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Thinking of Home School?
Whether or not to home school your child is a personal decision that needs a lot of reflection but it can be a great idea for many. There are many that find it successful and there are many that struggle. It’s an agonizing decision to make. Here are my suggested points of consideration.
For many social skills are the first concern that comes to mind- the fear that the child will not get enough social interaction and be ill-prepared for dealing with the real world later in life. If this is your concern consider these questions and points.
Is school your child’s only avenue for social interaction? Are you able to provide them with other social gatherings (home school groups, sports teams, church groups, dance classes, other organized activities). If you are the type that doesn’t like to get out and go to these things, it might be a legitimate concern, if you are the type to get involved in things, your child will most likely get more social interaction at these events.
How great is the social interaction they are getting now at school? So maybe you have answered that you won’t get them as much social interaction as they get at school, it’s time to then talk about quality and type of interaction. Is the social interaction at school a positive or negative experience? If they are socially active, very extroverted and active at school activities and you remove them from this, it will affect their motivation most likely in a negative way. If they are suffering and simply enduring activities day to day and miserable at school then removing them from a harmful environment will be an improvement.
How much social interaction does your child need? Everyone is different. This is not a matter of if your child is shy or not, but rather if they are extroverted vs. introverted. There is such a thing as a shy extrovert or a non shy introvert. Without getting into all of that, just consider how your child is motivated. Are they motivated by feedback from others or do they do well on their own? If your child is introverted and doesn’t need so much interaction to feel motivated then the whole issue of how much socialization you can provide is not as important although the quality of it still is. There is a huge difference between giving a person space to grow/expand vs. isolating them. Isolation can lead to depression and withdrawal, but having one’s space can allow creativity to develop and grow. The hard part is figuring out what works for your child and how to manage it best. Some children are quite happy with very little interaction from others, while other children require a lot. This detail alone isn’t really a deciding factor, simply one to be included in your plan for sticking with traditional school or possibly home schooling.
How much is school really like the real world anyway? Frequently you hear people say that it’s important for helping to prepare them for adult life when they must work with others. There are many problems with this thought. Many jobs and work places are just like high school or grade school; many places are not like that at all. Many people spend the majority of their work week alone, many people spend the majority of their work week with no time alone whatsoever. Many of us can co-workers that we have/had that didn’t “fit in” yet they performed their job very well and were otherwise happy people, many of us can name co-workers that fit in great but were terrible workers. You can’t predict what job they are going to do and what that work environment will be like, what you can do is figure out what environment works for them now.
I am neither an advocate for home school or against it. It’s not the best answer for every person or every child. In fact I have one child in public school and one child homeschooled through K12, both situations are working very well and I don't believe either child would do better in the other environment at this time.. Even after you determine that it might work well for your child, you need to take a long hard look at yourself as the potential teacher or learning coach. Ask yourself some tough questions, it’s not about how smart you are, it is about how well equipped you are for the task. Here are a few things to ask.
- Are you an organized person?
- Will you be able to manage and keep up the pace so that your child does not fall behind?
- Do you have the persistence to be sure that you don’t slip behind, if your child had to re-enter a traditional school setting will they struggle to keep up or can you maintain the pace?
- Do you really have the patience?
- Will you be able to answer the same question for the 5th time and recognize the difference between when they just aren’t grasping the concept vs. when they don’t care and aren’t paying attention?
- Can you change and adapt when what you are doing doesn’t work?
- Are you too quickly to change and try new things?
- Can you maintain the discipline required to keep them moving forward?
- Do you plan and follow through with the plan?
- Do you really have the time that it takes to do it right?
A decision to home school or not is more than about your child, if it's a great option for them but you're a terrible fit for it then it's not likely to be successful. You need to evaluate the situation for both of you. Homeschooling offers flexibility but it also requires flexibility. The success of your child at home school is entirely upon your shoulders. This doesn’t mean you have to know the material, it means you have to make sure the material gets worked, and that your child can find other resources for help in understanding when you cannot help them work through it. It does not matter so much if you know the material as if you can manage the timeline and hold them accountable and find resources to clarify things that you struggle to explain to your child.
There is a hybrid option available in many states between home school and public school. It’s called k12 (www.k12.com) and the basic idea is that you enroll through a public school, they set up the lesson plan and send you the books, you log on to enter attendance and check lesson plans, there are some interactive sessions available with online teachers but in the end you the parent are responsible for ensuring your child works through the material. It offers the parent that thinks they can do it but has no idea how to organize the lesson plans a place to start. However, it is still up to the parent to work with the child and keep them on track. If you can’t overcome the social concerns or you can’t handle the demand on yourself, it might not be a good idea. There are many benefits to both situations. K12 should really still be thought of as home school. If you’re not organized enough to follow a plan, it’s not going to solve that problem for you, but if you can follow one but just struggle to create the plan, it’s a possibility. You may find that you are well organized and prefer to simply do home school on your own without something like k12. You may find that while your child could do well at home school, you need the break or prefer having an income and can find other options to help your child. Many people will have a lot to say about what they think you should do. In the end…it’s you and the child that are affected and you need to figure out how to get the best results for both of you.