Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Some Thoughts on Home-Schooling...

I am often asked why my wife and I chose to home-school our sons.  The follow up question is usually, "But are you an expert in everything?"

These two questions are fine to ask so I would like to share some ideas with you in case you have an implicit desire to avoid ruining your child's life.

First, the evidence.  When you look at the data on home-schooled kids it is quite impressive.  These kids have among the highest average GPA's in America's colleges and universities; among the highest graduation rates and scholarship offers from the best universities in the U.S. that are pouring in at an increasing rate.  Many articles in the Wall Street Journal and other sources (see the Heartland Institute for more) chronicle the deepening sense of appreciation college administrators have for the eclectic nature of home-schooling in America that has produced very well-rounded, mature critical thinkers. 

Anecdotal to the macro evidence is my experience with home-schoolers for the last 20 years.  Two decades ago, about 7 in 10 of these kids were very good in my classes with the other three falling into the secular stereotype of the kid who knew the New Testament like their middle name but not much else.

Today, with more than two million home-schoolers of all walks of life, I would say that 19 out of every 20 I get are not only very good but are also the stars of their class.  I am talking about kids making 97's and 99's and even 100's on my exams while most other students, including private-schooled ones earn lower (much lower in many cases) grades.

Moreover, home-schooled students are very good speakers.  I have learned why.  It is because they are encouraged to think out loud and then talk about their thoughts.  Some of my best verbal defenders of various ideas have been from students who never attended government schools.

Home-schoolers are also naturally skeptical of government's good intentions.  They are much more likely to believe in free markets and understand the case for liberty because - hold on to your seats - their parents did not trust the government with their education. 

With respect to the question about my expertise and that of my wife, it is pretty simple.  We both have a few areas where we can more than cover what our boys need to know.  The free market provides the rest.  At the Florida Parent Educators Association annual meeting in Orlando there are hundreds of vendors selling thousands of curricula to home-school parents like us.  I am no expert in French or Physics or electricity.  However, there are profit-seeking experts in these areas that are all to willing to sell us materials we can functionally use to help our sons learn these subjects at a high level.

I would say to anyone considering home-schooling that all you need is a child, love for that child, a willingness to live within your means so one parent can stay home, a decent brain and a complete understanding of how government does nothing well and you are all set.

One more thing.....trust yourself.  Your kids will thank you for it someday - and so will I if they take my class.


  1. As a former homeschooler, I'll always be convinced that the quality of education you receive homeschooling is so much higher than in Government schools. While my High School friends learned "social skills", my home school friends argued philosophy, learned rhetoric, and knew Latin. Homeschooling encourages a kind of ingenuity and thinking outside the box that you won't find in public schools - After all, life isn't multiple choice.

  2. My family are first generation home schoolers and love it. Every year more options like khan academy, udacity, mises.org make the education options better and better. But education is second to the quality of life that home schooling allows.
    All the best,

  3. I would love to have my wife stay at home to home-school our children. However, I believe that would present a major economic problem for our kids future. I completely understand we must have "a willingness to live within your means" but how much money are you really going to save with only one parent working? Should I just do what my parents did to me by sending me out in the world with no cash in hand to mount up thousands in student loans to pay back? (By the way I love my parents :) My point is that only certain families that can afford to home-school children should do it. If you can't afford to home-school your children and afford to pay for a college education for them then you shouldn't do it. Just my opinion...

  4. What is your second best option, Richard? Is it private or government education? Please log on to www.jackchambless.com ,click on SPEECHES scroll down to the video STUPID IN AMERICA. I would love to hear your thoughts.

  5. OK I watched the video and what John Stossel is saying is very true. I also have a problem with public school being that my children are 8 and 6 years old in a school with 30+ kids in each class. The teachers have to deal with disruptive children and teaching a curriculum that doesn't make sense. For example, my daughter was learning how to simplify fractions before learning division? I also applied to 3 different charter school lotteries for both of my children because those schools are better than public school. I agree that competition can make the school system better.

    I also feel that students play a big part in the schools failing. I remember watching a documentary "Hard Times at Douglass High" where teachers were quitting because of the students. Lots of young people just don't want to learn and if they do learn they want it to be easy. I was annoyed by Dorein Cain's mother who blamed the school for her son not being able to read. Why couldn't she get him a book and help him read? Now she's passing down that blaming type of attitude to her son. I went back to school in my mid 20's at Valencia so I know that young people just don't want to learn. I can remember sitting in English class and hearing sighs from students when the professor asked us to write a paper. Isn't that what we're suppose to do in English class? It didn't shock me at all in the video that those young people didn't know what the Bill of Rights was. Its hard to get young people to want to learn so the way I try to get my kids to want to learn is by scaring them. Since we moved to California we noticed a lot of homeless people standing on corners. Every time I see one I say to my kids the reason why he or she is standing there holding a sign is because they didn't go to school. Now every time I see a homeless person with them I say "why is he there?" And they answer "because he didn't go to school." It might be cruel but I just want them to understand the value of education.

    So to finally answer your question the second best option is private (if you can afford it). The third best option is charter schools. Finally, the last option is government education. The last option will just take more of my time at home to help my kids understand the things that was quickly taught to them at school.

    Sorry for the long winded answer.

  6. I agree. When that lady in S.C. turned over her responibility to her son to the public school system she was foolishly of the mindset that the unionized teachers would do their job. It is OUR job, not the schools to educate our kids. The schools have become day care centers, nothing more. If parents who send their kids to the government do not supplement what their kids are not learning it is their fault.

    It is also worth noting the stripping away the right of teachers to paddle kids has impacted the classroom. There is nothing like the prospect of a good beating to focus the mind of an unruly kid.