Homeschooling kids isn’t bad for their health

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Years of homeschooling don’t appear to influence the general health of children, according to a new report.

The report puts forth evidence that the amount of time a student spends in homeschool is “weakly or not at all related to multiple aspects of youth physical health.”

“Although there may be differences in the health of elementary through high school homeschoolers, those differences don’t seem to change with additional time spent in homeschool,” says corresponding author Laura Kabiri, a kinesiology lecturer at Rice University and corresponding author of the report in Health Promotion International. “In other words, staying in homeschool longer isn’t related to increased health benefits or deficits.”

“The relationship between their health and the time they spend in homeschool seems to be irrelevant.”

Earlier this year Kabiri and her team reported that homeschooled students who depended on maintaining physical fitness through outside activities were often falling short.

The flip side presented in the new report should come as good news to parents and students.

The results from studies of more than 140 children in grades kindergarten through 5, who researchers tested against statistically normal data for children of their age and gender, accounted for prior published research that showed homeschooled children have less upper-body and abdominal muscle strength and more abdominal fat when compared to public school students. Additional studies also showed that homeschooling benefited sleep patterns, overall body composition, and diet.

However, to the researchers’ surprise, increased time in homeschool did not appear to affect these differences in homeschooler health either way.

“Body composition can relate to sleep as well as diet,” Kabiri says. “And as far as muscular health goes, these kids are still active. We’re not saying there’s not an upfront benefit or detriment to their health, but after an initial gain or loss, there aren’t additional gains or losses over time if you’re going to homeschool your children for one year or their entire careers. The relationship between their health and the time they spend in homeschool seems to be irrelevant.”

Additional coauthors are from Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where the researchers conducted their work. Support for the research came, in part, from the Texas Physical Therapy Foundation.

Source: Rice University