The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

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Choosing to homeschool your kids is not a new concept. But as we start the 2020–2021 school year, months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase “school choice” is taking on a whole new meaning as more and more parents are now considering homeschooling as a solution for their families.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, many school districts around the country are offering a variety of education possibilities, from in-person school with masks to full online school to a delayed start to the academic year. With the various learning options at hand—many of them not ideal—some parents are left wondering if they should take their children's education into their own hands.

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 experience 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

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, to include religious teaching in day-to-day learning, and to not worry about social pressures or bullying your child may encounter at school.

Plus, in a home-based education, any and 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. Teachable moments are always happening and "school" isn't limited to school hours, according to some homeschoolers.

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, there’s flexibility to start school later. And, since homeschool timing is fluid, you can go ahead and make that kids’ 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, since there are more ways to make it up later.

Individualized Education

Every child is different. Unfortunately, in a 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 son need a little extra help with math? Take an extra 15 minutes to help him understand fractions. Is your daughter 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 since you're right there with them.

Minimal COVID-19 Restrictions

For many parents, the decision to homeschool for the 2020–2021 school year comes 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 come 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.

Cons 

A Lot of Work

In addition to the domestic responsibilities of your role as mom or dad, you’re now 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!)

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.

Plus, as delightful as it can be to tailor education to each child’s learning style, this can add to your workload, too.

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 exercise, let alone shower take care of your 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 almost certainly won’t be able to work outside the home. For households that require both parents to have an income, this may be a 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 which 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 out alternatives.

The same holds true 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 

We’ll 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

During a global pandemic, 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 serious discussing with your spouse or partner about whether this could be the right choice for your 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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