Have you ever asked yourself, “Are homeschoolers smarter?” You are not alone. If you are going to take the time and effort of homeschooling your children, you want some assurances that they will come out ahead for all of your effort. In reality, you may be asking yourself the wrong question. Are there academic benefits to homeschooling? What are some of the pros and cons of homeschooling? Is homeschooling effective? Here is how you can ensure the academic excellence or academic success of your homeschooled children without worrying about how smart they are.
Does homeschooling make kids smarter?
It is hard to answer whether homeschoolers are smarter, which is why it may be the wrong question to ask. Researchers have attempted to gauge whether homeschoolers perform better on college entrance exams and in college courses. Many times families volunteer to be included in these studies, and families who aren’t confident in their students’ academic performance may choose not to volunteer. It is difficult to get a representative sample from such a diverse group of people. Also, only a subset of homeschoolers even take college entrance exams and go to college, so these studies are skewed toward the top performing homeschoolers.
Better Questions to Determine if Homeschooling Is Right for You
Can homeschooling be less challenging than a traditional school?
Yes! In a traditional school environment, some children may experience trauma from other students. Some students may encounter teachers who lack enthusiasm or who do not connect well with them. Students with learning disabilities might find that a traditional school does not appropriately care for their needs. Homeschooling your child may help with these and other challenges.
Will homeschooled children learn important critical thinking skills?
Yes! BJU Press places a high importance on teaching critical thinking skills with hands-on learning and probing questions.
Do homeschooled students enjoy learning?
Yes! When you homeschool, you have the freedom to mold a curriculum around your child’s natural curiosity. As a result, homeschooled children will enjoy pursuing knowledge that is interesting to them. Just remember to keep up with the subjects they do not seem to enjoy as much.
Will I be able to instill a biblical worldview into my homeschool?
Yes! If you are using BJU Press textbooks, a biblical worldview is woven throughout. With any curriculum, you can add your worldview as an integral part.
Can homeschooled students experience academic success?
Yes! You can teach your children to recognize how core concepts in different subjects relate to one another. Your children will have abundant opportunities to analyze, evaluate, and create at a level appropriate to their age. They can take an active role in their own learning and learn to think for themselves. One of the best early predictors of a child’s success at school is the size of her vocabulary at the time she starts. Parents who invest time in their children and read to them ensure that they can be successful.
What is academic success?
Academic success is more than getting a certain grade or test score. Academic success is being prepared to succeed in college or in life. It may look different depending on your child’s specific goals. College success will start with good test scores to get into a good school. But even beyond that, there are some characteristics of successful people that you can be developing in your children during the homeschool years.
Characteristics to Develop in Your Children
- Lifelong learning. It is important that you teach your children how to acquire new knowledge and how subjects relate to each other. Model lifelong learning for them, and they will follow your example. A student who is able to integrate subjects thoughtfully is better prepared for college and life.
- Persevere through difficulties. Part of the ability to persevere involves having a growth mindset. When your child says, “I can’t,” you should respond, “yet.” People who think intelligence is fixed struggle to persevere through difficult tasks.
- Set goals. Teach your children how to set a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. After creating a goal, they should divide the work into smaller tasks, so they can maintain momentum and track progress.
- Use emotional coping strategies and support systems. When homeschooling and even into the adult years, you are their main support system. Model good strategies for coping with difficult emotions as life circumstances give you opportunity.
- Be proactive instead of reactive. They anticipate problems and possible solutions, so they are ready for whatever happens.
- Be prepared to give a reason. Many successful Christians seek to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you … with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). A biblical worldview is a great starting place but add to that some specific discussions about hard questions. Give your children opportunities to see how you interact with people who believe differently.
These characteristics develop during the school years. Ultimately you want your children to be fully equipped for whatever God calls them to. In their academic years, students should practice these critical skills with project work that is appropriate for their level of development.
Why is academic success important for your homeschool?
Academic success is important for your homeschool because you want your children to have every opportunity available to them. The myriad reasons for choosing to homeschool may include an opportunity to personally oversee your child’s education. Whatever your reasons for homeschooling, you certainly are not hoping to sacrifice academic success.
Academic Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschooling comes with some benefits that may enhance your children’s academic success.
- Your child has one-on-one time with you, the teacher.
- You know your child better than a classroom teacher could, so you can personalize her education to an extent.
- Homeschool lacks some of the distractions of a traditional classroom environment.
- You can move at a pace that is suitable to your child in each subject area, making sure he is ready before moving on.
- You determine the educational goals for each child and whether or not to take standardized tests.
- Parental involvement is a key indicator of academic success, no matter which school your children attend.
Opportunities to Excel in Your Homeschool
Use the flexibility and resources at your disposal to encourage your children to excel. With the BJU Press teacher editions, you get all the extra help you need to teach in an interesting and engaging way. You also get lessons with focused questions that promote critical thinking. At the library or on the internet, you can find all kinds of supplemental sources to pursue topics your children find interesting. If sources conflict with each other, you can model the critical thinking skills your children need.
As a homeschooling parent, you have the opportunity to shape a positive learning environment for your children. The best learning environment is one where students understand what the expectations are so that they can actively participate in their own learning. In your homeschool, your children will feel safe and have rapport with their teacher (you). They also need a routine and help developing organizational skills.
Keys to Academic Success in Your Homeschool
To achieve academic excellence, your homeschool should be a disciplined environment. As students develop, they should gradually take more responsibility for their education. The curriculum should promote critical thinking development, hands-on learning, and research-based teaching practices.
In your homeschool, blur the lines between education and life. Your kids do not have to learn each subject in a silo. They can learn in an integrated way even outside of school hours. Create personal learning experiences that play to your child’s strengths and interests. If your child expresses interest in astronomy, buy a telescope, visit an observatory, let him stay up to watch the stars, and explore that interest thoroughly. If your child is great at math, try some mental math activities to enhance his speed.
Do not be afraid to outsource some of your child’s education if you are not equipped to teach certain subjects. A homeschooling cooperative, private school, or community college might help you provide a well-rounded education for your children.
Keys to Success in Middle and High School
Middle school is a time of transition from mostly teacher-driven education to mostly learner-driven. By the time a student is in high school, she should have responsibility to stay organized and meet deadlines. Middle school students should begin to practice good study habits, so that by the time they are in high school they are fairly independent.
One of the keys to good studying is to find a way to make it active. Instead of reading a history text, make a timeline of the events in the chapter. Create flashcards, quizzes, or study guides for yourself. Try teaching your younger sibling the subject matter you are learning. In math, practice problems are a great way to study. Create a concept map in science, connecting ideas that fit together. Connected concepts are naturally more memorable than a list of vocabulary words.
Your homeschooler can achieve academic success with your involvement in his schooling. Personalized goals and progress tracking help each child to perform according to her potential. Academic excellence in your homeschool prepares your students for college and life.
• • • • •Valerie is a wife and a mother to a very busy preschooler. In her free time she enjoys reading all kinds of books. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Bob Jones University, minoring in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University. Valerie has 15 years of experience working in research laboratories and has coauthored 8 original research articles. She has also taught several classes and laboratories at the high school and college levels. She currently works as a Data Analyst and a freelance writer.