Home schooling is a hot topic in the United States. On the one hand, some parents argue that homeschooling isolates children, allows them to be taught by parents that are often unqualified or put through programs that aren’t challenging or rigorous enough, prevents them from learning normal social skills and puts them at an inherent disadvantage academically. On the other hand, there are nearly two million homeschooled students in the United States today, according to 2012 data, which means plenty of parents do see upsides for their children.
Clearly, homeschooling works out for some students. Plenty are going to college, and colleges often report that homeschooled kids who make it to their doors are more well-rounded and do better in classes than their traditionally educated peers. However, plenty of kids use the homeschooling route to essentially drop out of the education system entirely. For some, this is because they felt they weren’t suited for a traditional education. For others, it’s because the education system has failed them. It’s not an easy decision.
The upside is for most parents considering homeschooling, you don’t have to do it alone. As more and more kids are homeschooled - and particularly in more urban areas with larger populations - parents who want to pull their children out of traditional school but who don’t feel equipped to take on the job of full-time school teacher have a wealth of options available to them. You could join a co-op of parents who trade off subjects and students, or you could access local teachers you have connections to.
A lot of research has even found that homeschooled students are more likely to get a good education, scoring higher on tests than traditionally educated peers even before they reach the college level. What that suggests is that in many cases, public school teachers aren’t necessarily more equipped to provide your child a rounded education than you are. It very much depends on your level of education and access to resources as a parent.
If you think you have the resources to provide a thorough education, keep your child interacting with other children through kids’ clubs or homeschooling programs, be able to work virtually from home, you may very well be better equipped to educate your child. Plus, with all the research showing kids do well in school, there’s no reason not to believe your child can get their fill of meeting people in college and beyond.
While students might score higher on tests, overall, that doesn’t happen across the board. Plus, there’s the fact that not all measures of success can be determined by a grade test. A survey of adults who grew up homeschooled in religious families found they were far more likely to say they felt uncertain about their goals, future and purpose, and were more likely to feel helpless about the direction of their future.
Plus, there’s the fact that many parents aren’t in the same situation as families in more urban settings. Although it’s not uncommon for rural areas to have higher rates of homeschooling, such homeschooling programs are often religiously based, which means religious minorities might find themselves with few options for groups to join. Access to resources is certainly not even for everyone.
Is it right for you?
If you have the resources, time, willingness and willpower, you should consider homeschooling your child. It’s not necessarily the right solution - some kids love and enjoy school, and thrive in a public setting. Others do better in quieter settings and with more one-on-one attention. Your child’s education will never be more customized than when they’re taught one-on-one, and with most parents, the best way to guarantee that is through homeschooling. But it’s a big commitment. If you don’t have the time to provide constant education for your child, or if your vision of homeschooling involves enrolling your child in an online program while you continue to work, don’t be surprised to see their education stall. Homeschooling can work - but you have to be serious about it.