Monday, June 6, 2016

Homeschooling, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

It's that time of year when homeschooling conferences abound, doe-eyed homeschoolers eagerly look for next year's curriculum, veterans look forward to a long summer's break and new homeshoolers fret and worry over next year's curriculum. 

If you attend any homeschool conferences, motivational speakers abound and there is no shortage of blogs and articles, extolling the virtues and benefits of homeschooling.

And there ARE many virtues and benefits, but it's not always sunshine and roses. 

Homeschooling is hard ya'll. It really is. 

So, I thought I would talk a little bit about the good, the bad and the ugly side of homeschooling.   Of course, any brick and mortar school is also going to have a good, a bad and ugly side.  There is no one perfect educational model, there is only what works best for a particular family/child at a particular time.  And that can definitely change from year to year.

The Good:
  • Builds family closeness.  
  • Helps kids be independent versus peer-dependent.
  • Allows kids to pursue their interests.
  • Takes less time than regular school, so children have more free time for play and other pursuits.
  • Lots of one on one time.
  • Individualized instruction.
  • Easier ability to limit exposure to media.
  • Parent controls the curriculum and what is taught.
  • Friends are made as a family rather than the entire family gets to know each other.
  • Can work at your own pace.
  • Children can learn how to teach themselves.
  • Lots of flexibility .....can do school any time, anywhere.
  • Can take vacations/trips during off-peak times when other kids are in school.
  • Parents are free to use different education philosophies/models (ie. classical, charlotte-mason, unschooling, etc.).
  • Parents have more control over who and what their children are exposed to. 
  • Lots of freedom.

The Bad:
  • Curriculum and activities and classes cost $$$$. While those same things may be provided by schools for free or cheap (ie. sports, band, chorus, tutors)
  • Take a lot of time and effort on the parent's part.
  • You have to actually teach your kids.
  • That teaching is the equivalent to having a it's like working at home, but without pay.
  • House is much messier and harder to keep clean with everyone in it all day.
  • Is a large commitment.
  • You are solely responsible for child's education.....lots of pressure.
  • Lack of classroom environment and competition (this is more of a concern in the older grades).  Some students are highly motivated by classroom competition for grades. Some students really benefit from the classroom environment with lectures and exchanges of ideas. 
  • Older students may be stuck teaching themselves.
  • It gets more difficult as the student gets older.
  • Harder to run errands, schedule doctor's appointments, etc. with all the children home all day.
  • Due to the nature of homeschool groups, children may form friendships with other children who are not in the same part of town or live a distance away, which makes arranging get togethers more difficult.
  • Sometimes tears are involved.
The Ugly
  • Can mask learning disorders.
  • Quality of education varies greatly from family to family. Some children receive a very high quality education and some do not. 
  • Children's education can suffer during time of family crisis or stress (this is more of an issue with older children).
  • Loneliness can be a real issue.  While children can definitely get plenty of socialization, friendships require more work and are a bit harder.  The parents have to put effort into scheduling social interactions and building friendships.
  • In rare circumstance, it can be used to hide abuse.
  • Lack if diversity. This may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your viewpoint. However, from my experience (having homeschooled in various states/communities) homeschoolers tend to be rather homogenous in terms of racial/cultural/socio-economic background. 
Overall, I love homeschooling.  And many of the "bad" points in my list are only "cans" not "definites".  I think it is a very positive experience for many families.  We have met some of the BEST people through homeschooling.  However, there are some downsides and I think it's important to acknowledge those.  Just like there are downsides of using a brick and mortal school.  Each family has to weigh the pros and cons of each educational model.  That can change from year to year.  For our family, I really like homeschooling in the elementary and middle grades, however I feel the balance (for us) tips more towards using a brick and mortar school for high school.  You can read more about our decision to send our oldest to school next year. 

What about you.  Do you have anything to add to these lists?


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