This is a guest post courtesy of Lisa…When most people think of school, they picture their kids in a classroom full of other kids, sitting at desks with a teacher standing at the front of the room but there’s a growing number of families that are choosing a different way of learning – homeschooling.
Homeschooling is when you take (or keep) your child out of the official school system and educate them yourself. For some, this means following the same learning expectations as the school, and for others it means doing your own thing.
Making a decision to homeschool is one that needs to be done carefully, considering both the homeschooling pros and the cons.
- Personalized Learning. Homeschooling allows a unique opportunity to tailor your lessons to best fit your child’s learning style, personality, interests, skills level, and your own personal beliefs. It’s not a one size fits all experience. You can allow your child to go at the speed they need – whether that be fast or slow.
- No Need for Tests. Unless you want (or are required to by law), testing isn’t necessary. Since you work closely with your child every day, you know what their strengths and weaknesses are and can work to help build them up in the areas they need to develop.
- Family Time. Homeschooling means that you get to spend a lot of time together as a family. You get the opportunity to really build relationships amongst the members of your family. Memories are made and moments are treasured.
- Works on Your Schedule. Because you don’t have to fit things into the same pattern as the school system, you can be much more flexible with your plans. If you or your child aren’t morning people, you can start at whatever time of day best works for you. Your family can take trips in the off-season – often taking advantage of discounted offers. You can school through the summer and take the winter off. You can do 6 weeks on, 1 week off. It’s flexible. It’s up to you.
- More Free Time. Since you can do your learning more efficiently in a homeschool setting (and there’s no homework), there is much more time in the day to do other things – like play, pursue personal interests, visit with friends, explore the outdoors, etc.
- You Get To Learn Too. How much do you really remember from your school days? Homeschooling forces you to take another look at what you learned back then, and to learn it all over again. It’s amazing and feels so refreshing to learn something new or be able to finally understand something that always was confusing before.
- It’s Time Consuming. As a parent, homeschooling requires a lot of prep work and commitment. From lesson planning to implementation, organizing materials to marking math – there is a lot involved.
- 24/7. When you homeschool, you are basically with your kids all day, every day. This can be exhausting and mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. Extra curricular activities can help give you a chance to have a break once in a while, but the majority of the time, you are together.
- It can be costly. It doesn’t HAVE to be, but it can be quite an expense to homeschool. Since most places don’t supply the learning materials for you or offer you financial support, you have to make, find, or buy it for yourself. Depending on your choice of materials, this can add up quickly.
- People can be mean. When you homeschool, you don’t follow society’s natural expectation and that can put people on edge. You have to be prepared to defend your choice to homeschool to complete strangers (or learn how to let it roll off your back). Your children need to be able to respond to other kids who don’t understand about homeschooling and try to make them feel stupid or inferior. It’s not everyone, but there sure can be mean people out there.
- Limited Access to “Extras.” Kids in the school system do have access to a lot of extras that homeschoolers can’t without paying for it. For example, speech therapy and testing for learning disabilities. There are also things like sports teams, the band, yearbook club, etc. in a school setting that aren’t available for homeschoolers; however, homeschoolers (being a resourceful bunch) often create or find alternatives!
- You Have to Teach Math. Ok, I don’t really mean MATH, per se, but any subject that is challenging and you don’t feel confident to teach. This means that you will need to be creative in teaching that subject. Tutors, other parents, online programs, or step-by-step teacher manuals can help overcome this problem, but for some – this is the scariest con.
- Your House Will Probably Be a Mess. Having people in the house all the time makes it really hard to maintain a clean house, even when the kids help with the upkeep. It’s hard to find time to do all the housework in the midst of life, learning, and activities of a homeschooling day.
If you are trying to decide whether homeschooling is right for you, take a look at the homeschooling pros and cons list above and see what stands out to you. Take into account your family, your beliefs, your child’s needs, and what your goals are for your child’s education when making this decision. Remember that if you decide to homeschool, it doesn’t have to be a permanent solution – you can send them back to the classroom if it’s not working for whatever reason.
For my family, we are about to start our 7th year homeschooling. Despite the fact my house is a mess and math is starting to be more challenging, this journey has been worth every moment of it.
Lisa Marie Fletcher is a homeschooling mom of 4 boys who is passionate about helping Canadians who are interested in this different way to teach their kids. Her website, The Canadian Homeschooler, is full of resources to help others get started and find the materials they need.