Did you know that one out of every 12 students in the United States is homeschooled?
Every year more and more parents decide that homeschooling is right for their families and take the first step.
There's no doubt the pandemic had a tremendous influence on encouraging people to try homeschooling. It changed a lot of minds and opinions about what homeschooling is like and what kind of people homeschool their kids.
It's no longer looked upon with the same sort of skepticism it once was. People have become much more accepting.
However, there are still some stereotypes that just won't let go. For example, homeschooled children don't get the socialization that their peers do in public schools. We know it's hogwash, but many people still believe it.
This post will bring to light and put to rest the pros and cons of homeschooling. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
We'll tell you the truth.
And the truth is, homeschooling isn't right for everyone. But it certainly isn't something to be afraid of.
So let's get started.
- There are many homeschooling pros and not all are as obvious as you might assume. We go through several in detail.
- We also address homeschooling cons and how to consider these challenges when deciding whether homeschooling is right for your family.
- Other considerations may influence your decision and provide an additional set of pros and cons. You'll need to keep these in mind as well if they apply to you and your family.
Let's start with the fun stuff. There are plenty of things to love about homeschooling. Lots of reasons people choose to start school at home despite the challenges.
We'll go over the most common ones and why they hold so much weight for homeschooling parents.
Concerns over the safety of their environment in traditional schools were the most commonly cited reason for parents who chose to homeschool in 2020. Between dangerous illnesses and the risk of violence, schools aren't the safe places they once were.
It's a sad fact, but it's the truth.
Today's students practice live shooter drills along with fire and tornado drills. They live with the knowledge and the fear that they could go to school one day and their lives could be in danger. It's not what any parent wants for their child.
By deciding to continue their child's education at home, parents and their children can feel safer and more secure. This can lead to other benefits like improved mental health (less anxiety and depression) and improved learning due to decreased stress.
A close second to safety, a desire for educational freedom is the next most often cited reason for homeschooling by parents.
This means different things to different people - from wanting to provide a customized homeschool curriculum that will allow their child to learn at their own pace to wanting to include religious instruction.
Homeschooling allows parents to choose the right option for their family.
For many families, having a flexible schedule has benefits beyond being able to sleep in a little later. It means being able to "do school" at any time. Integrate learning into real life and keep it fun.
When learning and education only take place during school hours, they tend to lose their appeal. Unfortunately, this is what happens to children in school districts everywhere.
But, when they come home and the school environment is no longer limited to the walls of a classroom or between the hours of 8am and 3pm, but is, in fact, all day every day, the possibilities are endless.
A flexible schedule also allows for practical benefits like planning around dentist appointments, sick days, and other spontaneous events.
Improved Mental Health
Studies have clearly shown that stress inhibits learning. When stress comes from things like peer pressure and bullying, students are at risk for more than difficulty studying.
Threats to mental health exist and are prevalent in traditional school environments. However, homeschooling can eliminate many of the stressors students experience and help to improve their mental health.
By addressing the cause of their depression and/or anxiety, students are often able to learn more efficiently and retain what they learn more effectively. They also frequently demonstrate greater independence and confidence.
Stronger Relationships with Family Members
Parents quickly become aware of how fast their children grow and how important spending time with them is. Before we know it, they're grown up and we wonder where the time went.
A homeschooling education grants parents and families the opportunity to spend extra time with each other and develop stronger bonds.
More Time for Community Involvement
Homeschool students can choose to spend some of their time volunteering in the community as part of their curriculum. Doing so can teach important life skills like cooking, building, animal care, customer service, and more depending on how and where they volunteer. This is, in fact, one of the best ways to combat the stigma and stereotype behind homeschool socialization or lack thereof.
While offering valuable time and talent to their community, homeschool students who volunteer also learn new perspectives, socialize with many different people, and may even learn how to network for future job prospects.
While homeschooling is full of incredible opportunities and insights, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some serious downsides to consider too. Even though we know homeschooling can be amazing, it's not the right choice for everyone.
Heavy Burden of Responsibility
Deciding to homeschool is a big deal. You suddenly become so much more than a parent. Your role expands to include teacher, administrator, principal, and more.
You must prepare, plan, organize, and keep lesson plans, tests (and scores), and projects for each child every year - sometimes for years at a time depending on what state you live in.
It's a huge responsibility that can't be taken lightly. If you're not ready or up for it, homeschooling may not be the right choice for you.
Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, each state has its own set of legal requirements which parents must follow to homeschool their children.
You can find your state's requirements on your state's Department of Education's website or on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. This site lists legal requirements for every state, offers exclusive membership benefits at a very affordable cost ($12 per month), and has free resources as well.
Potentially Too Much Time Together
All families understand what it means to have "too much together time." Finding a balance between maximum quality time and too much time together isn't always easy when you homeschool. This is true for homeschool parents as well as for siblings.
Managing time and scheduling individual and independent projects, field trips, and extracurriculars is another big responsibility for parents but a necessary one to keep the peace at home.
May Reduce Household Income
Most homeschooling households consist of two parents, one earning an income and one staying home to educate the child(ren). However, there are exceptions to this.
There are single parents who successfully homeschool their children as well as households where both parents work.
The cost of homeschooling programs can also be something to consider. While there are many, like Easy Peasy Homeschooling, that provide free resources, many free programs don't have the resources or support of paid programs. The trick is finding a way to meet your state's legal requirements while balancing your family's needs. It can be a real challenge for some families, and for some, it's a dealbreaker.
Be sure to consider all your options and how homeschooling will affect your family's finances before you make a commitment.
Reduced Opportunities for Extracurricular Activities
Although homeschooled students may not have the same opportunities to participate in school sports, dances, and other extracurriculars as their public school peers, they do still have other options.
Many communities have team sports and clubs to join. If your student is interested in music or dance, there are studios or instructors from whom they can take lessons.
Some homeschool laws even allow homeschoolers to participate in their local school district's sports and dances.
Beyond simple homeschooling pros and cons, parents have more to consider before making such a life-changing decision.
Children with Special Needs
When you have a child with special needs, sometimes homeschooling can seem like the best choice. It allows you to focus on your child 100% and lets them learn at their own pace while utilizing their own learning style.
However, it also adds the very real responsibility of caring for your child 24/7, sometimes without help. If your child or you need help throughout the day but homeschooling would mean reducing or removing that help, it may not be a good choice for you.
Sometimes homeschool laws have special allowances for children with special needs, so we urge you to investigate them thoroughly so you can take full advantage of any help you have available.
Homeschooling a special needs child can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but everyone needs some support from time to time. Make sure you take care of yourself too.
Most parents who homeschool do so with multiple children. Sometimes just one is school-age and the others are younger. Other times all the children are school-age and the homeschool parent is teaching multiple lessons simultaneously.
Although it seems like a challenging proposition for someone who's never done it before, experienced homeschool parents will tell you it's a piece of cake once you get the hang of it.
Tricks like using unit studies, reusing curricula, or having older students help with or read to a younger student as you work independently with a third are the keys to success.
Homeschooling as a single parent would seem, at first glance, to be impossible, but many parents manage to do it successfully. While far from easy, with the right attitude, planning, organization, and determination, it's totally possible.
If you're a single parent who wants to homeschool, the first step is the same for you as it is for any other parent. Look up your state homeschooling laws and see what you need to do to be compliant.
From there, decide whether you can accommodate those changes in your life. Can you afford it? Will you need to change jobs?
If you will be able to homeschool your child, it's time to start planning. You can research programs and curricula from our list of favorites and look up other resources as well.
As we've said many times, the decision to homeschool is one to be made carefully with a lot of thought and consideration.
It's not the right choice for everyone. And that's okay!
But if it is right for you, welcome to the family! We wish you nothing but success!