What are the benefits and shortcomings of home schooling?

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“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). 

How can home schooling help raise children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? What first comes to mind is that home schooling can be flexible in terms of class times. This may allow families to participate in the festal cycles of the Church. I have been in several churches where on the day of a Great Feast the church is packed with parents and their children. In some homes, when a Great Feast is celebrated, there may be no school that day.

Another benefit is that home schooling allows for greater Christian formation and internalization to take place. The curriculum includes more Christian Education and more time for prayer. This, I believe can potentially prepare a child to better cope with the realities of the secular life he or she will need to address as he or she grows older. The key here is how parents go about getting their children ready to address the “real world.” I think this “formation” issue is a major reason why more parents have opted to home school in recent years.

Home schooling seems to produce children who achieve equal or even better academic performance than children attending public school. In addition, there are opportunities for children to participate in extra curricular activities, although they may not be of the same magnitude as the many after school activities offered in public schools. Often the existence of these activities conflicts with such things as festal services or a parish youth activity and children cannot come. They may face consequences for missing a school activity.

Then what are the shortcomings of home schooling? There are two that I can think of. By putting one’s children in a “bubble” (home school), does it set up a false dichotomy? Is there a danger of setting up an “us vs. them” mentality? Is there a tendency to vilify public schools for their “secular influence?” Thus we face the temptation to not see the potential of the “very good” of all of creation, even in the public school system.

A common concern among those who are against home schooling is that it can be over protective of children. It can make children ill equipped to deal with reality of relating to people that don’t share the same views of life and may act differently. Children don’t develop the “social skills” to interact with children who think differently than homeschoolers. This is an area in which I would like to see research, as I do question whether this is true. I will address research issues in a couple of weeks.

Christ is risen! The blessing of the Lord be upon you,

The unworthy +Paul

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