1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 1

Why do families choose to homeschool?

There are as many different answers to this question as there are families who homeschool; however, there are four main categories into which most reasons for this choice fall:

a) a desire for a quality of family life

b) an educational philosophy different from that which is provided in an institutional setting

c) the child is not progressing in public school

d) the strength of character that emerges from the family and community-based educational setting

a) a desire for a quality of family life

Many couples highly value the time that they have together. They will give up extra incomes and a more affluent lifestyle in favour of what they consider to be more important choices. Children are our most precious gifts, and are highly receptive in their formative years. Many parents want to be influential in imparting values and beliefs to their children especially during the most impressionable time of their lives.

The joy of actually sharing in your child's learning to read, and witnessing their growth as they perform the normal developmental tasks that we all go through, cannot be compared to hearing about it second hand.

Many families feel that an integral part of their life is lost when children are away from the home during the best part of the day. Little energy is left when children return home from school for a relaxed, enjoyable interaction. Many home educating families let their children choose when they want to leave the family setting and seek other educational opportunities outside the home.

b) an educational philosophy different from that which is provided in an institutional setting.

Many teaching parents share an educational philosophy which respects individual interests, strengths and needs, which values experiential learning, and which allows sufficient time for growth.

Children are always learning, they are programmed to learn from birth. People learn best when they pursue knowledge and skills from a motivation within themselves. They learn best when they have ample time to finish what it is that they choose to learn. They learn best from first hand experience. Visiting a forest, hearing the sounds of nature, collecting leaves and insects cannot be compared to reading about them in a book, seeing a movie or drawing pictures of them while inside a classroom. Many homeschoolers prefer to call themselves family and community-based learners because that is where they live and learn.

The one-on-one contact offered by a parent directed toward the specific abilities and interests of a child creates a superior learning situation. From experience, parent home educators have an intimate knowledge of their children and of the methods which are best suited to each child. The kinesthetic learner, the auditory learner, etc. find much more freedom to exercise their learning style at home and in the community setting.

It is not unusual for one child to learn to read when he/she is four years old and a sibling to learn to read when he/she is eight years old. When both are ten years old they read equally well. At home, individual learning timetables are honoured and curriculum is adapted accordingly. With the expectations for everyone to be moving at roughly the same learning rate as in the case of our school classrooms, such individual differences in developmental timetables can cause a severe loss of self-esteem and social problems for the late bloomer.

c) the child is not progressing in public school.

OFTP receives many calls from parents across the province who want information on homeschooling. Seventy-five percent of the calls arise from a child not fitting in, not progressing or not having his/her needs met within the large groupings within classrooms.

Children often get left behind when their developmental rate is different from that of their peers. Often it is a struggle to catch up. Other children are bored and do not have enough to challenge them when the teaching is directed toward the middle of the ability range within the classroom.

Changes in resource allocation have impacted the availability of personnel and of some educational offerings in the public system. Parents who have taken their children out of the public system and kept them at home often find that when the child has an opportunity to move at his/her own rate and has the necessary individual attention given, progress happens more readily.

d) the strength of character that emerges from the family and community-based educational setting.

Statistics are showing that children educated at home score above children educated in the public system right across the board.*  Social skills of home educated children are more developed and they have a more mature outlook from the contact that they regularly have with people of all walks of life.

Being homeschooled is anything but an isolating experience. Children experience first hand the daily comings and goings of life in the community as they participate in grocery shopping, trips to recreation centres, garages, medical facilities, - just about anywhere that their parents would go, children are a part of the experience. Often people remark on how mature
home educated children are for their age.

By taking a responsible, active role in their curriculum, these children develop a sense of self-esteem that gives them confidence in their pursuit of particular areas of knowledge. With the one-to-one ratio of student to teacher, studies at home can be completed faster, and with improved comprehension. More time is then available to devote to personal interests which build a strong sense of character.

National Home Education Research Institute

The World is a Classroom (Index of Research related to homeschooling)

On the OFTP site visit these pages:

Standard test results comparisons