Homeschooling May Generate More ‘Well-Adjusted, Responsible’ Adolescents

By Victor Westerkamp | November 24, 2021
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James Laurie, aged 8, is assisted in his online work by his mother Laurette as he continues homeschooling, on January 25, 2021, in London, United Kingdom.
James Laurie, aged 8, is assisted in his online work by his mother Laurette as he continues homeschooling, on January 25, 2021, in London, United Kingdom. (Image: LEON NEAL/Getty Images)

A Harvard study suggests that homeschooled children generally grow into “well-adjusted, responsible and socially engaged young adults” — key qualities for a resilient generation to take on the current crisis.

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Researchers from the Harvard Human Flourishing Program, Brendan Case and Ying Chen, presented their analysis based on data from over 12,000 children.

“[I]t seems certain that a sharp increase in homeschooling will be one lasting consequence of the pandemic,” Case and Chen stated, adding that their study group involved mainly well-off, white children.

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Their research was based upon several probes executed among nurses who had school children in grades K-12, between 1999 and 2010. The students are adolescents now.

It analyzed the effect of certain school types on juveniles in terms of various long-term quantifiers, like educational attainment, social integration, and mental health. 

They found that homeschooled students were 23 percent less likely to attend college than public school students. Yet, the study said, they were more socially engaged and “more likely to attend religious services,” than their public school counterparts, the study said.

“Educational attainment matters a great deal, but it would take a peculiarly myopic parent to be indifferent to the loss of these broader goods so long as his child earned a bachelor’s degree,” they noted in their report.

“Parents want their kids to be well-educated and professionally successful, but they also want them to be healthy, happy, and virtuous, “ Case and Chen said. “By this broader measure of success, home schooling has advantages.”

However, they continued, “Among the students we examined, home-schoolers were 33% more likely to volunteer, 31% more forgiving, and 51% more likely to attend religious services in young adulthood than those who attended public school.”

The investigators remarked that children who attend religious services are more apt to lead a successful life and stay away from drugs.

“The difference in religious participation has public-health implications since those who attend services regularly have substantially lower risks of alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide. They also have a lower risk of premature death for any reason than those who never attend.”

Dissenting studies

The researchers in their work mainly sought to debunk a 2020 article in the Washington Post by a fellow professor at Harvard Law School, Elizabeth Bartholet, who voiced dissenting assumptions about homeschooling in general.

In an article to the Harvard Gazette, Bartholet called for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling, arguing that only genuine school-attending peers would receive a “meaningful education.” 

Meanwhile, Bartholet asserted that homeschooled children were more inclined to be subject to “extreme religious ideologues.” She even called out homeschooling parents as “right-wing Christian conservatives” who would be liable to commit physical abuse.

“Over the past decades, right-wing Christian conservatives became the dominant group in terms of numbers, and they completely took over in terms of political activism,” Bartholet wrote.  

“Their power has to do with their ideological fervor, their tactics, and the absence of any significant organized opposition. Many academics and the biggest teachers’ unions in the country have found homeschooling deeply problematic,” she contended.

The way out of the COVID crisis

However, the data paints a bit of a different picture, Chen and Case concluded.

“The picture of the home-schooled student that emerges from the data doesn’t resemble the socially awkward and ignorant stereotype to which Ms. Bartholet and others appeal,” they observed. “Rather, home-schooled children generally develop into well-adjusted, responsible and socially engaged young adults.”

Moreover, Wisconsin homeschooler Tina Hollenbeck, owner of the Homeschool Resource Roadmap and The Christian Homeschool Oasis, deemed blaming “homeschooling” for damaging children’s educational development as “irresponsible,” she told Breitbart last year.

She thinks homeschooling could provide the ideal way out of the current COVID crisis. 

“The best thing that parents can do to minimize the damage of this crisis on their children’s hearts and minds is to decide today that they’ll move from crisis schooling to real homeschooling and never look back.”