The past week or two, I’ve been doing a series of posts about homeschooling… trying to address the incredibly challenging question, “How do I start homeschooling?” Now that I’ve (more or less) finished talking about the nitty gritty issues of curriculum, I wanted to spend a few days talking about some of the more nebulous aspects of homeschooling. Today I want to talk about some of the benefits and challenges of homeschooling… and then in the next couple of posts after that I’d like to talk about some of the thoughts I’ve had this summer about making our homeschool “better.” I’ve been kicking around ideas about how eliminate some of the testy issues we face… little things like poking a sibling, distracting others from their work, having a bit of an “attitude” … You know, those small behavior issues that take enormous amounts of patience and redirection.
Anyway, back to today’s topic already!!!
What are Some of the Benefits of Homeschooling?
As homeschoolers we can find the learning methods, curriculum and learning style that suit our children best.
We can nurture and follow our child’s unique learning needs.
We can customize our children’s course of study.
Our kids can learn at their own pace.
Our kids can get more individual attention.
Learning can be hands-on, fun, challenging, exciting and more!
There’s no “busy work” (or you can throw it out, if we realize it is!)
There are more opportunities for self-directed study on chosen topics.
We are able to take advantage of learning opportunities as they happen. We can slow down and delve into a topic in more depth; take advantage of local learning opportunities; join a co-op; learn from a mentor.
We can create meaningful direct learning experiences rather than second-hand experience from books.
We can nurture our child’s unique talents.
We can create our own schedules.
We can plan our schooling around our family’s schedule.
We can school when the kids are at their best.
We have well rested kids.
We are able to take advantage of the weather.
We can go on field trips outside the home.
We’re able to go on vacation when it suits the family.
Homeschoolers often have more free-time. Homeschooling is often very efficient and families can get through their homeschool day more quickly than in a traditional school.
Homeschoolers are more insulated from negative influences such as bullying, cliques, peer pressure and violence.
We can help our children mature at their own pace.
We can address “big” issues when they are ready.
Homeschoolers often out-perform their schooled peers on standardized tests.
Close family relationships.
Stability during challenging times (birth of a child, death in the family, medical issues, etc.).
We share in the every-day joys (and challenges!) of life.
We are in good company. Estimates are that there are well over 2 million homeschoolers now and the numbers appear to be increasing.
What are some of the Challenges of Homeschooling?
Balancing the needs of all the members of the family. Each family is different, but let’s face it, some days can be downright tough when someone is ill, or a toddler is into everything and needs constant attention and/or supervision, or when the kids have activities outside the home and you need to be in the car a lot.
Keeping up with the housework when there are people always at home!
Socialization — But not for the reasons, you might think. We have to be very careful to keep our schedule free enough that we’re actually at home doing school work. In our area there are lots and lots of homeschool opportunities. Our kids have a lot of friends, play date and social opportunities. Other homeschoolers have found it challenging to find homeschoolers who are compatible with them, the ages of the kids, their philosophy of life, religion and so forth.
Being with the kids 24/7 — This can obviously create challenges and needs for both the kids and the parent/s.
Money — This can be an issue if one parent has decided to stop working or now only works part time.
Pressure — Most all of my homeschooling friends feel a sense of pressure to make sure they are doing the best they can for their children. Relax! You are doing an amazing job already. Don’t be hard on yourself and remember this is a journey. It doesn’t matter if they know their addition facts this moment… it’s the long-term goals we need to stay focused on!
Commitment — Homeschooling requires a commitment of time, finances etc. Homeschooling can require life style adjustments as one parent might choose to stay home full time or work only part time.
Group projects — People learn from one another when they work toward a common goal. This can be a challenge for homeschoolers in science, technology, writing and so forth. It will be challenging for parents to create learning opportunities where students interact together and have interesting discussions with their peers. It is valuable to have feedback from kids with different viewpoints and it may take some work to create this type of learning opportunity.
This is a family commitment. It can be trying if you (and your spouse) are not full committed. It can be hard if extended members of your family don’t understand what homeschooling is all about.
Homeschooling is still outside the norm. The numbers are growing, but people will pepper you with questions… Everything from “what about socialization?” to “How will they learn ___ a foreign language? trigonometry? calculus? etc.”
In a 2011-2012 survey, parents were asked why they homeschooled. They were given different options to choose from and could choose more than one reason.
Reasons parents gave for homeschooling:
A concern about environment of other schools (worded as, “You are concerned about the school environment, such as safety, drugs or negative peer pressure?”) 91%
A desire to provide moral instruction 77%
A dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools 74%
A desire to provide religious instruction 64%
A desire to provide a nontraditional approach to child’s education 44%
Other reasons (some of these included family time, finances, travel and distance) 37%
Child has other special needs 17%
Child has a physical or mental health problem 15%
When asked what the most important reason for homeschooling was:
25% chose a concern about environment of other schools
21% chose other reasons
19% chose a dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools
16% chose a desire to provide religious instruction
Have I left any biggies out? Feel free to leave a comment over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!