Deciding to homeschool is a huge decision, here are the pro’s and con’s I considered before opting in to at home and offline learning.
Homeschool is not a new inversion, parents have been homeschooling their children for longer than public schools have existed. But in the United States, homeschool often holds a cultural stigma. Many people assume that homeschool families are all either extremely religious, or super lazy and don’t actually teach their children anything. Of course this isn’t fair, and I personally know several families that homeschooled their children long before 2020 who provided very high quality education to their children from home. If you’re thinking about homeschooling this fall, here are a few items you might want to conciser.
The Parent Becomes the Teacher
This seems obvious, but can also be a huge concern for parents thinking about homeschooling. Parents are busy with lots of other things going on in their lives. Maybe your like me and will be working from home at the same time as your children are learning from home. Juggling schedules can be hard. Even if your family’s schedule does allow one parent to take on the role of full time teacher, is that a role you want to take on? Maybe you don’t feel comfortable teaching every subject and are worried you’ll end up fighting with your kids all day and they won’t actually learn anything.
These fears are genuine, and I definitely agree that homeschool is not for everyone. If you don’t have the time or desire to teach your children – don’t. But if your only concern is that you don’t know everything, it is okay to learn with your student.
What about Socialization?
Um, what about it? I’m writing this in 2020. So chances are very high if you’re reading this, your trying to decide between homeschooling your student and having them attend school online. Are they getting socialization in that class zoom call? Hopefully, your kids already have friends that you can help facilitate interaction with (either on or offline depending upon social distancing requirements in your area).
And when looking beyond 2020, most homeschooled children participate in extra curricular activites. They play team sports, participate in scouting or youth group activities, and they have friends in their neighborhood to play with. Talking to the kid sitting next to you in class isn’t the best way for students to socialize. All of the real social activities kids should be participating in are available to homeschool students and public school students alike.
Not all students learn the same way, or at the same speed. Public school teachers are superheros and do an amazing job of juggling the needs of all their students simultaneously. I’m only teaching two students and even that can be a challenge. Because my two students have different strengths and weaknesses. The solution is that I’m teaching them in different ways, using entirely different curriculum.
The fact that as a homeschool parent, I can select a curriculum specifically geared towards my child’s learning style and then teach it at exactly the speed my child needs to fully grasp the concepts without getting board is hands down the biggest pro for homeschooling in my opinion. If online school matched my kids’ learning styles, we’d be doing online school. But it doesn’t, and as a homeschooler, I can tailor their education to exactly match their academic needs.
How Long is This Going to Take?
Students typically attend public school about six hours per day. This time includes lunch, multiple recesses for younger students, passing time between classes for older students, and a lot of classroom management time when the teacher is recapturing the attention of all the students. The result – homeschooling typically takes 2-4 hours per day. That’s it. Of course your kids still need to eat, and play, but the sitting down and learning time is only 2-4 hours per day (half the time they normally spend at public school). If you choose to homeschool, you can let your kids sleep in and still be done with school by lunch so they can play all afternoon.
What about Accreditation?
This is the biggest con by far, and the one nobody ever talks about. If you’re thinking about homeschooling, you need to look at the requirements for your state. But regardless of where you live, and what bookkeeping or testing requirements your state has, it’s relatively easy to homeschool K-8 students. If you choose to homeschool in the fall and then want to send them back to public school in the spring, all you have to do is register them for public school and your local district will stick them in a classroom.
High school is a very different story though. Most, possibly all, public high schools do not accept homeschool credits. It is possible to get into college with a homeschool transcript, but your local high school is not going to recognize your homeschool transcript when applying credits towards graduation. That means if you opt to homeschool your 10th grader for the 2020-2021 school year, and then you want to send them back to public school for their 11th grade year, they are going to be short a lot of credits. The public school may require your child to retake several of the classes you thought them at home, and they might not be able to graduate on time.
Deciding to homeschool a high school student needs to be a four year decision. If you only want to keep your high schooler home this year because of COVID, do online school. Most public schools are offering distance learning options this year, in many districts this is the only option. There are also numerous online charter schools and other accredited online options that can easily transfer credits. All the pros of homeschooling can be taken advantage of for a short time for K-8 students, but if you want to homeschool your high schooler offline, you’re likely going to need to commit to staying their teach until they graduate.
What did I miss? What pros and cons are you considering when deciding if homeschool is a good choice for your family?