Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular with an average increase of 2-8% every year according to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). What once was a stigma is now slowly becoming the norm. What used to be considered “cutting-edge” by many is almost “mainstream” today. And why not? The benefits are a plenty and it’s never been easier to enroll in a homeschooling program that provides the curriculum and teaching aids for the parents.
But let’s face it; the road of homeschooling is not all sunshine and roses all the time. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of homeschooling your children…
- Freedom: Homeschooling gives you freedom in a lot of aspects. You have the freedom to do school when it fits your schedule best. Do you have a night owl for a child? No problem, the lessons for the day can start at 10am instead of 8am. Want to take a family vacation in the middle of October? No problem; homeschooling gives you that type of physical freedom as well allowing you to take the curriculum on the road with you instead of having to take your child to where the curriculum is being taught.
- Time Management: This kind of ties in with freedom. Not only are you able to schedule school around your schedule, but you can also do things during the week like go to a museum or an amusement park and avoid the weekend crowds. Possibly even more importantly for your child, they don’t have to worry about homework keeping them up late because you can help them manage how much time is spent on the actual tasks that need accomplished. Most children only spend around 6 hours per week on actual task work – time managed effectively could mean that your child does a week’s worth of work in one day, or spread out over several days it gives a lot of extra time for extracurricular activities, sports, and other interests.
- Curriculum: This one can vary somewhat by state; but for the most part the curriculum can be tailored to your child. (Check out the HSDLA for more information) The core classes are still required and your child will still learn the same basics as every other child, but they can learn it at their pace when they are ready. For example, some children read very early while others don’t grasp that skill until a few years later; when you homeschool you have the ability to tailor your curriculum accordingly. While we are on the subject of tailoring the curriculum I should also point out that different children have different learning styles (i.e. visual, auditory, physical, or reading/writing) and you can tailor your teaching methods to fit their individual learning style. You can also add in special subjects that you would like to focus on (i.e. a lot of families like to add in religious studies).
- Arts: It’s no secret that a lot of public schools have been cutting back on the arts programs. If you have a child who is particularly gifted at art, painting, music, etc. you can encourage that more easily with a homeschool program that allows them to spend more time doing what they excel at and enhancing those skills.
What if you are not gifted at art or music but your child is? A lot of public schools have started offering a program where your homeschooled child can attend just that class. So if your child wants to play the violin and you don’t know how to teach them, they can attend band class at the local public school. The schools have started doing a hybrid system of sorts where the child can attend what classes they need or even participate in sports this way. Many states are also offering a credit where you can enroll your child in lessons, like music, and they will reimburse you for that expense – this is a particularly nice benefit if you are in an area where the music program or other art program has been cut from the school because of budgeting concerns.
- Safety/Security/Positive Learning Environment: It’s a fact that the world continues to evolve into a more dangerous place. From school shootings to bullying and hazing incidents our children are introduced to violence that we as a species are capable of at an early age. Homeschooling can provide an environment that is free from bullying, hazing, and violence. Your children can learn in a positive environment where they only receive encouragement and positive words from you. It’s been shown time and again that children learn much more from positive reinforcement than from negative reinforcement.
- Time Demand on Parents: This one kind of seems like a no-brainer to me; but it makes sense. If you are the teacher, you have to devote the time to teach, especially early on in the education process. You have to plan the lessons, or research the subject, and then you have to actually sit down and teach the material. This can be a drain on some parents, but it can also serve to enhance the relationship between parent and child, so many will agree that it is well worth it. (Even the ‘cons’ are ‘pros’ on this list apparently)
- Pressure on Parents: Pressure to succeed. The need to do right by your child can be somewhat overwhelming at times. You want to make sure your child is learning what they need to and that they are not falling behind their peers. It can feel like a lot of pressure at times (usually self-induced). Sometimes if a child is having difficulty mastering one area it can make that parent feel like a failure. Dealing with that pressure is one thing every homeschooling parent must learn to do effectively.
- Income/Career: Generally when one parent is staying home to homeschool the kids during the day while the other is at work, it means your household is living on one income. This can be troubling if you go from two incomes to one. It can also be a career killer for the parent who decides to take the years off to homeschool their children.
- Lack of Structure: With all of the benefits of time freedom granted by homeschooling there can be a distinct lack of structure to the schooling. This can be a hindrance to some parents and some children who rely on that structure and thrive in that type of environment. (That’s not to say a parent couldn’t make homeschooling as structured as it needs to be to be effective)
No matter what decision you make when it comes to your child’s education know that you have options. Even when you look at homeschooling there are lot of options out there from state provided materials to digital curriculum for purchase to hybrid systems allowing part days at public school and sports participation.
What experience do you have with homeschooling? Is there a method you prefer?