Every so often somebody in the world of home education becomes excited because some new piece of research shows that home educated children do better than those at school. The latest study is from America and it does indeed suggest that home educated children there are doing a good deal better than those at American schools. It was conducted by the Home School Legal Defence Association and surveyed over eleven thousand home educated children. What relevance has this to British home education? Well, absolutely none at all really. British and American home education are two completely different things. Let me explain.
The National Centre for Education Statistics in America carried out a huge survey a few years ago, looking at the motivation for home education. Almost 50% of parents gave as their main reason; "Can give child a better education at home". Compare this with Paula Rothermel's paper, The Third Way in Education, published in 2000. The main reasons that parents in Britain gave for home education were; "Having a close family relationship and being together" and also "Having the freedom and flexibility to do what we want, when we want".
See the difference? No mention of education as a reason for home educating. It does not bode well at all. In the NCES survey, another third of American parents gave religion as their main reason for home educating. These people tend to use highly structured and effective programmes such as Accelerated Christian Education with their children. Believe me, these methods get results. No nonsense there about "freedom and flexibility to do what we want"!
It should always be remembered when we flourish some new statistic from the USA about home education, that parents there keep their children away from school so that they can educate them, not so that they can have "a close family relationship and be together". No wonder they get better results educationally.