Deciding To Homeschool Your Child: The Advantages and Disadvantages

The ABC's of Homeschooling

More and more parents are considering homeschooling their children. Is homeschooling right for your family?

There are many things to consider before making the leap from institutionalized or public schools to deciding to educate your children at home. Homeschooling has its advantages, its disadvantages and gray areas in between. Making the right decision about your child's education now will raise their chances of being successful adults later.

So, how do you decide? The education of your child is a huge decision. As with most of life's decisions, a great approach to deciding if homeschooling is right for your child, start by weighing the pros and cons associated with home schooling and evaluating your child's needs, your and your families needs as well as your ability to provide a quality level of education.

Why Do Parents Choose To HomeSchool Their Children?

Religion is no longer permitted in public schools. A large number of parents feel that faith should be a large part of their children's education and since public schools cannot accommodate that need, parents look for other alternatives in education.

Parents who hold the political views of libertarian or anarchist leanings put forth a mighty effort to use any institutions as little as possible - schools included.

Other parents simply want to have their children's education in their own hands because they feel they can offer higher standards of education.

Parents who travel frequently may also choose to home school. It would be rather difficult to have a child change schools internationally and get a reasonable education.

A nurturing environment is a desire most parents have for their children and public schools really can't offer this.

Children who are ill often do not have the choice of going to an institutionalized school.

I can certainly see why some parents decide to home school their children. The public school system can be a scary place sometimes; especially since Columbine and other school shootings.

Home schooling does have its advantages.

What Are the Advantages of Homeschooling?

· The curriculum can be adjusted to the student vs. the public school approach of adjusting to the average student. A child who is intelligent beyond his or her age may not advance in an environment such as the public school system. Tailoring education to a child's specific needs and personality is important. In a public school's English class a student that doesn't understand something is often left behind while the rest of the class moves on. Falling behind at any point means staying behind far too often. A home schooled child is much less likely to have this happen because of that one on one attention that they receive.

· One thing that is definite is children tend to advance faster when the student to teach ratio is low. Public schools cannot provide one on one attention and home schooling does just that.

· Home schooled children are more likely to receive a seamless education. Most usually, one person will take on the role of the teacher. He or she knows where the child is, what has been learned, understands weaknesses and strengths and because of this the education is consistent.

· Time restraints are not placed on home schooled children. They do not have to be in class before the bell rings. Administrative concerns are left behind and more can be learned in a shorter amount of time.

· In institutional classrooms, children tend to think as a social group. Decisions are largely influenced by what others think, how others act and react, etc. A child who is home schooled must think independently. This seems to help develop a level of independence that many children in institutions do not acquire.

· The influence home schooled children receive is that of adults vs. the influence of peers.

Home schooling has its disadvantages too.

What Are the Disadvantages of Homeschooling?

· Spending 24/7 with a child can be overwhelming for a parent. Not only are they doing the cooking, laundry, errands and other everyday chores - they now are the teacher too. For some parents, this is simply too much.

· Most home schooled children are taught by a parent. This means sacrifices will be made in terms of careers, outside activities and time. One parent who does not work can be burdening financially.

· Interactions with peers are limited. While some see it as an advantage, others do not. All children who have siblings will use them as playmates. However, most will have playmates and friends outside of the family circle. This diversity is healthy and leads children to develop normal social skills. Socializing is a large part of life - from birth onward. When socializing is inhibited psychological and social issues surface. Trips to the grocery store, the mall, religious services and museums account for only a small amount of socializing a child needs. Having an adequate amount of socializing with their peers makes up the majority of what is needed for a child to be well-rounded socially. Home schooled children rarely get this much needed life skill.

· Not every parent is a qualified teacher. If a parent's own education is lacking, it will become increasingly difficult to teach a child as they advance. A student's education can only grow to the point of the teachers. Some parents are not unqualified due to education, but to actual ability. This can mean several different things - unorganized, unstructured, unable to keep a routine, undisciplined and unable to discipline or inarticulate people will have difficulty teaching a child properly.

· Institutional schools have teachers who are required to go through years of training to gain the skills needed to educate others; home school teachers do not have this same requirement. Some parents or people that home school do have a brilliant education and are able to teach wonderfully. However, we all have our weaknesses. For instance, I could easily teach a child about literature, art, history and grammar. However, I would struggle with math beyond basic algebra. In an institution, different teachers have their own specialized field in which they know very well. This is a serious advantage that children who are educated in institutions have.

· A home schooled child is not likely to have all the benefits that a school would have. There's probably no gym, art class, science lab, library, etc in most people's homes.

· The expense of home schooling is sometimes outrages. A parent has to buy the curriculum, the teacher's manuals, text books, teaching supplies, do field trips, etc. This can run into some money fast. Public schools are much less expensive and sometimes even religious or private schools are cheaper. Not only will one parent not be adding to the families finances, but the expenses will be growing as well.

· Sports and other activities are not as readily available to home schooled children. While extreme competitiveness isn't ideal, it is natural for a child to want to excel in sports, theater or some other extra curricular area.

A Well-Rounded Homeschooled Child

· Parents who decide to homeschool should make every effort to socialize their children with other children of the same age. Bringing your children along on errands, grocery shopping, the mall or religious services and activities is not sufficient. Involve them in sports, dance, music lessons, art, theater or any other activities that they may be interested in where they will have a genuine opportunity to make friends among their peers.

· Children thrive on routines. While getting away from an unbreakable schedule is nice, it is also important to keep your child's education as routine as possible.

· Know your own limitations as a teacher. No one is perfect. You will not always have the answers. When this occurs, do your research. A couple of easily accessible resources that is available to everyone are your local library and the internet.

· Know your limitations as a parent. Being a parent can be trying; adding the role of teacher to the mix can be extremely stressful. Minimize your stress by being organized and as structured as possible.

· Don't keep learning inside. The world is full of opportunities to teach our children whether they are homeschooled or not. The homeschooled child can be given the advantage of getting out of the in-home classroom and learning things firsthand. Fieldtrips aren't just for public schools!

The Choice That Fits Your Family

In the end, only a parent can decide what is right for their child. By weighing both the benefits and the disadvantages of homeschooling, this decision will hopefully be easier to make.