In a comment to another question the following assertion was made:

Are you a qualified and trained teacher? Homeschooling would be detrimental if you are not a professional in this industry.

While detrimental means "tending to cause harm" we can probably lower the bar a bit.

Do children homeschooled by those without professional teacher training or specific teaching qualifications have worse outcomes in life than those schooled by professional, trained, and qualified teachers, as found in public education?

While personal experiences are valuable, I'm specifically interested in research or studies show or demonstrate this.

  • 2
    I would edit your title if I were you to be specific in the title that you want research, something like Do studies show homeschooling by non-professionals is detrimental to children?. I think otherwise you will attract many answers (and I forsee this likely hitting hot topics...) that read the title and ignore your request.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 14:43
  • @Joe I don't mind personal experience, and the title is intended to bring interested user to the question rather than pose the entire question. I feel the last sentence in the post is sufficient for my needs.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 14:53
  • 1
    What is your definition of detrimental? For thousands of years, children have been educated by people with no formal education as teachers. They have grown up to be adults, probably in some ways different than the ones who grew up in a state-run or a cloister-run school. How do you define which of these differences is positive and which is negative?
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 14:53
  • @rumtscho I've defined detrimental in the question, then dismissed it and asked instead "Have worse outcomes in life". Are you asking me to define what a successful adult is? I'd love some studies, but I'm guessing that long term studies of this are rare, so I've left the question open to personal experience as well. But there are a myriad of other long term studies that do try to correlate adult outcomes with childhood experiences and try to understand which experiences produce a better adult outcome, so I didn't expect I'd have to define what "worse outcome" meant.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 14:58
  • 1
    I think that worse outcome is too broad -- parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons (quality of schools, child behavior, bullying by peers, content of curriculum, special needs, etc.), and the long-term effects probably depend heavily on that motivation. Also, seeking personal experiences instead of studies will be heavily biased towards parents who homeschool (my experience with public schooled children feels irrelevant) -- and to some extent studies may be biased as well, depending on who's funding them and how they control, but hopefully there is less vested interest there.
    – Acire
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


Do children homeschooled by those without professional teacher training or specific teaching qualifications have worse outcomes in life than those schooled by professional, trained, and qualified teachers, as found in public education? ... I'm specifically interested in research or studies show or demonstrate this.

Studies cost money, usually supplied directly or indirectly by the government, or by interested parties. Since proof of superiority of outcome is not a prerequisite to homeschool, I doubt either the government, educators (who lose money for every child in the district who is being homeschooled), or the parents themselves (who already believe in the superiority of homeschooling for both correct and erroneous reasons) have supplied the considerable money needed for a decent study to be done. On the other hand, educators unfortunately have a vested interest in proving homeschooling is detrimental to children.

Therefore, your request for studies (at least good ones) might be possible, but they will be difficult to find, and studies (of whatever quality) with conflicting results could be found by someone with a particular bias to support.

So, what do we have to work with? How can we infer the value or the harm of homeschooling?

Parental involvement has long been recognized as a primary factor in outcomes of education (i.e. before homeschooling was even a thing).[1]

You can pick your opinion then support it with studies.[3][4][5][6][7]

A notable increase in the number of U.S. families choosing to homeschool their children in recent years has underscored the need to develop more systematic knowledge about this approach to education. Drawing on a theoretical model of parental involvement as well as research on families’ social networks, this study longitudinally examines home- and public-school parents’ motivations for home-based involvement in their fourth through eighth grade children’s education at two time points. The study also examines whether involvement activities predicted student proximal achievement outcomes (academic self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation for learning, and self-regulatory strategy use) across the two groups. Results suggest that parental self-efficacy for involvement, specific invitations from the child, and parent social networks are positively related to home-based parental involvement across the groups, although home- and public-school parents recorded significantly different perceptions of personal self-efficacy, role activity beliefs, social networks, and child proximal achievement outcomes. Findings are discussed with reference to implications for future research and practice.[2]

Personally, I can think of four National Merit Scholar recipients in my son's high school graduation year. Three were homeschooled. Is that how one measures success? I hope not. The public schooled one has a bad relationship with his parents (moved far away, never calls, etc.) but has a good job (did not pursue graduate degree). One of the homeschooled recipients went on to get a PhD in literature from a prestigious university, but is unemployed, and recently got married to another unemployed PhD. The third graduated art school and has a low-paying job drawing comic strips (his dream). The forth finished a degree in art and photography, worked at a low-paying job for a couple of years, then went back to school, and is now happily married and working as a nurse.

All this says to me is that they are like everybody else in this economy.

Are you a qualified and trained teacher? Homeschooling would be detrimental if you are not a professional in this industry.

This is nonsense espoused by someone with a bias against homeschooling. He might believe (without reason)...

...that homeschool parents [are] either move-to-the-country anarchist goat-herders, or right-wing Bible-thumpers, and their children [are] either mathematically-limited, due to Mama's fear of math, or child prodigies in rocket-science who were unthinkably socially hindered.[8]

Your question as asked cannot be answered with authority. If you want to discuss the pros and cons of parent's experiences with homeschool with an eye towards trying to find truth and not simply justification, you'll need to ask a different question. The one you ask now will be long on opinion and short on proof.

[1] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1009048817385
[2] Linking Parental Motivations for Involvement and Student Proximal Achievement Outcomes in Homeschooling and Public Schooling Settings
[3] Differential effects of parental involvement on cognitive and behavioral outcomes by socioeconomic status
[4] The Relationship Between Parental Involvement and Urban Secondary School Student Academic Achievement A Meta-Analysis
[5] Parental Involvement in Homework
[6] Parental Involvement as Social Capital: Differential Effectiveness on Science Achievement, Truancy, and Dropping Out*
[7] Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students
[8] Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us

  • Reflections on a Decade of Changes in Homeschooling and the Homeschooled Into Higher Education This review actually covers a variety of different studies regarding homeschooling. And The Social and Educational Outcomes of Homeschooling refers to even more. So, a variety of studies on homeschooling and it's various effects have been done over the years.
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:34
  • @CreationEdge - It is like any other question. Lots of studies have been done (I included a number myself.) Whether they are decent studies or not (my qualification above), I don't know. Also, what question do they answer? I would have to read them. If you believe they answer the question, posting an answer would probably be much appreciated by the OP. :) Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:39
  • "Therefore, your request for studies (at least good ones) cannot be met." didn't seem to ring true to me. The assertion that none of the existing studies (of which there appear to be many) are good didn't seem to be qualified. The studies I linked to both analyze the merits of some of the existing studies, and seem to conclude that some of them are worthwhile (at least to other researchers!). It wasn't meant to be an answer itself. For that, I'd probably have to dredge up the cited studies and read them instead of these reviews!
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:50
  • 2
    Sorry I keep commenting, but I would add that I agree that there are likely no studies regarding professional homeschooling compared to non-professional homeschooling, as the question specifically asks. Everything out there seems to just compare all homeschooling to traditional homeschooling, and doesn't differentiate between different types of homeschooling.
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:55
  • 1
    I didn't realize they were paid. I just double-checked, and the reason I had full access is because of my University. I never had to sign in, so it must validate my access based on me being signed into my school gmail account.
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:59

This page lists a number of scholarly resources on the subject. However, it's very difficult to compare, because homeschools are not even close to standardized. Homeschoolers often dominate academic events like spelling bees, sports like figure skating (Michelle Kwan), entrepreneurial ventures (Andrew Carnegie), and other fields (Thomas Edison). They have better average scores than public schoolers on standardized tests. Homeschoolers who want to go to college generally excel there as well. On the social front, homeschool graduates have much higher rates of involvement in charities and community projects. Study after study confirms this. Yes, those studies don't separate "professional" homeschoolers from others, but the vast majority of homeschoolers are not professionals.

On the other hand, we have Lindsay Lohan and Adam Lanza. Although in Adam Lanza's case, he was previously in public school for many years and they couldn't handle him either. Most of the worst-case examples of bad homeschooling outcomes would probably have been as bad or worse at school. Same goes for the reverse. How can you know a particular child who did well in school wouldn't do even better in homeschool? It's very difficult to compare with a hypothetical.

Also, many of the positive outcomes are self-selecting. For example, homeschoolers who don't want to go to college don't often bother with standardized tests. Those who aren't good spellers don't try to enter spelling bees.

As far as professional training goes, I have read many anecdotal accounts of public school teachers who found their training almost useless when they decided to homeschool their own children. As Fezzik from Princess Bride said, "You use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people, than when you only have to be worried about one." Contrary to popular belief, most homeschoolers don't have dozens of children :-)

For just one example, grades are utterly irrelevant in homeschool. You either keep working with the child until he achieves mastery, or you drop the topic and come back to it later when he's better prepared.

When we started homeschooling, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about education: how children learn best, how to deal with ADHD, etc. I learn from the same sources a professional educator would. To my great surprise, I found that schools often can't or won't follow their own experts' advice.

When I asked professional educators I know, I found this was an extreme source of frustration to them. They often know methods that would help their students learn better, but their hands are often tied in being able to employ them, because of political or practical considerations. Ironically, homeschoolers are in a much better position to utilize those expert recommendations than professionals are.

For example, I discovered that experts know a 10-minute recess once per hour would solve a good part of the behavior problems ADHD causes in schools. My son's school had one 15-minute recess per day, which he was often held in from due to his ADHD-related behavior problems. Now that he's homeschooled, it's almost a non-issue. He can take as long of a recess as he needs, whenever he needs it.

Some other examples where we're following the professionals' advice better than the professionals can:

  • Each topic is geared to the individual level of challenge they need, at the individual pace they need.
  • We can go into depth on topics our kids are passionate and curious about at the moment. My seven year-old probably knows more about ancient Egypt than I do.
  • We use a computer program that gives instant feedback for math practice, where he often used to fill out entire worksheets incorrectly and not know until the next day or even the next week.
  • Our differentiated instruction is able to be much more targeted.
  • Our kids have many more opportunities to ask clarifying questions. We never have to move on in order to keep to the schedule or to give other kids a chance.
  • Our kids are not overloaded with "homework." They have plenty of time for play, the arts, and family activities.

Do some homeschoolers have worse outcomes than they would have had at public school? Sure, but the statistics are in homeschooling's favor, and I think the outlier cases are mostly due to ideology rather than a lack of training.

  • "[H]omeschools are not even close to standardized." This depends on the state. In my state, homeschoolers have to meet stringent requirements: Goals and Objectives for each subject which must include (but can surpass) the state's G&O, then present proof in the form of test results and schoolwork, papers and projects (representative samples of the work), reading lists, etc. etc. ad infinitum, all under the supervision of a certified teacher who answers to the state. There are no simple answers when it comes to homeschooling. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 18:37
  • You have presented some of the pros (many with which I agree). It would be nice to see some of the cons, too. Finally, any study done by NHERI or HSLDA will be heavily biased. I think the HSLDA has done much to sully the image of homeschooling in the US. Can homeschooling be done by non-professionals? Yes, it is done by millions every day. How well is it done? That depends on what one is measuring and how. Do most homeschooled children do better than if public schooled? Again, that depends on what outcome one is looking at. There are no easy answers. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 18:41
  • 1
    @anongoodnurse State-by-state laws is a good point. Unfortunately, you reminded me that I'll have to keep the state in mind when pursuing my first post-Bachelor's job. My current state is pretty laid back and barely requires a form, but the state that pays the most (that I'm willing to move to) requires yearly forms and standardized testing (but not the results of those tests, just that you incur the cost of having taken them). What a hassle!
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 18:55
  • 1
    @anongoodnurse, I did mention the self-selection bias. I'll leave it to others to present other cons. There are certainly no shortage of critics. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 19:38
  • 1
    @AndreasBonini Here's an excerpt from an article I linked to on anongoodnurse's answer: "As revealed above in the discussion of the socialization storyboard, recurring concern appears in the literature that because of their isolation, homeschooled children will be stifled socially and will not develop the skills they need to engage effectively with others. The empirical evidence available to date suggests that at a minimum this concern is likely overblown and more likely is without foundation (Dahlquist et al. 2006; Medlin 2000)." There is a large section in that article on social outcomes.
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 2:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .