Impact of early homeschooling on students’ academic achievement at high school education


Traditional or institutional schools where students receive education from teachers formally trained in teaching generally and in specific subject areas especially, are common almost everywhere around the world.  As opposed to traditional schools, homeschools are not very common.  In homeschooling, parents do not send their kids to schools but instead teach them at home.  Homeschools are most common in United States of America and the number of homeschooled children has continuously been on the rise for the last around 30 years.  According to Ray (2011), the number of homeschool children in United States was reported to be more than 2.04 million as per 2010 data growing from 1.5 in 2007. Since these children may join higher education institutions and colleges of formal education after having initial education at homes, this increasing number calls for special attention of the education researchers, academicians and education administrators (Bagewell, 2010).  The purpose of this literature review is to find out the relationship between early years homeschooling of children and their academic achievement in formal schooling and/or higher education. The review will analyze the literature to check if the relationship is encouraging or discouraging and will try to list the reasons behind this relationship. The review will also try to establish a comparison between homeschooled students and traditional school students based on their performance on standardized tests, and academic performance in further education at colleges and universities.

The increasing trend of homeschooling and homeschooled children calls for the attention and appropriate actions from the authorities regarding homeschooling as well as traditional schooling systems.

Academic achievement in formal schooling and/or higher education degrees is a dependent variable in this research because the review will try to find how it is related to or is being affected by early homeschooling. In this sense, homeschooling and traditional schooling will be treated as Independent variables. The following research questions are raised to guide the review:

  1. How does early years’ homeschooling relate to academic achievement of homeschooled children in formal schooling and higher education?
  2. How do homeschool children compare to formal schooled children in terms of academic achievement in higher education.
  3. What are the reasons for good/bad academic achievement of homeschooled children compared to formal schooled students?

Next section will review published literature to answer these questions, explain implications of these findings and conclude on the comparison of two types of schooling.


Literature Review

The homeschool framework in education sector of USA established by Raymond Moore has not only gained popularity but also has become a major movement in the education sector of our days. Homeschooling has since then been recognized and numerous researchers and educationists anticipate about the likelihood of this modern type of education system. Bielick, Chandler, and Broughman (2001) hypothesized a majority as thinking that homeschooled children do not have the opportunity to socialize and hence trail backward in terms of social concerns; however, Windley and Klebanoy (2006) demonstrated that homeschooled children have more socializing power than traditionally schooled counter parts. Similarly Blok (2004) found that homeschool children are as social as traditionally schooled children in addition to the find that they perform better than traditionally schooled students. Homeschooling has been showing an increasing trend in United States of America. Bielick (2008) reports the 2007 findings of Parent and Family Involvement (PFI) in education survey which collected data about students aged 5 – 17 years and studying Kindergarten to Grade 12. Out of 10681 students 290 were found homeschooling. Weightage calculations showed around 51, 135, 000 students of 5 – 17 age group in homeschooling. Comparing these estimates to the National Household Education Survey Program (NHES) 1999 – 2003 showed a highly increasing trend in homeschooling in USA.

There are several reasons behind the increasing trend in homeschooling. Bielick (2008) found parents prefer homeschooling over traditions schooling due to three reasons; parents’ are concerned about the traditional school environment, parents concerns regarding religious education as they think the religion is ignored in the curriculum or its not given appropriate importance, and parents’ dissatisfaction with the poor instructional resources and lack of adequate instructional facilities.

However, homeschooling is also not free of negative criticism among the researchers’ community. Benson and Kosonen (2013) found various negative opinions about homeschooling systems through their electronic questionnaire survey from university students. The respondents reported several drawback of the homeschooling. It was found that according to the respondents, the cost of buying textbooks is quite high as parents have to pay a premium price for them. Educational modules requirements can be even more expensive for the parents as they would require to dedicate more time and money to field trips, project materials, and computing facilities etc. Lines (2009) also questions the competency of parents or assigned tutors as they might not be able to teach all subjects. Furthermore, it is challenging for working parents to dedicate more time to teach and monitor their children. Benson and Kosonen (2013) found 65% of the participants believing that homeschooling produces students with poor social development skills.

Academic achievement of Home School students and traditionally schooled students

Many researchers show that homeschooled students perform better compared to the traditionally schooled children on many high achievement tests and show better academic performance. However, this better performance has been questioned by some researchers who have presented some research outcomes which show that parental educational attainment and family social capital play role and determine the academic performance of homeschooled students.

Rudner (1999) summarizes the demographic characteristics and academic achievement results for more than 20,000 homeschoolers. Data of 20,960 students representing 11930 families was collected for this study. For demographic data, parents were asked to fill a questionnaire “Voluntary Home-School Demographic Survey”, while students took Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITB) if they were K-8 and Test of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP) if they were in grade 9. This study reported exceptionally high achievement scores on high school achievement tests, by homeschool students as compared to regular school students. Moreover, students who were homeschooled for their entire life show higher scholastic achievement test scores than others. Similarly, Blok (2004) surveyed the available literature published after 1985 to analyze the differences in performance and academic achievement of homeschooled children. This literature based research analyzes secondary sources to study the developmental processes taking place in both homeschooled and traditional school children. This quantitative study uses literature from relevant research databases of social sciences by using search terms like homeschool, homeschooling, home education and academic achievement. Due to limited available literature, this study also considered homeschooling websites to find related publications. In order to establish significant findings about the developmental process among homeschool children as well as regular school children, this study included eight studies on development of homeschooled children. The most significant conclusion of this study is that homeschool children perform better than children going to regular schools in terms of cognitive domains. Moreover, when it comes to socioemotional development, the differences/gaps are very insignificant. Ray (2004) puts forward many important findings from literature regarding several aspects of Homeschooling. In this 2004 version of his research literature review, Ray not only lists the reasons why parents prefer to homeschool their children, characteristics of homeschooled children, their parents and their contextual environment, but also provides very important insights on the academic performance and cognitive development of homeschooled students. His findings related to academic performance of homeschooled children are very significant to this literature review. As a result of 20 years of research by Ray considering populations from single states to across the US and Canada, Ray found that homeschool children perform better than traditionally educated children from regular schools. He established that homeschooled children performed on the average 65th to 80th percentile while children from regular schools performed merely 50th percentile on the same standardized academic achievement tests.

Although many researchers have found that homeschooled children perform better compared to their traditionally schooled counterparts. However, these findings are subject several limitations. Collom (2005) is a quantitative study carried out at southern Californian, homeschoolers managed home charter. This homeschool is an organized effort of parents who prefer to homeschool their children instead of sending them out to regular schools. Primarily teachers or instructors are parents in this school and it entertains 551 homeschooled children representing 330 families. Data gathered from this organized group of homeschoolers investigated two aspects of homeschooling. Firstly, the study analyzed the collected data to determine the factors which motivate parents to opt for homeschooling their children instead of sending them to regular schools. Secondly, the factors that determine the academic achievement of homeschoolers were identified. Regression analysis was used on the collected data for the stated purposes. The study found that parental educational attainment has an important role in their homeschooled children’s academic achievement.  The parental educational attainment was positively and significantly related to students’ academic achievement. Hence the academic achievement of homeschooled children is dependent upon the educational attainment of their parents which means that homeschooling is beneficial in case of high parental educational attainment and can badly impact the academic achievement of homeschooling children in otherwise case.

Parcel and Dufur (2001) is another quantitative research study based on primary data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and Child-Mother data from 1992 till 1994. Sample of study included 2203 students tested for reading recognition and 2034 for math achievement. This research investigated the effects of family and school capital on academic performance of homeschooled students in the subjects of mathematics and reading proficiency. Subjects of the study included children from 1st grade to 8th grade. Results of analysis found that family capital (human, financial, social) has stronger effects on students’ academic achievement in homeschooling.

Homeschooled students and Higher Education

Research shows several drawbacks as well as benefits of homeschooling. Homeschooling in junior grades in many cases is easily within the intellectual reach of the parents. However, questions arise about the future of such children. The major concern of many researchers has been whether homeschooled children are able to stay at par with or excel the traditionally schooled children when they go for further higher education and when they are made to sit in the formal educational environment. The questions stems from the fact that commonly homeschooling does not provide children the opportunity to socialize and work in groups with their peers. Secondly, they are being taught by parents who do not have any formal trainings in teaching various curricula. This part of the review will analyze literature to find about the academic performance of homeschooled students in higher education.

Cogan (2010) carried out an exploratory investigation of academic achievement of homeschooled students in a doctoral higher education institution. Data used in this research was extracted from census file of the institution. One dataset consisting of 7,776 freshman students admitted in 2004 and 2009. These included 76 previously homeschooled students. The second dataset included the same group of students (6,424) excluding 2009 class. This included 70 homeschooled students. While the 3rd dataset comprising all freshman (2,488) entering the institution between 2004 and 2005 including 27 homeschooled students. Their analysis reveals that homeschool students show good GPAs and graduation rates compared to regular school students. However, binary logistic regression of the same data, with the same control variables, does not show a significant difference between homeschoolers and regular school students. The findings of this study show that homeschool students are at an extra-advantage or at least as advantaged as traditionally schooled students when they go for higher education. This study adds unique dimension to the investigation by providing evidence on long term positive effects of homeschooling on the academic achievement of the homeschooled students, which is very encouraging.

Wessel, Bolle, and Mulvihill (2007) investigated the experiences of homeschooled students who get enrolled into colleges. As homeschooled children have never been in a school environment with traditional pedagogical practices, college environment is totally new for them. The authors carried out qualitative research to find out to what extent does this new experience influences the homeschooled students as compared to the traditionally schooled students. The study found that college experience had not been much different for homeschooled students in comparison to the traditionally schooled students in terms of academic performance and activities. They had little issues with the new transition in terms of academics. Some of the students reported problems of loneliness, meeting with new people with different values, and meeting higher levels of interdependence. The authors however explained that orientations, assistance, guidance, and gatherings proved to be useful interventions to deal with such issues for homeschooled students. Snyder (2011) is yet another study to evaluate the academic performance of homeschooled students in higher education in comparison to students coming from traditional educational settings. This study was carried out at a Catholic university in South Florida where around 30% of the current students had been homeschooled. A total of 408 students’ data was analyzed including 137 from public schools, 142 from Catholic schools and 129 homeschooled students. To measure the differences in academic performance, SAT, ACT, College GPA, GPA by major and core GPA were considered for analysis. The results showed significant differences between homeschooled students and traditionally schooled students in ACT, SAT and overall GPAs. Basham, Merrifield, and Hepburn (2001) also reported encouraging long term effects of homeschooling. Their analysis concluded that Canadian home-schooled students reported a higher life satisfaction score compared to students from traditional schooling. An interesting outcome of American studies on homeschooling found signs of a wide range of non-academic benefits from home schooling.


The above literature review shows that despite some of the limiting factors that some of the sources have stated, homeschooled students in majority of the studies have been found at advantage over the students who study at formal schools in terms of their academic achievement on achievement tests as well as in higher education. Moreover, the review also finds that the vast majority of parents prefer homeschooling for their children based on socio, ethnic, and religious reasons which calls for an attention from the educational policy makers to focus in formal schools.

Since the number of homeschooled children is showing an increasing trend for years now, the government and policy makers should focus on providing opportunities for the parents to get trained in specific teachings kills, as well as to overcome other limitations in order for their children to be able to have all the benefits of formal schooling in addition to those of homeschooling that they are already enjoying.

Since parental educational attainment has been found to be significantly related to the academic achievement of homeschooled students, government just take initiatives to help parents with lower educational attainments as well as a collaborative environment must be created with highly educated parents and teachers to overcome the difficulties of the parents with lower educational attainment.



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Benson,  C. J., & Kosonen,  K. (2013). Language issues in comparative education: Reasons for homeschooling in Canada. Rotterdam: SensePublishers.

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Blok, H. (2004). Performance in home schooling: an argument against compulsory schooling in the Netherlands. International review of Education,50(1), 39-52.

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Lines,  P. M., & Educational Resources Information Center (U.S.). (2009). Estimating the home schooled population. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Educational Resources Information Center.

Parcel, T. L., & Dufur, M. J. (2001). Capital at home and at school: Effects on student achievement. Social Forces79(3), 881-911.

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