*The Washington Times*December 14, 2009*Washington Times Op-ed—Socialization not a Problem**by J. Michael SmithHSLDA President*
One of the most persistent criticisms of homeschooling is the accusationthat homeschoolers will not be able to fully participate in society becausethey lack “socialization.” It’s a challenge that reaches right to the heartof homeschooling, because if a child isn’t properly socialized, how willthat child be able to contribute to society?
Since the re-emergence of the homeschool movement in the late 1970s, criticsof homeschooling have perpetuated two myths.
The first concerns the abilityof parents to adequately teach their own children at home;
the second iswhether homeschooled children will be well-adjusted socially.
Proving academic success is relatively straightforward. Today, it isaccepted that homeschoolers, on average, outperform their public schoolpeers. The most recent study, “Homeschool Progress Report 2009,” conductedby Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyedmore than 11,000 homeschooled students. It showed that the averagehomeschooler scored 37 percentile points higher on standardized achievementtests than the public school average.
The second myth, however, is more difficult to address because children whowere homeschooled in appreciable numbers in the late 1980s and early 1990sare only now coming of age and in a position to demonstrate they can succeedas adults.Homeschool families across the nation knew criticisms about adequatesocialization were ill-founded—they had the evidence right in their ownhomes. In part to address this question from a research perspective, theHome School Legal Defense Association commissioned a study in 2003 titled“Homeschooling Grows Up,” conducted by Mr. Ray, to discover howhomeschoolers were faring as adults. The news was good for homeschooling. In all areas of life, from gaining employment, to being satisfied with their homeschooling, to participating in community activities, to voting, homeschoolers were more active and involved than their public schoolcounterparts.
Until recently, “Homeschooling Grows Up” was the only study that addressedthe socialization of home-schooled adults. Now we have a new longitudinalstudy titled “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults” from theCanadian Centre for Home Education. This study surveyed homeschooledstudents whose parents participated in a comprehensive study on homeeducation in 1994. The study compared homeschoolers who are now adults withtheir peers. The results are astounding.
When measured against the average Canadians ages 15 to 34 years old,home-educated Canadian adults ages 15 to 34 were more socially engaged (69percent participated in organized activities at least once per week,compared with 48 percent of the comparable population).
Average income forhomeschoolers also was higher, but perhaps more significantly, while 11percent of Canadians ages 15 to 34 rely on welfare, there were no cases ofgovernment support as the primary source of income for homeschoolers.
Homeschoolers also were happier; 67.3 percent described themselves as veryhappy, compared with 43.8 percent of the comparable population.
Almost all of the homeschoolers—96 percent—thought homeschooling had prepared them well for life.
This new study should cause many critics to rethink their position on theissue of socialization. Not only are homeschoolers actively engaged in civiclife, they also are succeeding in all walks of life. Many critics believed,and some parents feared, that homeschoolers would not be able to compete inthe job market. But the new study shows homeschoolers are found in a widevariety of professions. Being homeschooled has not closed doors on careerchoices.
The results are a great encouragement to all homeschooling families and toparents thinking about homeschooling. Homeschoolers, typically identified as being high academic achievers, also can make the grade in society. Both “Homeschooling Grows Up” and “Fifteen Years Later” amply demonstratehomeschool graduates are active, involved, productive citizens.
Homeschoolfamilies are leading the way in Canadian and American education, and thisnew study clearly demonstrates homeschool parents are on the right path.*Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal DefenseAssociation. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email tohttp://firstname.lastname@example.org.*