Sometimes I visit Science Daily and click around until I find something fun. Recently I found this: Homeschool kids are leaner than kids who go to school. And I thought to myself, of course this is true.
Because homeschool parents are more involved with their kids, so their kids don’t eat junk food. And homeschooled kids do more of what they are interested in – like running and jumping and rolling around – and kids who are engaged what they are doing don’t eat because of loneliness or depression. So it’s not like homeschooling makes kids thin. It’s that the kind of parents who homeschool are also the kind of parents who don’t have fat kids.
(Sidenote on fat kids from the site Jezebel: According to Google analytics examined by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz at the New York Times, parents are two and a half times more likely to Google “Is my son gifted?” than they are to search for “Is my daughter gifted?” Guess what are they searching about their girls: “Is my daughter fat?” So maybe all those people who are worried about fat girls should homeschool them.)
The same is true of test scores. Homeschoolers routinely test higher than school kids on standardized tests but it’s because you can get through three years of school math at home in less time than it takes to get through one year of math in school. So the test scores don’t say anything about homeschool except that learning math takes time and school wastes a lot of time.
The bottom line is that rich kids test higher and poor kids test lower. This is even true for dumb rich kids and smart poor kids. Also, half of all public school kids are from low-income families, which means the other half is mostly the middle class and rich people don’t really use the public schools. So it becomes easy for homeschoolers to test higher than the public school kids because the best test-takers are not even in public school.
Yes, there are exceptions, but when you look at data about whether should you homeschool, you’re not looking for exceptions, you’re looking for general rules.
So the research about how homeschoolers fare in tests is meaningless. You’re wasting your time comparing test scores.
If you want your kids to go to college, you can get them to college. If you want them to test well they can test well. But you have more pressing decisions to make. Do you want to send them away for eight hours a day or do you want them involved in family life during that time? Do you want them to be told what to learn or do you want them to self-guide their learning?
What you really need to focus on is how when you choose to homeschool, you are choosing a value system. And it’s clear to me that the value system in school works against the value system I want for my family.