One of the criticisms lobbed at the home-schooling community/movement is that home-schooled children are being shielded from diversity and a multitude of challenging influences which will ultimately handicap them in their ability to function in the “real world.” In other words, “How will these children function in our diverse, multicultural society when they are raised in a setting with monolithic views and beliefs?”
Research examining home-schooled students’ academic achievements have consistently found that they score higher than the national norms on standard achievement tests. So the only grenade left to throw at home-schooling parents is that they are hurting their children socially and emotionally. The few studies in these areas have generally found home-schooled children to have equal or better self-esteem than traditionally schooled students. Then the argument becomes one of how to truly know you are measuring self-esteem.
Researchers from the Department of Psychology at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi recently published their findings in Home School Researcher (Vol. 17, No. 4, 2007, pp. 1-7). They decided to study home-schooled students’ ability to successfully adjust to college life as an important criterion for demonstrating a positive outcome (or not) of home-schooling.
They compared Christian college freshmen who had previously been home-schooled with a matched sample of traditionally schooled Christian freshmen on the College Adjustment Scale. The average scores of the two groups were compared across nine scales designed to measure emotional, behavioral, social, and academic problems as typically presented to university counseling centers.
The home-schooled students scored significantly lower on the anxiety subscale, while no difference was found between the two groups on the remaining scales. Additionally, there was a general trend characterized by home-schooled students reporting fewer symptoms of emotional distress and social problems, and achieving higher first semester GPAs:
The results suggest that home-schooled college freshmen successfully adjust to the social and academic environment of a Christian college with a diverse student population. The college does not require that all students attending the college assent to a personal faith in Christ. The previously home-schooled students are also confronted by many peers who make lifestyle choices different from their own. Most of the college peers of the home-schooled students would be considered less conservative in their dress, entertainment interests, moral values and behaviors, than those typically experienced in most Christian home-schooled families. Therefore, these students are not entering a homogeneous social community that necessarily mirrors their family backgrounds.”
Obviously, home-schooled students have additional adjustments to make when leaving their homes and entering a university or college environment: social relationship, peer pressure, classroom structure, etc. They are being forced to adapt to a social environment decidedly different from their homes or home school support groups.
The results demonstrate that home-schooled students are able to successfully adapt emotionally, interpersonally, and academically to their first, and most challenging, semester in college. That is probably because, having had the consistent teaching and support of a family and a community, they have developed strengths and convictions that provide a bridge over the troubled waters of a multitude of challenges and temptations.
I personally believe that home-schooling helps students who have problems with focus and difficulties with energy control. The traditional school environment required “Stepford Child” control, and the teaching techniques required for a group of thirty do not necessarily assist the learning needs and talents of each individual student. So, instead of drugging kids to be docile, perhaps we should turn to the successes of home-schooling.