Academic journal article International Education Studies

Day to Day Operations of Home School Families: Selecting from a Menu of Educational Choices to Meet Students' Individual Instructional Needs

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Day to Day Operations of Home School Families: Selecting from a Menu of Educational Choices to Meet Students' Individual Instructional Needs

Article excerpt


This study examined the day to day operations of home schools. The case study method was used with four families from a larger pool of families that held membership in a home school organization. Data was gathered using interviews, observations, and artifacts. Findings suggest that these families operated their home schools using traditional methods to reach progressive goals. The families operated their home schools much as a person in a restaurant would choose food from a menu. They identified instructional goals and selected methods from a variety of choices available to them including courses taught through a home school cooperative, community colleges, online courses, video instruction, and individual study. Public schooling was not an option available to them. Traditional schools can learn from this home school model as it serves as a resource that supports individual learning goals rather than as the sole distributor of knowledge in a community. (Words=149)

Keywords: Home school, Home education, Educational choice, Parental control, Curriculum decision-making

1. Introduction

The purpose of this study was to gain an in depth knowledge of the day to day activities of home school families in order to better understand the instructional techniques and curriculum decisions that contribute to the success of home education as an educational treatment. Of particular interest were home education practices that could be useful in traditional education settings. In describing her work Mead (1996) wrote, "We have tried to do only two things: either to convey that some one aspect of human behavior could be organized differently- such as adolescence, or a proneness to heavy drinking, or a sensitivity to art- or to convey the extent to which cultures differ from one another" (p. 31). This study will attempt to do a similar thing in education. Most Americans are educated through traditional means, and consequently, they fail to comprehend why or appreciate that some people in our society choose to educate their children differently than the majority.

Since the late 19th century, education in America has been associated with publicly funded schools and compulsory attendance (Basham, 2001; Knowles, Muchmore, & Spaulding, 1994). Beginning in the late 19th century, public education grew as schools became institutionalized in the form of public schools replacing home education and other forms of education as the dominant practice in America. The current home school movement is an outgrowth of the liberal reaction against public schools in the 1960s (Knowles, Marlow, & Muchmore, 1992). From its austere beginning it quickly grew into a group that, if considered as a separate school district, would be larger than the New York City public school system (Hill, 2000). The growth of the movement and its significant departure from the educational norms in America have made it an interesting subject of study for those interested in studying how humans can organize differently to teach and learn.

To date, the focus of home school research has been on the reasons why people choose to home school and the academic and social success of home school students (Basham, 2001; Carper, 2000; Jeub, 1994; Klicka, 2002; Knowles et al., 1994; Princota & Bielick, 2006; Ray, 2000). Little research has been conducted that examines what exactly goes on in the day to day activities of a home school child (Barratt-Peacock, 2003; Cizek, 1993; Knowles, 1991). The study described herein focused on the day to day activities of home school students and their families. This study is important for several reasons. As an educational treatment, home education has been shown to be as effective for those students who are homeschooled as traditional forms of education are for those who are educated in traditional schools (American College Test, 2008; Basham, 2001; Collum, 2005; Homeschool Legal Defense Association, 2004, 2005; Jones & Gloeckner, 2004; Ray, 2000; Rudner, 1999; Smith, 2007). …

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