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Many parents today are opting out for homeschooling rather than sending their children to public schools. Students in homeschooling environment enjoy more freedom, creativity, have better learning experience, and tend to do better academically than their public school counterparts. Parents are also choosing homeschooling due to fear of bullying, peer pressure, bad influences, and a low quality of education in public schools.
There is an estimate of 2 million children learning from homeschooling today in the U.S. It is growing more and more popular every year “with a growth rate of 7 to 15 percent per year” (Shaw). Parents are realizing that it is perhaps the best method to instill proper knowledge and manners into their children. Children learn better when they are given individual attention but this is not possible when they are surrounded by 30 other students who also require attention. What ends up happening is that the teacher ignores the individual needs of the children because it is not possible for the instructor to give individual attention to all 30 kids in the classroom. The result is that many kids get left behind in learning and are not properly able to comprehend the material. “Homeschooling and individualized instruction means that a student gets the attention they need and the assistance they need to master the skills required before moving on to the next skill” (Farr). One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that children are able to learn at their own pace. They are not bombarded with rushed instructions from their teachers who only want to get through the curriculum whether their students follow through or not.
Parents who home school their kids have a great opportunity to teach their kids through real life examples. For instance, if the child is learning about science, the parents could take their child to the local museum or on a nature walk to make the learning experience more real than just theoretical. Often, schools do not have the budget to do numerous field trips for hands on learning. Similarly, if the child is learning math, the parents can ask the child to help them purchase items at the store with cash or organize their finances, etc. This is often referred to as experimental learning and “is a benefit that allows a student to learn and have fun at the same time” (Farr). Kids should not have to sit for 8 hours a day in uncomfortable chairs learning things in theory. It is no wonder that many children complain about school not being relevant or practical for them. The phrase, “When will I ever use this in real life!” is quite common in math classes.
It is no secret that public schools are not an error free social experience. “Students often find themselves in the midst of a social hierarchy in public schools, and this leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem” (Farr). This often leads to some kids being bullied especially if they are on a much lower social hierarchy. Unfortunately, kids committing suicide because of bullying has become more common. There is also peer pressure to fit in and behave a certain way. A child may forego his/her own likes/dislikes and personality just to fit in to the group. Some studies suggest that “self-esteem plummets in middle-school girls” (Shaw). There is also the fear of drugs, dating, bad friends, exposure to pornography due to smartphones, and many other negative influences. Homeschooling can protect against much of this negative impact because “kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to fit in. They live in the real world, where lives aren’t dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation” (Shaw).
Homeschooling is also a great option if parents wish to instill religious values into their children. This is why homeschooling is often popular with religious families. Kids should be learning their moral values from home not outside. However, due to the fact that children who attend public schools spend more time in school with other kids than they do in the house, they are more likely to adopt values shared by their peers than those held by their parents. Today, things are much worse in school than they were in the past. Atheism and hedonism is on the rise, therefore, keeping children home-schooled gives parents greater freedom to instill proper religious and moral values into their children.
Numerous studies have consistently shown that children who are home-schooled do much better on tests than those in public schools. “When it comes to standardized testing, home-schooled students tend to score 15 to 30 percentage points higher than public school students” (Farr). This can lead them to be accepted at better universities. Part of the reason for this may be because kids are given more individual attention so they understand the material better than a student who has to share a classroom with 30 other students, where there is no time for individual attention.
As for Islamic schools, then they are usually too expensive for most Muslim parents and often the quality of their education is low. The teachers hired by such schools are usually not as equipped or qualified as regular public schools. Unfortunately, bullying, drugs, bad company, and sexual materials have entered into Islamic schools as well. Even if the social environment of an Islamic school may not be as bad as a public school, it is still not ideal. Many times it is found that kids who go to Islamic schools tend to take religion for granted. There are plenty of examples of students who attended Islamic schools but are not practicing at all, whereas, those who went to public schools are very practicing. Of course, the opposite is true as well. The point is that it is not guaranteed that children will come out more practicing or be better off just by attending Islamic schools.
One of the most common criticisms against homeschooling is the social development argument. Many people feel that home-schooled kids are not exposed to other kids of their age; therefore, they do not socially develop and may not be able to properly integrate into society in adulthood. However, this is only a misconception and the reality is completely different. As one author who home schools her kids puts it, “It is important to mention that the opportunity to socialize within school is actually quite limited. I would argue that school does not adequately prepare a child for the realities of adult life. In school there is great pressure to fit in with the group – even at the expense of your own personality. If a child is losing its sense of self-worth within the group, then that isn’t good socialization” (Julie).
There are plenty of opportunities for homeschooling Muslim parents to engage their children with other kids for social development, such as, mosque groups, sports clubs, home school groups, play dates, cousins, etc. It is largely dependent on the parents, who must make sure to find and create opportunities for their children to have a healthy social development. Many times, “parents who are intentional about getting their children involved in home school groups with other kids or extracurricular activities end up helping their kids be just as social, and sometimes even more social, than kids who are in public school” (Farr). It is also important to remember that not every child is naturally social. Some children are more social than others. Homeschooling allows parents to cater to their children’s social needs.
In today’s world, where bullying, peer pressure, drugs, bad friends, low quality education, etc. are a common phenomenon of public schools, Muslim parents should strongly consider homeschooling. They will not only have the benefit of spending more time with their kids, thereby, building stronger family bonds but also can protect their children from much social and spiritual harms of public schools.
Below is a video of Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist known for his theory of multiple intelligences, as outlined in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He excellently discusses some of the failures of public school education.
Farr, Tom. “9 Benefits of Homeschooling.” Udemy. N.p., 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 25 June 2016. https://blog.udemy.com/benefits-of-homeschooling/
Julie. “Homeschool Socialization.” Home Schooling-Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2016. http://www.homeschooling-ideas.com/homeschool-socialization.html
Shaw, Isabel. “The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling.” Family Education. Sandbox Networks, Inc., Dec. 2011. Web. 25 June 2016. http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/parenting/29861.html