Is Homeschooling Right For You?
Today more and more parents are choosing to homeschool their children. This can be for a variety of reasons such as personal family schedule, illness, religious/cultural, or the parents don’t like the local school choices. There are both pros and cons to homeschooling, which I’ve tried to address in the blog below. Pros:
- Homeschooling allows your child to be taught to their specific abilities. If they excel in language arts, but suffer in math, you can set the frequency, pacing, and intensity of the lessons to accommodate the differing ability levels.
- With your child being the only, or one of the only, students in the “class”, the type and frequency of material covered can be adjusted to fit their specific interests or ability levels.
- You can teach to the child’s preferred learning style. In regular school classrooms, teachers try to teach to all learning styles so that all students’ preferences can be covered. In a home school situation, you can tailor the instructional approach to that child’s specific learning style preference. This is helpful as it increases the child’s chance for success, and it also works to keep them continuously engaged during the lessons.
- With limited resources and overcrowding often an issue in today’s classrooms, homeschooling can be a way to guarantee some one-on-one attention for your child. Whether your child has special needs or not, all students benefit from individualized instruction and homeschooling is a way to provide that.
- Depending on your state’s homeschooling regulations, you can often choose the curriculum that you use. If you have strong cultural or religious beliefs, this can allow you to be more selective about the type of material your child is being exposed to.
- Homeschooling also affords you the ability to tailor the “school day” schedule to your child’s, or families’, needs. This is helpful if your child is involved in a sport or activity that demands a lot of their time. Also, if your child has ADHD, or a medical condition, you can time the “school day” with the time they are most likely to be present for (and committed to) learning.
- If your family travels often, or your child is chronically sick, homeschooling would allow for those circumstances without penalty. Missing large amounts of school can causes multiple problems for your child including missing instruction/work, reprimands/concerns from teachers, or even involvement with truancy officers. Being home schooled, your child wouldn’t have to worry about those issues.
- With homeschooling, there is the potential for reduced peer-to-peer interaction. Even if your child is being home schooled with a few other children or siblings, it doesn’t replace the type and amount of social interactions they would have each day in school.
- The lack of peer-to-peer interaction can cause a social skill deficit in some children. If they don’t have lots of other chances for interaction with kids their own age, they lose valuable opportunities todevelop their social skills. Some mastery and understanding of social skills are something that every person needs in their life, and homeschooling can impair that.
- In addition to lack of peer-to-peer interaction, some home schooled children suffer from a lack of adult-to-child interaction. In some cases the only adults they have regular interaction with are their parents or home school teacher/tutor. They may interact with other adults at church, activity groups, the grocery store, etc. but those are generally short and less frequent. Being in a traditional school setting forces the child to interact with multiple adults on a daily basis, and also to be under their “command” so to speak. It teaches them how to respect and follow instructions from an adult who is not their parent.
- Your child could develop a fear or sense of discomfort with new and unfamiliar places. Because they are generally at home throughout the day, every day, they may be unable to adjust to being in new environments. This could include a fear of going to school if you decideto send your child back to a traditional school setting.
- If you choose to teach your child yourself, it can place an immense burden and work load on you. You will be in charge of all the lesson planning, instruction, reviewing, testing, grading, etc. It requires a lot of diligence and commitment. Additionally, you are solely responsible for making sure that you are conforming to whatever regulations and standards your state has implemented for homeschooling.
- Unfortunately, in many homeschooling situations the quality of education is not as great as it would be in a traditional school setting. This is usually as a result of the curriculum/material being poor, the instruction is not consistent, or there is no follow through on making sure the child is mastering skills at an age appropriate pace. This can lead to a child being behind in their education, and not being well prepared for college should they choose to go.
- Another con to homeschooling is that you lose school resources for yourself and your child that you would otherwise have. This includes access to school personnel such as nurses, social workers, and psychologists, as well as certain technologies and materials. Additionally, schools often act as a good safety net for catching and physical, developmental, social, or emotional/mental issues that may occur with your child. Removing them from that safety net may cause you to miss problems or issues your child may have/be having.
- The majority of traditional school settings offer lots of extracurricular activities such as sports, groups, or clubs for their students to participate in. If your child isn’t in a traditional school, they may be missing out on these extracurricular opportunities.
If you are seriously considering home school for your child, think about the following things:
- Discuss homeschooling with those who are currently doing it, or have done it in the past. They may be able to give you some more insight as to what the process is truly like.
- Take advantage of online resources. There are so many reputable websites that have useful advice and lesson planning tips for parents who are homeschooling.
- Hiring a teacher/tutor to teach your child, or keep tabs on their progress for you.
- State standards for homeschooling are usually on the lower end of the spectrum and not totally on par with normal grade requirements. Be knowledgeable of the state (or national) standards for learning, and make sure you are meeting or exceeding them. You’ll do your child a disservice if you don’t challenge them to work to their full potential, and keep them on track with their learning.
- Call a local school and ask if it’s possible to have your child tested to see if they’re on track for their grade level. A teacher may be able to give you copies of some of the tests their students have recently taken that will demonstrate their mastery of grade level skills.
- If you’ll be choosing your child’s curriculum, make sure to research and compare the different ones that are available to see which would be the best fit for you.
- Check and see if there are any local home school groups or associations that you can join. This is a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with others who home school, and it can also be a link to some extracurricular activities for your child.
- Try to keep your child involved in activities outside of your home to encourage more peer-to-peer interaction. Sign them up for a local sports league, music lessons, dance, book club, or another activity with other kids their age.
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
About Hannah T
I am a 2010 graduate with a degree and certification in Elementary Ed., and I have worked with students from birth to junior high. I believe that one of the most important qualities to surviving a teaching career is a sense of humor. I also strongly feel that students are most successful when they are active and hands-on learners. My Mom was a Special Ed. teacher for almost 30 years, and my Dad was an English major, so I enjoy bouncing blog ideas off the two of them. This usually results in an exchange of great stories with my Mom, and a correction in my writing from my Dad. When they're not available, the job falls to my rescue dog, Coozie.