A Modern Guide to Homeschooling

With many parents suddenly needing to aide in their children's teaching at home, Study.com summarized their findings from an early-2020 study about the myths and realities about homeschooling in this modern age. 

Daniel Brown, Study.com
4-minute read

The reality of homeschooling today

In early 2020, Study.com conducted a study of 2,398 parents and students to find out what has become of those common myths we all hear about homeschooling: “Homeschooled students don’t develop good social skills” and “Homeschooling hurts students academically.”

Dispelling common homeschooling myths

Study.com wanted to find out how widespread these myths are today and to get some insight into what the truth is around these issues. The parents and students who took part in the survey came from both homeschool and non-homeschool backgrounds.

Homeschooling is not a single, easily-definable thing that matches the well-worn stereotypes.

Something that became increasingly clear throughout the course of the study and associated research was that homeschooling is not a single, easily-definable thing that matches the well-worn stereotypes suggested by the myths.

Many switch between homeschooling and traditional schooling as their needs dictate. Others homeschool for a particular stage of their education (e.g. high school) to achieve a particular goal (e.g. dual credit). Some families will have one child in the local high school while they homeschool their other child because that’s what’s best for those individuals.

The myth that homeschooled students don’t develop good social skills

Because families homeschool for different reasons, this also means that the way they approach homeschooling is often different. So to say that homeschooling produces socially awkward young adults, or that it is harmful to their academics, is to fundamentally misunderstand the concept.

Some homeschoolers practice homeschooling in co-ops, where they engage with a variety of peers. Other families homeschool because their children have exceptional skills in say, theatre or sports, in which they are interacting with peers and adults in different settings every day. Still others use the more relaxed schedule afforded by homeschooling to educate their children through field-trips, where they go out into the world and interact with new people every day.

There is no evidence ... to suggest that homeschooling harms children’s social development.

Even for those homeschoolers who do study mainly at home, there are so many clubs and organizations available for them to join in every part of the country that it would be more difficult to find homeschoolers who don’t have regular interaction with others.

And the existing research bears this out, too. There is no evidence that Study.com could find to suggest that homeschooling harms children’s social development.

The myth that homeschooling hurts students academically

The story is the same with the myth around academics. Existing research suggests the exact opposite—that homeschooled children perform better on measures of academic success, such as standardized testing. It has been reported that many colleges actually go out of their way to recruit homeschoolers because of the high academic performance they have come to expect from such students.

This research shouldn’t be accepted wholesale—it is fair to assume that the homeschoolers who take part in such studies represent the more motivated end of the homeschool population.

This research shouldn’t be accepted wholesale—it is fair to assume that the homeschoolers who take part in such studies represent the more motivated end of the homeschool population. But nevertheless, in one meta-study (a meta-study is an analysis of a whole group of previous studies on a given question) 78% of the research analyzed found that homeschool students performed significantly better than their traditional school peers.

What we learned about homeschooling today

It’s fair to say that the common myths around homeschooling are just that: myths.

They are stories told by the non-homeschooling community to make sense of something that is not well understood because it’s something that most people have not engaged in – yet. But as the decades roll on the number of homeschoolers around the country is increasing fast. And with the proliferation of online learning tools and support resources, the increased availability of good quality educational materials is likely to attract many more to try it in the coming years.

Given that homeschoolers come from all different backgrounds and practice homeschooling in so many different ways, it is just far too simplistic to suggest that it leads to bad outcomes. Instead, it is important to understand that each family homeschools for different reasons and takes a different approach in an effort to get the best outcomes for their children.

Advice for educating at home during school closures

Here are some top tips for staying organized and making the most of all the resources available to homeschool your children during COVID-19 related school closures:

Plan out a daily routine

Routines are important to help students get into the habit of studying regularly at set times. Create a daily timetable—it doesn’t need to match the school schedule, as study.com users report that with modular, video learning they can learn as much in two or three hours as they would in a normal school day. But set a well-defined schedule for learning hours and try to stick to it.

Plan subjects to be taught and collect materials

Your child(ren) will need basic study materials like books, paper, and pens. And beyond these, you should get an idea of what subjects they need to maintain and collect a range of resources to help them learn these. You can use existing blogs to supplement, or sites like Study.com to get a comprehensive curriculum that is ready-to-use.

Create an appropriate learning environment

It’s important both for productivity and mental health that students have clear boundaries between ‘study’ and their lives outside of education. With schools closed, it’s up to your family to create this at home. Designate a particular space for learning and set it up for success. Ideally, it should be somewhere quiet with a desk or table for note-taking, away from potential distractions like TV and video games.

Provide opportunities for new learning experiences

Learning from home can open up new opportunities. Mix up the routine now and again by using your scheduling learning time to watch a documentary on a topic of interest, exercising by taking a short a hike or bike-ride (assuming current government guidelines allow and ensuring proper social distancing measures are taken), or crafting something relevant to your child’s learning.