A few years ago, global events forced the shift from classroom-based to online learning. In the last two years, while most children have returned to school, homeschooling has gained increasing popularity as an alternative to traditional classroom education, recording a rise of 34% in homeschooled children in England alone.
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Some of the reasons that parents homeschool today include:
- dissatisfaction with the quality of online learning,
- a preference for more flexibility
- control over the curriculum and
- concerns about the safety of schools.
If you’re interested in homeschooling, let’s look at a few important points to consider before starting.
by Deborah Ferguson
Advantages of Homeschooling
The flexibility, personalised learning, and unique social dynamics offered by homeschooling have intrigued many parents.
However, before embarking on this educational journey, it’s crucial to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling, as well as the essential factors that make children’s homeschooling experience a positive one.
One of the most significant advantages of homeschooling is the ability to adapt education to each child’s individual needs.
In a traditional classroom, teachers must cater to a diverse group of students, making it difficult to provide personalized attention to each one.
Homeschooling allows parents to adapt teaching methods, pace, and content to suit their child’s strengths and weaknesses, fostering a deeper understanding of the subjects.
Homeschooling allows families to create a flexible schedule that suits their lifestyle.
This freedom can be particularly beneficial for families with unique circumstances, such as those who travel frequently or have children pursuing specific talents, like athletics or the arts.
Learning can take place at any time of day, allowing for a more organic integration of education into daily life.
Stronger family bonds
Homeschooling often leads to stronger family bonds as it allows for more quality time spent together.
Families engage in the learning process, share experiences, and explore subjects of interest collectively.
This shared journey can result in a deeper understanding of one another and create lasting memories.
Safer learning environment
Concerns about bullying, peer pressure, and safety in traditional schools have prompted many parents to consider homeschooling.
In a homeschooling environment, parents can ensure that their children learn in a safe and nurturing space, free from the negative influences that can sometimes be present in traditional schools.
Homeschooling empowers parents to have a more direct role in their child’s education.
They can choose the curriculum, teaching materials, and educational approaches that align with their values and goals.
This autonomy allows parents to infuse their beliefs and principles into their child’s learning experience.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
While the benefits of homeschooling are very tempting, it’s important to consider the potential negative aspects of this option, for both parents and children.
Time and commitment
Homeschooling demands a significant investment of time and effort from parents.
If a parent has to design lessons, teach a curriculum themselves, or assess their child’s progress – these things can be time-consuming, especially for parents who are also juggling work and other responsibilities.
It may requires a high level of commitment to maintain a consistent and effective educational routine.
Limited social interaction
One of the main concerns about homeschooling is the disadvantage of perceived limited social interaction.
Traditional schools offer children the chance to interact with a diverse group of peers, developing social skills and the ability to work collaboratively.
Homeschooling parents, on the other hand, need to make a conscious effort to provide opportunities for their children to engage with peers, through activities like playdates, clubs, and community events.
This said, homeschooling socialization can be more varied than school offers and usually has far fewer negative influences compared to school.
Lack of specialised expertise
Homeschooling parents might not possess expertise in all subjects, particularly in advanced or specialised areas.
This can potentially lead to gaps in the child’s education or limit their exposure to certain subjects.
Parents often need to seek external resources or tutors to supplement their teaching in areas where they lack proficiency.
However, this isn’t a difficult process, and finding the right curriculum can usually fill in many of these gaps. (Keep in mind that schools also have gaping education holes such as lack of life skill experience.)
Limited extracurricular opportunities
Traditional schools offer various extracurricular activities, from sports teams to art clubs, contributing to a well-rounded education.
Homeschooling families might face challenges in providing similar opportunities, as they may need to rely on external organizations or community groups to access such activities.
On the other hand, homeschooling also provides unusual sporting opportunities due to the amount of time children spend at home.
For example, they can dedicate hours, instead of minutes, to a hobby or sport they’re interested in.
How to Homeschool Children Successfully
Homeschooling comes with its challenges, but adequate preparation allows you to anticipate and plan for these challenges, making you better equipped to handle them.
Even if you are not a certified teacher, preparing beforehand can enhance your teaching skills. If you want to develop your understanding of teaching methodologies, communication techniques, and classroom management strategies before you start homeschooling, learn about ESL certification here.
Research legal requirements
Before beginning homeschooling, it’s crucial to research and understand the legal requirements in your region.
Some areas have specific regulations or reporting obligations that homeschooling parents must adhere to.
Being well-informed about these legalities will help you start your homeschooling journey on the right foot.
You can do that by checking out the HSLDA which will give you legal homeschool information in your state.
Set clear goals and expectations
Define your educational goals and expectations for your child’s homeschooling experience.
What subjects do you want to cover?
What are your desired outcomes?
Setting clear goals will help you stay focused and provide a roadmap for your child’s learning journey.
Choose a curriculum
Selecting a curriculum that aligns with your goals and your child’s learning style is crucial.
There are various options available, from structured textbooks to more flexible, project-based approaches.
Tailor the curriculum to accommodate your child’s strengths, interests, and areas for growth.
Create a structured routine
Establishing a structured daily routine provides stability and predictability to your child’s learning experience.
Designate specific times for different subjects, breaks, and activities.
A routine helps children develop good study habits and time management skills.
Counter the potential socialization challenges of homeschooling by actively seeking out opportunities for your child to interact with peers.
Join homeschooling co-ops, enrol in community classes, and encourage participation in clubs or sports teams to ensure your child’s social development.
In a nutshell
Homeschooling offers a unique and customizable approach to education that can cater to a child’s individual needs and family’s values. The decision to homeschool should be made after careful consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages it presents. Remember, homeschooling requires dedication and adaptability, but the rewards of witnessing your child’s progress and development can be immeasurable.