Homeschooling has become popular in the 21st century with parents increasingly acknowledging the benefits associated with this system as opposed to schooling in public learning institutions. The important decision of whether children are to be sent to public schools or homeschooled should be made using data from reputable research findings. The conventional argument is that public schools are better equipped with all the necessary learning resources and trained teachers, and thus they offer a better quality of education as compared to home schools. In addition, public schools allegedly offer the best environment for students to advance their social skills by interacting with their peers. However, these assertions should be supported with verifiable data, not nuances and anecdotes. Emerging research works by various scholars and educators show that homeschooling is better than schooling in public learning institutions considering variables, such as academic achievement and health of students. This paper is a qualitative study conducted to assess the impacts of homeschooling on learners as compared to studying in public schools.
An online search was conducted via ProQuest and EBSCOhost using the following keywords: homeschooling, public schools, impacts of homeschooling, benefits of homeschooling, and homeschooling versus public schools. As for the article to be included in the study, it had to be peer-reviewed, published in the last five years for up-to-date data, and written the English. Reviews were included in the selected articles because they contain valuable information from various resources. Ultimately, four articles were selected for this study as explained in the next section.
The first article was a systematic review of various empirical research works on selected aspects of homeschooling. According to Ray, the review sought to give the demographic features of the U.S. “homeschooling population and the reasons that parents choose to homeschool, summarizes the findings of studies on the homeschool learner outcomes of academic achievement, social development, and success in adulthood, and proposes future research on parent-led home-based education” (“A Systematic Review”, p. 604). The author reviewed all articles written in English on the subject of homeschooling from 1983 and selected only peer-reviews studies. Out of the 14 articles used in this review, 11 showed positive correlation between homeschooling and improved academic performance. Only one article did not show significant difference between homeschooling and attending public and private schools. On top of academic performance, homeschooled children had better social and emotional development as compared to those in institutionalized learning. In addition, in terms of overall progress in life as adults, the study showed that home-educated individuals outperform their counterparts in public and private schools.
Another study sought to review the available research on learning outcomes for homeschooled students in comparison with institution-schooled learners. The study synthesized data on “learner outcomes related to homeschooling in areas of students’ academic achievement, children’s social, emotional, and psychological development, and the success of adults who were home educated” (Ray, “A Review of Research”, p. 85). In one study, 7,306 adults who had been homeschooled were tracked and it emerged that they progressed to colleges and universities at a higher rates as compared to the general US population. Additionally, more of the “home educated (98%) read a book in the past 6 months than did the general population (69%). More of the homeschooled (100%) read one or more magazines on a regular basis than the general population (89%)” (Ray, “A Review of Research”, p. 91). In addition, homeschooled children had the same or better social, emotional, and psychological development as compared to those in public and private schools. The results further indicated that most homeschooled children become entrepreneurial, fiercely independent, and pursued professional occupations.
Mazama and Lundy conducted a study to “explore in depth one of the main reasons why African Americans increasingly choose to educate their children at home, namely, African American discontent with the poor quality of the education available in American schools, both public and private” (p. 160). The participants of this study were 74 African American parents homeschooling their children. The participants were drawn from Chicago (29.7 %), metropolitan areas of Philadelphia (25.7 %), Washington (17.6 %), New York (10.8 %), and Atlanta (8.1 %) (Mazama and Lundy, p. 165). The study results showed that African American students undergoing homeschooling performed better academically than their counterparts in learning institutions. Homeschooled students had better self-knowledge based on cultural and historical experiences of black people in the US, which led to the development of a strong sense of self and purpose. The compounded impact of historical and contemporary racism coupled with the undue financial, social, and psychological challenges that Blacks face in the US negatively affect the learning of African American students in public and private schools. However, homeschooling removes some of these barriers to effective learning hence the improved academic performance.
In another study, Meltzer et al. sought to investigate sleep patterns and sleep hygiene for homeschooled children as compared to those in learning institutions. Students in grades 6-12 were selected for this study with 245 and 162 drawn from public/private schools and home schools respectively. This research was based on the argument that insufficient sleep duration “in adolescents is common, negatively impacting cognitive functioning, emotion regulation, and health” (Meltzer et al, p. 140). The findings indicated that private/public school learners had poorer sleep patterns, and they had a high workload to be completed at home as compared to their homeschooled counterparts. Additionally, significant school group differences “were found for weekday bedtime, wake time, and total sleep time, with homeschool students waking later and obtaining more sleep” (Meltzer et al, p. 140). Homeschoolers wake up almost the same time when institutionalized learners are starting their classes, hence the reason for more sleep time.
The available data from the studies discussed in the preceding section indicate that homeschooling has more benefits as compared to learning in public and private institutions. Homeschooled children academically outperform students attending public and private schools (Mazama and Lundy 160; Ray, “A Review of Research”, p. 85; Ray, “A Systematic Review”, p. 604). These findings underscore the importance of homeschooling because, with good academic performance, students are likely to pursue higher education in various colleges and universities. The interpretation of these findings is that there could be some factors that promote effective learning in home environments. At home, learners get personalized attention, as the instructor has to focus on one or two individuals. This way, it becomes easy to identify areas that could be improved and take the appropriate actions to help the students improve on their weakness. Ultimately, the overall academic performance improves significantly.
Similarly, homeschooled children get enough sleep, which is good for their long-term health and wellbeing. Homeschooled students commence their day later than those attending schools and such delayed start times are associated with numerous health benefits for both middle and high school learners (Meltzer et al, p. 41). For African American students who have been subject to various institutionalized marginalization and racism in both public and private schools, homeschooling offers a better way out of such problems to increase their academic performance (Mazama and Lundy, pp. 160-181). African American students are academically disadvantaged in many ways due to various social and economic factors associated with a history of widespread racism. However, learning from home appears to bridge the gap in academic performance disparities whereby African American students excel more when homeschooled as compared to their counterparts undertaking institutionalized learning. Therefore, African American parents could resort to this form of leaning to ensure that their children get quality education. As such, homeschooling is better than institutionalized learning for this group of students.
Calls to Future Researchers
Future researchers should focus on creating robust data on the benefits of homeschooling over studying in public and private schools. The available primary data is based on small sample sizes, which might not be generalizable in other set-ups. Therefore, in the future, researchers ought to conduct randomized controlled studies with participants drawn from different set-ups and using large population samples to derive robust data that could be extrapolated in various learning environments. Additionally, the existing literature should be improved by conducting well-controlled non-experimental designs to study how adults who were home-educated perform in life in terms of various attributes, such as lifelong learning, dependency on public welfare, and the level of self-efficacy or personal agency based on different behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge. Concerning sleep patterns, future studies should examine the effect of school start times and other daytime outcomes, such as mood, health, and students’ concentration and participation in classrooms.
The concept of homeschooling is becoming popular in contemporary times as parents seek to offer the best form of education to their children. This qualitative study has shown the various benefits associated with homeschooling over institution-based learning. Homeschooled students perform better academically, socially, psychologically, and emotionally than their counterparts in public and private schools. In addition, homeschoolers have better sleeping hygiene, which is associated with numerous health benefits. Future researchers should concentrate on validating or disqualifying this data using large sample sizes with participants from different backgrounds.
- Mazama, Ama, and Garvey Lundy. “African American Homeschooling and the Quest for a Quality Education.” Education and Urban Society, vol. 47, no. 2, 2015, pp. 160-181.
- Meltzer, Lisa, et al. “Start Later, Sleep Later: School Start Times and Adolescent Sleep in Homeschool versus Public/Private School Students.” Behavioral Sleep Medicine vol. 14, no. 2, 2016, pp. 140-154.
- Ray, Brian. “A Review of Research on Homeschooling and What Might Educators Learn?” Pro-Posições, vol. 28, no. 2, 2017, pp. 85-103.
- “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Research on Selected Aspects of Homeschooling as a School Choice.” Journal of School Choice, vol. 11, no. 4, 2017, pp. 604-621.