And they're right. Consistently, homeschooled kids score higher than their schooled peers on standardized tests. In fact, by the time homeschooled kids are in the eighth grade, they are four years ahead of their schooled peers. Often, this learning takes place in less than two hours a day. And what do these homeschooled kids do with all that free time? Mostly, they enjoy doing what every other child has to wait until the weekend to do -- ride their bikes, roller blade, ice skate, hike, build forts, swim -- you name it.
Another big reason parents choose to homeschool is for socialization. The teens I know have a rich and varied social life. They have many friends and go places with those kids they choose to be with, rather than being thrown into a classroom every day where cliques, peer pressure, and unspoken dress codes are the norm. Midweek sleepovers, camping trips, and movie nights are weekly occurrences for kids who homeschool. They also enjoy sleeping late, dressing as they please, and having frequent get-togethers with friends. Younger kids usually meet weekly in a park or playground with groups of homeschoolers, and share play dates during the week. Do they miss out? Yes -- on bullies, daily tests, being compared to other students, and being told what to do and how to do it throughout each day.
Many parents find it unthinkable that kids have to go through metal detectors before they can enter their schools. School violence has increased at an alarming rate. It is my understanding that the number of homeschoolers skyrocketed after the school shootings and violent incidents that occurred in this country last year. Parents and kids who no longer feel safe in school often decide to homeschool. And lastly, every week I receive letters from kids who simply hate school. They hate being there, are often bullied or frightened, can no longer bear the peer pressure and meaningless busywork, or are "bored out of their minds." Luckily, for many of these kids, homeschooling offers a lifeline, an educational alternative.