The New Socialization Concern

Twenty-five years ago, when the modern home school movement was just getting started, the argument made by our opponents was that parents were not qualified to teach their children at home because they were not certified teachers. Eventually numerous studies produced a vast amount of data that showed that home schoolers as a group scored at least 30% above the national average on nationally normed, standardized achievement tests. In fact, today that argument has all but disappeared because of the volume of evidence to the contrary.

Today we hear opponents say that the state should regulate or oversee home schooling to ensure that every child gets an education, and, of course, we respond that the state can’t even ensure that every child in a public school gets an education. The other argument that surfaces is that home schooled children miss out on the “socialization” benefits of a classroom environment. Most home schooling parents recognize that the “socialization” the children miss out on is what we would consider negative peer influence.

Recently a national Christian magazine published an article on a study from Canada on Christian education and the resulting effects of the different types of schools. What raised questions in the home school community was the conclusion that religious home schoolers were “most likely to: . . . get divorced; feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life; lack any clear goals or sense of direction; . . . feel prepared for a vibrant religious and spiritual life. . . .” and “least likely to: . . . spend much time volunteering or going on mission trips; [or] be involved in political campaigns.”

Home schoolers were shocked because these are not the results that most of us see in home school graduates. In fact, Dr. Brian Ray with the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) reviewed the study and found that the sample of home school graduates examined for it was extremely small (less that 90) and that there was no data about how long these students were homeschooled and very little other qualifying information about the individuals including how many were “religious” home schoolers.

Dr. Ray’s review indicates that this report was, at best, sloppy journalism and that the splitting out of home schooling in the study should never have been done. The result was a conclusion that is not supported by any other study of which we are aware. In fact, some studies indicate the opposite conclusion.