Sitting in the park with your two young children in the middle of the afternoon, you give them a lesson about nature, pointing to the clouds. Some guy walking his dog comes up to you and asks you why your children aren’t in school. “This IS school”, you explain to him. He doesn’t get it. As he walks away, he shakes his head and criticizes you, telling you that your children will never be able to make it society. Don’t worry. He is wrong.
Homeschooling laws vary widely across states. Not all states require or enforce that parents inform the government of their homeschooling activities, nor are standardized exams necessarily part of the homeschooling curriculum. Therefore it is sometimes very difficult to determine the success rate of homeschooled children in the “real world”, as uniform information is hard to collect and there are precious few objective studies about homeschooled children. However, data is starting to trickle in, and the results are encouraging for parents who are concerned that their choice to homeschool may be having a long-term negative impact on their children's ability to be successful in life.
How many children are being homeschooled?
Homeschooling as an alternative form of education in the United States has become a widely viable option for parents. The number of children being homeschooled has risen dramatically in recent years. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, which is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, in 2007 the number of children being homeschooled had reached 1.5 million. From 1999 to 2007, the number of homeschooled children increased by 74%.  Homeschooling is no longer considered to be an “odd” choice in the U.S.
The elephant in the room: socialization
One of the broadest criticisms that the entire concept of homeschooling faces is that of the socialization of children, or the perceived lack thereof. How can children become fully functioning members of society if they are isolated from other school children? If they have never had to deal with a schoolyard bully how will they ever be able to cope with a nasty co-worker? If they have never had to eat lunch with other children, how will they ever learn to make friends or form relationships?
Again, it is very difficult to point to organized studies regarding the successful socialization of homeschooled children and really no concrete way to tell how they will cope with certain social situations in the future. However, there is one study that is widely cited in the literature, and that is the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) survey conducted in 2003, which is a very active pro-homeschooling organization. Although the bias of the study ought to be taken under consideration, it did yield some interesting results regarding the habits and the participation in society of homeschooled children once they reach adulthood.
Parents who choose to homeschool their children are running against the currents of society already, so it is of no surprise that the NHERI study shows that homeschooled children are a bit non-conformist. This is not to say that homeschooled children are not socialized. On the contrary - according to the study they are more likely to be considerably more involved in social and civic activities than are non-homeschooled children. 
What about academic performance? Homeschooling versus formal schooling
If parents homeschooling their kids are concerned that their kids are falling behind in test scores, they need not worry. Studies have consistently shown that homeschooled kids perform comparatively well on exams, and sometimes even better than their formally educated peers. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are mixed results for homeschoolers versus formally schooled students on SAT and ACT test scores for the year 1999 in math, but higher than average scores in English and writing.  Smaller statistical examples yield very similar results.  Increasingly, colleges and universities are accepting homeschooled children, including Harvard and Yale.
Homeschooled children are not necessarily withheld from other children and society. With more and more children being homeschooled, there is also a considerably vast network of resources available to parents to ensure that their children are properly socialized. In lieu of scientific data, to know if homeschooled children are being prepared for the challenges of the real world, you need only take the time to talk to a mother who homeschools. Surely you will discover that although the choice may seem to be an odd or even controversial one, the dedication she demonstrates to her child and the time she takes to ensure that the child becomes a fully functioning member of society will certainly be evident.
Should I Homeschool?
Theravive supports both public education and homeschools as two completely viable options for the education of your children. The answer really depends on you and your child. For every bad example someone can give of homeschooling, there are probably 10 examples of failed public education. It is no secret that within public education there are many problems and failures. Some public school districts are very successful at educating our children, and others are not good at all. Some high schools turn our children who are well equipped to make it in college and be successful. Other high schools have kids graduate who are not even able to read, let alone go on to college. It really depends on the school district to know how effective your local school is at education children in your area, and how viable homeschooling may be for you. Homeschooling also takes tremendous commitment from parents, and so it is definitely not for everyone. We recommend you do your due diligence and consider all sides before making the decision for your child.
 [“Fast facts: Homeschooling” http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91]
 [“The Facts Are In: Homeschoolers Excel”,By Chris Klickahttp://www.home-school.com/Articles/the-facts-are-in-homeschoolers-excel.php]
 [“Homeschooling” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling]
 [“A Study of Home School Graduates Graduates and Traditional School Graduates”
by Dr. Paul Jones and Dr. Gene Gloeckner http://inpathways.net/homeschool-study.pdf]
Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at - theravive.com.