Posted by Andrea Newitt on Wednesday, 20 April, 2011
Many parents happily take on the task of homeschooling their children in the early years, but when it comes to high school, they simply lose heart and send their children off to school. Several years ago, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazineconducted a survey of our readers and discovered that 81% planned to homeschool through high school, yet at the time only 26% were actually homeschooling in the upper grades. And the figure was only slightly higher (31%) for junior high. Why is there such a big drop-off rate when it comes to homeschooling through high school? Far too many parents fear they just don’t have adequate skills to homeschool through high school. They worry that they cannot properly prepare their children for college and a career by educating them at home. But the facts show that homeschoolers do quite well in academics and in adulthood.
Dr. Brian Ray, founder and president of NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute), has conducted extensive research on homeschooling. His findings confirm that students who are homeschooled excel both in college and in their communities. Visit www.nheri.org to find more than enough facts and figures to pluck up your courage and be inspired to persevere. Let’s take a look at some of those facts:
- Homeschooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-schooled students on standardized achievement tests.
- Those above-average scores do not depend on the level of their parents’ formal education or their family’s household income.
- Homeschoolers also score above average on both the SAT and ACT tests.
- Increasingly, colleges are actively recruiting homeschoolers.
And the achievements don’t stop there. Dr. Ray’s research on the increasing number of adults who were educated at home shows they are more likely than the general public to:
- Participate in local community service.
- Vote and attend public meetings.
- Go to and succeed at college.
- Internalize the values and beliefs of their parents.
Other research confirms these facts. A study by Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick Basham revealed, “Almost one-quarter of home schooled students perform one or more grades above their age level peers in public and private schools.” A 2010 study published in the Journal of College Admission found that homeschoolers possess “higher grade point averages (GPAs) and graduation rates when compared to traditionally-educated students.” Dr. Michael Cogan of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota reports that homeschooled students “have a higher college graduation rate (66.7 percent) compared to the overall population (57.5 percent).”
With all these benefits, you can see why many homeschooling organizations are committed to encouraging parents to educate their children at home all the way through high school. Homeschooling also gives parents an opportunity to provide their children with an individualized education, allowing them the time to mature in certain areas, to concentrate on their interests, and to excel in their abilities.
For classical homeschoolers, persisting with your studies through high school is essential. You just can’t find that type of education in public high schools or colleges, and very few private schools offer a classical, Christian education. It can be heartbreaking to invest time building a solid base of knowledge in your children and firmly establishing their thinking skills, only to abandon the dream of developing their powers of communication simply because you lack the confidence to continue through the upper grades. Finding a friend or two who shares your vision of homeschooling can make all the difference in keeping that dream alive and making it a reality as you approach the rhetoric stage of learning.
Gathering with other classical families provides added benefits for both parents and children alike. The rigorous demands of a classical education can be intimidating, particularly at the high school level when you have your eye on college admissions. A consistent and committed group such as Classical Conversations that meets regularly can help meet those demands and give students an opportunity to hone the verbal and math skills of the seven liberal arts along with fine friends. The group can provide extra accountability too. Parents aren’t tempted to skip yet another school day or fail to follow through on assignments they would like to see completed. Students are inspired to tackle tough subjects, and parents realize, yes, they can teach high school at home.
So be encouraged. You truly are capable of successfully homeschooling through high school. And with a few dedicated friends and families at your side, your efforts to take on the higher levels of math, English, history, and science can be rewarded in a remarkable way, especially as you integrate those subjects within a community committed to study and conversation in the classical style. Homeschooled students are thriving in college and in adulthood. Stay the course, keeping your children “home where they belong” even through high school, and your journey will be counted among those stories of success and achievement.