Table of Contents Hide
- What is Homeschooling?
- Pros of Homeschooling
- Cons of Homeschooling
- Is Homeschooling Right for Your Family? Key Considerations
- How to Homeschool: Curriculum Options
- Homeschooling for Free (or Very Low Cost)
- Ensuring Socialization When Homeschooling
- Answering Common Questions About Homeschooling
The benefits of homeschooling might entice you after reading this. Homeschooling has become an increasingly popular educational option for many families. While it’s not right for everyone, homeschooling offers quite a few benefits that are worth considering when deciding what’s best for your child’s education. We’ll explore the pros and cons of homeschooling, how to determine if it’s a good fit for your family, curriculum options, socialization opportunities, and more. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision about homeschooling your kids.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is a non-traditional education option where children are educated at home by their parents or tutors instead of attending a public or private school. Homeschooled students follow a curriculum that is selected by their parents. This curriculum can be personalized and tailored to suit each child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and learning style.
Parents have total control over what and how their children learn when homeschooling. They get to choose the teaching methods, schedule, and materials used. Homeschooling allows for a lot of flexibility and customization in education. Families also get to spend more quality time together without the constraints of traditional school schedules.
Homeschooling can be done independently with parents acting as both teacher and principle. Many families also join homeschool cooperatives where parents team up to share curriculum development and teaching responsibilities. Some parents enroll their children in online or distance learning homeschool programs as well.
Homeschool students have access to a wide variety of curriculum options like textbooks, online classes, educational apps and websites, hands-on activities, field trips, YouTube channels, and more. The possibilities are endless when you homeschool.
Pros of Homeschooling
1. Customized Learning
One of the biggest advantages to homeschooling is that the curriculum can be completely tailored to your child’s unique learning needs. In a traditional classroom setting, the teacher has to divide their attention amongst 20-30 students, which can mean your child doesn’t get as much one-on-one focus and support. But with homeschooling, you can go at your child’s exact pace and really help them thrive in their strongest subjects while giving more time and attention to the areas they struggle with.
Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to choose materials and teaching methods aligned with your child’s interests and learning style too. For example, if your child is a visual learner, you can incorporate more videos, diagrams, illustrations, and experiential learning activities. If your child excels at math, you can move more quickly through that subject and devote more time to reading and writing skills. When you homeschool, no two children in the same family will learn the exact same way.
2. Real-World Learning
Homeschooling allows for more real-world, hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom. Through field trips, travel, household responsibilities, internships, and community service activities, homeschooled students can make meaningful connections between their education and the real world. This style of authentic learning helps information stick better.
Having a flexible schedule means you can take advantage of community resources like museums, factories, nature centers, theaters, and other places offering unique educational experiences. Homeschooled kids also have more time in their schedule for enrichment activities like sports, arts, and volunteering that allow them to discover their passions and develop life skills.
3. Stronger Family Relationships
Spending more time learning together as a family can foster tighter family bonds. Parents get to be actively involved in their child’s education and stay connected to what they’re learning and struggling with. Siblings can also benefit from the ability to learn collaboratively.
Homeschooling supports multi-age peer interactions and relationships between siblings that you don’t see in traditional school environments where same-age peers are grouped together. There are advantages to this type of mixed-age socialization and cooperative learning.
Studies show that homeschooled students have stronger relationships with their parents and family. The flexible schedule also means more quality time for meaningful interactions as a family.
4. Reduced Stress
Homeschooled students tend to experience far less school-related stress, anxiety, and peer pressure. Bullying is non-existent when homeschooled. The flexibility also means children can get more sleep, physical activity, and free time – all of which are important for mental health.
Some children simply thrive better in the comfortable environment of home with more 1:1 support versus the pressure of large classrooms. For certain children, homeschooling can be the solution to chronic stress, behavior issues, and low self-esteem associated with traditional school settings.
5. Customized Pace
Every child learns at a different pace. In traditional schools, the whole class must progress through the curriculum at the same pace. But with homeschooling, your child is free to accelerate ahead in subjects they excel at and take more time on subjects they struggle with, without being held back.
Gifted learners who are bored and understimulated in the traditional classroom can flourish with a curriculum tailored to their abilities and interests. Children who need remedial support or accommodation can get that in the homeschool environment as well. There’s no reason to rush through a subject before a child has mastered the material when you homeschool.
6. Focus & Attention
Homeschooling minimizes academic disruptions, allowing children with attention deficits like ADHD to learn in an environment free of classroom distractions and overstimulation. One-on-one instruction makes it easier for these children to focus as they are not competing with 30 other students for the teacher’s attention and are less distracted by peers.
Parents can directly monitor on-task time and adapt teaching to fit their child’s unique attention span and learning needs. Breaks for physical activity can be incorporated more easily as well. The result is often improved academic performance.
Cons of Homeschooling
1. Time Commitment
Without a doubt, homeschooling requires a huge time investment from parents. From researching curriculum options to creating daily lesson plans and schedules to teaching and grading work – it’s a lot to take on. Most families find they need to have one parent home full-time to dedicate themselves to homeschooling.
Single parents and households where both parents work full-time jobs outside of the home can struggle with finding the time homeschooling demands. There is limited time for personal interests and activities outside of homeschooling. Paying for private classes and tutors in subjects you’re not equipped to teach can help relieve the time burden but results in additional costs.
2. Social Interactions
One of the biggest concerns parents have with homeschooling is whether their children will have adequate socialization and peer interactions. While homeschoolers certainly aren’t socially isolated, they do miss out on social development opportunities that occur naturally in a classroom setting with same-age peers.
Homeschool parents need to be proactive and intentional in providing regular play dates, joining homeschool groups, signing kids up for sports teams and clubs, and enrolling them in outside classes. But there’s no guarantee they’ll form close friendships through these limited interactions like they might in a traditional school environment.
3. Extra Costs
While homeschooling eliminates tuition, there are still significant educational costs for books, online classes, enrichment activities, tutoring in advanced subjects, technology, field trip expenses, homeschool group membership fees, etc. Extracurricular activities, camps and classes to ensure adequate socialization also cost money.
For single-income families who must go down to one salary to homeschool, the loss of that income results in financial sacrifice as well. Although savings are possible on things like transportation, school supplies and lunches, most families find that homeschooling costs more than anticipated.
4. Extra Work
Taking on the roles of both parent and teacher means a lot more work. Preparing customized lessons for multiple children at different skill levels is labor-intensive. Grading assignments, documenting progress, and scheduling social and enrichment activities requires organization. Homeschool parents rarely, if ever, get to clock out at the end of a workday either.
Constantly having the children around underfoot while trying to juggle your own workload and responsibilities can be taxing. Maintaining patience and energy levels is challenging. Doing it all without regular breaks takes dedication and passion. Burnout is a very real concern.
5. Limited Resources
Although the resources available to homeschool families have grown tremendously, there are still some limitations. You may not have access to amenities like science labs, gymnasiums, woodworking shops, and auditoriums that enhance learning. Extracurricular options may be fewer as well, especially in rural areas.
While online classes open up many opportunities, a parent’s knowledge and abilities in certain subjects may be lacking. A homogenous learning environment comprised only of siblings can have disadvantages too, compared to a classroom exposing children to those of different backgrounds.
6. Lack of Credentialed Instruction
In most cases, the parent in charge of homeschooling will not have formal training in teaching methods or education. While homeschool parents are heavily invested in their children’s education, they may lack some of the skills and knowledge of a credentialed teacher. Deciding on curriculum, evaluating work, accommodating learning disabilities, and issuing grades can be challenging.
There are certainly ways to compensate for this like using accredited homeschool programs, connecting with other homeschool families, and seeking support from experienced homeschool tutors when needed. But some children may benefit from the expertise of professional teachers in a traditional setting.
Is Homeschooling Right for Your Family? Key Considerations
Deciding whether to homeschool or not is a big choice that will impact your child’s education and family life. While homeschooling offers advantages for many children, there are also significant challenges and sacrifices involved. Consider the following factors carefully before committing to homeschooling:
Your Child’s Learning Style & Needs
Does your child seem to struggle in the traditional classroom, either from bullying, distractions, lack of support for learning disabilities, or just not thriving in that environment? Or do they flourish with lots of peer interactions and classroom stimulation? What are their strongest subjects versus weakest ones? What types of learning activities do they most enjoy?
Your Ability to Commit Time
Can you dedicate the 15-30 hours per week most families spend on planning, teaching, researching and grading? Are you self-disciplined with time management? Will you need to leave a job? How will you balance your own workload along with homeschooling?
Your Teaching Abilities
Do you have patience? Are you comfortable teaching advanced subject matter they may eventually reach? How confident are you in your own knowledge/abilities in the core subjects? Will areas like higher math, science, foreign language require outside tutors?
Your Child’s Interests
Does your child have strong interests in areas like arts, STEM, or athletics that may require supplemental classes and enrichment activities? Will their social and extracurricular opportunities be sufficient if homeschooled?
Your Learning Style
Do you prefer structure and strict schedules or flexibility? Are you detail-oriented and comfortable with research, planning and organization? How will you ensure accountability along with supporting independence?
Your Financial Situation
Can you afford curriculum materials, technology, outside classes/activities, potential tutoring costs etc. on a single income? Or will both parents need to continue working full-time? Are you in a position to sacrifice income for the sake of homeschooling?
Your Support System
Do you have family who can fill in to give you breaks from teaching? Are there local homeschool groups you can network and coordinate with? Is your spouse fully on board with taking on homeschooling responsibilities?
If your child’s needs are better met through homeschooling and you have the time, abilities and resources to commit to it, the rewards can be immense. But be realistic about what it will require from you as the parent-teacher.
How to Homeschool: Curriculum Options
One of the most appealing factors about homeschooling is the ability to pick curriculum customized to your child’s learning preferences and abilities. Today’s homeschoolers have an enormous range of curriculum options to choose from:
Textbooks allow you to recreate a structured, traditional classroom setting at home. While rather old-fashioned, textbooks provide comprehensive, logical coverage of subject matter. Major educational publishers like McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson offer full sets aligned to each grade level.
Textbooks give parents teacher editions with lesson plans, supplemental worksheets, quizzes, and tests. They are particularly helpful for parents less confident in developing their own lessons and assessments from scratch. Textbook learning can get dry, so supplementing with multimedia resources helps.
From live virtual classes to self-paced online courses, e-learning opens up endless possibilities for homeschoolers. Many online programs like K12, Connections Academy, Time4Learning and more offer complete curriculums for every subject and grade level. Others like Outschool and Khan Academy focus on individual classes and activities.
Benefits of online learning include engaging technology, flexible scheduling, certified teachers, structured lessons, built-in assessments, and social interaction with virtual classmates. Downsides can be cost and too much screen time. Combining online classes with offline learning is ideal for most homeschoolers.
Comprehensive homeschool programs that integrate various types of curriculum into one packaged solution take the guesswork out oflesson planning. Popular options include Sonlight, Bookshark, Moving Beyond the Page, My Father’s World, and more.
These faith-based and secular programs include textbooks, literature studies, hands-on projects, learning games, flashcards, and more. Daily schedules, teaching instructions, writing assignments, and grading tools walk parents through every step. The structured approach is very parent-friendly but allows for flexibility too.
Unit studies take an interdisciplinary approach by integrating multiple subjects into a comprehensive study of one specific topic like “oceanography” or “medieval history”. This immersive style helps make real-world connections to the material.
Popular ready-made unit study curriculums include Moving Beyond the Page, BookShark, and Beautiful Feet. Parents can also handpick library books, videos, projects, field trips and activities to build their own personalized unit studies. The hands-on, minds-on methodology engages kids’ natural curiosity.
At the complete opposite end of the homeschooling spectrum is “unschooling” where there is no defined curriculum or formal lessons. Children pursue their own interests through life experiences, travel, household responsibilities, independent reading and exploration of the world around them.
While the unstructured approach appeals to some, total unschooling is rare. Most homeschoolers prefer using it alongside more traditional learning resources to create fluidity between child-led discovery and parent-guided education focusing on key skills mastery.
Special Needs Programs
Homeschooling can be an ideal solution for children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, sensory processing issues, giftedness, and other learning differences. There are now many specialized curriculums developed for various special needs.
Options include online courses from National Association for Special Education Needs, customized materials from vendors like Curriculum Review, hands-on programs like BUILD by Hands on Homeschooling, and more. Consulting a special education professional helps ensure an appropriate program for your child’s needs.
Beyond pre-packaged curriculums, individual resources let you piece together a totally personalized plan. Useful homeschool tools include educational apps and websites, YouTube channels, educational games and toys, audiobooks, flashcards and workbooks, kits for science experiments, art supplies, and more.
Don’t limit yourself to “academic” learning tools either. Puzzles, board games, gardening, cooking, and tools that develop fine motor skills all build important cognitive abilities. Mix and match independent resources to expand upon or supplement your overall curriculum.
Homeschooling for Free (or Very Low Cost)
The costs associated with homeschooling can quickly add up between books, curriculum packages, technology, enrichment activities, courses and more. However, with resourcefulness it’s possible to homeschool inexpensively by utilizing free and low-cost options:
- Borrow textbooks, literature sets, unit studies, educational games/toys and more from your local library’s homeschool collection. Some libraries allow yearlong loans or reduced rental fees.
- Use free educational websites and apps like Khan Academy, Duolingo, Scratch, PBS Kids, Starfall, Teach Your Monster to Read etc. YouTube channels like Crash Course are great too.
- Join local Facebook homeschool groups to connect with other families selling used curriculum materials and willing to share resources.
- Take educational field trips to local museums, nature centers, factories, labs and farms that offer free admission or discounts. Attend free public lectures, concerts and theater performances as well.
- Focus on low-cost hands-on learning through cooking, gardening, household projects, board games, puzzles, independent science experiments etc.
- Swap books and materials with other homeschool families so you can share costs and rotate resources.
- Check with your local homeschool organization about curriculum co-ops where parents team up to buy resources and lend amongst the group.
- Use free homeschool lesson plans offered by education sites like Education.com as a base to build from. Adapt plans to fit your child’s needs.
- Let older kids work more independently using free online classes and educational websites while you focus 1:1 instruction time on younger children.
While it does require more effort and creativity, homeschooling is possible even on a very modest budget. With resourcefulness, you child won’t have to miss out.
Ensuring Socialization When Homeschooling
One of parents’ top concerns with homeschooling is whether their children will get adequate socialization if they aren’t in school interacting with lots of same-age peers every day. While it requires intention and effort, there are plenty of ways to ensure homeschoolers get social interaction and build friendships:
- Enroll children in extracurricular activities based on their interests to meet peers. Sports teams, dance classes, coding camps, arts programs and more offer regular group activities.
- Join local homeschool groups that organize field trips, proms, parties, co-op classes led by parents, book clubs, support groups, field days and other social events.
- Get involved in community service activities like volunteering at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, animal rescue etc. alongside other kids. Giving back provides fulfilling interactions.
- Arrange regular play dates, sleepovers, trips to the park, museum visits, kids yoga and cooking classes etc. with neighborhood and homeschool friends. Swap hosting with other parents.
- Look into part-time enrollment at local schools and hybrid programs. Many allow homeschoolers to take electives, join sports teams, and participate in other activities and events.
- Enroll your child in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, kids church choir, a drama club, coding class, or other hobby-based groups full of peer interaction opportunities.
- Suggest teens get a part-time job to build social skills and independence while interacting with coworkers and customers.
- Have regular play dates with other families in your neighborhood. Get together for backyard picnics, camping trips, visits to the park and more.
- Meet up with other homeschool families at playgrounds, museums, zoos and other kid-friendly places. Join homeschool groups organizing outings too.
- Take advantage of social opportunities at places like the YMCA, children’s gyms, skating rinks, trampoline parks, arcades, rock climbing centers and pools.
- Look for rec center classes, swim lessons, summer camps, nature programs at parks, homeschool choir groups, youth sports leagues and more.
- Encourage independence as kids get older to do activities and make friends outside the home while you monitor from a slight distance.
With creativity and commitment to putting yourselves regularly in social settings, most homeschooled children can develop strong social skills and close friendships with diverse peers.
Answering Common Questions About Homeschooling
Is homeschooling legal everywhere?
Yes, homeschooling is legal across all 50 states, but each state has its own regulations on testing, teacher qualification, curriculum approval, and other requirements parents must follow. Some states also grant homeschoolers access to public school resources and extracurricular activities. Research your state’s specific homeschooling laws.
Do homeschooled kids go to college?
Absolutely! Homeschoolers have no problem gaining acceptance into both public and private colleges across the country. As more colleges are recruiting homeschooled students, the admission process is becoming even easier to navigate. Homeschoolers tend to excel in college as independent learners.
What about testing & grades?
To meet state mandates, parents need to have a plan in place for annual standardized testing. Grading is up to each family, but creating a transcript of grades in core subjects is important for college applications. Some states require families to submit curriculum plans and portfolio evaluations by a qualified teacher.
Can homeschoolers play sports?
Regulations vary by state as far as joining public school sports teams. Some allow homeschoolers to participate fully while others prohibit it. Parents can look into community leagues, local rec centers, homeschool cooperatives, the YMCA and places like Martial Arts studios to fulfill their child’s interests.
How do homeschooled kids make friends?
Parents need to be intentional in providing regular social interactions through homeschool groups, activities, volunteering, part-time school enrollment, and get-togethers with other families. Friendships form organically through these consistent interactions in group environments that foster relationship building.
What’s the daily schedule like?
Families often structure mornings around “core” subjects like math, reading, writing etc. Afternoons are good for hands-on learning, activities, field trips and classes. Scheduling in free play time is important too. But homeschooling allows for flexibility based on each child’s needs and energy levels throughout the day.
Is homeschooling hard for parents?
It’s undoubtedly a lot of responsibility requiring strong time management skills and self-discipline. But with the freedom to school on your own terms along with customized curriculum and one-on-one time with your kids, most parents feel the rewards outweigh the challenges. Having a support system is key to managing stress.
Can parents work while homeschooling?
It requires careful planning and scheduling to work from home while homeschooling, but it’s possible – especially if kids are older and more independent. Families make it work by trading off teaching duties, doing schoolwork evenings/weekends, using online classes, hiring tutors for certain subjects, or alternating part-time work and school days.