When I was younger, I always straddled the fence of whether or not homeschooling was a form of education that I would like to try. I liked the idea of not having to wake up to an alarm, lounging around in flannel pajamas, and never having to do “home” work again.
On the other hand, I enjoyed socializing with my friends in the hallways, I loved playing on various sports teams, and I was the strange kid that actually enjoyed cafeteria food. The debate surrounding homeschooling continues to be played out on a larger scale today.
When homeschooling first came to light in the 1970’s, it faced a legal uphill battle from those who argue not about the right to educate students at home, but about how much regulation from the state should be involved. While homeschool is now a common term, there’s still only about 3.4% of the U.S. population that receives instruction at home instead of in more traditional school settings.
Because education often sets the foundation for your child’s future success, it is important to choose instruction that will aid your child in growing in various areas and disciplines. Whether you’re looking at the method of instruction, the curriculum being taught, or the usefulness of it all, it all boils down to what is right for your child.
So if you’re like me and you’re currently torn on whether to homeschool or not, here’s a list of both the pros and cons of making the homeschool choice.
8 Build Bonds
Kids grow up quickly. You blink your eyes and before you know it your baby is graduating and flying the nest. With time being such a valuable commodity when it comes to parenting, it’s startling to know that American children spend an average of 943 hours in school—for elementary school alone!
For this reason, many parents are opting to educate their children at home instead of sending them off to school for seven hours a day. Even though this time is dedicated to educational purposes, there’s no reason that you can’t build family bonds in the process.
The time you spend interacting with your child has many benefits including fostering a sense of love, opening lines of communication, and reassuring them of their place within the family (especially during the later years when parents become enemy number one). Dedicating instructional time at home with your child not only benefits them in building knowledge, but also helps them build strong relationships with family.
Unfortunately in this day and age, when parents send their children off to school there’s always a voice in the back of their head that worries about the threats their baby will face on a daily basis. Yes, there are random acts of violence (like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012) that are of concern to parents, but public and private schools can present other dangers on a daily basis.
At public and private schools students are more at risk of being introduced to sex, drugs, and alcohol at an early age. Though your angel might not partake, the threat is still one that is viable, as many parents would prefer to teach their children about these issues at a time appropriate to the child’s understanding.
Along the same lines, children can often be influenced or coerced by other children to say, do, or believe things that are not in line with your particular values. As much as we’d like to trust in the ability of school faculty and staff to protect our children, sometimes it is just out of their control. Homeschooling often gives parents peace of mind, knowing that their children are in the best hands possible.
6 Convenience (do things from home, time)
We live in a world of convenience. Convenience stores, convenient snack packs, convenient fast-food. What’s more convenient than learning from the comfort of your own home? The first benefit of homeschooling is that it creates an environment where children feel comfortable and safe, which is one of the first steps necessary in ensuring students are ready and able to learn.
Next, without the rigidity of a set-in-stone schedule, students and their families have more time to enjoy life. Vacations are not limited to summertime travels, and days can be spent enjoying places like the zoo, the museum, or other places that are generally overcrowded on the weekends.
Lastly, there is flexibility in scheduling the days and hours that are dedicated to instruction which benefits parents and students who feel that school starts too early in the morning. With less than one in five public middle and high schools starting school later than 8:30 am, it’s no wonder that less than one third of our kids are getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.
Homeschooling solves all of these problems by working around your schedule, instead of someone else’s.
5 Freedom of Curriculum
A study by the Council of the Great City Schools revealed that from grades K to 12, the average student will be required to take 112 mandated tests. Because curriculum is often geared towards these mandatory tests, there isn’t much class time for genuine learning of material. But the beauty of homeschooling is the ability to create or choose a curriculum that aligns to your student’s direct needs and not a test.
Whether you choose a packaged program that is already structured, or create your curriculum for learning, the process is always centered around your child and his or her specific interests and needs (a need which does not include passing a test). In addition to choosing your own educational program, you are also able to proceed at a pace that suits your child.
We know that every child learns at a different pace but traditional schools often don’t have the ability to accommodate for this effectively. Homeschooling allows for flexibility to slow down, speed up, or jump from lesson to lesson. Whatever program you choose for homeschool, it is bound to be effective because it is designed specifically for your child instead of thousands.
4 Questions from Society
One of the biggest arguments against schooling children at home has been from people (often family or friends) who have concerns over the effectiveness and healthiness of home schooling. Many parents, who go against the societal “norm” and choose to educate their children at home, face criticism from those who are concerned with the ability of children to learn necessary social skills at appropriate ages.
Though viewpoints based on research are still divided, there is no shortage of blog posts online describing how children who have been homeschooled are socially “weird” or “awkward.” To add to this, you will also have those who question your abilities as an instructor. Many people wonder how parents are more qualified than teachers who learned not only the material but how to deliver it effectively.
Because homeschooled children are the minority (with only 3.4% of the school-age population being homeschooled), you’re bound to receive some questions and comments from naysayers and others who just don’t understand the process.
3 Overwhelmed with Instruction
Let’s face it—if teaching were easy, everyone would do it (think about all those days off during the summer). Have any parents ever tried to help their children with their homework and been just as confused yourself? The fact is, you may not be well versed in every subject or lesson that your child has to learn.
In addition, even if you are familiar with the material, you may not be an expert in how to deliver the lesson or to further explain the content. This is why teachers not only go to college to build their knowledge of a particular field of study, but they also learn how to teach which is known as pedagogy, or the method and practice of teaching.
An article which focuses on the importance of the delivery of academic content believes that, “What teachers do and how they do it is critically important and has a profound impact on the quality of the educational experience for children.” Not only is the content difficult to crack, but making the choice regarding what your child learns is difficult as well.
Some choose to create their own curriculum, while others choose to purchase structured curriculums, still others choose creative “go with the flow” type program where each day is different. Knowing your child is one thing, but knowing what your child should learn is a whole different ballgame and one that can be quite overwhelming for parents.
2 Lack of structure
While there are some creative butterflies who thrive in environments that are flexible, there are many who need structure and routine in order to function at their best. While some homeschooling programs offer a set curriculum, it is still up to the parent to implement habitual procedures on a daily basis.
There is a great deal of literature which supports the necessity of routine in a child’s life. For younger children, it assists in making your child feel safe and teaching them the concept of time. Think about routines that you may currently implement: bedtime, bath time, dinner time, riding in the car: without structure, many of these small tasks could turn into huge events.
For older children, a set schedule can help them learn self-control and responsibility. If parents aren’t diligent in implementing policies and procedures on a daily basis, homeschooling can become inefficient and the student’s learning may suffer.
1 Time and Attention
Here’s a very important point that parents sometimes need to remind themselves of: needing a break from your child does not make you a bad parent. Regardless of how much you love you child, the truth is they can often be very exhausting. Aside from that, everyone needs some alone time at some point (the five minutes while using the restroom or in the shower don’t count).
When children are homeschooled, they are with their parents almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While parents may be concerned that they don’t have the patience to be with their children 24/7, the same sentiments may be true on the other side: sometimes, your children (especially as they get older) just don’t want to be with you all the time.
The reality is that although many people tout the benefits of homeschooling, they often don’t discuss any of the “bad days” that are bound to happen. People don’t discuss the fact that they have to instruct while still trying to cook dinner or fold laundry. And they don’t discuss those days when their child decides to have a meltdown instead of lying down for naptime. It’s all about weighing your options and not feeling guilty about your decision.
If a public or private school education doesn’t threaten the emotional end educational progress of your child, you should not feel selfish for making the decision to not homeschool. As with any other important parenting decision, there will be pros and cons, goods and bads, those who agree and does who disagree (there are typically a lot of those people).
But no one knows your circumstances and your child better than you do, so feel comfortable and confident in making the decisions that are right for you and your family.