There have been so many changes for families over 2020 when it comes to schooling and one big impact has been on the decision to homeschool or not. It’s a tough one. There are many homeschooling pros and cons.
There are many reasons as to why families choose to homeschool. You cannot lump everyone into the same category or same reason grouping. I believe that every parent wants what is best for their children when it comes to education. For some that means public school, for others it is private school. Then there is hybrid schooling or even homeschooling.
Prior to 2020 and to the new school year starting in America, the popularity of homeschooling has been on the increase. Many families have been weighing up the options and trying to decide if homeschooling is right for them.
Due to COVID-19, many families found themselves having to suddenly “homeschool” when in fact, it was more crisis schooling using a virtual option. I think there is a big difference between choosing to homeschool and being flung into for reasons beyond your control.
It is a lot better for families when homeschooling is not thrust upon them for an uncertain period of time. That is why I call it crisis schooling – making a response based on the crisis on hand. When you truly homeschool you get to choose the curriculum, the focus, the structure, etc. And often after quite a period of research, reflection, weighing up pros and cons,
It is always best when you can make a decision yourself over time but sometimes you do just need to make a knee jerk decision for your family. You have to do what is best for you.
REASONS FOR HOMESCHOOLING:
These are the main reasons that families homeschool. No one reason stands out as the main, and for many it is the culmination of a few reasons. I like to say that I have about 7,042 reasons for homeschooling (it has always been our plan since before even getting pregnant with the girls). Some of them are silly ones – like not having them learn the tin whistle – and some reflect my educational philosophy – like teaching to their learning styles.
- Health reasons for your children (like being immunocompromised)
- Flexibility of schedule
- Flexibility to pursue a passion (like sport)
- Wanting to travel
- Religious reasons
- Your child being bullied
- Catering to your child’s learning style and abilities
There are also considerations to make as a parent. For some people it is tough to be parent AND teacher. Anxiety can run amok as to whether you should homeschool or not. I know that I will regularly have a minor freak out of “am I doing the right thing?” That is even as a trained educator with years of classroom experience and after years of deliberation and research.
PROS OF HOMESCHOOLING
The pros of homeschooling often equate to reasons why. The list below really is only a small sample of pros of homeschooling.
- More influence in what your child is learning.
For many parents this is a great thing. It enables you to choose subjects and you can tailor to family needs. Like in our family, we have lessons in German.
- Able to teach in a way that suits your child’s learning.
I believe in the learning styles and this can be so beneficial for your child if they don’t fit into the standard mix.
- Opportunity to introduce subjects and areas of interest not taught in schools.
If your child is REALLY interested in dinosaurs, why not learn about dinosaurs? This is great. You can still be teaching skills based around their interests.
- You are not stuck to the school calendar.
This is wonderful. You still have your quota of days to meet, but you can make it happen within your school calendar. You do not have to travel only in school breaks. This is a bonus for us! It means we can head overseas to see family during the off seasons rather than the peak seasons.
- There are so many curriculum and available resources that you can customize for your children.
I love how many different curricula and resources are available for you. Many people like to pick one curriculum and stick with it. I don’t. We pull from different ones to make it work for us, and that is fantastic. There are also so many free resources. Homeschooling does not need to be expensive. In fact, many people do it for almost free.
- Greater exposure to history, geography etc. due to more frequent field trips.
The opportunity to get out and see different historical or geographical site is wonderful and such an enriching thing to do with homeschooling.
SKILLS AND PACE
- Can be skills based learning and can easily work on real-life skills.
I love skills based learning. To me it is more important that our children know the skills and not just the content. Real-life skills are also invaluable.
- Freedom for your children to work at their own pace (no one child is usually on one particular grade level).
This is also something that can be empowering for your child. If they are struggling in an area you can do extra work to boost them, or you can advance them in an area where they are excelling.
- Once instruction time is done for the day there is no homework!
Need we say more? 🙂
- One-on-one instruction.
When you don’t have so many children in the classroom you can really delve into quality one-on-one instruction. Many children respond well to this.
- Self-motivation and responsibility is more easily developed.
I love watching children feel self-motivated and taking responsibility for their school work. You can see what a boost of confidence this is.
- Not stuck to a restrictive timetable
I love not having to be stuck to a timetable and being able to switch around subjects as needed. Need a sleep in? You can do that! Need to start early so you can go and do something else? Why, that’s easy too!
- Not stuck to desks and chairs.
Freedom to move is wonderful. Children can feel restricted when having to sit at a desk and chair. One of my girls loves to move while learning. Not having to be sitting down makes it better for everyone!
- You can get outside more! Who says homeschool has to be done in the home?
We love being outside. To take a blanket out under the trees to read is wonderful. Homeschool can also be done in a park, or anywhere but inside your home.
- Ability to stop and move away from a task in order to ease frustration; take more breaks as needed.
I think this is key. There is nothing worse than a frustrated child getting more and more worked up over a concept they don’t get. I love that you can simply say “Let’s just leave that alone right now and move on. We can come back to it later.” You can leave it a day or so. Come back when they are fresh and feel better.
- More opportunities for free and imaginative play.
I love this. Unstructured and creative play is important. You do not need to have hours of instruction time with younger children, but they do need to have free play.
And in the words of our daughter…….”You can homeschool naked!” (This is sooooooooo important to her. Ha!)
Need more reasons to homeschool? Here is a list of 101 reasons from Lifelong Learners.
CONS OF HOMESCHOOLING
It is also important to understand the cons of homeschooling. The main one is less free time for yourself and being full on all the time. The responsibilities to effectively homeschool are major – even if you go for a more unschooling style of education for your children.
- As a parent you are full on all the time – you are both a teacher and parent. You need to do school prep and administrative tasks. It is a greater responsibility.
- Cost of curriculum and resources. (Though with all that schools are asking for these days, and with many free, good quality resources available some families are able to save money. And there is nothing wrong with second hand!)
- Less daily interaction with a larger number of children/peers.
- Fewer opportunities for award ceremonies, dances, etc. as you find in public schools
- Time spent researching what is the best curriculum for your children and anxiety that you might not be getting the right one
- Getting less free time for yourself
- People’s thoughts and opinions on what you are doing and why (but you stick to what you want and do what is best for your family)
YOU’VE GOT THIS
I think that no matter what you decide you will be alright. Maybe your decision was made due to COVID-19 and all the decisions and restrictions schools will be putting in place. That’s ok. You do what you need to do for you.
To sum up, these are my key points in regards to homeschooling pros and cons that I make to my friends when we have conversations about homeschooling:
- Free and creative play is always great. Make sure your children get unstructured play.
- Don’t try to fill up the entire day.
- Let your children’s interests also lead you in what they can could be learning.
- Focus on teaching skills, because once they have those the information can be learned or found.
- If you are doing virtual learning through the school, keep in communication with the teacher, and give lots of breaks from screen time.
- It’s ok to feel a little out of control, particularly if you are not choosing homeschool because it’s what you really want to do (and get to choose curriculum etc.)
- Have some friends you can vent to as needed
- Invest in some good quality chocolate
(Here is my vlog on why I unschool my girls and why homeschooling is good for us)