As homeschooling becomes increasingly popular and accessible to more families, there are some who would limit this fundamental freedom. The Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Family Talk believe that parents know what's best for their kids, and that homeschooling is indeed a great option for families to consider.
As the HSLDA celebrates its 35th anniversary of defending this alternative for parents, homeschooling continues to grow in the United States, now with over 2 million children homeschooled, and adding tens of thousands of new families every year.
The number one reason parents give for choosing home education is their concern about the learning environment in public schools. Homeschooling provides the ultimate in flexibility and opportunities for individualized attention. Homeschooled students have greater freedom to explore their personal areas of interest and to experience a safer and more nurturing environment. Research continues to indicate that children who are homeschooled fare better academically, socially, and in higher education.
Along with the freedom to select whatever curriculum they wish, parents can tailor a schedule for their child. This kind of flexibility allows parents to meet the specific and unique needs of their kids. Children with special learning requirements can receive individualized attention. Cranky teenagers can sleep late. Boys (or girls) who can't sit still can go outside for as many recesses as Mom wants to give them. Read aloud time can be any time!
A flexible schedule means that learning is what is prioritized, not the schedule. There is also no need to stay on a concept any longer while other children struggle to master the material—at home, if the child gets it, we can just move on to the next one. Conversely, if the math concept is taking too long, the home teacher is usually much more available to help and kids can learn at their own pace.
There are other benefits to homeschooling for children, as well. Do they need more time for play? You can give it to them. An extra hour of music practice? Absolutely. Family visit to the library? Educational outing to the grocery store? Field trip to the local museum? Yes, yes, and yes! Why not?
Children also have more freedom to be themselves in the homeschool environment. It's not a problem if they need to spread out their books on the living room floor, bed, or kitchen table.
My wife and I are homeschooling parents of seven. We've seen all these benefits and more bearing fruit in the lives of our children. Our eldest son is at a top music school on a scholarship. Because we encouraged him and allowed him to customize his schedule toward music, he was able to devote considerably more time to developing this God-given talent than if he had been in a rigid institutional setting. My wife has been able to be with our children for many more hours than would have otherwise been possible. This stability and connection is good for them and I can see how it has helped our family relationships develop and flourish.
Both my wife and I were public school graduates and we didn't even hear about homeschooling until we had 3 children, and someone asked what we thought we would do about school. We were new Christians, as well, and encouraging our children in their faith was important to us. It seemed totally inappropriate to send them to a public school where faith is unwelcomed, at best, and often mocked and undermined. Private education was expensive, too, and so after prayerful reflection and doing our "homework" we decided to give homeschooling a try. Almost 20 years later, we can appreciate that what we'd hoped for has mostly happened. Of course, no plan is perfect and there are always challenges in all things. That is part of God's plan to develop our character. But, we continue to homeschool and plan to do so until our youngest, now 7, graduates sometime in the next 8-10 years.
Although homeschooling has been explicitly recognized in all fifty states for decades, there have been some recent efforts by special interest groups to impose unwarranted restrictions on this freedom. Thankfully, the HSLDA is committed to keeping homeschooling possible by defending individual families, protecting the movement as a whole, and providing resources through consulting and an online Academy.
It's been a privilege for me to serve the homeschooling community around the world for about 12 years at the HSLDA, and we are grateful that Dr. Dobson has been such a strong advocate of homeschooling for the past four decades! If you are still considering homeschooling, maybe all of this will give you some motivation. And if you are already homeschooling, I'd hope that something in this article is of help or encouragement to you. Finally, I want you to know that the HSLDA is here to help you. You can access our many resources at: hslda.org.
As Jesus said—"Seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you."
Dr. James Dobson interviews Mike Donnelly on the daily broadcast.
On Day 1 of the two-part broadcast, Mike Donnelly shares with Dr. Dobson the need for parents to be more involved in their child’s education and the cases HSLDA handles.
Then on Day 2, they discuss the global reach of homeschooling and explain how these kids are equipped for the world.
Michael Donnelly, Esq. is senior legal counsel and global advocate for the Home School Legal Defense Association. He is an attorney, writer, professor of government, and frequent spokesperson on home schooling, educational freedom, and parental rights. He received his Juris Doctor from the Boston University School of Law and holds an LLM in Constitutional and Human Rights Law from the London School of Economics.
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