Sunday, November 8, 2009

Homeschooling Benefits Children less preoccupied with peer acceptance

Just read this great article and thought to share it.

William R. Mattox Jr.

Friday, March 19, 1999

MOST FOLKS who have never met a homeschooling family imagine that the kids are about as socially isolated (and as socially awkward) as Bobby Boucher, the Cajun ``Momma's boy'' Adam Sandler portrays in the recent hit film, ``The Waterboy.''

But some new research by Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute suggests otherwise. Indeed, Ray's research helps to explain why the number of homeschoolers in America continues to grow and now totals more than 1.4 million children. Ray reports the typical homeschooled child is involved in 5.2 social activities outside the home each week. These activities include afternoon and weekend programs with conventionally schooled kids, such as ballet classes, Little League teams, Scout troops, church groups and neighborhood play. They include midday field trips and cooperative learning programs organized by groups of homeschooling families. For example, some Washington, D.C., families run a homeschool drama troupe that performs at a local dinner theater.

So, what most distinguishes a homeschooler's social life from that of a conventionally schooled child? Ray says homeschooled children tend to interact more with people of different ages.

This is actually more akin to the ``real world'' -- what businessperson's social interaction is largely restricted to those born in the same year? It reduces the degree to which children find themselves constantly being compared to, and comparing themselves with, other kids their age. Interestingly, this reduced consciousness about age tends to help homeschooled ``late bloomers'' avoid being stigmatized as ``slow learners'' -- which is one of the many reasons homeschoolers, on average, score 30 to 37 percentile points higher than conventionally schooled students on the most commonly administered K-8 standardized tests.

Moreover, homeschooled children tend to draw their primary social identity from their membership in a particular family rather than from their membership in ``a tribe apart.'' That's the phrase author Patri cia Hersch uses to describe the conventionally schooled kids she followed through adolescence. According to Hersch, many school kids today feel isolated from the grown-up world and alienated from parents who fail to take an interest in their lives and to set boundaries for their behavior.

Now, Hersch's intention isn't to make a case for homeschooling. (She doesn't significantly address the issue.) But the angst- ridden teens she describes in her book closely resemble the peer-obsessed students Seattle public high school teacher David Guterson talks about in his compelling book, ``Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense,'' (Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich, 1992). Guterson reports that the kids in his conventional school often have difficulty navigating the turbulent social scene at school, with ``its cliques, rumors and relentless gossip, its shifting alliances and expedient betrayals.'' Guterson says that their preoccupation with peer acceptance often encourages young people to become ``acutely attuned to a pre-adult commercial culture that usurps their attention (M-TV, Nintendo, fashion magazines, teen cinema)'' and frequently fosters a sense of alien ation from people of other ages.

Interestingly, educational researcher Susannah Sheffer of Cambridge, Mass., says facilitating peer-dependency is part of ``how schools shortchange girls'' (to borrow the title of a highly publicized report issued several years ago by the American Association of University Women). In a recent study of self-esteem among adolescent girls, Sheffer found that unlike their conventionally schooled counterparts, homeschooled girls did not typically lose confidence in themselves when their ideas and opinions weren't embraced by their friends.

Now, none of this means that every homeschooler is socially well-adjusted. Or that homeschooling is the only way for parents to raise children successfully. Or that good things never happen in conventional schools. But these studies do suggest that homeschooling offers more than just educational benefits. No wonder a growing number of families are now giving home education a try.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/03/19/ED71809.DTL

This article appeared on page A - 23 of the San Francisco Chronicle

0 comments:

Here is where I am going to Share those moments that just come whether it be night or day and we take the time to seize every opportunity-

Just a quick chuckle; I was putting my sons down for the night and little Bogan asked for another drink of water, and I said no you have already had a large glass and used the bathroom-he said oh yeah-so I chuckled and said haha your plans to stay awake have been foiled, and he said yeah Mom you folded my plans.

The other night my boys were playing with their legos and when I walked by, PT had made a pyramid and asked me where the little guy was that he had, I said I don't know? And then he showed me he had hidden it under the pyramid-I thought and then grabbed that moment- I went and got out the history book and opened up to the ancient Egypt era when pyramids were built and why it was similar to what he did. He was amazed at the significance. We read and read and learned about them for 2 days.