A short time ago, I received an email asking me to explain what I perceive as the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling. I’ve written an extended post here for the benefit of my readers. However, I’ve come to realize I’m not a fount of all knowledge and have far to come in this regard. So, I’d like to hear if you agree or disagree with my points and if you’ve found any extra pros or cons of homeschooling.
Without further ado, let’s look at the questions submitted thanks to Jasmine.
1. Do you believe home-schooling can have a disadvantage on the development of a child compared to them attending a mainstream school?
Yes and no.
No in that homeschooling is a tool which can be used with skill or abused to the detriment of the child. School can also be used well in some instances, but, in my opinion, is usually so underfunded, socially controlled by the government and permissive of peer pressure among children that it isn’t used well. (You can see all the problems I perceive with schools here.)
2. If yes, what aspect of development do you believe is affected the most?
Yes in that any disadvantages of homeschooling are usually a result of parents who have no regard for the proper education of children in the home learning environment. This includes social, technological and spiritual aspects.
While most parents who consider homeschooling are extremely versed on the dangers of failing to socialize children, there are a few parents who think that:
- The kids don’t need socialization and nothing bad will happen if they don’t socialize.
- Because the parents don’t like socializing, their kids won’t either.
- They can neglect their children and that’s okay (or it won’t affect them).
In the first instance, parents innocently fail to recognize their child’s social needs. Whether their mistake is innocent or not, it may lead to children who resent parents for choosing to home educate (I’ve seen this a lot among homeschool graduates). It might also cause home education graduates who struggle to fit in with society immediately after their introduction into the ‘real world’ (again, I’ve personally observed this a few times). This culture shock can have consequences too (failure to be successful in job hunting or career pathways; difficulty socializing with others; difficulty in performing simple day-to-day tasks everyone else knows about).
In the second instance, homeschoolers can have ‘introverted’ parents who can’t imagine anything worse than spending time with others in social situations. They sometimes assume their children will be similarly inclined and so they keep them from social situations to the detriment of their children.
Very occasionally, some homeschooling families – like some school families – abuse their children and don’t care if their child is adversely affected by lack of socialization. This is extremely sad. Unfortunately, families like this seem to get a disproportionate amount of media attention. Indeed, every time a homeschooling family abuses or neglects their children, it tends to get into the papers (especially if it’s a Christian family as the media don’t seem to be in favor of Christianity these days – see Israel Folau as an example).
Still, another very, very small subset of parents has every intention of abusing and controlling their children. So they sign up to home educate them. Again, this gives homeschooling a bad name.
When parents aren’t aware of the negative effects of technology overuse, they can sabotage their children’s brains from a young age. Although some parents (particularly unschooling parents) will vehemently disagree with me, letting children play as many video games as they want is not good for them!
For example, I know a two-year-old boy that has nil to 10 minutes of Thomas the Tank Engine a day. He is noticeably different from many two-year-olds in that he isn’t squirming with technology withdrawals as some children are who are used to having as much screen time as they desire. It makes me so sad when children don’t want to play with you, instead, they want to get lost in the fake online fantasy world that’s giving them everything they want – so long as they’re connected. However, I don’t think it’s giving children what they need to learn properly.
Note: Some people say homeschoolers miss out on all the great equipment schools have. However, schools also miss out on the great extracurricular activities and chances home education offers as a result of not having to be tethered to the school environment for six or seven hours a day.
While many homeschooling parents are great at feeding their children a constant supply of the gospel, some get side-tracked and become legalistic. They follow rules and formulas like the Pharisees in order to get their children into heaven. The Bible says we are utterly sinful and we can only be saved through the atoning work of Jesus Christ our Saviour. He alone is good enough to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with God.
Sadly, I see too much legalism in homeschooled families. One example I can think of was a family whose parents wouldn’t let them socialize with any non-Christians as the parents thought unbelievers would stain their children. This led to a really restrictive life and failed to take into account the sinfulness that is present in our own hearts. The daughter recounted how her father shouted at her uncontrollably when he found his 16-year-old listening to a very tame pop song. Of course, the hypocritical nature of her father was immediately evident in that he was being angry and so being sinful himself.
The long and short of it is that legalism can ruin Christian families. We need freedom in Christ accompanied by a lot of prayer and Bible reading. This is because Satan walks around like a roaring lion ready to devour. But, God can be a hedge all around us if we ask him. The Bible is also the most useful guide to life we will find.
3. What are the benefits of a child attending home-school compared to a mainstream school?
Contrary to popular opinion, when homeschooling is done well, it allows a much more positive environment for children. In my article, 100 Reasons to Homeschool, I shared a whole bunch of reasons a parent might choose to homeschool. For ease, I split these up into a few categories which I will briefly outline below.
Social Advantages of Homeschooling
- guidance from bad influences like peers,
- exposure to drugs, smoking, alcohol, and bullying,
- sexual pressure to become a sex idol,
- exposure to sexting and pornography, and
- of a judgemental environment which aids learning
- guidance from good influences like parents,
- chances to get to know the community,
- opportunity to interact with people of other ages which means you are more used to talking to them when you graduate school,
- time for parents to spend with their kids, and
- time to spend on lobbying political groups, reading the Bible, and thinking through deep and controversial issues of our day
Homeschoolers are also often better behaved due to the aforementioned points.
A big drawcard of homeschooling is the time it lets parents have with their kids. As a Christian, you have more time to disciple your children. You spend less time doing damage control due to conflicting ideas and attitudes to Christianity from schools, teachers, peers and peers parents.
You can explain your religious perspective more thoroughly instead of having it explained by whichever teacher your child’s year group happens to have. Furthermore, unlike a lot of public schools who only promote religious humanism, you can compare popular religions to the Christian religion and inform young minds the way you want to. That is, in a homeschool situation, you can teach children without being forced to give lip-service to politically correct lobby groups or government bodies.
There are also a lot of practical advantages of homeschooling such as:
- because homeschoolers have more time to sleep, they can concentrate on their work more as they’re not as tired as their school mates who are getting less sleep. This is a particularly salient point for teenagers whose body clock needs them to sleep in until 9am and stay up late,
- better opportunities to do an elite sport,
- being able to study anywhere at any time, and
- choosing when to start formal schooling (i.e. if your child is developmentally delayed or has another reason why he/she should start formal schooling later).
School can be a tiring process with children coming home in an irritable mood at the end of the day. As such, homeschools provide a more flexible, slower-paced environment. This means children are less worn out at the end of the day and more inclined to interact positively with parents.
Additionally, homeschools offer:
- a less peer-oriented environment and a more family-oriented environment. This means family bonding is stronger and
- more time to improve relationships. This results in siblings who are often best friends with each other and their parents.
For many, homeschooling can be an exciting time where parents learn things alongside their children. This creates lifelong learners (the parents!). Often children have lower anxiety levels as they have more contact with their parents’ love. (This is probably why so many children with special needs homeschool – that is, lower anxiety levels which leads to better learning).
In school, you might find children who suppress their abilities to fit in with the peer group around them. In a homeschool, academic prowess is encouraged, and genius is more readily brought to the surface thanks to encouraging parents and siblings.
Another benefit of homeschooling is the academic advantages it has to offer. These include:
- getting work done in three hours or less on average,
- children becoming self-learners,
- homeschoolers becoming great readers,
- the ability to do subjects you might not be able to/might not be allowed to do in school,
- more motivation as children are doing less busywork and have more of an opportunity to pick subjects they enjoy. Parents can cross out the busywork in the curriculum and point children to work that will be more helpful.
- no exams. I’ve read a lot which suggests exams are often not helpful and embitter children to learning through raising anxiety levels. When exams are present, it seems children tend to learn with an aim to get a high mark. When exams are not present, children learn for the fun of learning. When children learn for the fun of learning it means they’ll take in more as their brain isn’t inhibited by stress hormones. There’s a lot of talk that flies around every time children sit NAPLAN as many people suspect the test isn’t for the children or families, but for the government. (Read this experts article on why he won’t let his kids sit NAPLAN).
- homeschoolers can better dedicate themselves to an entrepreneurial venture. Getting an early start means they can make mistakes when they’re at home and use the pocket money they’ve earned to further their venture.
Some practical advantages of homeschooling include:
- parents can travel if they homeschool,
- the ability to holiday outside of school days so you miss the school rush, and
- you can get a cheaper education than an expensive public school (although probably similar or more compared to a public school.)
Special Needs Advantages
Homeschooling is self-paced and offers a slower more flexible environment for special needs students. Among other things, this means:
- children with disabilities can attend medical appointments without falling behind. It also means they can catch up on any schoolwork they missed when they’re feeling better. They can also proceed at a slower pace compared to that set in a school. This means they don’t feel silly or more disabled by peers who tease them for their disability
- children with autism can have a quieter, more familiar environment in which to work. This means they’re not distracted constantly and can get on with schoolwork without feeling overly anxious as is often the case when they’re in school.
Homeschooling can also offer children with gifts an opportunity to work at a faster pace than school offers, meaning they can develop their gifts instead of suppressing them as often happens in schools. While some schools have special ‘gifted’ classes, many gifted children find even these are not enough and long to work at a faster pace all the time.
4. Do you believe there are ways of actively preventing developmental delays when it comes to a child’s overall development when it comes to home-schooling? If so, what are some of these strategies?
I don’t think a child will be developmentally delayed if they are home educated. So long as they are (1) well socialized and (2) they’re being given plenty of love and support with (3) a good education, they should be fine in regards to normal development.
While some mistakenly believe homeschooling is an inferior form of education, this isn’t supported by the evidence and what I’ve seen. In fact, I’ve been so impressed with homeschool graduates. They seem to be people who are willing to interact with people of all ages using intelligent and empathetic conversation. These days it is rare to find such informed people – but I have been able to find them often among home educated students.
If you want to read about my own homeschooling experience (I’m a homeschool graduate), you can go to this link. Hope this was helpful. If you want any further clarification (or I’ve misunderstood a point and you want to clarify it), leave me a comment below. Thanks.