Declaring His Power to the Next Generation Part 1
By Dana Hanley

Jennifer Morrison’s parents made the decision to pull her out of school and educate her at home the summer before her fifth grade year.  She was not in agreement with the decision at all.

My objections were numerous, I had no idea how my parents thought they were going to teach me--after all, what could they possibly know?  Secondly, I was objecting to the loss of all my friends from school.  Another qualm that I had was merely a fear of the unknown.  I had friends who were being homeschooled, and although they seemed normal and happy enough, I knew very little about homeschooling.  Overall, I really did not think homeschooling was the education for me, though I knew how much I hated the public school system.

Her concerns echo those of committed parents considering homeschooling.  All want what is best for their child, but many are uncertain about the idea of homeschooling which at times seems so radical. For most, it is a journey into unknown territory. Parents have many reasons for homeschooling. But many also have concerns regarding the academic, social and spiritual benefits. What about when their kids grow up? What kind of adults does homeschooling produce? What impact can homeschoolers have on the world around us? Despite these questions, many have pressed diligently on, possessing the conviction and faith of those who have the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Today, with thousands of home educators completing their homeschooling journey, this revolutionary approach to education has reached the end of one era and the beginning of another. Homeschooling is no longer a grand educational experiment with a question mark at the end. As this first generation has graduated, is moving on to college and is entering the workforce, the most pressing question for many at the start of this journey is,   Did it work? 

There are three main areas of concern to most parents regarding the educational decisions for their children: academic, social and spiritual. The good news is that we now have research data to examine each of these areas and the results are very encouraging. To answer some of these questions, Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), researched some of the practical benefits of homeschooling by surveying homeschool graduates. He published the results of this study in Home Educated and Now Adults:  Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits  This research, commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in 2003, is the largest research study of homeschooled adults. There were over 7,300 respondents, most of whom had been homeschooled seven or more years (Dr. Ray’s report on his findings focuses on the 5,254 respondents that fit within this category). This research confirms what homeschoolers have long suspected: homeschooling produces well-educated, well-socialized adults who are competent in their careers and in their homes.

Academic concerns rank high on the list of reasons to homeschool. Even if academics are not the primary reason for choosing to homeschool, it is still a concern for most. Many parents feel unqualified to teach their own children because they do not have a degree in education, they do not feel they did well in school themselves, or they worry that they have forgotten most of what they would need to teach. One myth I first heard in a college English course and have heard repeated frequently when the topic of homeschooling comes up is, Parents make the worst teachers. Is there justification to these concerns?  It is difficult to compare homeschooled students to public schooled students in this regard, because they do not receive the same kinds of instruction and often do not take the same tests. College entrance, however, has long been an expected next step after high school, and many at the beginning of their homeschool journey worry about the possibility of their children’s acceptance into college.