If you’ve ever thought about homeschooling your child, you’ll know that it’s a big, life-changing decision. Making the choice to pull your child from a traditional school setting and trying an independent study option will mean a big change, not only for your child but for your entire family as well.
For a myriad of reasons, more and more families are choosing alternative methods of education, but is it the right decision for your family? As with any big decision, it’s wise to lay out the pros and cons. Below are a few common pros and cons of homeschooling.
When I made the decision to homeschool, this was the number one question that everyone asked me – from my former teaching buddies to my mother; “What about socialization?”
- Parents will have more control over who the child interacts with throughout their day – from other kids and adults that share your same value system to interesting members of the community.
- Students will feel comfortable interacting with people of all ages, not just their peer group.
- Students will have many opportunities to connect with a variety of people and are not limited to 20-30 of their peers.
- Students won’t be pressured to “fit into” a particular group.
- Parents can model good social behavior instead of students learning it from their peers.
- It takes effort on the parent’s part to find opportunities for the student to socialize with others.
- Students may not get the opportunity to learn how to interact with and settle disputes with other children that may not hold the same standards or values.
- Students may no have the knowledge of what is socially acceptable or unacceptable in a group setting
How Do Homeschooled Children Meet Other Students Their Own Age?
As mentioned above, parents need to be intentional when it comes to socializing their independent study students. Here are a few ideas:
- Join some Facebook groups where other homeschool parents congregate; they are always posting events and activities.
- Make a list of educational field trips in your area
- Ask your Epic teacher for ideas or better yet, help them plan an outing with all their students
- Look for after school clubs, recreation programs and classes you can sign your child up for
- Sign your child up for a sports team or league
- Join a homeschool co-op or Meetup group in your area
Homeschooling does give you much flexibility, but it also is a large time commitment. Though it’s possible to homeschool while working full-time (and as a single parent), it requires a lot of attention and dedication to do it well.
[Check out our 5 Tips For Homeschooling While Working Full-Time post here]
- Flexibility: When you homeschool, you can create a schedule that works for you and your family. Traditional school is limited by four walls, a 6-7 hour day, Monday-Friday with weekends and holidays off. With an independent study option, you can “do school” when and where it’s convenient for you and your family.
- Convenience: When you homeschool, you are able to be out and about during the week – such as the grocery store – when there are fewer crowds; you can save money by scheduling vacations during the off-season when there are better deals and fewer people; and you don’t have to get up and get X number of children ready, fed and on the school bus before 7 am.
- Flexibility: For some people, not having the structure can be an issue (but you can work with your Epic teacher to help you and your children stay accountable to your Personalized Learning Plan so it all gets done by the end of the year!)
- Many programs for school-aged children are during after school hours, so you may have to do research for programs that cater to homeschooled children if you want to sign them up for a daytime activity.
- Depending on your circumstances, one parent may have to give up their full-time office job or pay for childcare (and “do school” during evenings/weekends).
- Not having time for other commitments or for yourself
How Do You Find Time To Do It All?
Homeschooling does take a time commitment, but it doesn’t have to overtake your life! With some organizing, intentional and mindful scheduling and being flexible and creative, you can have time to “do it all” and have some “me” time as well. Because instruction is individualized, the homeschool day does not need to be as long as a traditional school day. There are many families that follow a 4-day a week format with an average of a 2-4 hour school day (depending on age, grade and child’s ability level). Many families have found that they have MORE time because they don’t spend hours doing homework after school each day.
The center point of a discussion about homeschooling is the actual education aspect. Are you qualified to teach your children? What if you’re bad at math? Do you have the patience to do this?
- Personalized Learning: Choosing a homeschool independent study option will allow you to personalize your child’s learning and tailor lessons to your child, helping them learn at their own pace, ability, and emphasize their interests. (At your initial meeting, your Epic teacher will work with you to develop a personalized learning plan that includes helping you choose the appropriate curriculum).
- Individualized instruction: In a traditional classroom, your child is likely to get lost in the crowd of 30+ other students who are also getting the same cookie cutter education. A classroom teacher is spread very thin and likely unable to give your child the personal attention and individualized instruction your child may need. At home, you’re able to give your full attention to your child and his/her education.
- Focus on What’s Important: In a homeschool setting, the parent is able to focus on and give more attention to the values and standards that they deem important within the student’s studies. Also, if a student has an avid interest in science or history, there is flexibility to expand on those areas and engage the student in topics they are more interested in.
- Parents may not feel equipped to teach Algebra (or even 5th-grade math!) or another subject past a certain grade level. (The good news is that your Epic teacher will provide a lot of support, you’ll have many resources at your disposal and for 8th-12th graders, Epic has a 24-hour online homework help)
- Teaching style and learning style between parent and child may “clash”
- Parents may not feel like they have the patience to teach their own children or fears that they will “drive you crazy” or vice versa.
Can You Give Your Child The Proper Education They Need?
This answer will be different for each family, but many parents will be fearful that they cannot give their child a “proper” education (even if the opposite is true). No, you don’t need a teaching credential to teach your child at home but I won’t sugar-coat it, teaching (especially multiple children), has its challenges. But homeschool doesn’t have to be an island. You will have support from your Epic teacher, other independent study families, co-ops and community groups. Many people, once they get past their own fears and self-doubt, find that they indeed can give their child a rich and rewarding education in a safe learning environment. Some will find that they aren’t able to teach their child because that child may have different needs or that it’s better for the parent/child relationship to not add in the educational component. In any case, honestly assess your abilities, the support level you have, and distinguish if your concerns are fear-based or cemented in reality, before making your decision.
You may be wondering if your kids will miss out on certain experiences such as having a variety of teachers, friendships, sports, the prom, etc. Will educating them at home deprive them of the traditional school-aged experiences and not prepare them to be working members of society?
- Parents can cultivate many experiences and expose their students to a variety of people and experiences that may not be available for traditionally schooled children. There are more opportunities to learn from people in the community and from all ages.
- Parents have control over many of the types of experiences that their students encounter. They are there in real time, in real life situations to guide and educate.
- Epic (and other charter schools) hosts field trips, events and even prom and graduation ceremonies that they can choose to have their students participate in.
- Homeschooled students aren’t always exposed to competitive opportunities; competition can be a great motivator for some students and some thrive on the challenge.
- Independent study students may not be equipped to deal with failure (such as a missed deadline or low grade on an assignment), or certain situations or people that they don’t get along with
- It’s the parent’s responsibility to provide exposure to a variety of experiences for their children and not sit them in front of a computer in isolation every day to do school
How Does A Homeschool Child Experience Life Outside Of A Classroom?
Remember all those warm and fuzzy classroom memories? Yeah, neither do I. The classroom can be a scary place for some students. I was teased for looking different from everyone else and I have more negative memories my experiences in a classroom than positive ones. But if getting that “classroom experience” is something you feel a student should encounter, there are ways to do so without the traditional classroom setting. Look for co-ops or group classes you can expose your student to; there are many out there you can choose from.
If it’s important for you to make sure your child has certain experiences in life, then make a list and creatively find opportunities to expose your student to each and every one of those experiences as best you can. There are so many resources out in the world and in your community; they aren’t all only found in a traditional classroom.
Whatever education path you choose for your child, be sure to weigh the pros and cons and consider how your goals align with your decision. Some may find that it may not be the right choice at this time, while it may be the perfect fit for others. In either case, you as the parent can greatly impact and influence your child’s education by being an active participant, talking to them, and helping them set goals.
Do you have other pros or cons of homeschooling? Comment below.
Epic Charter School is a free TK-12 public school committed to providing students and families in Southern California a learning environment that meets the individual needs of students. The Epic Charter School model began in Oklahoma and has grown to more than 20,000 students enrolled for the 2018-19 school year. Students in Southern California have the opportunity to enroll in Epic’s California school. Click here to enroll or call 657.220.1000 for more information about how Epic can help you.