Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Although homeschooling has become increasingly popular over the years, it still gets a somewhat bad rap. Homeschooling is often associated with a very specific type of family, those who are religiously radical or are otherwise “backward.” Having been homeschooled through grade school myself, I can say that, just like any other alternative choice, the decision to keep your children out of the traditional schooling system will receive plenty of criticism. But speaking from experience, I know both the pros and cons of homeschooling intimately. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision:
1. Enables self-directed learning.
Both in my experience, and in the experience of fellow homeschooler Margaret Heidenery, who recently recounted in the New York Times her childhood, the self-direction inherent in home-based learning is the best part about it. We know both scientifically and intuitively that everyone is different and learns differently, but traditional schools put everyone on the same level. When homeschooled, there is more room for a child to explore and discover her strengths and weaknesses. This approach to learning develops self-confidence and fosters creativity.
2. Creates greater family cohesion.
Children who attend traditional schools spend most of their day away from home. By the time they return, after homework, extracurricular activities, dinner, etc., quality time spent with the family is practically zero. In my experience, being homeschooled as a child is precisely why I am so close to my parents and siblings to this day. We did everything together, and, in so doing, established a family bond that many of my friends envy and admire.
3. Provides a flexible schedule.
The freedom to take family vacations when it’s most convenient, have lessons every other day, or otherwise structure your school schedule to your own liking, is another added benefit of homeschooling. As Heidenery tells in her article, homeschooling enabled her family to travel to different countries and learn about foreign cultures simultaneously. In effect, the classroom becomes the world.
In order for homeschooling to be effective, parents must realize from the beginning that teaching your children at home will require lots of time and effort. From picking the right curriculum, to recording your child’s progress, to putting in the required hours that ensures they meet their academic goals, parents must be sure that they are equipped to make a serious commitment. This often requires at least one parent to put their careers on hold.
2. Kids may miss out on opportunities to socialize with different children.
In my personal opinion, the argument that homeschooling poorly socializes children’s isn’t a strong one. While it’s true that kids may miss out on socializing with other kids during school time, homeschoolers can create opportunities beyond the confines of school to interact with others in their peer group. For example, when I was homeschooled, my siblings and I enrolled in Boys and Girls Club sports and took music lessons with other children. Tapping into your local homeschooling community is also a great way to meet and play with kids of different backgrounds.
3. Eventually returning to a structured school environment becomes a difficult transition.
Some parents teach their kids at home through grade school, and others do so until the end of high school. Eventually, however, almost all parents want their children to go off to college. As such, there will come a time when your child will have to enter a traditional classroom. Although most kids make the transition easily, it’s still difficult to go from spending time with your family almost 24/7 to learning from adults and playing with peers you don’t know.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @ gmail.com.