One of the biggest decisions parents have to make is whether to send your child to public or private school, or to homeschool them. Your choice can affect their academics, socialization, and their day-to-day routine, and will perhaps influence the type of person they become, the subjects they excel at, and their post-secondary school choices and career options. No pressure though! Ideally, every child would be able to thrive in any of these three educational situations, and would become the best version of themselves regardless of your choice, but in reality that just isn’t the case. Homeschooling is on the rise across Canada and the US, but if you’re unsure why, here are 10 reasons guardians choose to homeschool their children, and 5 reasons why you might want to avoid it.
15 Do: More Time With Your Kids
The most common reason to homeschool is that parents just want to spend more time with their kids. Maybe they have been home with their babies since they were born and the thought of “sending them away” to school for upwards of eight hours a day makes them sad. Or perhaps they have just been given the opportunity to work from home, and would finally be able to spend more time with their children if not for the rigorous public school schedule. Either way, the ability to spend more time with your kids when they are little is incredible!
14 Do: More Flexibility With Your Schedule
Public and private school schedules can be quite strict. Your kids are gone for long hours - too long for many little ones. They also limit family time to just evenings and weekends, and if your children take part in sports and activities after school that time is even less. As well, if you have kids who are night owls, getting up and out of the house at seven or eight in the morning can be an absolute nightmare for everyone involved, but if you homeschool you could choose your own hours, even starting late into the morning.
13 Don't: No Free Time During The Day
If you are a parent who values your free time throughout the day to read a book, or work from home, homeschooling may not be right for you. Now instead of having “free time”, you will find yourself needing to educate your children, prepare activities, plan the next day’s lesson, and more. School will weave its way into your daily routine in such a way that there really isn’t much downtime, and this could be troublesome for some guardians.
12 Do: Control Over Curriculum
A large reason some parents choose homeschooling is to have control over the curriculum their children are learning. Often this is for religious reasons to help weed out information parents aren’t comfortable with, but this can also be to add things parents think are missing from the traditional curriculum. Perhaps they believe physical fitness should play a much bigger role, and maybe some types of math are completely useless for many in the outside world. This can all be tailored to your preference, as long as your children are learning what is required in your province or state.
11 Do: Support For Children With Special Needs
Homeschool can also be a great choice for children with needs that aren’t well supported in the public or private sector. Being able to provide specialized curriculum, more breaks, more outside time, a less strict schedule, and more, are all great opportunities for children to excel at their own pace when they may not be able to in a classroom setting.
10 Don't: Messy House
You know how over the weekend your house tends to get messier and messier, and by Sunday night it looks like the toys exploded and there are soccer uniforms and shoes everywhere, and the cupboard has no cups left? That’s because your kids are home. If you homeschool, it could be like that 24/7! Surely many parents are able to keep up a great cleaning routine to remedy this, but if you’re not someone who is able to stay on top of your house, you may want to reconsider keeping those kids home.
9 Do: Child-Led Learning
Child-led learning is a great reason to homeschool. Allowing your kids to learn within topics they are passionate about can really foster a love of learning, and make their schoolwork much less daunting.
For instance, maybe your four-year-old is obsessed with trains. Simple math can be learned by counting trains, and adding and subtracting trains from a track. Writing can be learned by writing out the names of their favorite Thomas trains. Reading can be learned by reading books about trains.
8 Do: Health & Safety
Childhood illness is, unfortunately, a reality for a lot of parents these days. Sometimes the best option is for parents is to homeschool their chronically-ill children because they miss so much schooling otherwise. There is also the growing fear about children’s safety at school due to gun violence and various other concerns, and keeping your kids home can alleviate some of that worry.
7 Don't: Hard Work
Homeschool is hard work. It is physically and emotionally demanding, and it uses a lot of your mental faculties while educating your children. If you think about all the work that teachers do, preparing lessons, grading papers, keeping their classroom stocked and organized, finding creative ways to keep children interested, helping kids who have additional needs, all of these things will now be on your shoulders, and you don’t get paid!
6 Do: More Physical Activity
Let’s be honest, some kids just have way more energy than others, and sitting at a desk for six hours a day just isn’t going to cut it. Children need hours of exercise each day to keep them healthy and less fidgety, and new research is showing that our kids are suffering in their current school climates. Homeschooling creates the opportunity for kids to get as much physical activity as they need to be able to focus during the rest of the day. That seems like a win for everyone.
5 Do: More Time Outside
Children aren’t only lacking physical activity however, they’re also lacking time outside in nature. Schoolyards are becoming barer - no playground equipment or no sports equipment due to safety hazards, and the time that children do have outside is less about being physical in nature.
Children need to feel the grass between their toes, find bugs, climb trees, and really enjoy nature daily in a way that public schools just can’t provide.
4 Don't: Expensive
Unfortunately, homeschooling can tend to be expensive. With traditional schooling there is board funding which provides a classroom and desks, computers, and many of the books and supplies a teacher needs. With homeschool you are starting from scratch and paying for all of that yourself. Curriculum can be quite expensive too if you are buying multiple grades for multiple children. The expense should definitely be something you research and prepare for if you decide to educate your children at home. But there are great second-hand stores and swap groups online too to help with this problem.
3 Do: Working At The Child’s Pace
Working at the child’s pace is important, as discussed above in regards to special needs, but it’s not only children who need to take their time that can be held back my traditional schooling. Children who excel in certain subjects can also have their learning potential stunted by their inability to continue moving ahead because they have to keep pace with their classmates. Schooling at home allows kids to progress at whatever speed is appropriate for them in each subject, which keeps their interest and their comprehension at an ideal level.
2 Do: Nomadic Living
Perhaps the most popular reason in the last few years has been the rise in nomadic living. Many families are choosing to forgo a typical home and instead choosing to live in an RV, van, or motor home while they travel the world! While this is a beautiful option for many families, it also then requires that the children be homeschooled. There is so much of life to be learned through traveling, and this can be an incredible opportunity for an amazing education for your kids.
There also are a number of reasons that you may not find homeschooling is right for you. It’s important to explore both sides before making a decision, so it is only fair to include these here too.
1 Don't: Under-Prepared
Finally, you yourself have to feel well equipped to educate these children. If explaining concepts and giving instructions isn’t your strong suit, you may find teaching to be overwhelming. If there are only a few subjects you aren’t confident in, for many people that may be math or science, you can always outsource those classes to a co-op, or use an online program for that subject.
Whether you choose public, private, or homeschool, your child’s education will play a major role in their lives going forward. However, don’t stress yourself out thinking this is a one time, permanent decision. If something isn’t working for you or your child, change it! You can pull your kid out of school at any time, as long as you follow the requirements of where you live, and you can also re-enroll them if you need to as well! Reevaluate each year, or each term, and continue to make the decisions that are best for your family. You are in control of shaping your children’s little minds, don’t let society or anyone else pressure you into something you aren’t comfortable with.