Should I Homeschool My Child? Weighing the Pros and Cons
As of 2017, there were 3.5 million students in homeschool. Ninety-one percent of homeschooling parents said they were worried about the safety of the school environment. These parents are concerned about in-school violence, bullying and social pressure.
Seventy-seven percent of homeschooling parents said they did so out of a desire to provide moral instruction. Many of these parents are concerned about the lack of traditional lessons in today’s public schools. In addition to a safer environment and a more stringent moral standard, parents are dissatisfied with the quality of academic instruction in their public schools.
Usually, public school systems struggle to serve children with special needs or learning disabilities, due to factors such as a lack of resources, limited budgets and overcrowding. These children can face issues that range from being on the autism spectrum or having sensory disorders or physical disabilities. That's why 16 percent of homeschooling parents said they did so to support a special-needs child.
In addition to reasons for homeschooling, it is useful to identify reasons not to homeschool. Hopefully, this post can help you answer your question when you ask yourself, “Should I homeschool my child?”
Why Do Parents Decide to Homeschool Their Children?
In the United States, most states will allow homeschooling families to set the curriculum they desire. Along with choosing their customized program of learning, they are allowed to select the timeline in which they want to teach their chosen programs. Kids do not have to follow the schedules and structure of a public school system. There are many benefits of homeschooling, including the following.
- Design Your Child’s Education According to Their Skill Level
Children and teens learn subjects at varying rates. At some point in their educational lives, almost all students will have trouble grasping at least one subject. Homeschooling’s freedom to make educational choices allows parents to devote more time to the subjects with which their children are struggling. This freedom brings a sensible balance to the learning curve.
To use a hypothetical example, let’s say Jennifer is having problems with long division, but she is a talented reader and writer. Her parents can devote extra time to long division, and focus less on her reading comprehension. Efficient learning means not wasting too much time covering subjects at which the child excels. Instead, homeschoolers can focus extra time and attention on subjects that are challenging for their student.
- Allows Development of a Curriculum That Focuses on Your Child’s Learning Style
The public school system cannot afford the time or money to develop a curriculum that suits each child’s style of learning. However, as a homeschooling parent, you can do this! When your child’s learning style makes itself apparent, you can run with it, because with the homeschooling resources available, you will be prepared to teach them effectively, the way you see fit.
- Taking Advantage of Modern Teaching Tools
You may be asking yourself, “Is it hard to homeschool my child?” Don’t worry — there are a lot of teaching tools online. Have you ever looked at the wealth of online lectures or courses? There is an abundance of classes and videos on the Internet available at no cost to you.
Videos from Khan Academy offer lessons that range from coding in Python to learning chemistry. Coursera is another site that collaborates with several universities to offer learning options. There's a world of resources for parents looking to incorporate online learning into their child’s homeschool curriculum.
- Learning Can Be Fun — for You And Your Child!
Homeschooling can encourage a real love of learning because there are opportunities everywhere to learn. Learning is not limited to the same four boring cinderblock walls most public and private school students face every day. Field trips, online courses, trips to the library — these are all fun learning opportunities for kids and you, as a parent and teacher in one.
- Flexible Scheduling
If you’re a homeschooling family, you have unlimited freedom and flexibility. If you feel like taking a day at the shore to look for shells and fossils because you’re studying dinosaurs, you are free to do so.
Are you reading about igneous or sedimentary rocks? You can mosey on over to the nearest quarry to look for samples. That doesn’t just apply to daytime outings, either. Have you and your family been planning a vacation? You have the freedom to plan off-season trips. Not having to deal with huge crowds of like-minded vacationers is a huge plus.
These off-season trips can include going to places like Colonial Williamsburg, Gettysburg or even a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit several of the dozens of museums, or Capitol Hill to learn about how our government works. The world is your educational oyster when you’re a homeschooling family.
- Control Over Your Curriculum’s Effectiveness
From all the other benefits mentioned above, it's apparent homeschooling families can manage and increase their children's educational effectiveness and efficiency. Furthermore, since parents have control over curriculum and schedules, they are free to give attention to the challenges that are a constant source of stress for students in a public school system. Immediately nipping a problem in the bud saves a lot of time and emotional turmoil, and can prevent the issue from recurring. This sort of efficiency is crucial in a young student’s early, formative years.
Homeschool parents will never have to wait nervously for reports from a school. They also eliminate the need to rely on teachers to contact them about problems or advise them about areas where their kids are struggling. Parents are the ones who will see these things daily.
The one-to-one classroom ratio is not a possibility in most public school systems. Nothing can top the teacher-student ratio in a homeschool “classroom.”
- An Opportunity to Strengthen Family Relationships
Most of the homeschooling families in the United States believe their decision to teach their children at home has strengthened their family relationships. Families who homeschool are often very close. Since a home-based education means parents will be spending a lot more time with their children than those who send their kids to a traditional school, this is not surprising.
The parent-child bond is not the only one homeschooling can fortify. Homeschooling allows siblings to spend a lot of time with each other, all learning with their parent-teacher. An atmosphere of learning helps kids bond as they sometimes work together on the same subjects, depending on their grade level. Homeschooling provides an opportunity to build a strong bond within families. An added plus to homeschooling is the ability to be there for your children as they face new, difficult hurdles as they mature.
Homeschooled kids are usually curious and have developed a good sense of self-discipline. They see the world around them as an exciting opportunity to learn new things continually. Homeschoolers don’t always feel the fear of failing. They will take learning risks, as there are no judgmental classmates around to make them feel uncomfortable or unsure of themselves.
- Minimized Stress
Public school can be incredibly stressful for many reasons: bullying, peer pressure, keeping up with the latest phones and gadgets and the desire to look “good.” So many of these issues can eat away at a child’s psyche and confidence. Most of this stress disappears with homeschooling. Homeschooling tends to be more relaxed, and not pressure-filled.
What Are Some Cons of Homeschooling?
It’s obvious from the list above there are many reasons for homeschooling your kids. It is only fair to go over a few reasons against homeschooling.
- It’s Hard Work
You might have to complement your child’s curriculum if you cannot, for example, teach high school science or chemistry effectively. Michael Farris, a homeschooling dad and chair of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said in an interview panel on National Public Radio, “It's…very hard work…if a family is willing to…augment their own programs and their own abilities with other things…but I can't really teach high school-level science. There's a Ph.D. physicist in our church who's taught my sons science.” Reaching out for help to augment your child’s curriculum may be a necessity.
- Homeschooling Is Incredibly Time-Consuming
Remember those educational excursions listed above? Planning and executing these outings requires a lot of planning, financial commitments, driving to these places and finding parking before you can begin the learning!
Due to its time-consuming nature, homeschooling is like having a full-time volunteering job. Additionally, because you want to design the most suitable curriculum and learning environment for your child, you can expect to take an exorbitant amount of time to research all your material and options.
- Your Child May Not Learn Enough About Socializing
Here, perhaps, may be one of the biggest reasons why homeschooling may not be the best choice for your child. If your child never spends their days around other children, they may have issues developing proper social skills, such as how to make new friends. Instead, the parents shoulder the full burden of making sure their child is well-socialized.
Most parents solve the socialization problem by reaching out to homeschooling co-ops, Facebook groups, churches and other community social events that happen nearby.
- Minimal Access to Team Sports
A lot of team-centered sports are possible only through a public school system. Sports such as baseball are not easy to organize and play without a public school audience and talent source. Also, most states do not allow homeschoolers to participate in any public high school sports programs.
- Self-Doubt as a Teacher
You will ask yourself, “Am I a good teacher? Am I doing this right? Is my child learning anything?” Almost every homeschooling parent has asked themselves these questions at one point. These are real insecurities that will continue to nag at you if you keep doubting yourself.
Practice patience, which is especially important when teaching your kids. It is alright if you fall behind schedule, or don’t get to do everything you planned for a specific day. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Parent-teachers need to learn to leave their comfort zones to succeed at homeschooling. Ask others in your co-op for advice or help. If you don’t, things can continue to feel difficult. Seeking out the advice of experienced homeschool families is integral to solving problems while maximizing your child’s curriculum.
Tips for a Happier Homeschooling Experience
If you are a new homeschooling parent, or if you've been considering homeschooling for your children, you've probably done a little panicking. You may be a little scared and unsure of what exactly you are going to do: How will you balance your role as the teacher and as a parent? Or how will your kids learn to socialize? Will they be miserable and bored? Can they participate in sports if they are interested? The following are some tips to help you figure this out:
- Incorporate Useful Skills Into Your Child’s Curriculum
When you design a curriculum yourself, you have complete flexibility to add whatever coursework you like. Don't be afraid to branch out into marketable skills like coding, STEM or graphic design that aren't part of a typical school curriculum, but could be a tremendous asset to your child when they start looking for "real-world" jobs. The only limit is your imagination!
- Use a Good Planner
A good planner can help keep things from getting hectic. Real life sometimes will intrude on all your plans, with or without your input! Keeping your child's schedule, curriculum, printables and other papers organized will help you keep homeschool life running the way you want it to — or as close to it as possible. A planner also offers a place for you or your child to write down thoughts or notes.
- Be Confident About Your Progress
Parents don’t have to be clones of Albert Einstein to homeschool their kids successfully. The finite knowledge of parental instructors no longer limits homeschooling students. Google has opened unlimited possibilities for learning resources. Are you a little shaky with your math confidence? It’s not an issue when you can go online and choose the perfect math program for your children. You’ve got this!
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice
Reach out to other homeschooling parents in your area. Many homeschooling families have been doing this for several years, and they will have an abundance of good advice to share with you.
- Encourage Participation in Individual Sports
Introduce your homeschoolers to individual sports that don’t need the public school system. Sports like golf, swimming, running and martial arts can be a lot of fun to learn, as well as personally fulfilling.
There are many reasons for temporary homeschooling. The growth of a home-based education in the United States has made it a successful alternative for families who have to deal with short-term problems. These issues might include a personality conflict with a teacher, principal or a bully who has targeted your child.
Sometimes families have to suddenly relocate to another area of the country due to a parent’s change of employment. More parents are deciding they don’t have to continue to deal with these difficulties or pay a ton of money for private school. Instead, they can choose to homeschool for a year or two, with a plan to return to traditional school sooner rather than later.
If you are planning to homeschool your child temporarily, it's best to stay on target with concept-heavy subjects such as math. Purchase the same books your area public school uses to keep your child current with the curriculum. That is almost a guarantee your child will be "caught up" academically with classmates once he or she returns to the classroom. Also, find out what the academic benchmarks are for your child’s grade level, as well as the syllabus for the upcoming year. By doing this, you can keep your child up to date with his or her future schoolmates.
Contact Success by Design for All Your Planning Needs
You’ve decided to homeschool your child. To organize what surely will be busy, hectic days ahead, you will need some help. Find that help in a good planner that will help organize your daily curriculum and schedule.
One facet of a traditional school remains with homeschooling: You will need a schedule. There are so many different planners available online. That said, you shouldn’t just choose the first one that catches your eye. If a planner isn’t in sync with the way you do things, it will never work for you.
Have you determined what you will keep in your planner? Will you use it to keep your legal paperwork as well as your child’s schoolwork? Will you keep your child’s goals in it? Or will you keep some items separate from the curriculum? There are many questions to ask yourself to make your planner work best for you. Success by Design is in its 30th year of providing organizational solutions to teachers and students. Contact us today to figure out which planner will work best for you and your child.