The homeschooling population in the US makes up about 3.4% of the school-age population – that’s approximately 1,770,000 students nationwide. Homeschooling is an excellent option for many families because of the flexibility, freedom, and other benefits it offers, but it is not without faults. When deciding whether or not to homeschool, it’s essential to understand both the pros and cons of homeschooling so that you can make the best decision for your family.
Here are a few of the most important key points to consider if you’re thinking about homeschooling.
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
The Pros of Homeschooling
If homeschooling is right for your family, there are tons of advantages that you can look forward to.
Here are a handful of pros of homeschooling.
Children who attend traditional schools often have class schedules that include both core classes and elective classes. These elective classes are designed to allow students time to study subjects that interest them and may one day turn into a career. When it comes to homeschooling, there is more flexibility to choose what optional activities to participate in.
Rather than having to choose between cookie-cutter courses, students can dive into in-depth elective education like one-on-one music classes, community service, and more. The capability of homeschooled kids to choose what they want to study contributes to their ability to be contributing citizens to society as they grow.
Even though studies suggest starting school in the early morning is not beneficial for kids, the fact remains that most public schools start their sessions at that time. Homeschooling allows you to choose what time to begin schooling, which will enable parents to select realistic start times that prioritize students’ sleep.
Being well-rested at the beginning of the school day increases productivity, reduces stress and anxiety, and leads to an overall more successful workday.
Better Student/Teacher Ratio
The student to teacher ratio is often way out of whack when it comes to public schools. In many states, the standard for K-12 students is 1:20 and sometimes even more. While public schools might consider this ratio ideal, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to focusing on the students.
Parents who choose to homeschool have a dramatically reduced student to teacher ratio. This allows as much time as is needed to spend one-on-one, ensuring kids are getting all the support and help they need to understand their objectives. This also allows parents to focus on areas where students need immediate and close attention whenever required.
Freedom to Choose Curricula
One of the most common reasons why parents choose to homeschool is the desire to select curricula. In some cases, parents desire to include moral and religious education with the core curriculum. Parents also enjoy the freedom to choose the most high-quality curricula that most closely fit their student’s needs.
Having the capability to choose and customize curricula based on the student means that more time can be spent focusing on weaker areas. This makes for a more well-rounded education for students since parents can avoid wasting time in areas where their student excels. This also means that deficiencies can be addressed much more expeditiously and efficiently since one-on-one time can be spent tackling these issues.
More Time for Extracurriculars
Students in traditional public schools usually only have a few hours a day to dedicate to extracurricular activities. These activities are essential to shape kids into model citizens, get into good colleges, and even to learn more about themselves. Consequently, there is never too much time spent on good extracurricular activities.
Students who are homeschooled have more time to dedicate to these areas. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooled students are not shut up in their homes, utterly devoid of social interaction. In fact, many homeschooled students are active in extracurricular activities such as a 4-H club or music lessons.
The extra time available to spend on extracurriculars means that these students get to spend more time doing what they’re passionate about, which leads to higher levels of motivation and lower levels of stress.
One of the most enticing things about homeschooling is the flexibility of a homeschool schedule. In addition to the benefit of having later start times, homeschooled students are also at an advantage when it comes to spending time doing the things that matter, like spending time with family and going on field trips.
Lack of Violence
Many schools across the country are riddled with violence among their student body. This might come in the form of bullying, physical altercations, and even mental abuse. Homeschooled children have the benefit of being able to learn in an environment that is loving, supportive, and welcoming. The lack of violence in a homeschool environment can lead to higher self-esteem and more self-confidence, which creates happier and higher functioning adults in the long run.
The Cons of Homeschooling
Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone. There are many disadvantages that you should be aware of when considering whether or not to homeschool, as well.
Here are some cons of homeschooling.
Lack of Facilities
One of the things that puts homeschooling at a disadvantage is their lack of facilities. Where public schools have funding to build swimming pools, running tracks, and soccer fields, the typical homeschooling parent does not. It can also be more difficult for homeschoolers to obtain materials and chemicals needed for certain science experiments.
Costly Resources and Materials
Homeschooling can represent a significant financial burden on families. According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, parents can expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $600 USD per year per student on resources and materials needed for good homeschooling. Compared to the public school’s mostly free approach, this could be a significant barrier for families on a budget.
Reduced Social Interaction
Kids who attend public schools have hundreds of other kids under the same roof that are in the same age group and share similar interests. Students also learn how to interact with administration, work together as a team with their classmates, and manage relationships well when in school.
While it’s not impossible for homeschooled kids to get similar social interaction, it does take extra effort on the parents part, since social activities need to be planned and attended regularly to get adequate amounts of social interaction.
Even though the typical homeschooling schedule is shorter than public school, that doesn’t mean it is not a time-consuming practice. Parents who expect to develop well-educated children must dedicate a lot of time to preparing for homeschooling. This time is spent reviewing and selecting curricula, designing or downloading assignments, grading tests, and planning activities, and that doesn’t even include the time spent teaching.
Dealing with Stigma
Homeschooling families fight negative stigmas surrounding their family’s choices every day. AS a homeschooling parent, you might come across people that believe those who homeschool their children aren’t preparing them adequately for “the real world.”
There is also a stigma surrounding the students as well that says homeschooled children are anti-social, strange people who don’t conform with society’s standards. Even though these stigmas can be tough to face, parents who choose to homeschool can rest assured knowing that research has proved them to be completely false.
Creating and continuing a stable, homeschooling environment is an ever-changing art. If you are considering homeschooling, you need to be ready to continually adapt to new ways of doing things in the classroom. Each year that passes brings new curriculum options, technology advancements, and vital statewide objectives.
As your child grows, you must also be ready to adapt to teach them in new ways. What works well for first-grade math teaching, for example, might not be as successful when teaching twelfth-grade level calculus. It’s important to remember that your child’s capacity will grow along with them, so the best approach is to be ready to make changes when they are due.
Loss of a Second Income
Homeschooling is not a quick or straightforward task. As we have discussed, it takes hours of planning and even more time to execute correctly. As a result, successful homeschooling families often must sacrifice their careers to properly educate their children, which equates to a loss of income in a two-paycheck family.
Families who are not able to absorb the financial burden of a loss of income combined with the high cost of materials and resources for homeschooling might find other options more appealing for themselves and their children.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
Deciding whether to put your child in a traditional school or keeping them home to get their education is not always a straightforward decision. Overall, there are upsides and downsides to taking the homeschooling approach. While it is true that there are benefits to each option, there are also downsides to each. That’s why it’s so important to stay informed about the benefits and risks of each. When you do, you can rest assured that you make the best possible decision for your child.