For many parents, home schooling is a desirable alternative to consider, especially when educational choices are limited. Here’s some information that may help.
In Australia, it is difficult to determine statistics on home school students and their academic performance, due to the small (and often outdated) amount of research. One 2006 report summarised that:
While there are no specific major studies on the academic success of home educated students, a couple of small studies and most other research indicate that Australian home educated children have achieved an equal or higher than average result to their formally educated peers.
The estimated number of home school students ranges from 20,000 to 60,000. A 1997 study found that Australian parents choose home schooling for various reasons, including religion, closer family life, academic achievement and special needs. Two common problems that have been identified are parents’ burnout and programme organisation. Home school families also must deal with government registration and monitoring, which varies in each state.
Australian Christian College: the largest home education support group.
Home Education Association: an association formed to support and promote home education.
Summary of Australian Research on Home Education. Glenda Jackson, Monash University, 2006.
A 1998 US survey of over 20,000 home school students (the largest sample of its time) showed their median scores in standardised tests to be higher than those of public and private school students. The survey also noted that home school families are a select group: home school parents usually have more formal education and earn higher income than parents in the general population, and almost all home school students live in traditional families.
The survey was not a controlled experiment and should be interpreted with “a great deal of caution,” as the author stressed:
This study does not demonstrate that home schooling is superior to public or private schools. It should not be cited as evidence that our public schools are failing. It does not indicate that children will perform better academically if they are home schooled. The design of this study and the data do not warrant such claims. All the comparisons of home school students with the general population and with the private school population in this report fail to consider a myriad of differences between home school and public school students. We have no information as to what the achievement levels of home school students would be had they been enrolled in public or private schools. This study simply shows that those parents choosing to make a commitment to home schooling are able to provide a very successful academic environment.
A 2009 US survey by the Home School Legal Defense Association again showed that home school students scored higher on average on standardised tests than public school students.
So, does home schooling work? I think the above data shows that it is effective, but it is not for every family. If you are capable, committed, and have the time (i.e. you don’t need to work or your work is flexible), then consider home schooling as an alternative.