Homeschooling is just what it sounds like – children are schooled at home, usually by their parents. Sometimes parents from two or more families will share the duties of schooling their children. This is done to access the strengths of each parent as a teacher – one may be a mathematics whiz, another may be an English major, and so on.
 Collective homeschooling and the fight against government regulation and oversight
Homeschool classes aren't necessarily just one child being schooled at home by their parents. For instance, Andrew Schlafly, the son of anti-feminist political activist Phyllis Schlafly, has around 58 in his homeschooled history class. If you are wondering how one man could accumulate 58 "homeschooled" students, the answer goes by the term collective homeschooling. That is, students gather at the home of a parent/teacher for class. Usually, such people are defined as private tutors - a job title that requires a teacher's certificate in most states. Homeschool advocates constantly fight against all such government efforts to regulate homeschooling, including:
- Accreditation of all homeschool programs.
- Certification of parent/teachers, including those who teach other people's children.
- Oversight of curricula and teaching materials.
- Requirements that any home or other building used for collective homeschooling carry extra insurance to reflect its use as a school facility.
 The teachers
The most common model for homeschooling requires one parent (guess which one) to stay home with the kids and teach them from books specifically designed for homeschooling. This does mean that "home school parents are, by definition, more heavily involved in their children's education [than] public or private school parents. Home schools can easily pace and adapt their curriculum; public and private schools typically have a mandated scope and sequence."
Homeschooling parent/teachers are not held to the same standards as public school teachers in most areas (for example New Jersey). While many have college degrees, those degrees may lack any relevance to a child's school curriculum. (Business administration, Theology, Basket-weaving, for example.) But, (this, in the USA does vary from state-to-state,) as long as their children/students pass standardized tests, few people raise questions about this disparity.
Despite this, studies in the USA (which mention in their very abstract that they are not controlled experiments, and also note that homeschooling parents tend to be far more affluent than average) demonstrate that "at every grade level, the mean performance of home school students whose parents do not have a college degree is still much higher than the mean performance of students taught in public schools". In fact, "having at least one parent who is a certified teacher appears to have no significant effect on the achievement levels of home schooled students. The test scores of students whose parents had ever held a teaching certificate were only three percentile points higher than those whose parents had not—in the 88th percentile versus the 85th percentile."
 The homeschool industry
Tinfoil hatters — those who question homeschooling's effectiveness — claim that "the homeschooling industry has such a lock on the information about homeschooling that it is difficult to find anything but positive feedback. (After reading some of it, you might think "propaganda" is more accurate.) If you enter the word "homeschooling" into a search engine, followed by words like "myths," "horror stories," "cons," etc., you will be greeted by hundreds of links dispelling myths, horror stories and cons as lies. Websites with legitimate stories about the negatives of homeschooling are almost impossible to find. This lack of critical information has raised questions among those seeking information about homeschooling." However, one could simply conclude that homeschooling is not a bad as some think it might be. (See Occam's razor.)
 Child abuse and homeschooling
Education is not a welfare issue and the two areas should not be confused: home education is an education matter. Despite this, there is a long history of attempts to conflate home education and child abuse, with swathes of propaganda suggesting that education otherwise than at school is a high risk area for children. Detractors go to great lengths to find "proof" that a child not in a school is a child at severe risk of undetected abuse. In 2009, for example, Graham Badman, author of the Elective Home Education Review, released a statement to the press including the claim that the overall number of children "known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of [the] home education population." Four months later, under questioning at the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee short inquiry into the review, he was forced to concede that a disproportionate number of children in home education had actually left the mainstream system because they had special educational needs, and it was for this reason that they were "known" to the education and social care system, not because of any danger to them.
In March 2004, Jenny Price, general secretary of the Association of Education Welfare Managers, lobbied the then Children's Minister, Margaret Hodge, for greater powers to enter the homes of home educators. She alleged that "Some parents claim they are educating their children at home to hide the fact they are abusing them" and cited one case of a child being removed from school "then subjected to child abuse". It later emerged that she was talking bullshite, and the child had in fact died from natural causes. Her subsequent apology ("We ... would want to withdraw that particular statement and at the same time apologise for whatever distress we may have caused") received relatively little media coverage compared to the dramatic headlines ("Home education child abuse fears"; "Reform targets child abuse deaths") which had accompanied the initial allegations.
 United States
In 2004, the Akron Beacon-Journal published a report on child abuse and homeschooling. Among their findings:
- Public school buildings are still among the safest places for children, even after factoring in bullying and the (very) rare Columbine-style shooting;
- The U.S. Department of Justice (USDoJ) keeps no statistics on child abuse against homeschooled students;
- Because homeschooled children have no access to adults outside their parents' circle of friends, abuse can occur for years without ever being investigated by law enforcement.
The Beacon-Journal's article listed several cases involving parents who, at least in part, homeschooled their children as a means to hide ongoing neglect, abuse and sexual molestation from the community at large. Naturally, tinfoil hatters—those who have a (cough!) vested interest in short-circuiting any analysis of homeschooling—got their knickers in a bunch over the report, even though they substantiated the theme of the report by making uncorroborated statements like this:
“”Although we do not have statistics demonstrating how many of these (estimated 903,000 children abused in the U.S. in 2001) were educated at home, it's safe to assume that the overwhelming majority attended public school . . .
 England and Wales
The most recent figures released under Freedom of Information requests (2009) demonstrated that a total of 44 children from home school families were the subject of Child Care Plans, representing 0.29% of home schooled children. The figure for all children was 142,459, or 1.30%.
For thousands of years, the vast majority of students were educated at home, mostly by one or both parents. Education during this time was primarily vocational or occupational, with males being directed into apprenticeships and trades and females being ushered primarily into more domestic skill sets.
Homeschooling in the U.S. dates back to the original colonies. During the winter months when fields were fallow, parents occupied their children's time by teaching them to read and count. As communities grew, schools with professional teachers opened; notably in Massachusetts, where a 1647 law required each municipality to support a school. By the end of World War II, homeschooling was limited primarily to rural areas. A 2001 U.S. Census report showed that transport was a primary reason for homeschooling in only 1.9% of cases. The most important reason according to the survey is a belief that the child will receive a better education at home (over 50% of respondents), with religious reasons being mentioned in 33% of cases.
 Modern homeschooling
One view (i.e. "snark") of today's homeschooling movement is that it grew out of exaggerated or false concerns that anti-public education activists have planted in the minds of parents. Among these are:
- Public schools (often called "government schools") are dangerous. Seriously, you've never heard of a homeschool-shooting, have you?
- Private schools are too expensive and/or unavailable locally.
- All public schools - and some private schools - are really hotbeds of anti-Americanism where liberals brainwash students into being Marxist robots.
- All public schools - and some private schools - are really hotbeds of imperialism, where fascists brainwash students into being good little proles, primarily by ringing bells to start and stop work.
- Girls who go to public school are more likely to get pregnant and have abortions.
- Public school third graders are taught to put condoms on cucumbers - leading directly to the Great American Cucumber Shortage of 1993 -96.
- Public schools turn out ignorant and illiterate dunderheads. (Unlike the kids who helped develop Conservapedia!)
- A lot of the kids that go to public school—well, you know, they're just (whispers) not the right type.
- Public schools deliberately lobotomize kids by teaching them to read using the whole language method instead of phonics
- Miscellaneous scare stories based on isolated incidents, such as public school children being given medical examinations, Ritalin, or fluoride treatments without their parents' knowledge, quack pop-psychology and social engineering methods (like these) brought into the classroom, mock-terrorism drills during which a SWAT team came into the school to scare the kids, etc.
- Public schools require that children be vaccinated, and vaccines scare some people.
- Public school life is too rigidly structured. (And so is the Golden Gate Bridge, which should be rebuilt using lime Jell-O.)
Sometimes reasons for homeschooling can be even more irrational. In his opening lecture on American history, Andrew Schlafly touches on the subject briefly.
“”Ask yourself: why would Europeans want to go there [America]? . . . Search for gold. Convert the natives to Christianity. Conquer the natives. Obtain freedom. Why do your parents homeschool? For some of the same reasons.
 Other reasons for homeschooling
The reasons enumerated by fringe figures like Schlafly aren't the only motivations for home education. Some parents may pursue careers in which they are rarely settled in one location, such as career military officers and touring musicians, and find homeschooling their children to be more practical than enrolling them permanently in a school.
In other cases the reasons are determined by the interests or abilities of the child. For example, parents who believe their child to be especially gifted, or wish them to be, may feel that the child could not reach their full potential in a public (or even private) school, and instead educate them, often intensively, at home. Some are "child prodigies" with a particular skill, such as musicianship or athletics. These inevitably take a lot of practise time, and cannot easily fit around a school schedule. Sometimes these children, or their parents, have little interest in pursuing other educational studies. Similarly, a child may be more interested in learning a craft than in pursuing an academic education. However, if the majority of homeschooling time is given over to a particular subject, the child may miss out on a balanced general education, which could disadvantage them later in life.
In a few cases, a student's reasons for being homeschooled may relate to negative or traumatic experiences in a school environment, such as bullying or even assault, leaving them feeling that they are unable to return to school.
In England and Wales, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) lists the following common grounds for parents to choose homeschooling ("elective home education", in DCSF parlance):
- Distance or access to a local school
- Religious or cultural beliefs
- Philosophical or ideological views
- Dissatisfaction with the system
- Bullying in school
- As a short term intervention for a particular reason
- A child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
- Special educational needs
- Parents’ desire for a closer relationship with their children
One recent study finds that "children who receive structured home-schooling significantly outperform public school children across a range of subject." 
 Homeskool kid makes good!
Homeschooled kids often win contests such as spelling bees and math contests. However, it's unclear how typical these few prize winners are among the total population of homeschooled students. For instance, because many of today's homeschooling materials are bible-centric  , it's a sure bet that most homeschool science education lacks any real value. The Biology Blue Ribbon at the science fair isn't likely to go to a child who makes a diorama of Adam riding a dinosaur.
It is also quite possible that these shining examples of success come from other groups besides fundamentalist Christians who homeschool: those hippy types who don't want their children indoctrinated by "the establishment" to become capitalist tools, or parents who feel that they can provide better facilities for their gifted or otherwise special-needs children. For example, disorders on the autism spectrum are sometimes associated with increased ability with mathematics or memory, the skills tested in math and spelling competitions. Since children with autism often have difficulty with social situations, their parents may homeschool them in order to give them a good education without forcing them into the often difficult social environment of a public school, while their natural abilities lead them to win these competitions. Also, there is much less of a need for a balanced education in for a homeschooled child, so they can focus an inordinate amount of time on something of little actual educational value, such as learning how to spell obscure words.
While "popular" (read: "unfounded") opinion assumes that children need long periods of interaction with a large group of peers to acquire social skills, studies indicate that extensive peer contact at an early age causes peer dependency and low self-image. Critics of home education often point out that home schooled children are likely to lack basic social skills. Current research is proving just the opposite to be true. In 1993, J. Gary Knowles, University of Michigan assistant professor of education, released a study of homeschooled graduates which demonstrated that children educated at home didn't grow up to become social misfits. Home educated adults in this study appeared stable, independent members of society, participating in democratic communities. A more recent study, "Home Schooling: From Extreme to the Mainstream" released by the Fraser Institute, concluded that homeschooled children are both academically and socially advanced, more so than their public and private schooled peers. It also showed that homeschooled children, as a group, are happy, well-adjusted, thoughtful, mature, and sociable. In yet another study, written by sociologists Christian Smith and David Sikkink, the conclusion was that homeschooling families are more enmeshed in their communities than public school families, and they are more likely to have voted in the previous five years, participate in community activities, and go to their local library.
 The Badman Review (England & Wales)
In January 2009 the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls commissioned The Elective Home Education Review, led by Graham "Tough On Children - Tough On The Causes Of Children" Badman, former Director of Children’s Services at Kent County Council. Its remit was to determine:
- Whether local authorities and other public agencies were able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children.
- Whether home educating parents were receiving the support and advice they wanted to ensure they provide a good, balanced education for their children.
- Whether there was evidence to support claims that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
The review report was issued on 11 June 2009 and Badman was forced to admit: "I can find no evidence that elective home education is a particular factor in the removal of children to forced marriage, servitude or trafficking or for inappropriate abusive activities... This view is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers."
Despite this glaring and disappointing absence of evidence, Badman still made twenty-eight recommendations for interventions into home education, many of which will require changes to primary legislation. Without preparing any response and without conducting a Regulatory Impact Assessment the government immediately accepted the recommendations on the day of publication.
These recommendations include:
- compulsory annual registration
- compulsory and automatic right of access to homes (that is, the "school")
- compulsory production of an annual statement of educational approach against which the child's "performance" will be assessed
- enforcement of annual testing of children to prove their attainments and progress to professionals
- a redefining of "suitable" education highlighting the known desire of local education authorities and the party currently in power to dictate the form, content and outcomes of education provided
- routine interviews with children separated from parents to ascertain whether they are safe and well in the care of their parents
This will legally empower the state to have access to private homes, to search for evidence of a crime with neither a warrant nor reasonable cause - more power than even the police force currently possess. This will mean that home educated children will have fewer rights than juvenile offenders who, under the "Beijing Rules", are entitled to have a parent or guardian present when interviewed.
 Action for Home Education response
Action for Home Education, an action group of home educating parents in England and Wales whose purpose is to defend and advance home education rights and liberties, released the following response :
|These proposed changes would have profound implications for all families, if put into law, and for this reason we do not see the proposed changes as a home education issue only. These proposed changes affect the civil liberties of all citizens and families in England.
We question how long it will be before the right of entry to investigate families who are causing no concern, just in case of wrong doing, will be extended from a discriminatory practice against those families taking up a lawful but minority option, to other families such as those with children under five who do not attend schools or those whose children are attending schools in the private sector and are not therefore under state surveillance?
How long would it be before the right of entry to homes, coupled with forced interview of children separated from parents where no crime against them is suspected, will be imposed on all families during the long summer holidays and other times when the children are not under the eye of the state?
The freedoms threatened by these proposals are freedoms necessary to every family and not just home educators. To put it simply, the party currently in power does not trust parents to raise their children and wish instead to control all aspects of our lives to ensure they are in line with a centralised agenda.
Anyone who thinks that undermining the homes and families of children in this way will not destabilise children and deprive them of a sense of security is wrong. Anyone who thinks that forcing children to exhibit to strangers their educational attainment and progress will not disrupt and undermine their education is wrong. Anyone who thinks that obliging families to undergo forced access to their home and forcing children to allow stranger access to their person separated from parents, will not make children confused and vulnerable to illicit approaches by other adults is wrong. It is child abuse. The officials who agree to carry out such state sponsored grooming of school age children may do so in a gentle voice and with a big smile on their faces, but that will not change the nature of what they are doing. It is child abuse.
The purpose of forced registration, home visit inspections and compulsory interview of children separated by law from parents is control. For what?
Obviously, to make sure the good homeschooling parents are separated from the morons.
 An actual homeschool
For an example of an actual homeschool and the things that it teaches, take a look at Alpha Omega Academy. AOA is accredited, and on the surface seems to have a perfectly viable (if overtly religious) curriculum.
However, look beneath the shiny exterior and you'll find that students at AOA are being taught to believe that science is wrong when it doesn't agree with the Bible (as in, science doesn't agree with the laws of physics.) The biology curriculum is informed by the work of Ken Ham, asserting that the Earth *must* be 6,000 years old, or reinforcing the usual anti-evolution rhetoric.
Oh, yeah, plus racism.
Topics like history and English are taught in the most bare-bones fashion possible while still maintaining the same religiosity that you see in science classes. A Bible class is required to graduate from the school, and health class is handled about as well as you'd expect it to be.
The online nature of the school, combined with the isolationist mindset of many parents who homeschool their children, means that many of the students have limited social contact, which makes it difficult for them learn how to question their beliefs (or their education), retards the development of critical thinking, and makes it difficult for them to get help if they realize that they are being denied a decent education or experiencing other forms of abuse.
 See also
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The main organization fighting against all homeschool regulations.
- Links to articles concerning textbooks used for homeschooling:
- Creationism/ID textbooks declared not adequate preparation for college.
- "11 Eye-Opening Highlights From a Creationist Science Textbook"
- State DOE links A comprehensive state-by-state list of Board of Education website links for America.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Rudner, Lawrence M., Ph.D. "The Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998". Education Policy Analysis Archives. Volume 7 Number 8 March 23, 1999. ISSN 1068-2341 Retrieved 17 March 2009.
- ↑ State Laws, HSLDA - Advocates for Homeschooling
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Patrick Basham, John Merrifield, and Claudia R. Hepburn. "Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream". Fraser Institute (2001). ISSN 1707-2395
- ↑ Do any good websites describe the cons of homeschooling? WikiAnswers: The Q&A Community 
- ↑ Home education clampdown 'an infringement of civil liberties' 12 June 2009. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- ↑ Response to question from Paul Holmes (Lib Dem, Chesterfield) about the statistics regarding the numbers of home educated children 'known to social care'
- ↑ New moves over home education. BBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- ↑ "Home Schoolers May Be No Safer in Their Homes Than Other Children" Arizona State University Archives 
- ↑ "Response to Akron Beacon Journal Homeschool Series" HSLDA website 
- ↑ Abuse in Elective Home Education.
- ↑ "From the twenties through the seventies homeschooling was a relatively underground, usually rural, phenomenon." 
- ↑ Home Schooling in the United States: Trends and Characteristics, Kurt J. Bauman, U.S. Census Bureau
- ↑ http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/unschooling_camy.htm
- ↑ Regardless of such conjecture, a 1990 Canadian survey found that partisan allegiance was evenly divided among the major political parties (see Basham et al)
- ↑ Vaccination is not compulsory in Britain.
- ↑ Conservapedia: American History Lecture One. Emphasis added by RationalWiki.
- ↑ "High marks for home-schooling." Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
- ↑ Many homeschooling resource websites have areas dedicated to bible studies. Four such examples   
- ↑ Knowles, J. Gary "Homeschooling and socialisation" (1993) Michigan: University of Michigan School of Education Study Press Release.
- ↑ Smith, Christian and Sikkink, David. "Is Private Schooling Privatizing?" (1999) First Things 92 (April): 16-20. Online reprint. Retrieved 17 March 2009.
- ↑ Section 8.14
- ↑ United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ("The Beijing Rules") .
- ↑ BriefingPaperHEReview, Action for Home Education website - in the section headed "AHEd CONCERNS"