The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

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Choosing to homeschool your kids is not a new concept. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase “school choice” took on a whole new meaning as more and more parents considered homeschooling a solution for their families.

To curb the spread of the virus, school districts around the country offered a variety of educational possibilities, from in-person school with masks to full online school to a delayed start to the academic year to a hybrid model that offered some days in a physical classroom and other days virtually.

Even as things begin to open back up and return to normal, some schools are continuing to offer a virtual option. And since younger kids are still unable to get the vaccine, some families feel uncertain about sending their kids back to brick-and-mortar schools.

If you’re thinking of teaching your child at home for the first time, or you've always considered this option for your family, you likely know there are many pros and cons.

We’ve rounded up a list of common advantages and pitfalls you may encounter—with input from real-world homeschooling parents. As you weigh your decision, give some thought to how each of these might impact your own circumstance and trust that whatever decision you make will be the right one for your family.

Pros
  • Freedom

  • Flexibility

  • Individualized education

  • Minimal COVID-19 restrictions

  • Strong relationships

  • Reduced COVID-19 exposure

Cons
  • A lot of work

  • Less time for yourself

  • Inability to work

  • Too much togetherness

  • Missing out on certain opportunities

  • Facing judgment and bias

Pros

Freedom 

Whether you call it self-determination, freedom, or control, one clear advantage of homeschooling is the ability to make your own choices. As a homeschooler, you’ll be able to freely travel or move, include religious teaching in day-to-day learning, and not worry about social pressures or bullying your child may encounter at school.

Plus, in home-based education, all subjects are fair game, from sailing to sewing to science. Practical skills, volunteering, artistic pursuits, and traditional trades can all fall under the broad umbrella of homeschooling. According to some homeschoolers, teachable moments are always happening, and "school" isn't limited to school hours.

Flexibility

Who doesn’t like to set their own schedule? By educating at home, you determine the structure of your day. If your child struggles to wake up by 7:00 a.m., for example, you can start school later. And, since homeschool timing is fluid, you can go ahead and make your child's dentist appointment on a Tuesday at noon.

You even have room to push back a lesson when you (or your kids) just aren’t feeling it. There are many ways to make it up later.

Individualized Education

Every child is different. Unfortunately, in the larger group setting of regular school, teachers can’t always tailor lessons to your child’s unique needs. At home, on the other hand, you can meet your child right where they are, customizing lessons to their particular interests.

Does your younger child need a little extra help with math? Take an extra 15 minutes to help them understand fractions. Is your older kid into outer space? Start an astronomy unit!

Homeschooling also lets you vary your approach from child to child if you have more than one—in terms of learning styles and grade levels. Plus, you get to celebrate any success or achievement together in real time.

Minimal COVID-19 Restrictions

For many parents, the decision to homeschool during the pandemic came down to avoiding COVID-19 restrictions placed on their children at school.

Having to wear a mask all day and social distance from friends is a tall order for your average 6-year-old. Educating at home, of course, means the freedom to go without masks, physical barriers, and other challenging “extras” that came with the pandemic. 

Strong Relationships

The more time you spend with your kids, the more opportunities arise for bonding. If you’ve always wished for more hours in the day as a family, perhaps homeschooling is the boon you’ve been craving.

Positive experiences like fun field trips, a-ha moments in learning, and “recess” at the park can all build closer parent-child and sibling-to-sibling relationships

In some cases, homeschooling’s flexible schedule can even allow for more time with both parents—if work schedules usually limit time together on weekends or holidays.

Reduced COVID-19 Exposure

Keeping kids home also reduces the risk of them being exposed to COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, this was a source of anxiety for many families. Some people have family members who are at higher risk for severe illness or people in their household who are unvaccinated.

Even as schools re-open, there are parents who don't feel safe sending their kids back until a vaccine is available to kids of all ages. Everyone has different comfort levels, and for some, taking it slower is the best approach.

Cons 

A Lot of Work

In addition to the domestic responsibilities of your role as a parent, you’re now a teacher, tutor, curriculum researcher, and principal.

It’s quite possibly the humdinger of all reasons not to homeschool: Teaching your kids at home is simply a lot of work.

Creating, teaching, and grading a day’s or week’s worth of learning on multiple subjects takes serious time and effort. (However, many prepared curriculum packages do exist.) Plus, as delightful as it can be to tailor education to each child’s learning style, this can add to your workload, too.

And if you have younger children at home who aren’t school age, you may also struggle to keep them occupied while you sit down to teach older kids.

Less Time for Yourself

Not surprisingly, the workload of homeschooling—and kids home all day—is likely to leave you with less time for yourself. Some homeschooling parents say they don’t have time to shower, let alone exercise or take care of their own needs.

For parents who are used to a quiet, kid-free environment during the day, this aspect of homeschooling can be a major adjustment. 

Inability to Work 

All the work of homeschooling is guaranteed to take up hours of your day. Therefore, as a homeschooling parent, you may not be able to work outside the home, or you may have to cut your hours significantly. For some households, this may be a financial deal-breaker.

Too Much Togetherness

While many families find that homeschooling boosts good vibes between siblings and parents, there is such a thing as too much togetherness.

You may find that spending all day, every day, with your kiddos (and they with each other) leads to feelings of frustration or confinement—especially if you’ve already been together nonstop for months due to the pandemic. You may also go through an adjustment period as your kids learn how to view (and respect) you as their teacher.

It’s important to work in breaks, both for yourself and your kids. Or, depending on the resources in your area, you might try a homeschooling co-op or enrichment program one day a week to provide your kids socialization with others outside the family.

Missing Out on Certain Opportunities

Despite the enormous flexibility of homeschooling, in some ways, it can limit opportunities for your child. For high schoolers, for example, a homeschool curriculum may not be able to provide the same variety of electives as a large public school. (After all, most of us don’t have a metal shop in the backyard.)

If your child wants to pursue subjects you can’t easily teach at home, you’ll have to be diligent about seeking alternatives.

The same holds for social opportunities. As a homeschooler, it’s up to you to provide social interaction your child won’t get from school dances, assemblies, and everyday classroom partner work.

Facing Judgments and Biases 

Let's be honest: Homeschooling doesn’t necessarily have a reputation for being cool and modern. Unfortunately, plenty of biases and stereotypes exist around homeschooling and the folks who choose it.

If you decide to educate at home, you might get some flak from family members (or even strangers) who think you’re going full Little House on the Prairie mode or that your kids won’t actually learn anything. You may need to develop a thick skin toward other people’s judgments of your decision to educate at home.

A Word From Verywell

When more and more parents are exploring the wide world of homeschooling, it’s wise to look at the many advantages and disadvantages of this type of education.

Do some soul searching and have a serious discussion with your partner about whether this could be the right choice for your child's and family's needs. And don’t forget to find out how your kids feel about the subject! With everyone’s thoughts and feelings on the table, you can determine if homeschooling is best for you and your family.

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