Home educated children display healthy socio-emotional development

handen recht op thuisonderwijs

‘The term socio-emotional development is in vogue. It essentially refers to the process through which children learn to interact with others – the social component – and to cope with their own emotions such as joy, sadness and anger – the emotional component.’

Source: JSW volume 89, number 1, ‘Is school really so important for socio-emotional development?’

Research indicates healthy socio-emotional development

There is a persistent preconceived idea that the socio-emotional development of home educated children is less smooth than that of school-going children. Luckily, the socio-emotional development of home educated children requires no such speculation: it has been thoroughly studied, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The many available studies at the disposal of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science all consistently show that home education is a fully valid form of education which delivers good results both from a cognitive and from a socio-emotional perspective; results that are comparable with those of education in school [1,2]. In addition, studies have also shown that the flexibility and individual approach of home education make it a highly suitable form of education for children with special learning needs [1], such as children with learning problems [3] and gifted children [4].

School is not the only place where a child can develop socio-emotionally

In his letter, State Secretary Dekker expresses his concern about the socio-emotional development of our children. The State Secretary is of the opinion that only schools can help children to develop socially and emotionally. Nothing could be less true. To begin with, the socio-emotional development of school-going children is not always so successful, as witnessed by the recurring discussions on bullying and teenage depression. In addition, there are many places other than school where children can develop socially and emotionally, such as sports clubs, music schools, playgrounds, family visits, at the supermarket, while playing with their friends, etc.

Home education an excellent basis for socio-emotional development

As home educators we are often asked how our children can develop socially and emotionally without going to school. It is important in this context to make a distinction between having social contacts and a favourable socio-emotional development. Social contacts do not automatically lead to learning good social skills or emotional resilience. These things require guidance, by people who have better social skills than the child themself. The one-on-one learning situation between home educated child and parent makes it easier to guide the child in his or her socio-emotional development. This learning situation has another important advantage, namely that the required school materials can be covered much more quickly, which leaves more time for play, sports, clubs, outings, family visits, etc. All things that promote and facilitate socio-emotional development.

In addition, learning in the familiar, safe and quiet environment of one’s home offers an excellent stress-free basis for practicing social skills and growing in emotional resilience.

Concern about socio-emotional development rests on unfounded prejudice

Home educators understand the preconceived ideas about the socio-emotional development of home educated children. After all, many of us shared these same ideas before we thoroughly studied how home education works. However, we can state with great conviction that these preconceived ideas are incorrect. We see no proof of any socio-emotional lag: neither in the many studies carried out on the subject, nor in our daily experience. Our children are very active, and squarely embedded in society. We do not see any evidence for the claims made in the letter of State Secretary Dekker.

Home education is an innovative and highly successful form of education with extensive focus on both the cognitive and the socio-emotional development of the child. It has for years now proven to be an excellent, individual-oriented form of education both in the Netherlands and abroad.

Sources:

Definition taken from http://www.jsw-online.nl/assets/documentenservice_zen/jsw/archief/2004/01_september_2004/jrg89-september2004-blok-isschoolechtzobelangrijkvoordesociaalemotioneleontwikkeling.pdf

[1] Kunzman, R. & Gaither, M. (2013). Homeschooling: A comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 2(1): 4-59.

[2] Blok, H. (2002). De effectiviteit van thuisonderwijs, een overzicht van onderzoeksresultaten. (Effectiveness of home education, an overview of research results) Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Onderwijsrecht en Onderwijsbeleid, volume 14, nr. 4, p. 151-163.

[3] Arora, T. (2006). Elective home education and special educational needs. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 6(1), 55-66.

[4] Goodwin, C. B. & Gustavson, M. (2009). Gifted homeschooling in the US. NAGC Magazine, 26-28.

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