Dear Mr. Dad:
My wife and I have been considering the option of homeschooling our children next year. Though it seems like a great idea in some ways, I’m still a bit hesitant. Will it hurt their social development? And what about when the time comes for college applications? Can you help me sort all of this out?
Homeschooling, which used to be very rare, has been getting steadily more popular over that past few decades. Parents embrace it for many reasons. They may be unhappy with the educational choices presented to them in their area. They may want more control over what their children learn, both in terms of curriculum and philosophy. Working directly with your children also affords a wonderful bonding opportunity, as well as other advantages, including individualized attention, specialized focus, more control over the values and worldview your children are being taught.
As you mentioned, lack of opportunity for socialization with children their own age may be one of the biggest concerns parents have about homeschooling. One way to take the edge off this concern is to involve your children in extracurricular activities—sports, art classes, music, etc.—just as you would probably do if they went to a traditional school. That will give them the chance to make friends and broaden their social networks beyond your family.
As for college admissions, homeschooling does present a challenge for colleges in that they are unable to evaluate the quality of the education your children have received. But, this doesn’t mean that homeschooled children don’t get into some excellent colleges. Cornell, Harvard, Amherst, and the College of William and Mary are only a few of the many I’ve heard of that have accepted homeschoolers.
If you do decide to homeschool, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. First of all, you should check into what graduation requirements your state has. You will also need to be very adept at record-keeping; you’ll need to maintain attendance records as well as start a high school transcript when the time comes.
A few more things to keep in mind when it comes to college admissions: standardized test scores are an even more important barometer when a homeschooler is applying. So it’s imperative that your child be prepared and get the best score possible on these tests. Also, one way to demonstrate academic prowess to colleges is to have your children take courses at a junior college while finishing up a high school curriculum at home.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there for families who are considering homeschooling. You might want to check out www.homeschool.com or www.americanhomeschoolassociation.org for more information.