Wondering, “Should I homeschool my child?” It’s a question that’s being asked more frequently as homeschooling groups, programs and homeschooling curriculum resources have become more mainstream. But the decision to homeschool a child can be a difficult one and many parents are nervous about the prospect of taking over the responsibility for teaching a child at home.
There are many pros and cons of homeschooling that a parent must take into account when deciding if they should educate children in the home. Potential homeschooling parents may consider the following factors when deciding whether to educate a child at home.
Accommodate Non-Traditional Lifestyles with Homeschooling
Homeschooling affords parents the opportunity to live a non-traditional lifestyle that wouldn’t mesh well with traditional schooling. Take the example of a family who’s decided to sail the world for a couple years – a dream that most couples must postpone until the children have moved away to college. The child could be schooled at home on the boat, while gaining access to hands-on lessons on different cultures during the family’s travels.
Military families who move frequently could also homeschool the children, without worrying about the stresses of switching schools every year. These children would also be at an advantage socially, since they can be schooled at home, while maintaining a great deal of social interaction with other children thanks to the close-knit atmosphere among families on a military base.
Children with chronic medical problems may also benefit from homeschooling; homeschooling can continue even if a child is hospitalized or recovering at home.
Families who live a very conventional lifestyle may find a traditional schooling more beneficial. It’s more difficult (though not impossible) to homeschool with working parents who are out of the home from 9 to 5. Many parents work from home while homeschooling a child. Homeschooling parents can do their own work while the child reads, while the child works on another type of independent project or during a break or playtime. Many parents find that working from home works well with homeschooling a child.
Child’s Learning Style or Learning Disabilities by Homeschooling
Traditional schools are targeted to the norm; gifted children who learn quickly or children with learning disabilities who learn at a rate that’s slower than the norm are at a disadvantage in a traditional classroom. Homeschooling allows students to learn at a pace that’s comfortable for the individual child, whether they’re gifted or coping with a learning disability like dyslexia.
Homeschooling parents can also customize their homeschooling curriculum based on the child’s learning style. A child who “learns by doing” would benefit from homeschooling field trips and interactive activities. However, if that same child was in a traditional classroom, he or she may be forced to learn by reading or listening to lectures, putting the student at a disadvantage.
However, children who flourish in a traditional classroom with lectures, group discussions and reading assignments may find homeschooling difficult. One major disadvantage that many homeschooled children face involves a lack of group discussions, which can be a valuable learning tool. Though many homeschooling groups and internet homeschooling programs are now providing students with a chance to engage in group discussion and debate outside of a traditional classroom setting.
Homeschooling can also enable parents to cater to a child’s special needs. A child with a short attention span may do well learning through multiple one- or two-hour lessons instead of by learning in one long seven hour block as he would in a traditional school.
Children with severe learning disabilities may be at a greater advantage learning with an experienced special education teacher in a classroom, though parents who are dedicated to learning about special education methods could be equally successful in homeschooling a special education student.
Homeschooling Curriculum and Resources
Many parents are intimidated by homeschooling. Parents who do not have a background in education may wonder, “How do I know what to teach my child if I homeschool?”
Fortunately, there are an array of homeschooling lesson plans, materials and guidelines available through homeschooling organizations and groups, which have skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade.
Parents of homeschooled students can seek support from other parents who teach their children at home via homeschool groups within the community and on the internet. Many of these homeschool organizations also hold regular gatherings, which enable the children to interact with peers. Homeschooling parents can also arrange group field trips or group lessons with fellow parents who are teaching at home.
Homeschooling groups also remedy a primary concern of parents: Will a homeschooled child be deprived of social interactions with his/her peers? Interacting with other families that homeschool is one solution; engaging in extracurricular activities like sports, drama classes, and Boy/Girl Scouts can also provide homeschool students with vital social interaction with peers. Siblings also offer great social interaction and many families that homeschool find that their children develop a closer sibling bond.
Homeschooling requires dedication and at times, an ability to think outside the box. Teaching a child at home is not right for everyone; home education takes a certain type of child and a certain type of parent. But for those families who do decide to try homeschooling, the world is a classroom that’s filled with valuable lessons for parents and children alike.