Is Homeschooling Right for my Family or Not?
This article is the first in a two part series that I’m working on. This installment will discuss the benefits of homeschooling, along with reasons that it might not be the best option for every family. We will also discuss the issue of Socialization. In the second part of the series, we will discuss how you can get started in Homeschooling if you decide that it’s right for your family.
I decided to do this after a chance encounter in our local used bookstore last night. My wife, who teaches our son at home, struck up a conversation with a woman who was browsing the educational materials. Due to some problems with his school, she needed to pull her child out of school immediately, and was trying to get prepared to start teaching him at home the very next day. My wife spent nearly 20 minutes, much to the displeasure of my five year old, talking to this woman about the best curriculum to use, how to get started, and how to go about withdrawing her son from school without legal problems. On the drive home, I was thinking about how nice it would be if people in that type of situation had a resource to help them get started.
The Homeschooling Song
Home Schooling Isn't for Every Family
I think it’s important to recognize that home schooling is not the best course for every family or even for every child in the same family. I know of several families who home school several of their kids, but one is better suited to public school, so they go that route. I think the key is to make sure that you are evaluating each child’s needs separately, and not just saying “I’m going to home school”, or “I’m not going to home school” based solely on your beliefs. It’s also a good idea to regularly re-evaluate that child’s needs. What is good for your child this year may not be best for them next year.
Even if home schooling is in your child’s best interests, circumstances might not allow you to pursue this option. Income and time are two of the biggest obstacles that parents face. It is almost a necessity that one parent stay home to educate the children. I have known of families that were able to work a full day, and then come home and teach in the evening, but those were people of extraordinary patience and endurance, and this is not a method I would recommend for us mere mortals. You may not have the option to have a parent stay home due to finances or because there is only one parent in the home. My wife and I have been very lucky. I am able to work enough extra hours to allow her to stay home with our son. Not everyone is that fortunate, and it can create an insurmountable barrier to the decision to home school.
The other thing that may impede the ability to home school is a little more subtle. You may believe very strongly home schooling is the best way to go, but no one in your household has a particular aptitude, or even desire, for one-on-teaching. My wife is an amazing teacher. She can teach any age group any subject and get amazing results. She also loves it. One of the biggest factors in our decision to home school is the fact that my wife has a gift for teaching, and I know without a shred of doubt that she will teach my son more effectively than anyone else can. If no one in your family has an aptitude for teaching, then homeschooling may be a constant struggle for you, and very likely unproductive for your child. This is a very important factor to consider when deciding if you want to home school your child.
These reasons do not mean that your child absolutely cannot be homeschooled. You may need to find a creative solution. In some states, it is legal to hire someone to homeschool your child. If you feel like your child would be better served in a home situation, check the laws in your state to see if that is an option.
Factors to consider before home schooling
Why Homeschooling Might be Right for You
If you ask a public school teacher, what the ideal learning situation is, they would almost invariably tell you that one-on-one instruction is by far a better environment for learning than having 25 or more students for every teacher. Home schooling provides that. Even if you have several kids, you would spend individual time with each of them as necessary to help them keep learning at the pace at which they are capable.
You will be able to tell what pace they are capable of because no one knows your kid better than you. As well educated and well meaning as public (or private) school teachers are they will never have the unique insight into what works for your child that you do. Even if they did somehow gain this knowledge, they would never be able to implement it with at least 20 other kids that need the same kind of attention.
You also have complete control over the subjects that your child is exposed to, and how they are exposed to them. If you believe that your son or daughter is too young for sex education, for example, you get to decide, with no interference, how best to address that for your child. This can also come into play if you simply don’t like the methods a particular teacher uses with your child (too abrasive, too lenient, etc). If you teach your child yourself, you never have to worry about that problem.
Home Schooling also eliminates the problem of “Teaching to the Test”, the method of public school instruction whereby the only things that are taught are subjects covered by the achievement tests that teachers’ job performance is tied so closely to. While you would obviously make sure your child was learning the necessary lessons, home schooling also allows enough flexibility to incorporate more variety into the education process.
Can a homeschooled kid get into college?
Something that a lot of parents are unaware of is that many colleges, including Ivy League schools actively recruit home schooled students. At a recent HomeSchool convention several local colleges sent representatives, including Texas Tech (We live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of Texas). Many schools, including Stanford, have adopted unique application procedures in order to accommodate the growing number of home schooled students.
Colleges that actively recruit homeschooled students find that they are typically better suited to adjust to college life quickly, and they tend to be able to complete work with less supervision. Below is an excerpt from Stanford Magazine regarding why they are looking at home schooled students:
“It's hard to define, but they swear they know it when they see it. It's the spark, the passion ,that sets the truly exceptional student--the one driven to pursue independent research and explore difficult concepts from a very early age--apart from your typical bright kid. Stanford wants students who have it.
Looking very closely at homeschoolers is one way to get more of those special minds, the admission office has discovered. As Reider explains it: "Homeschooled students may have a potential advantage over others in this, since they have consciously chosen and pursued an independent course of study."
Indeed, when he and his colleagues read applications last year, they gave the University's highest internal ranking for intellectual vitality to two of the nine homeschoolers admitted. And an astounding four homeschoolers earned the highest rating for math--something reserved for the top 1 to 2 percent of the applicant pool.
"The distinguishing factor is intellectual vitality," says Reider. "These kids have it, and everything they do is responding to it."
It appears that the growing trend is towards colleges and universities actively pursuing homeschoolers, instead of simply tolerating their applications.
Now that we have discussed the benefits and obstacles to homeschooling, let’s discuss the topic that seems to come up the most when opponents to homeschooling get their turn to speak:
Let me know what you think
Do you think Home Schooling is a viable option for educating childrenSee results without voting
Many opponents of homeschooling point to a lack of socialization as a primary reason they are against it. This is the assumption that since the students are not interacting with other students on a daily basis, then they will be socially backward. There may have been a time when this was true, and inattentive parents could still allow it to occur; however, there are now so many options for your kids to be exposed to others in social settings, competitions, even short classroom settings, that this is no longer a valid argument. Consider this quote from a journalist investigating homeschooling for an online article for The Economist:
“The children your correspondent met in Georgia were confident, gregarious and socialized a lot, albeit mostly with families doing the same thing. They were also at ease with friends of different ages. Public-school kids, by contrast, live in an “age-segregated herd”, scoffs Michael Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, a Christian university in Virginia most of whose students were taught at home.”
There are so many Homeschool groups that offer sports, field trips, spelling bees, debate competitions and many other forms of interaction that the only way a homeschooled child would fail to be socialized is if the parent intentionally chose to keep them away from such things.
Check out my Other Homeschool Resources
- Homeschooling Resources
- Homeschool Schedule
- Early Childhood Learning- How to Raise a Smart Kid and Have Fun at the Same Time
Teaching your child before school age does not have to be an arduous process. Early Childhood learning can be educational for the teacher as well as the student. It can be a lot of fun too.
- Homeschooling in Texas
- How To Home School
- Homeschooling vs Public Schools
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