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.

Mom teaching her kids at home
Mom teaching her kids at home

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.

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/uga/basics/requirements/home_school.html

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 children

  • Yes, homeschooling is a great way to teach a child.
  • No, homeschooling is not a good way to teach your child.
  • I don't really have an opinion one way or the other.
See results without voting

Socialization

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.

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Comments 10 comments

Ghost32 7 years ago

Nicely covered! The homeschooling question has really evolved over the years, but more than anything I recall a few weeks in 1997 when my then-elven-year-old stepson stayed with us for a month.

He was considered to have a learning disability and had been in public school Special Ed for a number of years already without grasping the concept of basic math. Pam (my wife) and I invested in a "retro" set of flashcards, and I began tutoring Zach in math for 30 minutes a day.

More than anything else, division was his nemesis. One day, knowing his extreme ability and interest in anything mechanical--especially fast cars and motorcycles--I hit on a car analogy.

"You know how you go through the gears getting up to speed on the highway?" I asked. "That's multiplication."

He got that.

"Division," I continued, "Is just like throwing the transmission into reverse and going backward."

He got it! Then he asked, "How come you can teach me this stuff and my teachers can't?"

That, of course, was another can of worms entirely.


kowings profile image

kowings 7 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. That's a fascinating story. It's amazing how just taking the time to figure out how to reach the kid on their level can make such a difference.


Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Thank you for a very well written and balanced perspective. I am looking forward to the next installment. I don't home school my children but I have recently met a few home schooled kids who exhibit all the things you have mentioned. They are out-going, well socialized, talented, creative individuals who seem to have few of the hang ups (around fashion etc) that most kids of that age in the school system have.


kowings profile image

kowings 7 years ago Author

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Catherine. The fashion issue is something I didn't even consider. I hope to have the next installment up in a few days.


TMinut 7 years ago

It's funny how school officials reacted to my youngest son when they heard he homeschooled for a year. We moved during the school year so I finished that year with him at home. The school officials acted like they were ready and willing to jump in and help the poor unsocialized, deprived, lifelong-homeschooled child. They couldn't seem to get it through their heads that he'd been in school most of his life and THAT'S why he wasn't a social person - he didn't like the behavior he saw from other kids at school! Add that to the fact that it was a new school, new home, new life...

People who assume social skills and enjoying social interaction always come naturally from going to school are wrong; for some kids it requires specific teaching. That misconception is what made me take too long to realize a few of my boys needed more help with this. When they came home from school, it was to go hide in the house from the overdose of people they had dealt with!


Erick Smart 7 years ago

This is a tough question for many families. I know several who have chosen to home school as well as several others who have chosen to supplement public schools on the side at home in their spare time.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Kowings, thanks for this excellent coverage of the subject. I especially appreciated your mentioning that homeschooling might not be the right thing for every child and that some families homeschool some of their children and not others.


TMinut 7 years ago

Be careful about high school. I homeschooled my son for ninth grade and put him in school for the rest; the school says NOTHING he did for ninth grade counts! He won't be allowed to take dual credit courses with the college affiliated with this school because of it (Since he's supposedly not on track for graduation). I'm waiting for grades to come out so that I can go to the college admin itself to show he's capable as well as that he was obviously successful in the ninth grade prerequisite classes he took. He wouldn't do well in the classes that follow if he didn't succeed in the prerequisite ones, true?

Even with this ahead, I don't regret homeschooling him that year, it was necessary and worked well for him.


kowings profile image

kowings 7 years ago Author

That's a great point TMinut. It's important to check on the local rules and laws in your area so that you can avoid that kind of trap. But that's hard to do when you don't even know you need to ask.


Camille Broussard  5 years ago

wonderful points here. great job. you have made the points very clear. i am hating myself for not having crossed this hub immediately. i have chosen to home school my kids since we are moving place to place due to the nature of the work of my husband. i got no complaints regarding home school process. my kids are good about it and they even told me they love it rather than the traditional school system.

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