Do home-schooled kids have better manners?

On Sunday I attended a block party hosted by a friend up in Newburyport.  He had hired an English circus family to perform and afterwards I served some food and drink to the 13-year-old and 16-year-old members of this family.  Unlike the typical sullen American teenager they had exquisite manners.  It turned out that they had never been to school.  They’d lived their whole lives traveling around with their parents and siblings, oftentimes in a smallish RV (they started calling themselves “the Sardine Family” because of these cramped quarters).  All of their education came from their parents and from older siblings.


Could it be that going into a community of thousands of teenagers (i.e., school) is bad for a kid’s manners?   And that spending time with a high percentage of adults (i.e., home school) is good for a kid’s manners?

45 Comments

  1. COD

    June 15, 2004 @ 9:41 pm

    1

    I don’t think there is any doubt. Even generally good teens have to adopt their peers bad habits during the school day – just to fit in. HS’ed kids don’t have that problem. We homeschool our kids, and although we have a few years until we have to deal with teen issues, the HS’ed teens we meet are unfailing polite, well spoken ,and mature for their age. We won’t consider anybody but a HS’er for a babysitter.

  2. presidentpicker

    June 15, 2004 @ 10:39 pm

    2

    Unless kids have special needs I don’t see why they should be locked up in a house and deprived of the ability to interact with peers, even if they do end up mild mannered as a result of this.

    “We won’t consider anybody but a HS’er for a babysitter.” – snobbery at its best ;-)

  3. Susan

    June 15, 2004 @ 11:45 pm

    3

    presidentpicker says: “Unless kids have special needs I don’t see why they should be locked up in a house and deprived of the ability to interact with peers . . . .”

    Why do you equate not going to school with being locked up in the house and deprived of the ability to interact with peers?

    I know lots of kids who don’t go to school, and I’ve never heard of one who was locked up in the house. In fact, most homeschoolers spend so much time out and about doing stuff and being with people that I sometimes wonder if they have any more time for solitude and creativity and quiet thought than kids who are in school and after-care all day.

    I would be interested to know why you think kids with special needs should be locked up in a house and deprived of the ability to interact with peers. ;-)

  4. Susan

    June 15, 2004 @ 11:47 pm

    4

    I should not have said “most.” I should have said “many.”

  5. presidentpicker

    June 16, 2004 @ 1:02 am

    5

    I wouldn’t know for sure, but according to the Mr ODonnel’s post above his “HS’ed kids” (great label, btw!) don’t have a problem of picking up bad habits from other children. The apparent reason is that they don’t interact and isolated from their peers. How is this not clear?

  6. PatrickG

    June 16, 2004 @ 1:06 am

    6

    I have a few homeschooled kids as customers. They are polite, hard-working, honest. There is no comparison with the average public skooled kid. Period.

  7. Hexatron

    June 16, 2004 @ 1:36 am

    7

    Does home schooling promote better manners?

    Does having ‘good manners’ cause difficulties in public schools, so the well-mannered are ‘saved’ from public schools?

    Are home schooled kids more likely to be eldest-only children–already known to be more apt to get along with adults?

    Can you tell an honest kid from a manipulative one? Is this difference important to you?

    It is easy to convert a correlation into a dubious cause-and-effect. Your brats may vary…

  8. Wolfgang

    June 16, 2004 @ 5:05 am

    8

    Oh for crying out loud: he’s comparing English kids to American kids! Might that be just one of the possible causes here? I know for a fact that even from town to town (to city to metropole) the “average” kids differ greatly in manners, let alone countries and/or cultures!
    And if kids are ill-mannered, maybe the parents aren’t doing a great job raising them? I mean, who is responsible for learning a kid how to behave? Surely it’s not the school system?

  9. HS Parent

    June 16, 2004 @ 8:21 am

    9

    President Picker clearly has no clue about homeschooling.

    Homeschooled children almost universally seem to get more exposure to other children of all ages and to adults in the community. For example in our small rural town on the fringes of Silicon Valley over 150 homeschooled children get together every Friday at a local park, where they have their own sports teams and engage in other educational/social activities and the parents plan the coming weeks worth of events. In each place there have been regular fieldtrips to museums, factories, communtiy service, etc. Coopertative teaching groups are formed regularly to address specific subjects that a few parents may have expertise at. There are days when the kids buckle down and spend hours at the kitchen table grinding through math or sitting at a computer writing reports, it’s part of an education. The general reality, however, of HS is that these kids are out there doing things with folks of all ages much of the time.

    I have homeschooled our three children in several different cities now and invariably there have been in each place multiple well organized homeschool organizations. Many parents use news lists to collaborate or share curriculm, plan events, discuss concerns, etc. There have been HS curriculm fairs, HS astronomy parties, HS seminars and conferences, HS specific drama troupes, etc. In each place many local businesses have catered to HS. Barnes & Noble has HS reading days, local dance/singing/etc instructors have HS classes, teaching supply stores and others offer HS discounts, even large companies like Apple Computer offer HS discounts on product.

    It really should come as no surprise that chilren who are out in the community interacting with people of all ages, usually in a 1:1 or 1:few adult supervision ratio will be much better adjusted socially than kids who are locked in a room all day from a young age with little or no adult guidance (1:20? 1:30? ratios) and expected to learn social skils from a bunch of homogenously aged peers who often have none.

  10. Greg Griffith

    June 16, 2004 @ 9:15 am

    10

    BTW, in the 19th century, there were references to family schooling that would today be described as home schooling. I have some preference for the term “family schooling”.

    If you can afford it, isn’t private tutoring the best? Private tutoring is what you get with a family school.

    Family schooling doesn’t need to depend upon parents as the only teachers. For example, our family uses outside teachers to teach piano to our children. We also used an online academy this year to teach our two oldest children.

    He that walketh with wise men shall be wise… The Bible, Proverbs 13:20.

    Should one not expect more wisdom among adults than among youths?

  11. Darby

    June 16, 2004 @ 11:14 am

    11

    I don’t know about polite versus not-polite, as I’ve met polite kids from all sorts of educational backgrounds.
    I can speak to the homeschooler=isolated thing, though.
    I have two children. One is homeschooled and the other attends public school (both by their own choice). Last night, over dinner, we were discussing the advantages of both. My public schooler gets more invites to birthday parties. She sees the same 25 kids every day (which she considers a good thing, lol!). She loves her teacher.
    My homeschooler, on the other hand, sees one set of friends on Monday, and another set on Tuesday, and so forth. He doesn’t see the same people every day, which is what he prefers (being something of an introvert). When he gets together with his friends he isn’t limited to a 15 minute recess. Because he finishes his schoolwork in the morning, he has all afternoon to play with his friends: exploring the riverbank, playing video games, taking swim lessons, riding his bike… Instead of having to chop his time into 15 minute chunks, he can spend hours with his friends.
    He never has homework, so while his sister is stuck inside after school sweating over her assignments, he can run right out and play with the public schooled neighbourhood kids when they get home.
    I honestly don’t think there’s a wrong choice here. It’s like saying there’s something wrong with anyone who doesn’t choose to work in an office cubicle-style environment. Some people are happy working for big corporations, and others want to do their own thing. We need both kinds of workers in this world, don’t we? So why should we try to make every child learn in exactly the same way?
    Some of our kids are happier being out of school, others are happier being in. I can respect that.

  12. Ryan

    June 16, 2004 @ 12:23 pm

    12

    Being an ex H’Schooler and recent college grad I can see both sides here. While HS’ing was good for me in many ways, I feel that I could have benefited from some public education before going to college. Why? Because most of the professors in higher ed. expect students to act like publicly schooled students. By this I mean that the focus in many courses is on grades and memorization, two things that HS’ers are not always good at. Also, while this may have only been a personal experience, it would have been nice to have been exposed to more professional career paths before entering college. If I had known how much art would become part of my life before entering college I probably would not have concentrated so heavily on business, but I had no way of knowing because I was not exposed to much art prior to entering college.

    On the well-mannered arguement, don’t forget that while it is important to be well-adjusted when dealing with adults, my peers over the next 40 years are going to have some people that are my own age and I will need to deal with them as well.

    Great discussion, keep it up!

  13. SeanB

    June 16, 2004 @ 12:32 pm

    13

    Effectiveness? Long term studies?

    I have friends who plan on home schooling their kids, and this topic came up at a barbecue the other day. One of my buddies commented “why would you want your kids to become anti-social, no-friend freaks”. After making fun of him for a half hour and how well he turned out after public school, the conversation turned to the effectiveness of home schooling.

    Are there objective studies out there regarding the effectiveness of Home Schooling? The education industy/syndicate (I include the govt in that) would like to see home schooling go away, and home-school families wouldn’t want to admit the problems with home schooling.

    I dont necessarily think Homeschooling is better than public or private schools. I think if parents are dedicated to the success of their kids their kids will do well, regardless of their school situation.

  14. Mackenzie

    June 16, 2004 @ 1:45 pm

    14

    I would tend to agree that homeschooled children will more than likely have bettern manners than children that enter the out-of-home school system. I think this comes from the obvious fact that these kids must learn to motivate themselves to work on their schooling so much more than kids in school. Working together as a family to learn material and do homework teaches them responsibility at a much younger age and thus their attitudes and personalities reflect that.

    Being an only child I have learned that it’s common (although not always true) that only children tend to have better manners as well. Growing up without brothers and sisters automatically means more adult interaction which makes the child mature quickly.

    When I have children I would never choose to homeschool because of the opportunities that schools provide (AP classes, gifted programs, special education programs, etc, however I do think given the right situation it can be a good thing. I agree with SeanB about how parents being dedicated to the kids success is really the only measure of how well a child will do in school.

  15. Anukul Kapoor

    June 16, 2004 @ 5:33 pm

    15

    Home schooled children with a number of siblings and strong parents probably do wind up politer. This ability of parents to do this is probably self-selected for and so I doubt it would scale to society at large.

    Anecdotally, only-child homeschooled kids are terribly spoiled and demand constant attention, consoling, and guidance.

  16. Stella Aquilina

    June 16, 2004 @ 6:13 pm

    16

    Of course the trivial answer is yes. But this is merely related to parental caring and involvement. I would posit a guess that Catholic school children are also more polite. From my regular trips to the local bagel bakery in an upper middle class Jewish neighborhood, I also believe children from the Gesher Jewish Day School are more polite too.

    One thing I can guarantee you is this: when my father un-enrolled me from Alexandria public middle school a kid was cussing out the vice principal. I can assure you that nobody ever cussed a nun out at the Catholic middle school I was subsequently enrolled in.

  17. Ralph Lee

    June 16, 2004 @ 7:14 pm

    17

    OTOH I think we’re seeing a generation of kids raised *on the internet*. i.e. with counter-strike, etc. You might find it analagous to kids raised by the TV.

    I would recommend against it…

  18. anon

    June 17, 2004 @ 2:18 am

    18

    Sudbury Valley Schools seem to me to be a perfect compromise between “school” and “home school”.

    http://www.sudval.org/

  19. Jesse Kipp

    June 17, 2004 @ 2:31 am

    19

    Here in Wisconsin, homeschooling is largely a religous issue and parents’ right to teach their children that Darwin was wrong is strongly protected. Thus, one might also consider whether evangelical Christian upbringing and manners are related.

    My experience as a home schooler (for public-school-sucking reasons, not religious reasons) is that public school limited my social opportunities. With classes, homework, and school activities I never had the opportunity to learn that there was an entire community outside the 500 people locked in a virtually windowless suburban building. Once I left school, the city opened up to me in a way that it only did for the most ambitious and self-determined students that stayed in public school (and who also didn’t pay any attention to their grades).

    On the whole, I doubt families that homeschool their children would let them spend all day playing counter-strike. Admittedly, during my home school years (96-97) my 33.6 modem and I became good friends and I spent a lot of time in chat rooms, playing games, and reading RFCs. But, if you aren’t being forced to spend 40-50 hours of your week accomplishing what you could do in ten, that leaves a lot of time for sleeping late and learning perl.

  20. Dave Lapierre

    June 17, 2004 @ 9:27 am

    20

    My guess is you don’t have kids. I used to have thoughts like yours until I had my own children. Since my kids are raised in the same environment I would expect them to be similar when it comes to things like being polite and sharing but they are quite different.

  21. Sam M-M

    June 17, 2004 @ 11:24 am

    21

    I understand your bemoaning the way these children have been stifled, to the point where they are actually polite to adults. After all, let’s face it, the only reason we adults are polite to each other is that we’ve become tired and decided to trade honesty, integrity and forthrightness for a bit of peace and quiet, however inane and superficial.

    But I assure you, not all homeschooled children are so polite. I know some very lively, honest and confrontational home schooled children.

  22. David Kurtz

    June 17, 2004 @ 1:11 pm

    22

    My suspicion is that it’s not so much home-schooling that makes a difference as active, involved parents. A home-schooled kid is more likely to have them than an average public school kid.

    As Jesse Kipp pointed out, there may be some relation between evangelical Christianity and politeness. I submit it’s any type of organization where children are expected to interact with adults and people of all ages.

    Anecdotally, I was a very polite, outgoing kid growing up in a public school: other adults would tell me this. I had many friends who were also polite and sociable, and one common thread was that we all had parents and family who were active in church, mosque, community groups, etc., surrounded from an early age by other adults and community members.

    When you get a new puppy, you take him to the dog park and have him socialize with other dogs and other people so that they don’t bark at every person that walks by. Same thing with kids, I think. Just without the leash and slobbery tennis ball.

  23. Sanjeev

    June 17, 2004 @ 1:15 pm

    23

    I have only seen two situations where a child was being homeschooled, and they both seemed unhealthy. The parents arranged EVERYTHING their kids did, and it seemed oppressive. “Kids, it’s playtime. My friends have brought over their homeschooled children for a one hour playtime… starting NOW.”

    I’m exaggerating, and I know that my two observations do not equal scientific fact, but I wouldn’t do it. Expose the kid to the world now or plan on protecting them for the rest of your life.

  24. Darby

    June 17, 2004 @ 1:20 pm

    24

    And, it’s important to expose your puppy to older dogs (and lots and lots of humans, too, of course). You wouldn’t stick them in a room all day every day with 25 other puppies and expect them to grow up into well-mannered dogs. ;-)

  25. Darby

    June 17, 2004 @ 1:33 pm

    25

    And Slacker – isn’t that exactly what schools do, to? “Kids, it’s recess. You are all going to go outside for your fifteen minutes of playtime… starting NOW.”

    In public school it doesn’t matter if you are working hard on an interesting project. It’s 10:15, time for math, drop everything and do what we tell you to do. You think that’s your locker? Nope, we’ve got the cops here today, their dogs will be sniffing your chair and they’ll be going through your schoolbag, and if they think they find anything you’ll get patted down and your pockets will be searched. Oh, and it doesn’t really matter if they find any actual evidence, they can suspend you if they think you are suspicious anyway. And watch what you write for that creative writing class! You might get arrested if you decide to fictionalize a school shooting.

    This might be some folks’ “real world” (say, prisoners?) but it’s not mine. Nor did I have to experience any of this in order to survive in the “real world”.

    Anyway, I still maintain it’s all about choices. If your kid is happy in school, more power to them. But no one, not even a child, should have to stay anywhere they really don’t want to be. We don’t teach our daughters how to cope with abusive men by abusing them ourselves, do we? We don’t throw kids into the deep end in order to teach them to swim, either.

  26. kyle

    June 17, 2004 @ 5:13 pm

    26

    this is a no brainer — i cannot believe people would think otherwise. of course home schooled kids have better manners. they don’t fall prey to peer influences/pressure the same way school kids do. i heard an interesting interview on npr a couple months ago with some parents of wild-and-crazy teenagers. The parents quit their jobs yanked the kids out of school and took of on a year-long round the world trip. needless to report, the teens turned out to be better than ever — their manners/ behavior improved from lack of peer influences and they received an invaluable education vis-

  27. Sanjeev

    June 17, 2004 @ 9:01 pm

    27

    Darby – good points. If you live in an area with nightmare schools like what you describe, I agree, homeschool is the way to go. But I live in an area with universally excellent schools. The parents that choose to homeschool here seem to want not excellence, but perfection. It just doesn’t seem healthy. Good point about the rigidity of school schedule, though… I hadn’t thought of it that way.

  28. Josh

    June 18, 2004 @ 2:12 pm

    28

    School has become the de-facto way to educate kids but to have 30 kids of the same age spending 1/2 of their waking life together for 14 years is unnatural. Only within the last 100 years has this sort of grade school experience been possible for more than 1% of the population. You would learn from adults, from your older kids, or apprentice yourself.

    We are evolved to learn better from teaching people younger than us and learning from those older. Anyone who has taught has had the experience of learning something really well by teaching it. How often does that happen in the 5th grade? The sense of being a mentor and having a mentor is gone when it’s 30 kids looking at the teacher. You can’t teach your same age group peers because they feel stupid or you feel like they are stupid. When we get serious about education (Phd programs), we dump the class system entirely and have the students hang around the professors and ape them. Oh and teach the undergrads. We didn’t do that in America until we realized that everyone who knew anything about nuclear bombs learned under that system.

    As grad students will attest this is a really cheap way to do things. So why isn’t grade school more mentoring and mentored? It’s the fetish for year by year progress – 3rd grade is long division time – and resistance by teacher’s unions. Also the state likes to have it’s control. They like to know that everyone got taught the same american history and that all the poor people got health class. Consistently bad seems to be chosen over variably superior even when everyone would be superior to the old average.

    The populations of home schoolers are interesting too. It seems to be Christian right (don’t teach my kids about Darwin) and the hippy left (don’t make my kids into robots). It’ll be fascinating to see studies of what home schoolers vs. grade school and christians vs. hippies do with their lives. It seems more than average, great engineers and artists had a significant time where they were informally educated, i wonder if most of the next greats will come from these guys. And maybe it won’t be great for just the outliers, maybe they’ll all be doing good things.

    A great book about this idea is the The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach
    by Howard Gardner.

  29. Chris Ryland

    June 22, 2004 @ 4:11 pm

    29

    Cf. John Taylor Gatto’s mind-bomb “The Underground History of Education in America”: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com . It’ll open your eyes to the true purpose of education in the last century, which is the creation of a fairly docile (read: brainwashed) set of willing workers for the factories.

  30. Brent

    June 23, 2004 @ 2:18 pm

    30

    I’d be interested in how home-schooled kids compare with the broader pool of kids who have a parent home full-time.

  31. Alex Chernavsky

    June 30, 2004 @ 11:47 am

    31

    Here’s an interesting article about the incredible culture-shock experienced by foreign teachers who come to the US to teach high school:

    Rude Chicago Students

    Chicago Sun-Times — February 11, 2001

    BY ROSALIND ROSSI, EDUCATION REPORTER

    One new Chicago high school teacher, a native of the Middle East, was astonished when she discovered that her students had put blue chewing gum on her chair and stuck funny signs on her back.

    Another teacher, born in Hungary, couldn’t believe it when she called a high school student to the blackboard and he insisted that his “tutor” – another student – accompany him.

    The teachers are part of the Chicago public schools’ latest answer to an escalating shortage of teachers.  The Chicago schools posted recruitment notices on the Internet, and 1,300 men and women from 21 countries responded.

    “We had no idea what we have to face,” said Liza Koves, a teacher from Hungary.

    The teachers say they are stunned by the American students and their talking, tardiness, absenteeism, laziness, vanity, foul language, apathy and general disrespect for them.

    Of the 43 teachers enrolled last summer in Chicago’s new Global Educators Outreach program, seven already have left.

    Many come from countries where teachers are accorded great respect and obedience – and sometimes even bowed to at the beginning of class.

    In Nepal, “when we walk into a class, all the students stand up and greet the teacher,” explained Nepal native Anil Rimal.  “Here, it’s exactly the opposite.  We have to stand at the door and greet the students.”

    A teacher from Hungary was amazed when a girl stood up in the middle of a lesson and plopped herself on a boy’s lap.  A third can’t understand how some students can be so sassy.

    “There is very little regard for superiors or rank,” said a teacher from Kenya.  “I find it wrong that a student is talking back to someone who is older.  It’s not something that I can get used to.”

    Florence Onubogu, a Nigerian who has taught in Austria, said she was astounded that some American students seem satisfied with a D or a C, when if they worked harder they could earn an A.  But the same kids seem consumed by their appearance – and have the nerve to make fun of hers.

    One student chided Onubogu for not having her hair done;  another poked fun at her utilitarian shoes.  Meanwhile, Onubogu, mother of an 11-year-old, is struggling to make ends meet on a starting teacher’s salary by eating boiled rice and vegetables for dinner and buying 79-cent bags of lettuce for lunch.

    [rest of article snipped]

    Full text: http://www.astrocyte-design.com/interests/chicago.html

    By the way, Philip:  Why is there no “Preview” button for the comments section?

  32. Niels Olson

    July 4, 2004 @ 6:15 pm

    32

    From Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations:
    I, 4: From my mother’s grandfather: not to have attended public schools but enjoyed good teachers at home, and to have learned the lesson that on things like these it is a duty to spend liberally.

  33. Elin

    July 8, 2004 @ 10:34 pm

    33

    I honestly think that if everybody were to home-school their children, society would be in quite a bit of trouble. How are children supposed to learn to relate to each other and accept each other if they are kept apart? But manners should not be thought in school, and here, I think, is the problem.

    Too many american parents don’t have enough time for their children. This is not their fault, necessarily. Long work hours are expected, and parents are exhausted when they get back. Wanting to keep things peaceful in the home environment, they postpone confronting their children when there are problems. I am sure guilt is also a factor here, because there is never enough time. Parents also need time for themselves, or they will end up divorced sooner or later. Because of this, disciplining kids is left to school teachers, but this isn’t their job! In an ideal world, kids should come to school, polite, clean, well fed, and ready to learn subjects – teachers have no time for anything else.

    Then there are other factors like culture, class, and so on. Some parents just don’t care, and the rest of us have to deal with the consequences of their children’s behavior. I once asked for a meeting with the parents of a trouble maker in my son’s class to see if we could stop a constant, ongoing conflict between the two children – but the teachers advised me not to, because “his mother is worse than the kid”. What then, is left to do?

    What I am really trying to say, is that even if there will always be impossible, a lot could be achieved if the government cared more about the role of a parent in a child’s upbringing. Give parents more time with their kids! Summer is the perfect example of parental stress – we all have vacations because we need it, small or big. But in the US, school children are off for 8 weeks, while the parents are lucky if they get two! That leaves 6 weeks of hell, with expensive summer camps that not only eradicates the effect of having two weeks off – it adds five times as much stress than usual to the remanding six. It is not fun for the parents, let alone the children.

    I really believe that nobody else is better suited teach children good manners and respect than their parents. But there are two roles to fill here and we need them both: One is being a parent, and one is being a teacher. These should compliment each other, not be joined. The kids in your example were probably well behaved because the parents were doing their duty, not because they were home schooled…

  34. Terrie Lynn Bittner

    November 23, 2004 @ 6:36 am

    34

    I think we need to keep in mind that public school is not the only place to make friends. I’m an author, and spend my days mostly all alone, sitting at a kitchen table writing homeschooling books and a weekly column. I don’t go to school, but I still have friends. This is because, when the work is done, there is a world of people out there I can go play in, and I do. Homeschooled children, contrary to stereotype, don’t spend much time at the kitchen table just plowing through books and worksheets, but they too have access to that world outside the home, and they use it, both for play and for learning.

    When my children were in public school, I got a call one day saying I needed to have a little talk with my child, who was choosing inappropriate friends. I asked what that meant, since I knew her friends. I was told that while my daughter was white and middle-class, her frineds were poor and racially diverse. Some weren’t even citizens! Horrors! She had found the only three minority children in our non-diverse school. When my children switched to homeschooling, we searched outside our own neighborhood for additional friends, and their relationships were far more diverse. Now, with one child married and two in college, I am pleased to see they have a very diverse group of friends, something that wouldn’t have been likely had they been forced to remain in a school that sheltered them from the real world.

    Recently, my daughter, who was elected vice-president of her debate club (taking care of any socialization questions, I think) participated in a service project in which the college students served dinner to homeless women and children. Many of the students were upset to learn, for the first time, that children can be homeless. The homeschoolers, however, had had so much more exposure to the real world, and had done so much more service than the others, that they already knew this.

    I don’t think homeschooling is for everyone, but I do think it’s a great option for parents who want it. When my daughter first told her friends in college she was homeschooled, one said, “My parents would never have done that. They wouldn’t want to spend that much time with me. You’re lucky yours did.” I like the message I was able to give my children, that they mattered more than the writing career that went on hold for a while, and various other pursuits that had to wait until they grew up. I think there is a huge value in that.

  35. Tabitha

    December 14, 2005 @ 7:56 pm

    35

    As a post home school student myself – I would have to agree with Terrie Lynn and other proponents of home schooling; it is of infinite value! I am one of five girls ranging in ages from 26 to 13, and I might say I am the least among them… A senior in college, I have a 3.8 GPA, am applying for Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs across the region, and feel well prepared for my professional future.

    Regarding earlier comments about exceptional home school students likely being the result of only or eldest children, I would have to answer that I am a middle child. My oldest sister did have a 4.0 GPA through college, vs. my 3.8, and my other college aged sister’s 3.72, however, I think that an observant person would see in our family FIVE capable, intelligent, mature, respectful and socially competent women/young ladies.

    From observing other home schooling families, I would not say our family was in any way an atypical home schooling family; however much of an anomaly we might be in terms of the typical public school family. What I WOULD have to acknowledge is that perhaps the families and parents, who chose to take the time and make the commitment to be home schooling parents, might have a tendency towards raising respectful, intelligent, competent, hard working children.

    If I were to construct a research hypothesis, it would not test if the successful home schooled children were eldest children or only children, but would instead study the differentiating factors in the families/parents who decided to engage in home schooling… What made my parents special/capable/interested in home schooling? I would hypothesize that there were determinate features to them as parents and individuals that led them to make this decision – features that perhaps also contributed to their ability and aptitude for raising and training capable, socially apt, successful children.

    Regarding the constant argument of inadequate socialization (specifically peer) – it shows merely poor education on the part of the person posing the argument… Home schooled children have available to them just as many extra curricular activities as public school children: including sports teams, 4H groups, youth religious groups, play dates, debate teams, fine arts education and clubs, etc. In fact, a parent or family sufficiently motivated to TEACH their children themselves seems even more likely to be highly involved in other aspects of their children’s lives in such roles as Cub Scout den mothers, Boy Scout leaders, the “brownie/snack” mom on the soccer team etc.

    I know for a fact that I saw more symphonies, went to the library more frequently, more regularly participated in our religious organization’s youth events, and was in more sports teams/competitions then were any of my public school friends (who enrolled in the honorary band/drama clubs at their public schools.) Are my parents unusual? Absolutely, but then perhaps ALL parents willing to devote themselves to their children from morning until night of every day would be considered unusual… How is home schooling in any way a WORSE or hampered or developmentally inferior experience??!!! I have yet to hear an argument against home schooling on this blog with which someone who has ACTUALLY experienced home schooling would agree.

    Oh and by the way, I’m American, not British – for whomever it was that made the comment about being unable to compare the manners and social graces of American children to British. What an uneducated and culturally biased comment! Is there really even any need to address it??!!!

  36. Lolligagg3r

    January 25, 2006 @ 3:21 am

    36

    I just want to say that I was at that Block Party with the Circus Family Sardine and I traveled with them for a year. I havent said anything about my experience till now, I feel like I should let you in on it. What the parents did to those kids is abuse to the highest degree. They have used them since they were babies to make money that they never see and whats worse is they didnt teach them anything “school wise”. The whole time I was with them Miesje and Minnie (the youngest girl and boy) picked up a book maybe once or twice. Alex, the oldest of the 2 traveling boys cant read, write, or even spell his name properly. Vicky, the oldest and most literate taught herself and wrote all the time. When thier parents are finally out of the picture they will have nothing to fall back on other than what they have known all their life, street performing, and that is sad. Not only aren’t they literate but they missed out on the chance to live their own life, and Mentally the are screwed up too…I wont get into that. Did I mention there Mother and Father have been keeping the family in America illegally for the past 2 years? They are VERY irresponible and only care about themself and that is what they have taught their kids. Once upon a time I looked up to them…untill I saw what they really were when it was no longer showtime. I only hope John and Pauline read this and are ashamed of themselves, but I doubt it. And I will always Love and Miss Miesje, Minnie, and Vicky with all my heart…even Alex…I hope you guys are okay.

    <3 Leah

    PS: As to your question…its ridiculous and what made you come up with it is even worse.

  37. Lolligagg3r

    January 25, 2006 @ 3:21 am

    37

    I just want to say that I was at that Block Party with the Circus Family Sardine and I traveled with them for a year. I havent said anything about my experience till now, I feel like I should let you in on it. What the parents did to those kids is abuse to the highest degree. They have used them since they were babies to make money that they never see and whats worse is they didnt teach them anything “school wise”. The whole time I was with them Miesje and Minnie (the youngest girl and boy) picked up a book maybe once or twice. Alex, the oldest of the 2 traveling boys cant read, write, or even spell his name properly. Vicky, the oldest and most literate taught herself and wrote all the time. When thier parents are finally out of the picture they will have nothing to fall back on other than what they have known all their life, street performing, and that is sad. Not only aren’t they literate but they missed out on the chance to live their own life, and Mentally the are screwed up too…I wont get into that. Did I mention there Mother and Father have been keeping the family in America illegally for the past 2 years? They are VERY irresponible and only care about themself and that is what they have taught their kids. Once upon a time I looked up to them…untill I saw what they really were when it was no longer showtime. I only hope John and Pauline read this and are ashamed of themselves, but I doubt it. And I will always Love and Miss Miesje, Minnie, and Vicky with all my heart…even Alex…I hope you guys are okay.

    <3 Leah

    PS: As to your question…its ridiculous and what made you come up with it is even worse.

  38. Lolligagg3r

    January 25, 2006 @ 3:21 am

    38

    I just want to say that I was at that Block Party with the Circus Family Sardine and I traveled with them for a year. I havent said anything about my experience till now, I feel like I should let you in on it. What the parents did to those kids is abuse to the highest degree. They have used them since they were babies to make money that they never see and whats worse is they didnt teach them anything “school wise”. The whole time I was with them Miesje and Minnie (the youngest girl and boy) picked up a book maybe once or twice. Alex, the oldest of the 2 traveling boys cant read, write, or even spell his name properly. Vicky, the oldest and most literate taught herself and wrote all the time. When thier parents are finally out of the picture they will have nothing to fall back on other than what they have known all their life, street performing, and that is sad. Not only aren’t they literate but they missed out on the chance to live their own life, and Mentally the are screwed up too…I wont get into that. Did I mention there Mother and Father have been keeping the family in America illegally for the past 2 years? They are VERY irresponible and only care about themself and that is what they have taught their kids. Once upon a time I looked up to them…untill I saw what they really were when it was no longer showtime. I only hope John and Pauline read this and are ashamed of themselves, but I doubt it. And I will always Love and Miss Miesje, Minnie, and Vicky with all my heart…even Alex…I hope you guys are okay.

    <3 Leah

    PS: As to your question…its ridiculous and what made you come up with it is even worse.

  39. Lolligagg3r

    January 25, 2006 @ 3:26 am

    39

    Massively Sorry for the triple post! I guess an invisible entity thought it was triple important?

  40. Ash

    July 18, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    40

    I wantd to state that I have also spent time with this family and it is my opinion that they are some of the nicest people I have ever known. Since these children were babies they have been given the oportunity to be the part of a different world then most people. Circus is a wonderful art that they are lucky to be so talented at. As for their schooling, Mysha is the most beautiful, intelligent, opinionated fifteen year old I have ever met. I have graduated high school and she can win arguements with me on any subject with ease. Alex, is a genius and designs little airplanes and boats all the time. He is so smart and impressed my Dad with his engineering smarts, that my Dad said he could hire him at his engineering company. Orion is the single most driven person I have ever met in my life. No matter what he persues in life I no doubt in my mind that he will suceed. This drive speaks for this entire family. The way these children were raised, I believe gives them more opportunity then the average public school student. They have seen so many things and been exposed to so many walks of life that they will know what will truly make them happy, which in my experiance is an impressive feat for young people today. These children are the products of wonderful loving parents who have raised their children to have respect for all people. I have the utmost respect for this family, and schooling or lack their of is a very one sided measurement of opportunity.

  41. Toni Grant

    September 8, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

    41

    As an Certified Etiquette Instructor, I teach table manners and social skills to children, ages 7 through 18, college students and professioal business behavior to adults. I teach children from various faiths, ethnicity and economic backgrounds. Students in my classes are from HS, private Catholic schools, magnet schools, public and parochial schools. What I have found is that we all have hopes for children, and we have an obligation to help them prepare for their grown-up years no matter what their future will hold. Good manners involve more than simply knowing the rules about forks and finger bowls in formal situations…they include good attitudes, respect, and consideration for others everyday. HS children lack this teaching just an any other child does. Knowing what to expect in a social situation eases the mystersy and anxiety for children. Knowing how to teach children to act in social situations is a difficult task. Clearly, manners training in many homes have been neglected. All to often, parents concentrate on developing their children’s talents, skills and interestes,(soccer, ballet, baseball). The finer points of etiquette and life skills are important for every child to know. Demonstrating proper behavior is an essential part of being prepared for life. Whether a child is HS, in the private or public sector, a disservice is done if you send then into the world without good table manners and social habits.

  42. kristy

    March 12, 2007 @ 1:49 am

    42

    Hi, my name is Kristy, I am a 18 yr old female, finishing up senior yr of highschool. I have been home schooled since was born. My parents are christians and they didn’t want to put me or my brothers in the puplic schools, because they didn’t want us to be influenced by all the bad stuff that goes on in the schools(they said). I dont want to sound negative and rude or anything, but I have hated being homeschooled from the very beginning. I begged my parents every single year to let me go to the public school and always their answer was NO, I totally believe what other people say that homeschoolers miss out on social interactions. I have no friends, haven’t for about 4 or 5 yrs now, the neighborhood friends I had moved away when I was like 13 or 14. So I basically was alone all of the time, doing everything by myself or with my family. I have had really no social life at all, I have never been to parties, dances, or just to a movie with a bunch of giggly girlfriends, I have only gone on one date with a guy in my whole life and I haven’t ever had a boyfriend( it’s not that I am ugly or fat or anything it’s just that I dont know any guys my age) when I am in a social situation I tend to shy away and get quiet and I feel like the outsider( I hate it) I have a job as a sales associate at a clothing store, but the people I work with are all older then me like by 5 yrs and they seem like they just want to talk to me at work not hang out togather or anything. It seems like I am always trying to be a friend to other people being nice and everything, but nobody wants to be my friend. I have to say the one BIGGEST REGRET in my life is being FORCED TO BE HOMESCHOOLED. I feel like I am a social outcast and dont belong I am unhappy and have been depressed for about 5 yrs now. If I could ask for anything in this whole world it would be to start back from the beginning, but to start in a public school and have a ton of friends be popular and play in a sport or gymastics or something. I just want to say one more thing if your a parent and are trying to decide if you want to homeschool or put your kid in a publi school, think about your childs feelings and his/her social interactions, if you think you are helping the child from being influenced by bad behaver of peer groups, you are really just sheltering them and when they are actually able to go out into the world they are not going to be developed socially and will not know how to intereact good with peers. They will have a very hard time making friends and will feel like an outsider. I can tell you this from experience, some kids just are not mean’t to be homeschooled for your child sake think very hard and long if you really want to put them threw this! Like one of the posts said, ‘it could do more hurt then good’. I know some kids want to be homeschooled and some enjoy it, but a lot dont and are forced to. I hate being the social outcast, the girl with no friends, the depressed lonely girl that has no life:( Thanks for listening and I hope that no one is angered or mad by my post I just feel like venting I guess hope you all dont mind. Thanks

  43. Kathy

    June 27, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

    43

    Could it be that parents who home school their children spend more time with them teaching manners? My kids go to public school yet have impeccable manners due to my husband and I spending time with them and teaching this to them. It is not a home schooled phenomenon but a parent issue.

  44. Leona

    September 29, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    44

    it’s been quite some time since anyone has commented, but for the sake of anyone reading… here goes…

    regarding kristy’s post…

    i was public-schooled in the same school district k thru 12 (and daycare!)… for most of my school career i had few or no friends… for 8th and 9th i did have a bit of a circle and went to dances, games, etc… but that was short lived. i have only been to a couple birthday parties my whole life and only a few sleepovers. i also was (and is) the one “always trying to be a friend to other people being nice and everything, but nobody wants to be my friend.” school only made my apparent inability to make real friends more painful and depressing. i was an outsider, always trying to “fit in”, whatever that meant… i became sexually active at 14 (very risky!) and started drugs at the same age, i was actually introduced to them by my boyfriend!

    if i could change anything… it would to have not been tortured by public school and the peer pressure to fit in with the “cool” people who i obviously didn’t reflect the type of person i am….

    don’t blame being home-schooled on your social issues… there are obviously other issues at play… maybe depression, social anxiety deserving of diagnosis? i have plenty of experience there….

  45. Christian Homeschooling

    November 30, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

    45

    Perhaps this post should discussed further. Kristy’s is a sad story, but points out the challenges parents face when choosing to homeschool. A LOT of what adults consider “normal teen experiences” are not instantly available to homeschoolers and must be consciously created. Our two boys were homeschooled and we exposed them to lots of social situations with all sorts of age groups. They grew up well adjusted with an easy ability to adapt to many different situations. If we had not made this effort though, the results might have been more like Kristy’s.

    Homeschooling, when done well, can provide social, intellectual, and spiritual benefits that are not available to those in other school settings.

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