Research Articles

Journal of Early Childhood Research, Vol. 2, No. 3, 273-299 (2004)
DOI: 10.1177/1476718X04046650
© 2004 SAGE Publications

Home-education : Comparison of home-and school-educated children on PIPS baseline assessments

Paula Rothermel, University of Durham,

This article reports on the performance of reception-aged, home-educated children. Media reports tend to focus on older home-educated children withdrawing from school but very little is known about younger children many of whom have never been to school.

This research sought insight into the learning experience of these young children. The study involved 35 home-educated children aged between four and five years of age, from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The children were assessed using the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (Start and End of Reception).

Whilst the home-educated children outscored their school counterparts, those from lower socio-economic groups outperformed their middle class peers. It appeared that a flexible approach to education, and a high level of parental attention and commitment, regardless of their socioeconomic group and level of education, seemed the most important factors in the children’s development and progress.

Home-Education: Rationales, Practices and Outcomes

Paula Rothermel, University of Durham, UK, 2002

Findings within the research further indicate that:

·  Socio-economic class is not an indicator of achievement levels: whilst the home-educated children outscored their school counterparts, those from lower socio-economic groups outperformed their middle class peers.
·  In this study, parental level of education did not limit the children’s attainment. Whilst 47.5% of parents had attended university, at least 27.7% of parents in the study had not.
·  Common to all families involved was their flexible approach to education and the high level of parental attention received by the children. Children benefited from the freedom to develop their skills at their own speed. Thus, parental input and commitment, regardless of their socio-economic group and level of education, may be the most important factor in children’s development and progress.
·  About half the children in the study had never been to school.
·  Children on a continual and gradual learning curve may benefit over those who are educated with the ‘stop and start’ process of school terms and school changeovers: academic results from this research suggest that the apparent leap in progress made by children when they enter school (Tymms, Merrell and Henderson 1997) may not be so beneficial as learning on a gentle incline from birth.
·  This study raises the question of why is there so much current emphasis on external provision when this may be inferior to what parents can provide in a home-based setting.
·  The term home-education is actually misleading. Home was very much a base from which activities could be planned. There was no evidence to suggest that any families used the home in the way that a school uses a classroom.
·  Despite excelling in the academic assessments, the home-educated children tended not to engage in formal study. There was evidence of these children picking up reading, maths and other skills without systematic instruction.
·  Families tended to value life skills over academic ones, listing competence in interpersonal, communication and discussion skills together with moral and social awareness, responsibility, self esteem, motivation and independence, as skills they believed their children developed by being home-educated. Thus, whilst the academic assessments showed how well these children could perform, they gave no indication of the type and breadth or depth of education these children were engaged in.

·  Children who learn at home appear to develop very different skills from those learning in school. Such children integrate easily into a variety of social settings and are accustomed to taking responsibility within their families and to motivating themselves in their day to day activities. The findings from the psychosocial assessments have implications for how psychologists, welfare officers and social services judge home-educated children, that is, such children need to be viewed within different parameters to those used with schoolchildren; the skills of one are not necessarily beneficial to the other and vice versa.

·  The tailored curriculum that these families adopted meant that they could mix and match whatever learning and social opportunities they most valued. They could take advantage of education discounts and visit museums, swimming pools, libraries etc. when there were no crowds, whilst also, if they wanted, opting into home-education get-togethers, afterschool classes and other activities where there was plenty of opportunity to be with other children.

·  For half the sample home-education was a lifestyle choice. Families valued the freedom and flexibility that home-education brought them and many families reported not having realised that home education would be so fulfilling and so much fun.

Home schooling improves academic performance and reduces impact of socio-economic factors
Release Date: October 04, 2007

Some statistics from New Zealand:

Statistics from overseas:

You can find an assortment of studies here:

Go to the Hefnetnz website, ,
click on the files menu item on the left,
and the first item up should have a title, “12 pages of research quotes.pdf”.

A questioning view of the rigour/validity of some homeschooling research:

Last comment of article :
Is there much difference between a homeschooling parent who wants to ensure that her kids believe what she does about Genesis and a public school system that wants to be sure its charges believe what it does about natural selection?  We’re all in the indoctrination business, whether it be the principles of fundamentalist Protestantism, Enlightenment liberalism, or what-have-you.

“Home schooling is a defensive strategy initiated to ensure that their children are not subjected to the torment that defined their childhoods” (17).

Many homeschooled children, freed from the overscheduling of their lives by adults and immersion in technologically-mediated entertainment during lulls in the schedule, are given space to acquire the personal depth that solitude alone can impart.

 Rob Reich, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education: The Case of Homeschooling”, 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 30-September 2, 2001,
This essay is included in: Political and Moral Education, NOMOS XLIII, Stephen Macedo and Yael Tamir, eds., NewYork: New York University Press, 2002.

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