Why Homeschool Through High School

Dr. Jay L. Wile

In the early 1990s, I didn’t have children of my own, but I had experience with homeschool graduates in my university chemistry and physics courses. They were excellent students, and they made me want to learn more about homeschooling. As a result, I began working with homeschooling families. Along the way, my wife and I adopted a teenager and began homeschooling her. So homeschooling has been an important part of my life for more than 20 years. Through my own personal experience and the research done by others, I have become convinced that the best option available for most students is to educate them at home, all the way through high school.

One of the reasons is simple. On average, homeschooled students get a significantly better education than their peers. So if you want to give your child the best high school education possible, homeschooling is probably your best option. However, there are other reasons.

Consider, for example, the issue of socialization. Those who are inexperienced with homeschooling worry that homeschooled students are not well socialized. However, the research shows quite the opposite. In a detailed review of the research available on the subject, Dr. Richard G. Medlin (Professor of Psychology at Stetson University) reports:

"Compared to children attending conventional schools, however, research suggests that they [homeschooled students] have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults. They are happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives. Their moral reasoning is at least as advanced as that of other children, and they may be more likely to act unselfishly. As adolescents, they have a strong sense of social responsibility and exhibit less emotional turmoil and problem behaviors than their peers. Those who go on to college are socially involved and open to new experiences. Adults who were homeschooled as children are civically engaged and functioning competently in every way measured so far."
This isn’t surprising if one considers the differences between homeschooling and traditional schooling. In a traditional school, children are cloistered away in ghettos, surrounded by children their same age and roughly their same socioeconomic status. Homeschooled children, however, are constantly surrounded by children of varying ages. They spend a lot of time with their siblings, and they are usually involved in small-group activities that include other homeschooling families which come from all over. In other words, their social experiences are more realistic than those of children who attend traditional schools. It’s no wonder that they are better socialized than their peers.

Another reason to homeschool through high school is so that you can properly monitor your children’s peer group. The older a student gets, the more influence the peer group exerts. As a result, it is important that your high school children be surrounded by peers who will help them to become better people. Unfortunately, it is hard to do this if you send your child to school. You might think you are exposing your children to a more positive peer group if you send them to a Christian school, but that’s not necessarily the case. As Dr. Fred Worth (Professor of Mathematics at Henderson State University) writes, “Let me clearly say that this is one area where my observations show virtually no difference between Christian schools and government schools. The same peer attitudes show up among Christian school children as those in government school.”

My father spent several years as the assistant superintendent of one of Indiana’s maximum security prisons. One of his duties was to interview new inmates. In each interview, one of the questions he asked the inmate was, “If you could tell your parents one thing that would have helped them raise you so you wouldn’t end up here today, what would it be?” He said that the vast majority of his inmates answered with something along the lines of, “monitor my friends more carefully.” In today’s society, I don’t know how to monitor your children’s peer group carefully without homeschooling them.

But if you really want to learn why you should homeschool through high school, read the words of a real expert. In a letter written to a high school student who wanted to stop homeschooling, homeschool graduate Sharnessa Shelton wrote:

"I came out of [homeschool] with the desire to learn even more, with an awesome relationship with God, with strong relationships with my family (you'll realize how important that really is), with more maturity (than my peers), with solid character, strong morals, values, and standards, and with true friendships...I think that, by homeschooling, I was able to escape the superficiality that's so predominant in the public school scene, and build on the areas and friendships that would (and have) last(ed). I am so blessed to have the parents I have...Not many are willing to give up their time so their kids can have the ultimate experience in education, and I have many friends who wished theirs would've. Don't take it for granted. It's one of the greatest gifts you'll ever receive!"
w I am not saying that if you homeschool through high school, your child is going to write a letter like that. However, if you look at what this young lady wrote, you will find all the characteristics I wanted to instill in my daughter during her high school years. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to homeschool through high school.