual activism.
  • 3.Bright children often bored and unchallenged.
  • 4.Slow, SPELD or handicapped children often left behind or under-attended.
  • 5.Many children subjected to bullying, teasing, victimisation, manipulation and the many negative aspects of peer pressure.
  • 6.The peer pressure often leads to peer dependency wherein a child will look to his peers for acceptance, standards, morals and guidance.
  • 7.Danger from dense traffic, kidnappers and perverts while travelling to and from school.
  • 8.Exposure to unhealthy, unrighteous and immoral lifestyles as well as infectious diseases, epidemics, head lice, etc.
  • 9.Some children suffer the insecurity of psychological rejection at being sent away from home by parents who often unwittingly give the children the impression they are glad to have the children off their hands.
  • 10.Because the children are away from home for most of the day, Mum or Dad may both tend to focus their attention and look for personal fulfillment outside of the family.
  • 11.Children often develop a split personality in order to deal with one set of authority, values and standards at school and a completely different set at home.
  • 12.The instruction tends to be like mass treatment of children on the classroom dosing strip. No time for individualised tuition.
  • 13.Classroom environment is artificial and contrived and shelters children from the reality of everyday life in the home, the community and the workplace/marketplace. The classroom is also often overcrowded, too cluttered, too noisy and unruly.
  • 14.Necessary academic subjects are skimmed over for lack of time. Unnecessary and sometimes controversial subjects are shoehorned into the programme wasting precious time.
  • 15.There is the added costs of fees, uniforms, committee meetings, transportation. There are hassles with timetables, personality conflicts with teachers, administrators, other parents. There is worry about the competency of some teachers, the influence of certain other students, and rumours of unsavoury “goings on” at school.

Cons–Drawbacks to Homeschooling

  • 1.There may be fewer opportunities for playing team sports.
  • 2.The house begins to resemble a research station rather than an immaculate showhome.
  • 3.Research and learning opportunities begin to spring up in your mind and can even dominate all other activities.
  • 4.There may be hassles in transferring back into the school system. Because you have been studying along a different stream, and even though your child may know a lot more about a lot more subjects, because he hasn’t done “Insects” and “Trains” as did his school peers, your child may be thought of as “behind” and the teachers will complain about having to spend extra time bringing your child up to speed.
  • 5.Parents may find they have less free time to themselves.
  • 6.Homeschooled students tend to miss out on the trendy and experimental educational philosophies and methodologies instigated by the MoE from time to time. They also tend to miss out on those units which are “pushed” into schools by government policies, special interest lobby groups, trustee boards, headmasters and even individual teachers.
  • 7.Homeschooled students may lack the stimulation which academic competition can provide.
  • 8.Homeschoolers tend to be less knowledgeable and sophisticated in the areas of swearing, dirty joke telling, finger signs, alcohol and drug abuse, illicit sexual activity and gang dynamics.
  • 9.Parents may face some opposition from relatives, friends, neighbours and school personnel.

“What About Socialization?”

“What About Socialization?”

Posted in Tough Questions

Without a doubt this is the one question, reservation and objection that is raised most often. It is usually the one raised first. It is often the one most hotly debated. And common experience among homeschoolers is that socialisation, rather than academic achievement, is the issue over which friends, relatives and educational authorities show the most concern.

Popular opinion assumes that children need long periods of interaction with a large group of age-segregated peers to acquire social skills. Now assuming that most of the time spent in the classroom is not spent in interacting but in paying attention to the teacher and doing the assigned work, where does most of the interaction take place? During lunch and break times, and before and after school. And who is supervising this interaction on the playground, on the school bus and on the streets to ensure that the right kind of socialisation is taking place? It is not the teachers but the children themselves. In the typical public school setting, children are being left to socialise themselves as best they can.

This fits in with today’s prevailing philosophy which holds that children are inherently good or perhaps neutral, like blank cassette tapes, and that left to themselves, they will inevitably develop and adapt toward the highest good attainable by the group as a whole. (Although it is unpopular to say so, when this is translated into practical reality it means conformity to the lowest common denominator.) This inevitable “upward” development and adaptation is an idea developed from the theories of evolution.

Unfortunately it was developed in the absense of a) other tenets of evolutionary thought, b) common experience and c) traditional Christian/Western wisdom, all of which contradict this foundationaI premise upon which our modern ideas of child socialisation are based.

Let us examine these three contradictions to the prevailing thoughts on socialisation:

a) Another tenet of evolution is the survival of the fittest. This is the law of the jungle, eat or be eaten, brute force prevails, might makes right. This is the tendency of children’s behaviour on the playground unless there are sufficient adults present to prevent it.

Even though children are infinitely varied, the socialisation at school causes them to conform to the codes dictated by their particular class or group. We have all witnessed the same phenomenon: There are the few at the top who are setting the pace and the codes, there are the vast numbers in the middle who quietly conform and try to keep out of harm’s way, and there are those at the bottom of the pecking order who are ostracised, victimised, bullied, teased, etc., because they do not conform in their dress, their size, their looks, their speech, their behaviour or whatever.

b) Common experience tells us this profound truth: Monkey see, monkey do. Children emulate the  behaviour of those around them. If they spend most time around their friends, they copy them. If it is with the Ninja Turtles on TV, they will copy them. If they spend most time around their parents, they will emulate them.

Most parents know only too well the immediate results of this “copy cat” form of socialisation. After lengthy play with their friends, children can be “hyper” and disrespectful and try out the unacceptable speech or actions they have just picked up from their peers. How true is the ancient proverb which says, “He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. ” 1

c) Christian wisdom says that children are not basically good or neutral but are fallen, that is, they possess an inherent tendency toward foolishness which manifests itself in temper tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty, destructiveness, etc. Proverbs 22: 15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” In other words, children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. Instead they need loving, responsive adults committed to teaching them, training them, giving them the discipline and setting them the right example in the social graces.

Children do not of themselves learn the social arts of respect, honesty, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfullness, manners, or self control; they must have conscientious adults to model, discipline, teach and train them to internalise these behaviour traits as habits.

Critics of homeschooling claim that such children will not be the same as their conventionally schooled friends and will not fit into the peer group. The origins of this concern are somewhat sinister.

First there was Horace Mann, an early leader in the public school movement. He favoured the Prussian patterns of state education because, as he put it, it was devised “more for the purpose of modifying the sentiments and opinions of the rising generation according to a certain government standard than as a mere means of diffusing elementary knowledge. “

Then there was John Dewey, the father of progressive education. He saw truth not in absolutes, but in terms of universal ideas developed and agreed to by a group. A “thesis” or proposed truism would emerge from the group. It would at some stage meet with an opposing idea, an “antithesis.” Debate and conflict would ensue until a compromise or “synthesis” was reached. This synthesis then became the thesis and the whole process would be repeated. For those who don’t recognize it, this is classic Marxist dogma.

Truth to Dewey was derived by a distillation process within the group. To educators like him, the interaction of children with others in order to help distill these universal ideas of truth is education.

Both Horace Mann and John Dewey believed that this type of education needed to be led by an elite, those educators who had been instrumental in the formation of public education policy, who could gently lead others through this “distillation” process. To have children who did not or would not fit in with the group would be to hamper the distillation of truth, as directed by this elite.

We find, then, that this concern over homeschooled children not being socialised is actually a political concern that they will not be as easily manipulated by the elite as those who do fit into this all-important group.2 

The following comments are by Dr. James C. Dobson who is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine; President of Focus on the Family Magazine and Focus on the Family radio programmes which are heard daily on 1400 radio facilities around the world; and author of best-seller, Dare to Discipline.

I have been increasingly concerned during the past 10 years about the damage done to our children by one another. The epidemic of inferiority and inadequacy seen during the teen years is rooted in the ridicule, rejection, and social competition experienced by vulnerable young children. They are simply not ready to handle the threats to the self-concept that are common in any elementary school setting.

I have seen kids dismantle one another, while parents and teachers passively stood by and observed the “socialisation” process. I’ve then watched the recipients of this pressure begin to develop defense mechanisms and coping strategies that should never be necessary in a young child.

Dozens of investigations have demonstrated, (at least to my satisfaction), the error of the notion that children must be exposed to other children in order to be properly socialised. I just don’t believe it. In fact, the opposite is true. They need the security and love of parental protection and guidance until their self-concepts are more stabilised and established.

In summary, I believe the home school is the wave of the future. In addition, it provides a third alternative to a humanistic public school and an expensive or non-existent Christian school.3

In 1960 Harold G. McCurdy examined “The childhood pattern of genius” in a study supported by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. In summary, McCurdy wrote:

The typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects:

(a) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love;

(b) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and

(c) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as reaction to the preceeding conditions.

It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on tbe effect of reducing all three factors to minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurance of genius.4

Too right! Here’s a report from Tauranga that appeared in the Manawatu (NZ) Evening Standard of 16 March 1991: “A playground game involving sinking teeth into an unsuspecting school mate’s bottom has left five students suspended. In the game, tagged barracuda, victims are forced to the ground and restrained while attackers bite a buttock.”  Cute.

Another answer to those critics who argue that homeschooled students are deprived socially is provided by Dr. John Wesley Taylor V. He used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, one of the best self-concept instruments available for measuring socialisation, to evaluate 224 home schooling participants aged 9 through 18. Over half scored in the top 10% of the scale. 77.7% ranked in the top 25% of the scale. Only 10.3% scored below the norm.

Home schooled children score significantly higher than their conventionally schooled peers in this measurement of socialisation.5

Dr. Raymond Moore, Developmental psychologist and early childhood educational specialist from the Moore Foundation of Camas, Washington, has developed a three point recipe for sound character development:

1) An academic regimen which takes into consideration the individual child’s readiness to learn as effected by the child’s physical, emotional and intellectual maturity levels; his aptitudes, special gifts and abilities, learning style, etc.

2) An element of work in the daily programme which may range from simple routine chores to a regular income-generating cottage industry.

3) Service to others such as active membership in voluntary service organisations and visiting, baking, running errands for shut-ins, the infirm or hospitalised.

Dr. Moore maintains that the time and logistics of public schools and the need to integrate all three points into a unified lifestyle or “family corporation” indicates the homeschool as the ideal setting for sound, all-round character development.6

Some critics of homeschooling paint charicatures of what they say the homeshooling brand of socialisation will produce: introverted whimps and social incompetents. If we ignore for a moment the other factors involved in character development such as family background and support, it must be pointed out that these charicatures are already known in society and that they are products of the public schools. So too in fact are other social blights such as irresponsible hooligans, unmotivated slobs, gang members, vandals, and all the other social misfits who have graduated from the public schools’ socialisation programme to subsequently be sent to our country’s prisons, fill them to overflowing, and are now spilling back into society producing ever increasing crime rates.

If we now return to what are probably the major factors in character development, namely family background and support, and assert that increased hooliganism and crime is a result of disintegrating families, then we also have to assert that the schools are not able to correct this trend. Homeschooling, however, is an ideal situation for correcting this downward trend as families are of necessity drawn together to strive in unison toward the goal of educating and training each other for the whole of life.

Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenbrenner points out the negative socialising effects of the peer group. The knuckling under of children to their agemates in habits, manners, finger signs, obscenities, rivalry and ridicule almost certainly infects all children who spend more of their waking days with their peers than their parents, as is usually the case with conventionally schooled children. They will become dependent upon their age-segregated peer group, and tend to be alienated from adults and others not in their age group. He says that this robs children of 1) self worth, 2) optimism, 3) respect for parents and 4) even trust in their peers.

Furthermore, this does not happen because peers are so attractive, but because the children perceive they are to some degree rejected by their parents.7

Here is just one story illustrating the negative side of school socialisation that appeared in the Manawatu (NZ) Evening Standard of 19 February 1991: “During cross-examination, defence counsel Les Atkins QC played a rap tape made by the girl and her friend the same year as the alleged (sexual) offences. The tape contained obscenities as well as inferences about the girl’s current boyfriend’s sexuality. She said the obscenities on the tape sung by her had no meaning. Everyone at school used such language freely. “

Martin Engle, who then headed the National Early Childhood Demonstration Centre, vowed that parents who insist on early schooling, for all its claimed advantages to their children, are either deceived or deceiving their children; and that in fact, the children feel rejected.8

He is supported by the late John Bowlby, London psychiatrist who headed the World Health Organisation early childhood programme. This rejection, suggests Dr. Bowlby, often amounts to a serious form of child abuse. We are depriving them of the security they need when we institutionalise them before they are ready.  (Dr. Moore adds that the earlier you institutionalise your children, the earlier they will institutionalise you.) Says Dr. Bowlby, “…mothers who care for their children well are providing an irreplaceable service and one that society should hold in highest regard and be thankful for.”9

The negative socialising effects of age-segregating youngsters into classes, putting all boys and girls of the same age into the same class, is especially damaging to the boys. We require boys to enter school at the same age as girls although we know that boys trail girls in mental and emotional maturity by about a year at school’s start. Boys tend to be more likely than girls to fail, become delinquent or acutely hyperactive.

Michigan State University family ecologist Anne Soderman says, “Our failure to apply in the classroom what we have learned through research is evident in the secondary schools – boys outnumber girls 13 to 1 in remedial classes and by as much as 8 to 1 in classes for the emotionally impaired. ” 10


Basically, the socialisation argument against homeschooling is one big myth. What statistics are available indicate that homeschool socialisation is in fact significantly superior to that proffered in public schools (Dr. John Taylor’s use of Piers-Harris scale.) And the results of the schools’ socialisation efforts observable in society today are bemoaned by just about everybody involved.


(1) Proverbs 13:20

(2) Theresa Rodman. The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. II, No. 4, Aug/Sep 1984.

(3) Abstracted from a personal letter to a professional colleague who had questioned Dr. Dobson’s stance on homeschooling, quoted in The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. I, No. 2, June 1983.

(4) Quoted in Doctoral thesis of Brian D. Ray, President, National Home Education Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, 29 July 1986.

(5) John Wesley Taylor V. “Self Concept in Home Schooling Children”, Doctoral dissertation, Andrews University, Michigan,May 1986.

(6) Raymond S. Moore. “The Educated Beautiful”, Kappa Delta Pi RECORD, summer 1987.

(7) Urie Bronfenbrenner. Two Worlds of Childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R., New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

(8) Martin Engle. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Golden Hair: Some Thoughts on early Childhood Education.” Unpublished manuscript, National Demonstration Center in Early Childhood Education, U.S. Office of Education, Washington, D.C.

9) John Bowlby. Maternal Care and Mental Health, Geneva World Health Organisation, 1952.

10) Ann Soderman. Article in Education Week, 14 March 1984.

From Keystone Magazine
July 1996 , Vol. II No. 4
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig