If you're wondering what the benefits of homeschooling are, this article's here to help.
We've read dozens of academic studies and credible sources plus we've spoken with homeschoolers to compile and categorise the many advantages of homeschooling in one place. In the process we've challenged some of the major criticisms made of this form of education.
So let’s take a look at a round up of major homeschooling benefits.
We'll be covering:
- The top 10 benefits of homeschooling
- The benefits of homeschooling over public schooling
- Academic benefits and improved outcomes
- Benefits of homeschooling for mental and emotional health
- Advantages of homeschooling for social development
- Physical health and homeschooling
- Pros and perks of homeschooling for parents and families
- Conclusion and further reading
The Top Ten benefits of homeschooling
There are plenty of reasons why homeschooling is good – and often better – than conventional schooling.
We’ve selected what we think are the top ten homeschooling benefits. Our choice also takes into consideration the most frequently cited reasons that people give for choosing homeschooling in academic studies.
- Above average performance: Homeschooled children consistently score well above the public school national average and usually in the 65-80th percentile. Even when corrected for background factors homeschooled students scored better than predicted.
- Gives flexibility and control over what’s taught, when, and how. Three quarters of homeschooling parents gave dissatisfaction with public school curricula as a reason for their choice to homeschool. A benefit of homeschooling is that you can be sure what you teach aligns with your values and beliefs.
- Optimal student-teacher ratio promotes effective learning: An influential study on the impact of student teacher ratios on learning found that the benefit to students of being in classes of 15 was equivalent to 3 months of extra schooling. Imagine the even greater benefits of homeschooling, where ratios are far lower.
- Promotes social and emotional development. The majority of studies on social and emotional development show significant positive outcomes for the homeschooled students compared to those in conventional schools. Over 90% of homeschoolers studied are glad they were homeschooled.
- Provides a safe environment: Most parents who were asked why they had chosen to homeschool cited concern with the school environment (violence, drugs, etc). Among the many advantages of homeschooling is your ability to provide a safe, secure and supportive environment for your child.
- More productive: Many learning hours in public schools are lost dealing with low level disruption, moving around school buildings, lining up and waiting for others to finish. One of the key advantages of homeschooling is that your day could be shorter, and yet far more fruitful.
- More relevant and meaningful learning. You don’t have to ‘teach to the test’. You can be spontaneous, take your learning out into the community, and adjust your curriculum to address issues as they arise.
- Additional learning needs can be more effectively met. Whether your child has specific learning difficulties, or is exceptionally gifted, they need neither fall behind nor be held back because of the ‘teaching to the middle’ that inevitably happens in large classes.
- Homeschooling provides more opportunity for physical activity. Children in traditional schools are quite sedentary, sitting for most of their day. Homeschooling is good because it allows your child to get out in the natural environment, play, dance, move about and engage with sports more readily.
- Can be part of your own continuing education. Though it’s tenth on the list, surely one of the greatest pros of homeschooling for parents is that it provides an opportunity for you to join your child as an equal on their learning journey. You could learn a new language, explore an unfamiliar historical period, visit a new location for the first time together and just grow alongside your child.
As you can see from our list, improved academic outcomes are a key driver for parents who choose to homeschool their children.
But it's also clear that there are many other advantages of homeschooling. For example, in terms of social, emotional and physical health.
Benefits of homeschooling over public schooling
In a public or private school, with 20 or more kids in a class, there is a risk that when the majority are ready to move on, others are left behind. Conversely, students who've grasped the learning must wait until others have caught up. Either way, learning is inefficient, time is wasted and many children end up feeling bored, frustrated, or both.
Homeschooling allows you to take all the time you need to ensure learning IS taking place. When your children are ready to move on, you don't need to waste time on repetitive lessons. Plus you can focus on children's particular interests and learning styles – matching lessons to a child’s actual needs.
Furthermore, parents and kids often cite how homeschooling enabled them to get out of the home to learn. Experiencing things in the ‘real' world is more engaging and memorable and leads to better absorption of knowledge and skills.
When it comes to outcomes, most of the literature on homeschooling compares the outcomes of homeschoolers with students educated in public schools. Though some also focus on private or religious schools as well.
You can see a full summary of statistics relating to homeschooling vs public schooling here.
However, the findings comparing outcomes for homeschooled children compared to public schooled children are largely favourable and show that:
Homeschooling results in:
- Above average performance: Homeschooled children consistently score well above the public school national average and usually in the 65-80th percentile. (Ray, 2017) Even When corrected for background factors homeschooled students scored better than predicted. (Belfield, 2004)
- Higher ACT/GPA Scores: A 2010 study examining the outcomes of homeschooled vs public schooled children showed that both the ACT and grade point average scores of homeschoolers were higher than those of public school students.
- Better college graduation rates: 66.7% of homeschooled students graduate from college, compared to 57.5% of public school pupils. (NHERI, HSLDA)
- Positive outcomes beyond school: 11 out of 16 studies measuring success into college and then adulthood and college showed positive outcomes for the homeschooled compared to those in conventional schools. (Ray, 2020)
- And is as good, if not better, for Socialization: Studies consistently show that homeschoolers fare as well, and sometimes better, than their public school counterparts in terms of socialization. (Carlson, 2020)
Academic benefits of homeschooling
As homeschooling has grown in popularity, policy makers have wondered whether moms and dads without teacher training can effectively instruct their children.
Yet many studies have shown that homeschool students consistently score above the public school average in standardized academic achievement tests. And this was true even when background factors were taken into account.
Why might this be?
Well there are a number of academic advantages homeschooling in terms of its setting and processes that help to explain this phenomenon. We look at these below:
- Beneficial student-teacher ratios: You can tutor your child on a one to one or small group basis. Low student-teacher ratios have a positive impact on learning, equivalent to three extra months of teaching in a single year according to one study where the class size was 15. (Chingos, 2011)
- Improved pace and progress: You can pace lessons to match progress and often work through topics more quickly than regular school. You need only repeat material where necessary and not because a few children in a class haven’t ‘got it’.
- Better differentiation: Work can be easily differentiated to meet your child where they are, each and every day. And you can ensure that they have mastered a skill or concept before moving on.
- Promotes personalized teaching and learning: Individual strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and interests naturally form part of your planning
- Flexibility: Another academic advantage of homeschooling concerns what is taught, how and when. Flexibility in this respect is one of the key benefits of homeschooling.
- Cultivates a love of learning: The close focus and attention to children’s specific needs and talents nurtures a love of learning in a child and boosts success
- Learning difficulties: These can be more readily met with specific, tailored resources and approaches.
- Safe environment: Homeschooled children are protected from negative aspects of some school environments. For example – negative peer pressure, bullying, poor behaviour and classroom disruption, etc. All of these have a detrimental effect on learning and outcomes.
- Less boredom and frustration: Children are less likely to be bored waiting for everyone else to catch up when they’ve ‘got it’, or become discouraged if they’re struggling.
- Develops talent: If a child has a particular talent a homeschool schedule can be more readily adjusted to be compatible with training and developing that talent.
- Greater consistency: Education is more consistent and fluid as it is managed by less people over time. Learning will be incremental and cumulative
- More productive: Less time is wasted travelling, moving around a school building, lining up, waiting for class members to finish a task or dealing with disruption. Your day could be significantly shorter, and yet more productive and you can adopt a schedule that works best for you, your child and your family.
- Learning can be contextual and spontaneous: You can educate your child outside, in the park, at the museum or in an art gallery without the complexities of taking large groups of children out of the classroom
- Values knowledge for its own sake: Homeschooling encourages children to value knowledge over grades and parents to value individual potential over arbitrary minimum standards.
- Encourages independent learning: There is increased potential to involve children in their own learning. This encourages independent learning because children have more responsibility for outcomes and must exercise maturity and discipline to succeed.
- Great preparation for college: Their different and more varied educational experience makes homeschooled students stand out on college applications. And the majority of admission officers said they expect homeschool graduates to perform as well, or better, in their 1st year of college than conventionally schooled students. (Gloeckner, 2013)
Benefits of homeschooling: mental and emotional health
There is an assumption among some that homeschooling might be isolating and damaging to mental and emotional health.
Yet in there are many ways in which homeschooling can build self-esteem, independence and confidence whilst at the same time strengthening community and family relationships:
- Homeschooling avoids negative aspects of the school environment. Mental health can be significantly impacted by bullying and negative peer pressure which lowers self-esteem. A key advantage of homeschooling is that it removes a child from those influences and pressures and embeds them in a caring family environment.
- Quality time at home builds strong family relationships. It may even help reduce the distance that can develop between young people and their parents during adolescence.
- Greater emphasis on independence. Your child can participate in their own learning and you can design programs around their interests. This develops intrinsic motivation, greater independence and problem solving skills
- Less judgement. Children can express themselves and develop creativity without fear of judgement or the need to feel that they must conform to the ideas of others. A child is unlikely to feel embarrassed about asking a parent about something they haven’t understood rather than putting their hand up in front of a classroom full of their peers.
- Boosts confidence. If your child’s skills are uneven (and most children excel at some things and struggle with others) you can structure learning accordingly. This boosts confidence and is one of the great pros of homeschooling.
- Removes your child from anxiety triggers. A 2018 study found that 25% of adolescents experienced anxiety disorders. Removing your child from common anxiety triggers such as bullying and homework is one of the many benefits of homeschooling. And if your child is already anxious, you can provide a safe environment and focus more on therapy than would be possible in a public school classroom situation. (High School of America, 2019)
- More understanding environment with few distractions. This is a major advantage to children who are experiencing a need that is hard to deal with in a structured classroom situation, for example ADHD.
- Can protect minority groups from prejudice. For example, 20% of African-American parents said they chose homeschooling because they wanted to avoid racism in public schools. (Ray, 2017)
Benefits of homeschooling: Social Development
The impact of homeschooling on social development is another key concern expressed by those who have reservations around homeschooling.
Yet homeschooling can provide more opportunities for children to mix with people of diverse backgrounds, have a richer variety of experiences and a stronger sense of social responsibility than their publicly schooled peers:
- Provides a broader mix of people and experiences. Homeschooling enables children to more easily meet a wider mix of people and access a broader range of experiences. Field trips are easy to organise and while homeschoolers represent only 3% of the student population, they average 25% of the contestants annually at the Scripps spelling bee, 10% of the National Geographic Bee, and 66% of the USA Math Olympiad.
- Significant positive outcomes for social development. A range of studies (Carlson, 2020; Ray, 2020) show that homeschoolers fare as well, and sometimes better, than their public school counterparts in terms of socialization.
- Leads to greater community participation. The freedom homeschooling provides enables you to build service or volunteer work into your curriculum. Nearly twice as many homeschooled children participate in ongoing community service activities and become more civically and politically engaged and tolerant than their conventionally schooled peers. (NHERI)
- Provides more opportunity for social activities. With less time spent travelling to school, moving around the building, lining up and homework, there is actually more time for social activities. In fact, according to the NHERI, 98% of homeschoolers are involved in more than two activities outside their home, and the average number of activities they are engaged in is 5.2.
- Growing numbers of support groups and associations. As homeschooling continues to grow, more and more homeschooling support groups and associations are springing up providing lots of opportunities for homeschoolers to interact with their peers.
Benefits of homeschooling: Physical Health
The fact that homeschooled children are not required to participate in physical education programmes has raised concern about the physical health of homeschooled children.
- Homeschooling provides more opportunity for physical activity. Children in traditional schools are quite sedentary, sitting for most of their day. Homeschooling allows you child to get out in the natural environment, play, dance and engage with sports more readily.
- You can prioritize sleep. Children’s sleep needs change, especially during adolescence. Homeschooling allows you to optimize both children’s sleep time and their periods of wakefulness. You can time learning to fit more harmoniously with your child’s body clock.
- Homeschooling does not mean less sport. Homeschoolers often take part in community or recreational sports leagues and classes. Homeschooling actually allows you to devote more time to developing athletic talent as you can schedule learning around training.
- Support from studies: A recent 2020 study found that no aspect of physical health (cardio respiratory health, fitness, BMI, etc) was negatively affected by homeschooling (Kabiri, et al)
Benefits of homeschooling for parents and families
Lastly, let’s not forget the potential perks of homeschooling for you, as a parent:
- Continuing education for you! Homeschooling provides an opportunity for you to join your child as an equal on their learning journey. You could learn a new language, explore an unfamiliar historical period or visit a new location for the first time together. In any event, it’s an opportunity for you to grow alongside your child.
- Alignment with your values: You can be reassured that what your child is learning aligns to your aims, morals and values.
- Growing resources and support bundles: There are now readily available learning bundles, associations and groups to support your teaching and meet like minded people.
- You benefit from low student teacher ratios too! One of the most significant pros of homeschooling is the very low student to teacher ratio. Some homeschoolers claim to fit a whole day of learning into a couple of hours, leaving the rest of the time for you to do what you want.
- Holidays: You can take holidays during the school year and save lots of money.
- Lifestyle: If you or your partner work in a profession, or live a life, that requires a lot of relocation, homeschooling provides continuity and stability.
- Share your expertise and passions. If you have a particular talent or expertise you can bring that into the curriculum and use it as a context for learning.
- Fits around your schedule: You can work homeschooling around a schedule that fits you and your family. You’re not tied to bus or school timetables.
There really are many advantages and pros of homeschooling your child.
You can also check our 100+ statistics on homeschooling obtained from referenced, credible sources to find academic backing for a decision to homeschool.
To sum up everything above, and to add some data in support of it:
- 78% of peer reviewed studies on academic achievement show homeschool students perform statistically significantly better than those in regular schools.
- Out of 15 studies on social and emotional development, 13 of them showed clearly significant positive outcomes for the homeschooled students compared to those in conventional schools.
- And over 90% of homeschoolers studied are happy they were homeschooled.
That said, whether it’s right for you depends on you and your circumstances. But hopefully, this article has helped you to understand why many people feel homeschooling is better, and why it’s such a fast growing trend.
- National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)
- A review of research on homeschooling and what Educators might learn (2017) Brian Ray
- A systematic review of the empirical research on selected aspects of homeschooling as a school choice (2017) Brian Ray
- The Homeschool Legal Defence Association (HSLDA)
- Reflections on a Decade of Changes in Homeschooling and the Homeschooled into Higher Education (2013) Gene Gloeckner
- Modelling school choice, Clive Belfield (2004)
- What is “Good Research” Brian Ray (2020)
- Context and Regulation of Homeschooling Janet Carlson (2020)
- Homeschooling in the United States, Redford et al (2012)
- Homeschooling: An Updated Comprehensive Survey of the Research, Kunzman et al 2020
- Exploring academic outcomes of homeschool students (Cogan, 2010)
- Class Size what research says (Chingos et al, 2011)
- Does homeschooling benefit mental health? (High School of America, 2019)
- Youth, physical health and years in American homeschools (Kabiri et al, 2020)
Liz Hurley has 30+ years of high school teaching experience and is one of our senior writers here at Learnopoly.