As soon as your child reaches public school age, a difficult question arises: should you or should you not send your child off to school? While they certainly need to gain a proper education, is it worth it to send them off into an unknown world filled with bullying and negative influences? Many people aren’t aware of what exactly homeschooling consists of, and whether it will be a positive or negative experience for your developing child. There are a lot of factors to consider before making such a life-changing decision, so it’s important to consider all the pros and cons of homeschooling before choosing one route or the other.
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- Freedom to create alternate curriculums. While the basics of science, math, history, etc. must be covered, homeschooled children have the freedom to learn at their own pace and interest level. As most of you may remember from attending public schools, it can be hard to retain any information that you’re not interested in learning. If a curriculum is created based on your own interests, it will be easier for you to retain more of the information you learn. Aren’t interested in learning about WWII this month? Learn everything you can about the French Revolution instead. Eventually your child will have to learn everything they aren’t particularly interested in, but these subjects can be introduced at a more mature age.
- Separation from a strict school schedule. Does your child need to visit the dentist? Instead of pulling them out of a public school where they may miss out on an important lesson, you can simply alter your daily school schedule in order to fit these appointments in. No more missed lessons! Your family vacations no longer have to revolve around spring, summer and winter break; you can pause your lessons and take a vacation or a day trip any time you please. While you still need to have a certain amount of school days a year, you have a lot more flexibility in regards to when these occur.
- Less social distractions. Admit it: middle school is a difficult time. You’re going through your most awkward physical phase, you’re constantly worrying about what your peers are thinking about you, and it can be hard to concentrate on your science lecture when you’re staring at the back of that cute boy’s head the entire class. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in can take over an adolescent’s mind so much that they may find it very difficult to concentrate on what education is truly supposed to be about. By homeschooling your child, they can spend more time focusing on actually learning instead of desperately trying to fit in with their peers. They are also free to dress and act however they’d like without worrying about ridicule, leading to a stronger sense of self.
- Stronger family relationships. If children are sent off to school and parents work all evening, it can be hard to gain a positive family relationship through dinner alone. When a child remains at home with one or both parents, they have a better chance of creating a stronger familial bond. This strong bond can help reduce the amount of rebellious behavior most teenagers experience due to peer pressure from their classmates.
- Promote stability. If a child is born to parents who tend to move around a lot, due to job requirements or other factors, homeschooling can provide a stable educational structure. It can be incredibly difficult to start learning in one school, make a lot of friends, and then be uprooted and have to start all over in a new school and a new town. If your family moves around a lot, your child has at least one stable aspect of their life that they know they can always count on. This also helps streamline the education process, ensuring that your child isn’t missing any key parts of the curriculum or falling behind.
- Less wasted time. How often have you sat in a classroom, aimlessly tapping your pencil and staring at the wall while waiting for other children to finish their tests or classwork? When homeschooled, children can work at their own pace. There will no longer be any wasted hours, since you can move on with the curriculum as soon as the child is finished what they need to accomplish. While you’re at it, your child can finish all work during the school day so that they don’t have to spend their evenings working on homework! This allows for more time to develop their own hobbies and interests.
- Requires a lot of time. Even if your child can finish a month-long lesson in a week, homeschooling still requires one parent to be at home with their child the majority of the time. Unless you’re outsourcing to a full-time tutor, this means that one parent either needs to have a very flexible work schedule or not have a job at all. While some lessons can include sending the child off to the kitchen table to read a textbook and answer questions on a worksheet, many parents of homeschool children choose to approach subjects in a more hands-on way. While this helps the child understand concepts in a more real-life scenario, it requires a lot of mom or dad’s time.
- Financial problems. If mom or dad isn’t able to work due to spending all of their time with their homeschooled child, it can put a lot of strain on the family budget. Personal finances are a big factor when deciding whether or not to homeschool your child. Can your family afford to spend less time working? If you aren’t pinching pennies, homeschooling may be an alright choice – although you’ll need to consider that it will mean less money for vacations and big presents on holidays. If both parents are working and you’re still struggling for cash, you may want to consider sending your child to public school instead.
- Family conflict. Can you spend all of your time with someone and not get irritated by them? This is a hard thing to do, and it becomes increasingly difficult in a parent-child relationship. While many parents believe that sending their children off to school creates an unwanted distance between them and their children, other parents believe that spending too much time with their children causes unnecessary conflict. If you have difficulty getting along with your children already, sending them off to public school may give them the space they need to cool off.
- Limited social interactions. Although children are exposed to bullying and peer pressure in a public school system, they are also given the opportunity to create life-long friendships with their classmates. Want an evening off for a romantic date? You can drop little Kevin off at his friend’s house and know that he is entertained for the night. If your child is homeschooled, they don’t have as many opportunities to make friends with others. This means that you’ll need to spend more time and money getting them involved in out of school activities or introducing them to their neighbors.
- Less sports and clubs. Elementary, middle and high school are full of opportunities to take saxophone lessons, learn the basics of painting or woodworking and get involved in a school sport. Teachers and coaches are hired based on their own particular knowledge on a subject, and chances are you aren’t a jack of all trades. If your child wants to learn more about a particular hobby or interest that you don’t have a lot of knowledge or skill in, you’ll need to spend more money signing them up for private classes. Public schools are full of opportunities to explore every subject your child may be interested in, and gives them opportunities to be a part of a team.
- Inability to relate to others. Public school toughens your skin; although bullying and negative comments from peers can be hurtful, it also helps to prepare children for the tough outside world. Throughout their years of public school they learn how to interact with a wide variety of people, accept others for who they are, and learn how to work effectively on their own and as a team. By spending all of their time homeschooled on their own, going out into the outside world can be a huge shock when the time comes.
Is Homeschooling Right For Your Family?
Spend some time discussing the pros and cons of homeschooling with your partner and your friends. It takes a certain kind of person and a certain kind of family situation to fully succeed in homeschooling your child. Do you feel as though you are ready to take on the responsibility of teaching all required subjects to your child? Do you feel as though you can get them involved in sports, hobbies, and positive social interactions with other children? If you don’t have the time, energy or financial stability needed to homeschool your child, you may want to consider sending them off to public school instead. It can be worrisome knowing that your child may be negatively influenced by their peers, but it’s important to introduce them to the world before they inevitably end up as adults later in life.
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