Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pediatricians and homeschoolers

Recently Contemporary Pediatrics magazine published an article about homeschooling patients. While, most of the information was factual and positive, a few statements caught my eye that I wanted to discuss.

"Homeschooled children do not have the benefit of the secondary screening that most public school districts provide. Because teachers spend so much time with students, they can often recognize health and educational problems before parents and physicians notice them."

My immediate thought was that if a parent is spending 12 hours a day with their own child then they are much more likely to notice a problem than some overworked teacher. I have often heard of real learning difficulties and physical problems found by a parent long before teachers noticed. No, parents that homeschool do not have kids line up in for eye tests or scoliosis screenings, but they listen to them read aloud, watch them bend and twist, and point out objects in the car.

"Public schools across the country have taken the responsibility for:
assessing vision and hearing, providing sex education, teaching healthy eating habits and the importance of regular physical activity, recognizing learning disabilities, behavioral problems or possible abuse, and ensuring that immunizations are complete."

Because public schools have usurped the role of parents in many areas of health care does not mean that that those of us outside the public school system need to be viewed suspiciously by our physicians. Subsidiary is the Catholic concept that a decision should be handled by the smallest unit possible. Members of a family should teach healthy eating habits, the importance of exercise, sexuality, correct the behavior of children, and keep up to date heath records, not a government entity.

"No short-or long-term controlled scientific studies have evaluated the performance outcomes of children who are homeschooled compared to those who attend public or private schools. Consequently, little is known about homeschooled students' comparative educational achievement, emotional well-being, and quality of life. What comparisons have been published of homeschoolers and their public school peers are mostly cross-sectional and descriptive.
They report that homeschoolers: perform better academically score higher in all standardized grade level tests attend college at the same rate as their public school peers. A 1997 survey by Dr. Ray of 16,000 homeschooled children in grades K-12, found that the students' scores on nationally-normed standardized achievement exams were above the national average, and 54.7% had individual scores in the top 25% of the population."
So, homeschooled children score above average, attend college at the same rate, and are more socially involved as adults than their public school peers. Why then do we need to read a 6 page article saying how physicians need to "be vigilant in monitoring their socialization"?


Lorri said...

Wow. We -as a nation- have really put a lot of responsibility on the public schools. In return we have taken so many decisions away from the parents. Is it any wonder that our schools are in such trouble when they have so much parenting to do instead of schooling. They have taken over much that used to be the parents' job, which is why you see so many people chosing to take back that responsibility along with the education of their children.

Jenny in Ca said...

I'm wondering if the un-said message of the article was be more vigilant because the schools won't catch the kids being abused if not in school?

It flat out makes no sense that a parent who chooses to home educate their child and spends a whole lot of time with the child, would miss problems the child might be having, but that a teacher in a room of 30 kids would notice.

the article is frustrating on many levels. Thanks for pointing it out.

Dianna said...

Well, this would explain why our kids doctor rubbed me the wrong way when I told her that we are now homeschooling. She started asking my kids all sorts of invasive questions that she never asked them before finding out. It was so irritating to me that I've considered changing doctors.