Getting Schooled Part IV: Homeschooling

This is part four in a five part series on school choices.

Part I is an introduction with statistics.

Part II is about Private Schools.

Part III is on Charter Schools.

This time around I’ll be giving the pros and cons of homeschooling.

Homeschooling is defined as educating children outside of a formal school setting at home, usually by parents, but sometimes by a tutor.

The homeschooling stereotype is of a mom teaching her kids on her own and her kids turning out academically sub-par and socially awkward.

While this may have been true in some cases in the past, it is definitely not the norm today.

Also contrary to outdated stereotypes, the majority of parents choosing to homeschool their children do NOT do it because they object to the content in public schools. Most – almost half – do it because they feel that they can do a better job than any of the other education choices in their area.

Some of my own friends choose to homeschool their children because they feel that rather than being over-protective, they are building up their children to face the difficulties of the world.

There is no disputing the challenges that children have to face at younger and younger ages these days.  Kids are facing issues of sex, violence, drugs, and other rough topics at much earlier ages than in the past.

The advantages to homeschooling are numerous.

First, there is educational leeway. As the teacher of your child, you can choose what to make the focus of on not just the every day lessons, but the overall educational path. If your child has a math/science tendency, you can gear ALL areas – language arts, social studies, art, music, history – towards math and science. In traditional schools, we call it “cross-curricular learning” – when all the subjects concentrate on one theme, for instance an event in history, and teach their content with that theme in mind.

Homeschooling also offers family emotional and physical freedoms.  If a child is advanced, the parent/teacher can move through less challenging material quicker.  If fractions are difficult, there is not a looming test deadline ahead where you either know it or don’t and then move on.  If a child learns better through hands on examples, homeschooling is flexible enough where even the family vacation can be part of the curriculum.

The stereotype of kids being under-socialized is a worry of the past as well. Many homeschooled students can participate in sports, clubs, and other group activities and camps.

While homeschooling can seem like the perfect eduction (talk about an individualized curriculum!), there are challenges and drawbacks.

For one, you have to have the resources: time, energy, and money.

It’s a LOT of work to homeschool. If it’s done right, homeschooling is not just a couple hours a day with worksheets and textbooks at the kitchen table. It’s experiments and field trips and reading and reviewing. And that is just “during school”.  As a parent, you have to prep for all of these things.

If you work on top of homeschool, time and energy juggling will be at a maximum.

If you stay home with the kids, you’ll have more time, but you will be with your kids ALL THE TIME.  Some parents take this in stride and it’s awesome. For some of us, we need time away from our kids just like we need time away from anyone. Too much can sometimes be, well, too much.

This means the money has to be there for someone to stay home and to purchase all the curricula. Homeschooling isn’t just going outside and looking at bugs; there are lessons and tests and reading to do as well — at least if you want your students to be accepted to college someday.

Being homeschooled is still living outside of what “normal” kids experience, and it is definitely not for everyone.