Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular among parents in US these days. Research conducted in last few years showed a significant increase in the number of children, who are homeschooled, from 1.7% in 1998 to 2.9% in 2007. What for some is a question of choice, for others is a necessity. Many children, who live in remote, rural areas or frequently travel and relocate have no other choice but to be homeschooled by their parents or professional tutors. However, in the vast group of homeschooled children there are some families, which deliberately made the decision to refrain from sending the children to public or private schools. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this decision? Is homeschooling better or worse than typical school education?
Pros – more freedom, curricula better adjusted to individual needs of the students
The typical education system puts a lot of pressure on the students, who often have problems with adjusting to the school rules or do not feel comfortable in a highly competitive environment. Some students find daily activities at school too exhausting physically or mentally, others are bullied at school and are afraid to face their peers. Homeschooling offers a freedom from all that. The parents or tutors are in control of the time the students spend on learning new skills and they can adjust the pace to individual requirements of the student.
The latter is extremely important for children with learning difficulties and atypical learning styles. Large classes in public schools offer very little space for individual treatment of every student. Individual curricula provide an opportunity to deal with the learning difficulties, to improve the weakest skills of the student or to make sure that the child is more focused and more interested in all academic disciplines. Homeschooling can be a good choice not only when your kid is performing worse than the rest of the children in the class, but also when he or she far exceeds the results achieved by the peers. Individual contact with the tutor and support of homeschooling parents provide motivation the student needs the most to keep achieving the best possible results.
Cons – alienation, the risk of ideological teaching, more pressure on parents
The most common anti-homeschooling argument is the alienation of homeschooled children: while typical school environment can be tough, unfair and challenging for the kids, it is the mini version of the real world, where competition and the ability to find your place in a group are everyday reality. Children, who are homeschooled 1-on-1 or in small groups require more time to adjust to academic environment at colleges or universities and often have hard time adapting to their work environment. It is extremely important to provide homeschooled children with free time they can spend with their peers to develop certain social skills.
The reason why some parents choose homeschooling over traditional public schools is because they can model the curriculum the way they want it to be, putting more emphasis on issues and disciplines they think are most important or adjusting the curricula to their own political views and religious beliefs. This puts heavy limitations on the children’s ability to express their own opinions. Finally, most parents, who decide to homeschool their children discover that all the pressure is now on them: they either have to find a lot of time, energy and skills to teach their children by themselves or they require financial resources to provide their children with private tutoring, which is often quite expensive.
To sum up: homeschooling has some undeniable benefits over public schools, but before you make the decision make sure that you can afford it. Do you have the right skills to teach your children? Can you provide them with professional tutoring? Many homeschooling parents rely on online resources and courses, which allow them to reduce the costs of tutoring and provide their children with professional training. The disadvantages of homeschooling can be significantly reduced if you can provide your children with enough free time to spend with their peers.