The modern homeschool revolution began in the 1970s when John Holt, an educational theorist, called attention to some schools’ oppressive classroom environments. Today, there are about approximately two million children currently learning from home. Moreover, homeschooling’s popularity continues to grow because statistics show an increase in homeschool students by 7% to 15% each year. Many parents opt for homeschooling for a plethora of reasons such as safety concerns, bullying, drugs, negative peer pressure, and struggling schools that leave some children behind, especially those with special needs.
Homeschooling unlocks valuable opportunities for students to expand knowledge and transferrable skills, as well as harness their unique qualities and interests. But like other learning models – such as public schools, private schools, charter schools, etc. – homeschooling has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantage that homeschooling advocates praise is the freedom that home instruction grants students and parents. Since many families feel religious and spiritual beliefs are an important component of their identity, homeschooling provides the opportunity for parents to include beliefs into daily instruction.
In the majority of cases, homeschool students thrive from private one-on-one attention. Parents can better assess their kids’ strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and interests. Homeschooling children can move through educational materials at a faster pace than their peers. If your child is ready to move on to a new lesson, you do not need to waste time on redundant or repetitive exercises. If your child is struggling with a subject or a specific concept, you can work with your child until she or he masters the material. This makes kids highly motivated to learn, thereby molding them into better students.
More importantly, homeschool parents can mitigate negative influences and distractions such as bullying or peer pressure. Kids enrolled in homeschool education also may get out in their communities more than other children. Homeschoolers get to experience hands-on education at museums, libraries, businesses, marinas, and other community resources. They also might volunteer or participate in “service learning” where they take on local projects. With their lives no longer revolving around school hours, homework, and the traditional school calendar, homeschool families have an easier time scheduling an off-season vacation, visiting museums, and participating in other educational field trips.
Many people laud the benefits of homeschooling, but the practice also has critics. A lot of people just don’t understand homeschooling and that can feel frustrating for a homeschooled child. First, homeschool instruction can become more expensive than enrolling students in a private institution or hiring a private tutor. While there are many free resources available, homeschool supplies such as textbooks, books, paper, art supplies, computers, software, and other homeschool tools can cut into your monthly budget.
You or your spouse will have to either opt for a part-time job or not work at all so that one of you can guide the kids with their homeschooling. You will take the dual responsibilities of both teacher and administrator. You will need to implement lessons, organize field trips, coordinate activities with other parents, and make sure you are compliant with state and local homeschool requirements. These responsibilities get added to your normal role as a parent. Parents will also have to continuously do research and adapt their teaching methods to make sure students receive the best standard of education. You need to prepare to be more patient and innovative in assisting a child who is a slow learner or has special learning needs.
Homeschooling may result in some socialization issues. Children do not receive the same level of exposure to their peers, which might affect their ability to develop the coping mechanisms required. Students may have limited involvement in team sports and other extra-curricular activities because most public schools do not allow homeschool students to participate. Parents try to solve this by scheduling play dates, organizing sports teams with other families who have homeschooled students, or outside curricular programs.
Homeschooling has become an incredibly popular alternative to sending kids to school. While many parents have understandable concerns about homeschooling, there are a plethora of advantages to this style of learning. Whatever education path you choose for your child, be sure to weigh the pros and cons, and consider how your student’s goals align with your decision. Each child is unique and his or her parents must acknowledge this to tap into a homeschool child’s true potential.