The Disadvantages of Home Schooling
While many parents find home schooling offers lots of potential benefits, there are also drawbacks to consider, and many will have a significant impact on family life for the home schooled child but also his or her siblings and parents. This article outlines these potential disadvantages of home schooling to help parents decide whether it is the best option for their family.
Home Schooling is a Significant Sacrifice
Any parent or tutor leading a home schooling education will have to sacrifice a great deal of their time. If a child is 'unschooled', when he or she takes charge of his or her own education and a parent is a passive rather than active support, there will still be an investment of time and energy by the whole family. But if a parent is providing a child with home schooling in a more structured way, that takes a great deal of time and organisation.
The parent(s) will need to carry out a myriad of tasks, usually including organising and teaching lessons, making a timetable, preparing visits, resources and field trips, join local home schooling groups, and making plenty of arrangements with other home schooled children and/or extra curricular activities for socialisation. Parents giving their child a home education will have little time to themselves at home.
The Cost of Home Schooling
While a home education will tend to be cheaper than paying fees at a private school, parents who opt to home school their children rather than having them attend a mainstream state school will have to take care of higher costs, which might include buying a curriculum, text books, computer and writing resources, field trips, science equipment, etc. If a parent has to give up his or her job to become a home school teacher, there are also high costs in terms of lost earnings. There are no government funds available to parents who decide to home school their children.
The Socialisation Issue
Home schooling parents often dispute the fact that home schooling is a less social way of learning than within a school classroom, saying that home schooled children can still meet a great deal of people through activities such as extra-curricular activities and home schooling clubs. However, there is a greater responsible for the parents of home schooling children to ensure that their children are receiving opportunities for social development, where in a mainstream school these opportunities would be part of everyday life.
The Qualification Issue
Where in a school, teachers are qualified instructors with experience in teaching methods as well as their subject, parents may struggle to learn teaching skills or become successful at teaching effectively. Schools also provide specialist teachers and advisors such as guidance counsellors and PE teachers, who are able to contribute their particular skills to a child's education. A home schooled child will not usually have opportunities to learn from such a diverse range of skill backgrounds. This is especially true if a child has special educational needs and required expert teaching and care.
The Advantages of Home Schooling
Personalised, Directed Learning
A central part of the home schooling programme is the child-centred education system which literally centres around one child - your own. Children can set their own learning pace, there is no competitive element, and if maths needs more time than English, that's not limited by a timetable or the needs of other children.
Different Social Patterns
A child who receives their tutoring at home will have the benefits of socialisation based on interests and community rather than merely age, which most schools are organised around. Instead, most home schooled children meet friends in extra-curricular activities, who have the same interests, or home school support groups, who are experiencing the same education system, rather than being restricted by the age organisation of schools.
A Free Timetable
It might sound like a contraction in terms, but home schooling does allow a free timetable: many home schooling parents create a timetable as that allows children and parents to feel there is a structure to their day, but at the same time home schooling has much flexibility. A day's learning can end when a child is too tired to go on, which may be before or after the time the bell rings at school. Likewise, the timetable can bend when an unmissable learning experience crops up, such as an exciting speaker coming to town or a lunar eclipse visiting the skies!
Flexibility of Location
A home schooled education can take place anywhere, and there are often extra benefits of carrying out tuition in less usual locations - why learn about the park's ecodiversity in a classroom when you could be out and about exploring that location in the actual park, for example. Home schooling parents usually make their classrooms much larger than just their home, making trips to science museums, zoos, and carrying out field trips and practical lessons in other locations.
Boredom can also be avoided by practicing lessons in unusual ways, such as learning about fractions through baking a cake, or learning about currencies while in a bank. This can also be important for families who have to move abroad for a period of time but do not want to force a child to join a new school for a short period of time - home schooling can be an exciting alternative.
More Family Time
Instead of spending the majority of the day in school being taught by relative strangers, home schooled children spend far more time with their parent(s) and sometimes siblings too. Many home school families say this promotes strong family relationships and a unique sense of family 'togetherness'.