Seven Considerations Before Choosing the Home School Option
written by: Elizabeth Zeigler
• edited by: Noreen Gunnell
• updated: 8/2/2012
Children really are the future. There is a growing trend toward homeschooling to provide the very best education. However, there are cons of homeschooling that even the most well-intended parent must over-come. Identifying these obstacles will help in the decision to home school or not.
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Making The Decision To Home School
Homeschooling is becoming an extremely popular choice for educating a child. The growth rate is as much as 15 percent per year. There are about three million children being homeschooled. Homeschooled children do well on standardized tests and easily transition to universities and the workforce. However, homeschooling is not for every family.
There are perceived negative aspects of homeschooling and even a few real ones. When making the decision to home school, a parent should look at the pros and cons. Without exploring both sides, a home school family may make the wrong decision for themselves. This will benefit no one.
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There Is Never Enough Time
Time is always at a premium. When a child is taught at home, it can and normally does consume a majority of a parent's day. A parent thinking of homeschooling might perceive the home school portion of their day as just a few hours in the morning. Most families just do not work this way. The beauty of homeschooling is the ability for hands-on learning. However, this can also be a con. A parent must think about the planning of the educational day or week, driving to and from activities, participating in those activities and normal daily chores and responsibilities. This can all be extremely time-consuming and both physically and mentally draining.
A parent needs to have good time management skills and organizational skills. If these skills are not present and used, the home school atmosphere will suffer and the parent will become easily over-whelmed. Frustration mounts and nothing gets done when this occurs. As a parent, it is vital to have a plan and a willingness to execute it.
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Thinking About Time: What About Alone Time?
There is no way around the fact that if a parent chooses to home school, there is essentially no alone time for the parent. If being with their child most of the time is not an appealing scenario, then homeschooling should not be considered for their family. While it can be difficult at times, most families choose homeschooling because they enjoy family time and learning together. There will be ups and downs to any day; however, if a parent feels as if he or she may lose themselves, homeschooling is not for that family. A home school family should view family time as a time to grow, learn and become closer as a family. This should not feel like a burden.
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For a family headed by married parents, normally one parent either quits working or at least cuts back on his or her hours. This can cause added stress on the budget and possibly the marriage. Before making the decision, parents have to decide if the family unit can afford to live on one income. The family also has to consider if they can make sacrifices in order to be homeschooled. With a loss of income, there might not be room for that meal out, a movie, new video or even new pair of jeans.
Most home school curriculums are not free. Some are rather expensive. This also can become an issue. If a family decides to use a private curriculum, there are usually no scholarships to help pay for the materials. Being able to afford to home school is one of the first obstacles a parent should consider.
When a family decides to home school, it puts a strain on their budget in ways that might not be expected. If there are more people in the house during school hours, that means more utilities being used, more food consumed and more trash being made. All these factor in to other expenses
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Being That Family
With any activity or belief that challenges the norm, homeschooling still is thought to be odd in some ways. Not all people believe this, however, many people still have doubts. A family has to decide if they are ready to live outside the norm and receive criticism. Some people perceive homeschooling as a threat. It is hard for mainstream parents and educators to understand that ordinary people can succeed where professional educators have failed. If a family is prepared for this, then they should continue. If, however, a family can not handle the fish bowl atmosphere, they should rethink homeschooling.
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Socialization and Isolation
One of the most often heard arguments against homeschooling is socialization. Many people perceive a world of isolation for the children and even the parents of a home school family. If a parent does not make an effort to put the child in sports, the arts or any other activity, then this is a real con.
Socialization is key to a healthy child. Isolation can easily become a problem if a parent can not organize activities and follow through. A family that can not or will not make the effort will only harm a child's development. If a parent is thinking about homeschooling, then harming a child is certainly not his or her intent. Essentially, if a parent can not afford or can not commit to outside activities, homeschooling should not be chosen.
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Raising Independent Thinkers
It is a known fact that people take on traits of the people that surround them. Having a child with parents 24-hours a day, might not allow the child to grow into an individual. A parent has to be careful to not control a child too much. The child has to have the ability to explore and form opinions of their own. Some parents might find this difficult. If a parent is only homeschooling to control every aspect of a child's life, this might lead to an ineffective adult. Children learn from their mistakes and if parents shelter them too much their success will be limited.
A child should be free to form opinions on their own. A parent can guide them. A parent can also let the child know what he or she believes. However, if a parent only wants to home school to limit the child's views, this will only cause harm in the development of the child into an adult.
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Thinking Long and Hard
The decision to home school should not be an easy one. There are many positives, but there are just as many cons. It is not impossible to overcome the cons of homeschooling. It just takes the ability, the committment and the know-how to do it. If a parent is still deciding on whether or not to home school, sitting down and asking themselves if they can afford it, if they value alone time, or even if the family has great time management skills should be one of the first steps in making that decision.