Pros and Cons of Homeschooling in a Rural Area
Rural Schools Can be a Difficult Adjustment
I had attended public school for kindergarten and 1st grade in a very small community in North Dakota before moving to Missouri. After our move, I attended 2nd grade at a private Christian school where I experienced a lot of pressure and some bullying from the older kids since our classes were so small that the grades had to be combined. All of the grades also took lunch at the same time and there was a large mixture of grades during P.E. which caused some stress to us younger kids who could not always compete against the older kids. After my experience at this school, my parents made the decision to home school me in order to take me out of the stressful environment.
My parents chose to home school me in order to keep me away from bad influences and to keep me away from bullying scenarios. Instead, I was entered into several local home school groups, so that I was still able to interact with other children, play sports, and make some friends. I was able to do my work at my on pace at home, and did not have set class times; therefore I was usually done with my work by around noon, giving me plenty of time to go outside and explore, study nature, practice hobbies, and expand my imagination.
I was also free to spend much more one-on-one time with my parents, learning practical skills such as cooking and cleaning with my mom, helping my dad around his mechanic shop, and (sometimes to my parents annoyance) asking many questions about how things worked and why.
My mom also used the extra time I had during the day to allow me to focus more on subjects I was interested in. We would go on hikes and identify mushrooms, reptiles, amphibians, plants, and types of rocks. With home schooling, there is a lot of wiggle room for additional learning subjects.
Now; the pros were appreciated by me the most until I became a teenager. Around this time I began to desire more social interaction, close friendships, and to find a group of friends to fit in with. Living in a rural area, our home schooling community was limited to a fairly small amount of families, and I did not get along with almost any of their kids. They all had different interests and I began to feel disconnected, lonely, and depressed. I had friends from church, but they all had other friends from school, so I only had 2 or 3 kids my age to hang out with once a week or so; the rest of the time I was stuck at home with my little brother and my video games, which became a rather unhealthy environment.
I tried to enter public school for my senior year, but due to the order in which I had learned my subjects, and because there were some subjects that I had not studied, I would have had to stay in school for additional time, and I would have had to take some classes with younger grades. This ultimately lead to me getting my GED.
There are always jokes about home schooled kids being sheltered or socially inept. I won't lie, there are a LOT of those kids! Some parents do shelter their children to the point of not being able to function properly in social situations. Luckily, my parents did not keep me from being exposed to how the world really is, and they made sure that I had plenty of interaction with adults and gave me responsibilities to be held to. Some kids that have been home schooled have not been exposed to "real life" and do not know how to handle themselves on their own. It is very important that you let your home schooled child have independence, responsibility, and space to be themselves.
I may not be socially awkward, or afraid to speak to others, but I have had some repercussions from not attending public school. I have had issues speaking my mind, standing up for myself, and being assertive, because well, why would I need to practice those traits when I don't have anyone trying to push me around or pressure me, or when my voice is always being heard by my parents? I have slowly become more and more comfortable standing up for myself and speaking up, but it does not come naturally to me yet as it does to many adults.
When deciding to home school, make sure that you are placing your kids in circumstances that will test their ability to stick up for, and speak up for, themselves.
Homeschooling Can be Right for Some Kids
If you live in a neighborhood, a city, or a generally more metropolitan area, I believe that home schooling would be a great option. It is important to have a good social network of kids either in a neighborhood, a large group of fellow home schoolers, or a large youth group to be a part of.
If you do not live in an area where it is easy to meet children, consider possibly schooling at home until an age where social influences become more important, or make sure that your child is not suffering from feelings of depression or exclusion if there are not a lot of other kids their age to spend a supple amount of time with.
Parents will never be able to do everything perfectly, just do the best that you can, use good judgment, and avoid keeping your child away from situations that require personal and moral decisions to learn and grow from (even though the decisions might be painful).
Many private and some public schools offer homeschoolers to participate in their sports programs, and other extracurricular activities. Also places like the YMCA, the Boy/Girl-scouts, and other organizations are great ways to get out and be social. Keep your eyes open for clubs and teams for your home schooled child to join in on and make friends in!
Are You Considering Home Schooling, Currently Home School, or Were Home Schooled?
If you have anything to ad, have agreements, or disagreements, please comment below! I would love to get some feedback!
© 2017 Jacob Wittrock