Does Homeschooling Improve Social Competencies and Creative Thinking among Children?
Homeschooling has grown phenomenally during the past 30 years around the world, and especially during the past two years. For example, the number of home-educated children in grades K-12 in the United States grew from an estimated 2.65 million during 2019-2020 to 3.72 million during 2020-2021 (Ray, 2021). In the eastern hemisphere, as another example, “The number of homeschooling families approved by the Israel Ministry of Education increased by 700% from 2005 through 2019” (Madara & BenDavid-Hadar, 2021).
Numerous studies have examined the demographics and academic achievement of home-educating families and the students (e.g., Ray, 2017). An increasing number of scholars have become focused on an increasingly wider variety of topics with respect to homeschooling. Recently, Michal Unger Madara and Iris BenDavid-Hadar probed the social competencies and creative thinking of home-educated children. This brief review will touch upon only the former topic in the study.
The researchers aimed to evaluate the social competencies of homeschool children. There are two components of social competencies. One “… is adaptive behavior, defined as a collection of conceptual, social, and practical abilities that a person has learned in order to function in daily life as well as communicate with the environment” (p. 9). Abilities included here are “… self-functioning, daily skills, use of community resources (transportation, shopping malls, ability to activate control-and- audit mechanisms), social intelligence, and cognitive competencies that enable an individual to develop mutual relations with others in diverse situations and in ways acceptable to society” (p. 9). The other component is related to emotional intelligence. It deals with “… how people interact with others in different situations and in socially accepted ways. This is a skill that benefits both the individual and others and is related to emotional intelligence …” (p. 9).
Social competencies was the explained variable and was measured by using the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) questionnaire. This instrument is used to examine levels of social competencies and social behaviors among children ages 3 to 18. The SSRS consists of five subscales: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Control.
The explanatory variables were (a) child’s background variables (i.e., sex, age, and country of origin), (b) parents’ background variables (i.e., education, number of children; and (c) background variables of the community (i.e., residential area). The mediating or independent variable was homeschooling or public schooling. Six regression models examined the relationships between the variables.
None of the background variables was statistically significant in terms of explaining variance in social competencies. Simple regression results explained social competencies according to type of education (β = 0.39*** [p < .001])”; “… homeschooled students have a higher level of social competencies than students attending public schools” (p. 18). Furthermore, the differences in social competencies were retained even after statistically controlling for student background variables. Further, the scholars found that “… the greater the number of siblings, the higher the level of social competencies of homeschooled students” (p. 18).
Citing others’ research, scholars Madara and BenDavid-Hadar point out that some persons attribute the development of social competencies to attending public and private institutional schools. On the other hand, they point out the following,
“Schools also have major social disadvantages, including bullying and peer victimization. Research shows that young people who were frequently victimized and bullied as children are liable to use drugs and other substances during adolescence and even to develop mental health issues …” (p. 19).
The researchers conclude that in their study, “… homeschoolers exhibited higher achievements on social competency indices than their counterparts attending traditional schools” (p. 20) and their data showed “… that 96% of the [home-educated] children participate in some activity at least one hour a week and socialize with children of different ages,” which is consistent with other studies.
Finally, the researchers conclude that their “… study shows that homeschooling may be more effective in terms of developing creative thinking and social competencies than traditional learning. Therefore, it can offer a high-quality alternative to public education or private schools for those who choose it.” (p. 21).
This is a well-planned, -executed, and –reported study. The area of the social competencies and creative thinking of the homeschooled has been explored in a very limited number of studies and this piece is a stellar addition to the research base.
Madar, Michal Unger; & BenDavid-Hadar, Iris. (2021). Does home schooling improve creative thinking and social competencies among children? Home schooling in Israel. Journal of School Choice, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15582159.2021.1977584
Ray, Brian D. (2017). A systematic review of the empirical research on selected aspects of homeschooling as a school choice. Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, 11(4), 604-621, https://www.nheri.org/a-systematic-review-of-the-empirical-research-on-selected-aspects-of-homeschooling-as-a-school-choice/
Ray, Brian D. (2021, July 1). Research facts on homeschooling, https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/