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article imageCan homeschooling give kids an edge?

By Elizabeth Cunningham Perkins     Sep 11, 2011 in World
Researchers from Mount Allison University and Concordia University studied 74 Canadian children, half homeschooled and half attending public schools, and wrote that structured homeschooling with a curriculum can give kids an extra academic boost.
Under supervision of the research team, the 74 children between five and ten years old, who lived in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, were administered seven standardized tests of academic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, and the homeschooled kids achieved the highest scores, ScienceDaily reported:
To rule out family-related factors that could explain differences found between the two samples, the researchers questioned the mothers of both sets of kids about the number of children in the family, marital status, education, employment and household income.
A subgroup of 12 homeschooled children in the study were taught through "unschooling" -- an unstructured method, without textbooks, teachers or formal assessment.
The researchers found: children taught in structured home settings scored highest overall, and significantly higher than the children in unstructured homeschooling, and the children educated in public schools also scored higher average test grades than their "unschooled" peers.
The team concluded the homeschooling advantage could be explained by a few key factors: more individualized instruction, smaller class sizes, and extra time spent on core subjects.
This study's findings, suggesting that structured homeschooling can give children an academic edge, have been published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science.
Acknowledging the important role public schools play in socializing children, lead author Professor Sandra Martin-Chang of Concordia's Department of Education noted this research is one of the first "non-partisan" studies to compare public schooling and home education, and stated, "...compared to public education, homeschooling can present advantages such as accelerating a child’s learning process."
Only about one percent of Canadian children are homeschooled, based upon 2008 National Center for Education Statistics estimates, and about 1.5 million (or 2.9 percent) of U.S. children are homeschooled, according to the researchers.
A U.S. Census Bureau working paper published in August 2001 estimated that up to 2 million children in the United States were homeschooled, and stated homeschooling was already a rapidly growing trend with a larger-than-expected influence on education systems.
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