Before making the decision to home school, parents should seriously consider homeschooling pros and cons. Home education has many advantages in the areas of academics, socialization and cost. However, it has disadvantages in those areas as well. Here is an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of homeschooling.
When educating their children at home, parents can choose materials and teaching methods that fit their children's learning style. Parents can more readily control the topics their children are exposed to and give their children more opportunities to pursue their interests. Children can also move through their lessons slowly or quickly, depending on their abilities.
However, home educators must take care to expose their children to a variety of subjects, and work to strengthen their weaknesses instead of only catering to their strengths. Some parents feel overwhelmed by the bearing sole responsibility for their children's academic development. They may also feel unprepared to teach gifted or special needs students.
The home environment is a physically and emotionally safe environment for children. At home, children can grow and develop in an atmosphere that is free from bullying, harassment, and peer pressure. Homeschooling allows children to spend their time in the same diverse, real world environment where adults spend their time. Unlike their peers who attend public school, home educated students are exposed to individuals of a variety of age ranges and socioeconomic backgrounds. Their flexible schedules also allow them to spend more time building strong relationships with parents and siblings.
Some homeschooled students feel they need more social interaction than the home environment provides. They may want to spend greater amounts of time with children their own age, or learn from teachers outside of their homes. At times, some homeschool families feel the strain of too much together time. Both parents and children need time to develop as individuals and pursue their own interests.
For parents who live in cities that have poorly performing school districts, homeschooling is a low cost alternative to private education. However, unless they are homeschooling through a publicly funded program, home educators are responsible for purchasing books, supplies and other materials for their children, in addition to paying school taxes.
There are simple solutions to most problems faced by homeschoolers. Parents who are concerned about academics can purchase programs that use teaching techniques and content similar to those used in public schools. Those with gifted or special needs children can seek help from one of the many organizations available for such students.
Families who are in need of more social interaction can join a homeschool support group, sign their children up for a sport, or participate in church activities and community organizations. Those who are concerned about the expenses associated with home education can use discount or used materials, or design their own curriculum. Parents who are creative and resourceful will find that homeschooling pros far outweigh the cons.