It’s a difficult decision to make. Deciding how your children should be educated takes a lot of time, research and commitment. Most of us are thinking about whether or not to go with public or private school, but home schooling is a third option that is growing in popularity.
When discussing the pros and cons of this method, I speak from experience. We chose to home school from grades 3 and 4 upwards, and it was successful. We did our homework before we made the decision, and here is what we found:
Individual Attention: The teacher/student ratio is one of the key factors in educating our children. The more individual attention, the better for the student.
Learn at Their Own Pace: In regular classrooms, the teachers have to set the pace for learning, because the time they have each year is limited. If the material is too easy for one child, boredom sets in. If it’s too difficult or the child isn’t ready for it, then they get left behind.
Individual Learning Styles: With one on one, you can figure out how your child learns best and plan lessons around it. If the child learns best hands on, you can provide that atmosphere. This is not possible when there are twenty or thirty other kids to be taught at the same time.
Independent Learning: I strongly suggest that you call your local colleges and universities to find out whether or not the accept home schooled students. I did that, and I was told by both that they were actually preferred over those who went to regular classes. One of the reasons they gave is that home schooled kids have independent learning skills. They don’t need their hands held every step of the way.
Less Embarrassment: In a family environment, it’s much easier to try something difficult and make a mistake. There isn’t a classroom of other students watching, and the kids feel more confident to try.
There are cons to this idea, and they should be considered. I will explain what we did or felt about each, but each family and each child in that family are different. What worked for us may not work for you.
Socializing: This was the first objection brought up by everyone we talked to on the topic. It’s true, you will have to make more of an effort to see that the children develop social skills. I will pass on that the college and university I called listed this as another positive for home schooled children. They tend to get along with all or most people, no matter their age. Those in regular classes tend to only get along with their age group.
To get around this problem, look to the community. Let the kids join Little League or attend youth functions at your church. There may be a support group of families in your area that meet regularly so the kids can play together. Also, don’t forget volunteer work.
Time: I was a stay at home mom, so I had the time to devote. If both parents work outside the home, this could be a deal breaker, especially for younger kids.
Parent’s Education: It’s best if at least one parent has a college degree, even if that parent isn’t the primary teacher. He or she can help guide the curriculum.
Legality: School districts do not like home schooling, unless it’s done by and through them. That is mostly a money issue, they lose money if they don’t have your child in attendance. Some states have laws that regulate this process, and you will want to find out what they are in your state.
When we were educating our children, the requirements were that one parent had to have at least a Bachelor’s degree, that we did a minimum of 80% of the teaching and that we file paperwork as a school. To be on the safe side, we also signed up with an organization that protects the rights of homeschooling families.
If you are considering home schooling your children, please keep the above in mind as you weigh your options. While it is good for some families, it may not be good for everyone.