Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home Schooling Pros and Cons

People considering home schooling often make a list of advantages and disadvantages to help them decide. Here are some talking points to help you make an informed decision.


1. Home schooling allows individualized attention and instruction. In a one-on-one setting, homeschooling parents can better observe how their children progress, what areas they find difficult and can focus on helping them learn what they do not know, rather than wasting time on what they already know. This means that you do not need to require "homework" because you already know whether they have mastered the material. You can also forget about making your child sit for six or seven hours a day. When there are not 30 other kids to deal with, you just don't need that much time to present the lessons.

2. Children learn at their own pace. In a home school setting, children can advance at any time, and not wait for the rest of the class to catch up. Conversely, if the child is a slow learner or having difficulties in a certain subject area, she/he can remain to focus on that area without pressure that others are already moving on.

3. Parents can pattern their teaching style and curriculum in accordance with the child’s learning style, allowing him/her to successfully understand the subject matter. Hence, better results are achieved. This is particularly true of children who may have difficulty focusing, or who are dyslexic, or who learn in other non-traditional ways.

4. There is limited peer pressure. Many homeschool families are quite large, and provide a special kind of environment where there are other children at different ages and levels of development. Families with one child, or only a few children provide many extra-curricular activities for socialization. Yet, even when they are diligent about providing social interaction for their child, these parents observe that they have much more control over who is influencing their children. No one group is with the child 30 or more hours a week setting the standard of "cool", either in opinion or behavior.

5. Real World Learning occurs naturally. Activities which are outside the context of books are very much essential to the child’s learning process. Trips to the park, the museum, the zoo, going fishing with mom and dad can be a great way to spend an afternoon educating your child. Everyday life provides many learning opportunities - even a trip to the post office or the grocery store can be educational. And every time you are out with your child during school hours is an opportunity to explain why you homeschool, and for your child (and you!) to hear your reasons.

6. There is plenty of time to impart your family's values. The main problem with institutional schooling is that it doesn't permit enough time to share your own family's beliefs and values in a way that will counteract the relentless opposing view your child is encountering in the outside world. If your child gets on the school bus at 7:45 AM and then plays a sport, has a piano lesson, or some other activity after school, they may not get home until after 5 PM. Then it is time to eat dinner, do homework and chores, watch a little TV or spend some time on the computer, and go to bed. Good grief! How do you have a relationship with someone you see for only a few minutes a day? This is especially important for Christian and other faith-based families since there is considerable hostility to expressions of faith in schools.

7. You have the flexibility to vacation whenever it is convenient, and not necessarily during the summer. So you can schedule around the parent's vacation rather than around the school year. And vacations can be a great time to see all those historical sites or national monuments that you can count as a field trip!


1. For the homeschool parent, much time and effort is required for preparation of teaching materials, lessons and managing the child’s opportunities in order to cultivate friendships and expand the child’s interests. Sometimes this includes covering material outside of the parent's realm of expertise or experience. There are plenty of people you can enlist to come alongside your and your child to fill in the gaps. Don't be afraid to begin home schooling because you are afraid you can't teach calculus!

2. Parents who homeschool do not have enough time to spend for themselves when kids are constantly at home. This frequent time of being together can be very challenging. It can result in "Homeschool Burnout" and laziness on the part of both parent and child who withdraw from the conflict instead of learning how to deal with it.

3. Homeschooled children must aggressively pursue opportunities to bond and develop friendships with peers. For many families, this really is not a problem and is supplemented by taking the kids out to play in the park, attend lessons in ballet, karate, etc. However it takes a lot of effort on the part of parents to ensure that their kids have these opportunities.

4. Homeschool parents must aggressively pursue opportunities to bond and develop friendships with peers. It can be difficult to feel you have to explain yourself all the time and you may find that people who do not home school can be either suspicious, or somehow threatened by your decision. Teaching moms find themselves outside the social stream during the school years, when relationships are based on the relationships of the children in classes, teams, and clubs.

5. Someone has to stay home and teach. This results in less disposable income, and the resulting belt-tightening can create stress in your marriage or family life.


Whether to homeschool or not depends in part on whether you are willing to set your own desires aside for a season and pour your life into your child's development. On top of all the learning materials, the field trips, and extra-curricular activities, home schooling requires a lot of love, patience, encouragement - and an extra measure of grace to deal with the intensity of so much togetherness. Only you know what is on your plate right now and what unique challenges homeschooling will bring into your life. But once you decide homeschooling is the right choice for your family, your children will flourish in the personalized environment and you will discover that the family closeness you have achieved is more than worth the sacrifice.

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