What largely started in the 1980s and ’90s as a way for Catholic parents to infuse religion into their kids’ education now has more mainstream appeal.
Homeschooled kids have the same access to online learning, friendships, and extracurricular activities as the typical public school student — but without many of the drawbacks, like standardized lesson plans and bullying.
Here are a handful of reasons homeschooling makes sense in 2018.
The core idea of homeschooling is the idea that kids need to learn at the speed, and in the style, most appropriate for them. In the education world, enthusiasts call the approach “personalized learning,” and it’s in place in a number of schools already.
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are big fans of personalized learning, since it tends to use technology as a way to tailor lesson plans to students. In a recent blog post, Gates pointed to research that personalized learning helps boost scores in reading and math.
Homeschooling parents can take the method a step further. As parents, many are in the best position possible to know, and provide, the right kind of instruction.
Without formal curricula to guide their education, homeschoolers get the chance to explore a range of topics that might not be normally offered until high school or college. They can study psychology in fourth grade or finance in eighth grade.
Some parents are capable enough to pass on this knowledge themselves. But many parents Business Insider has spoken with rely on online learning platforms like Khan Academy or workbooks. Some take their older kids to local community colleges.
While many homeschool families do teach English, math, science, and history, education is by no means limited just to those subjects.
The most common misconception about homeschoolers is that they lack social skills. Before the internet, there was some truth to the stereotype.
But today’s students have just as much opportunity to see kids their own age as those in private or public schools, and often without as much distraction. Homeschoolers still use apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook — which may foster unhealthy and even addictive relationships to tech — but also lets them meet up with other homeschoolers or those from traditional schools.
“They’re doing just as well or better,” Brian Ray, a homeschooling researcher at the National Home Education Research Institute, told Business Insider.
Homeschoolers don’t deal with all the downsides of being around kids in a toxic school environment.
Plenty of critics argue these downsides are actually good for toughening kids up, but kids who are bullied more often face symptoms of depression and anxiety, do worse in class and show up to school less frequently.
Homeschooled kids are able to learn in a more harmonious environment.
Contrary to the name, homeschooling takes place in an actual home only a fraction of the time. A great deal of instruction happens in community colleges, at libraries, or in the halls of local museums.
These experiences have the effect of maturing kids much more quickly and cultivating “a trait of open-mindedness,” as Harvard junior and former homeschooler Claire Dickson told Business Insider.
Since kids spend more time around adults in the “real world,” they rarely come to see school as set apart from other aspects of life.
Homeschooling makes sense from an achievement point of view.
Research suggests homeschooled children tend to do better on standardized tests, stick around longer in college, and do better once they’re enrolled. A 2009 study showed that the proportion of homeschoolers who graduated from college was about 67%, while among public school students it was 59%.
Students from Catholic and private schools fell even lower in college graduation rates, with 54% and 51% of kids, respectively, completing all four years.
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