Are Home-Schooled children smarter?
This question is unavoidable for any homeschooling parent. There are always comparisons drawn between kids who are undergoing conventional education and those who are Home-schooled. A Research conducted in 2012 by Sandra Martin-Chang, an assistant professor in Concordia‘s Department of Education, shows that children who were home-schooled scored higher than their peers in seven different subjects. In this segment, she discusses the challenges and rewards of assuming responsibility for your child’s learning with Wendi Hadd, a sociology teacher at John Abbott College who Home-schooled her children. Even though I am bringing up this research, let me make one thing very clear, one of the reasons for us to keep Aarohi out of conventional schooling is because we are highly against competition amongst kids. So the research itself is not something that we want to promote, rather the part of the video that covers the two different approaches to homeschooling is our focus of interest. The segment starts by introducing us to the two guests and then the hostess asks her first question to the Professor regarding why she did this research in the first place. She responds by pointing out that there was a surprising lack of literature on how home-schooled children performed academically. The next question went to the mother of 6 who has home-schooled all her children for the last 20 years. Why did she choose to home-school her children? Her response amazed us:
She goes on to explain that it was not as a reaction to public schooling with the ambition to achieve excellence rather she wanted to be more influential in their lives as compared to their teachers and peers. This really aligned to our way of thinking as I explained in our earlier article – How we decided on Home Schooling, we felt that we were the best teachers our children could have and we wanted to be a part of their overall upbringing and not just be responsible for a small portion of it. But then we did have a problem with conventional schooling as detailed in our earlier article – What Schooling Am I talking About. Professor Chang gets into the reasons that are more prevalent around the world, ranging from – Religion or dissatisfaction with the education delivered or bullying or hidden curriculums. She also clarified that they did their research on people who had homeschooled their children from birth.
Next, they get into the two types of homeschooling – Kitchen Table Schooling and Unschooling. In the first type of schooling parents choose to follow some type of Curriculum which might be bought from online sources or it might be government provided. So even though you are schooling your children at home (or on your kitchen table), you follow a structured curriculum. The second type of homeschooling is centered around the interest of the kid or child-led education. So there is no structure to their education. The understanding is that children are naturally curious, they want to learn things and that they have many interests. So the parent will follow whatever their children will show interest in. For us, it is mostly a mixed version of both these philosophies. So we mostly follow what Aarohi informs us she is interested in learning. For example, after watching Angelina Ballerina, Aarohi wanted to learn Ballet Dancing. So, we enrolled her in one of the Ballet schools in Dubai, Turning Pointe, and she has been doing great there. But then we also recognize that she needs to learn Alphabets and Mathematics. So then we teach her those topics through educational toys or sometimes take a more academic approach of using workbooks that teach such subjects. We definitely keep a keen eye on how much basic knowledge she must gain near about which age and try to keep up with her education to achieve the same.
The understanding is that children are naturally curious, they want to learn things and that they have many interests.
Now they get into the actual research. This particular research showed that Home-Schooled children whose parents followed some kind of Curriculum performed significantly better than the children who were going to formal Public Schools. It was not that the kids from formal schooling were doing poorly, but that the home-schooled kids were outperforming them. Also, this research was conducted for kids from the age group of the primary level of education and there is a need for a more extensive research to come even close to any conclusive results. Another thing to note is that home-schooled kids who follow a curriculum would perform better than unschooled children and this is because they have some set goals to achieve at a certain age. Although, as the mother of 6 shared, her unschooled kids picked up things later in their lives, but when they did, they really sky-rocketed with it. This is the kind of upbringing we wanted for Aarohi. For her homeschooling, we did not want to follow any set number of rules. We wanted it to be more spontaneous. We wanted her to pick up things that would interest her as she came across them in her day to day life. Over the years we’ve maintained a lifestyle for her where we never tell her what to do. Instead, she tells us what she wants to do and then we facilitate it to the best of our capabilities. We do sometimes lead her in the direction of any particular activity, but then whether she spends her time with it or completely ignores it, is entirely up to her. If she does get interested in doing something, we, not only provide her with the opportunity to engage in it, even we completely participate in it with her. For example, to encourage her to paint, I draw Cartoon Characters on a piece of paper and then show it to her and ask her if she wants to paint it. If she shows interest then I take 2 print outs of the drawing and we paint it together.
This is the style of unschooling that we have been undertaking with Aarohi and for the last 5 years since her birth, it seems to be working pretty well for all of us.
The rest of the video gets into more details about how the research was conducted and explains the results in much more depth. To see the entire discussion and get more information check out the video below: