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Home-Schooling Goes Global

Homeschooling is becoming ever more popular. The percentage of students homeschooled aged 5-17 in the United States, for instance, doubled between 1999 and 2012.

One of the main reasons for this is parental concern about public school environments. In fact, 91% of homeschooling parents surveyed in the vast 2012 United States NCES report said just that. “Safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure” prevalent in public schools were major factors in their decision to homeschool.

As those who homeschool become quickly aware, there is often a sharp disconnect between the actual data and popular (mis)conceptions of homeschooling. The Cuban pastor who was sentenced to jail earlier this year for homeschooling only highlighted the international arena of the battle. (His sentence was later successfully appealed.)

It behooves us, then, to see how the subject is being treated in the academic arena. How do peer-reviewed studies of homeschooling dispel popular myths about it?

Here are just a few of the global academic studies done in the field of homeschooling published in the past year. While no means exhaustive, these articles will hopefully give you a sense of the reasoned support in the academy for homeschooling around the world.

As most of these articles are in peer-reviewed journals, they are normally available only through academic databases. The links provided are through EBSCO, but you may also look them up by author and title through GALE, ProQuest, etc.

  1. United States:Homeschooling in the United States: 2012

Published in late 2016, this wide-reaching government report by the NCES was slightly revised in April, 2017. It remains one of the more important resources of the year in terms of how it looks at home schooling trends in the United States. The data I cited at the beginning of this article come from this report, for instance.

  1. Canada: “The Experiences of New Home Educators

This article by Dr. Sarah Pannone is a small survey of beginning homeschooling parents in Canada. Pannone concludes that “anyone can, and should, homeschool.” Indeed, even new home schooling parents reported that “the time spent with their children was valued.” Further, “the flexibility and adaptability that homeschooling
afforded was prized.”

  1. Romania: “The Specific of Homeschooling as Educational Alternative

Homeschooling is still illegal in Romania. Citing “the crisis of the educational system” in their country, the authors, Dr. Camelia Nadia Bran and Anca Szeman, show that homeschooling parents in Romania “face the prejudices” of family members and even “close friends.” Nonetheless, the authors conclude that “the legalization of [homeschooling] and putting it ‘in the light’ of the scientific approach would be just for the benefit of the children.”

  1. United States: “Safe at Home: Establishing a Fundamental Right to Homeschooling

A most comprehensive article, law Professor Billy Gage Raley warns his readers that “the right to homeschool is based on state legislation, which can be changed at any time.” Citing the manifold challenges that continue to be leveled against homeschooling, Raley proposes that “the homeschooling movement should seek to have homeschooling recognized as a fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” He then proceeds through legal, historical, political, and philosophical arguments to show how this might be done.

  1. Israel: “Schools and Emotional and Behavioral Problems

Drs. Oz Guterman and Ari Neuman examined “emotional and behavioral problems, depression, and attachment security” in Israeli children aged 6-12. After controlling for various factors, they compared groups “attending school and a group of homeschooled children.” The researchers found no differences in attachment security or internalizing problems between schooled and homeschooled children. However, they did find “more externalizing problems” in school-going children aged 9-12. Moreover, they found overall “a lower level of depression among the homeschooled children.”

  1. United States: “Family Economy,Rural School Choice, and Flexischooling Children with Disabilities”

This sociological approach to educating children in the home by Dr. Mark Schafer and Shana Khan will be of particular interest to farmers and others who live in rural areas. The authors show that, beyond ideological reasons, parents often opt for homeschooling due to “family, child, and locational considerations.” In particular, the researchers look at “children’s disability status and rural location.” This article also examines the fairly common “flexischooling” situation, in which children are both homeschooled and enrolled in public or private schools at the same time.

  1. Slovenia: “Home schooling in Slovenia

Homeschooling became legal in Slovenia in 1996, yet few studies have come out of the academic arena there. Though this article by Gita Mateja de Laat is available only in Slovenian, an English abstract is available. De Laat’s research found that “home schooled children in Slovenia successfully meet the academic standards set by schools, and that their parents provide enough possibilities for development of social skills.” Additionally, and perhaps surprisingly, homeschooling parents “report that their cooperation with school is positive.”

This article also appeared at EpicPew.

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Stephen Mirarchi

Dr. Stephen Mirarchi is Assistant Professor of English at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He is the author of two annotated editions of Myles Connolly’s novels, and his shorter academic work has appeared in Christianity & Literature, Religion & the Arts, Seminary Journal, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, and others. His journalistic work has been published in the Boston Globe, the National Catholic Register, Crisis, and others.