10 Things to Consider
It’s back-to-school season, and many kids are hopping on school buses, walking in crowds, or climbing into carpools to head off to school with backpacks filled with fresh pencils, blank notebooks, and folders full of new school-year forms. Many other kids will be gathering around their kitchen table or in-home classroom for their parent, tutor, or nanny to teach them, or perhaps logging onto the computer for online schools. While sending kids off to school is a no-brainer for many parents, some parents are torn between sending kids off to school and homeschooling.
Schooling options are not one-size-fits-all; the right fit will differ from one kid to the next.
10 Factors to Determine Whether Homeschooling is Right for You and Your Child
People have a variety of reasons for homeschooling (e.g., children’s health, quality of education, flexible scheduling, religion, family cohesiveness, special needs, etc.). It is important that you clearly identify your motivations for homeschooling and determine if they are valid reasons for homeschooling your children. For example, if you are concerned about quality of education, you can easily solve that problem by moving to a town with quality schools or investing in private school.
#2: Your Schedule
Today’s economy often requires both parents to work to make ends meet. If you are a stay-at-home parent or work night shift when your spouse or partner is home, your schedule is more accommodating for homeschooling. If you work during the day, you will have to arrange childcare during the day and have to do school in the evening when the children are tired or rambunctious. You and the other parent’s schedule plays a major factor in whether homeschooling is right for you and your family.
#3: Children’s Learning Style and Needs
Many children fall behind in a traditional classroom because one or two teachers are responsible for teaching 25 or more children. If your child thrives in a smaller setting because they need more individual attention, homeschooling may be right for them. In addition, school comes with other distractions (e.g., bullying, peer pressure, cliques, safety drills, etc.) that can shift the focus away from learning. Some children may thrive in a classroom because they are competitive and/or enjoy collaborating with others. Special needs children may need to be in school because they can receive specialized instruction from trained teachers that you may not know how to provide. Gifted children may need to be homeschooled because school does not challenge them enough, which may cause them to become frustrated, pretend to be not as conscientious, and act out.
Homeschooling with a curriculum comes at a cost. You will have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on the curriculum, books, and supplies, while a public school can save you the money you would be spending on homeschooling. Online public schools are tuition-free, but you may have to pay for lab materials and other supplies that are typically supplied by a physical school.
#5: Your Teaching Ability
A degree in education does not necessarily make a great teacher, but it helps people become great teachers. You will need patience and the ability to quickly learn subjects before teaching them. If you do not have the abilities of a teacher, you might have to consider online school or sending your children to public school. Teachers often inspire students, and having multiple teachers offers children multiple perspectives. You being their only teacher may rob them of that opportunity to be inspired by teachers.
Socialization is the reason many parents opt to send their children to school. If you have introverted children that are not involved in many activities, homeschooling may not be right for them, because it limits their opportunity to make friends. If you have an extroverted children that are involved in many community activities or have a large family of cousins and siblings, homeschooling may be alright for them.
#7: Length of Homeschooling
You will need to consider whether you will be homeschooling temporarily or for their entire school career. The length of homeschooling can play a role in the factors of cost, socialization, and development.
#8: Stigma and Support
People will judge you for homeschooling your children, and they may automatically jump to erroneous conclusions about you and your children. You will need to be prepared for that and seek support on social media and community homeschooling support groups.
#9: Your Children’s Future
Some technical high schools, colleges, and universities may not accept homeschooling students or may have additional admissions requirements for homeschooled students. If your child is entering high school and knows that a prestigious university is not in his or her future, homeschooling will not impact his or her future. If your child’s goal requires a prestigious university or their intelligence qualifies them for a prestigious university, homeschooling may hurt them.
#10: State Requirements
Standards and requirements for homeschooled students vary. Some states have very stringent standards and supervision, while other states are more lax. State exams are still required for homeschooled students in many states. You will have to determine whether you can meet the state requirements.
Determining Whether Homeschooling Fits, In a Nutshell
Homeschooling offers many benefits and downfalls, and traditional schooling offers many benefits and downfalls. Determining which route to take can be difficult. Just because homeschooling may work for some children and families does not mean it will work for you and your family. You will need to consider your abilities and finances and your children’s needs and future.