Is Homeschooling Right For Your family?
Thinking about homeschooling? I’m not about to tell you that it’s going to be easy but I believe that it will be a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
There is still a lot of negativity toward homeschoolers so I am going to dispel a few myths about homeschooling and in the process provide you with some of the advantages to help you to make an informed decision. Should you decide to transition your family to homeschooling, we hope and believe that you will find homeskoolery.com an invaluable resource
providing support and a roadmap to success for you every step of the way
along your journey.
Against Schooling your Children at Home
Reality Check – Private School is expensive, homeschooling, not so much.
There are many free online educational sites available that provide printable worksheets, study materials and testing. Some are grade specific and some are focused on a specific subject area. You can certainly put together a good curriculum base with some legwork and very little money.
In addition, there are very good full year grade level packages that sell for less than $300 with everything included; textbooks, workbooks, answer sheets and guides for teachers (that’s you). I would argue that $300 is probably less than it costs you to send your child to school with lunches, school fundraisers and supply purchases that they now require families to participate in on a regular basis. There is even the occasional teacher’s appreciation gift but you may want to keep that tradition!
Truth – It is likely that you can provide a much better education for your child at home for less out of pocket than if you send them to the school during the year.
Reality Check – In public schools, kids are divided by age and often by social status or activities. There is peer pressure to ostracize those outsiders not members of your “social circle”. Jocks against Geeks and Cheerleaders against Chess Club. Yes, that still goes on!
It is also socially unacceptable for the older kids to associate with the younger kids and bullying continues to be a problem. Even though schools now have no bullying policies, they don’t work. In fact, they just excuse bad behavior choosing to focus only on physical contact. Most bullying is and has always been more emotional or social than physical. Teasing, name calling, starting rumors and making someone a social outcast are common. Now with social media, it doesn’t stop when the bell rings. Bullies now have access to their targets 24/7. The only thing the zero tolerance policy does is punish the victim who, seeing no other way out, lashes out at the bully and then receives the harsh punishment that was supposed to protect them. These kids spend much of their day packed into desks and are not allowed to speak with out permission. Yes, it all sounds very socially uplifting, doesn’t it?
Truth – Homeschool children are more balanced socially. They feel safe and are put in situations where they are valued and encouraged to participate openly in the conversations of adults. They feel just as comfortable talking to them as they do to kids their own age. It’s not unusual to see homeschoolers of all ages spending time together; a five year old, a ten year old, a seventeen year old and mom, everyone is welcome at the table. There are no cliques, there are no outcasts. Many homeschool families are large and the kids are used to being around each other. They don’t see cliquish behavior so they don’t imitate it.
Reality Check – While this used to be somewhat accurate, homeschooling has grown so much over the past 10 years that it’s no longer the case.
There are homeschool sports teams that play against local private schools. There are proms and homecoming dances.There are activity and social groups that meet for picnics and field trips. Businesses like rock climbing gyms, karate dojos, bowling alleys and others have special homeschool only programs that are typically discounted to fill the slow daytime hours when public schoolers are not available. Even sports training facilities offer discounted daytime programs. In our area, we have an organization that hosts a “Sports Day” every Friday for homeschoolers. It lasts for three hours and they have basketball, soccer, kickball, and various other activities in both team and individual sports. They typically have over 100 kids. The cost? $5.
Truth – There are more opportunities for homeschoolers now that there have ever been. The problem is not finding an activity, the problem is being able to fit them all into your schedule.
Reality Check – This is the worst argument of all. Do you realize that most public school children spend over 7 hours of their day at school? How much of that time do you think is spent on actual instruction. There have been many studies done on this but most are done by teachers so the results are not always accurate. Most studies recognize that public school kids spend less than 3 hours a day on instruction. Now, how much of that 3 hours is spent reviewing material because 2 of the 25 kids in the classroom are struggling with a certain concept. How much does that benefit the other 23 kids? It doesn’t. What if the other kids are having trouble with something else and it never gets reviewed. Teachers primarily teach to those who struggle. Frankly, they have no choice but it hurts kids who want to learn and can handle more challenging material. They become bored and lose interest.
Kids should be challenged and taught critical thinking. They should be able to pursue things that interest them. They should be able to talk to their teacher when they don’t quite understand something or if they have questions. They can’t do that because so much of the day is spent teaching to the students having trouble. Often, the teacher has a schedule to keep and says “we have to move on” even when there may be several unanswered questions in the class. It’s not a very effective system. They are even mainlining special needs students now in many districts. I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of mainlining here but that obviously takes more time away from the teacher and her ability to teach is now much harder. All of these challenges and distractions occur within that 3 hour window of instruction leaving very little time to dig deep into anything. Think about that for a minute. Homeschooling eliminates almost all of these issues. This is why many homeschool families complete their daily course work before lunchtime and get more done.
Truth – Public school is a very inefficient system that can destroy a child’s natural love for learning.
Reality Check – Even though there is still some negative stigma attached to homeschooling, most colleges recognize that homeschoolers are better able to handle the challenges that come with college level studies. Some schools now look to recruit homeschoolers and scholarships are increasingly available. The problem for homeschoolers comes when they haven’t kept good records or transcripts. Many homeschool parents feel their children shouldn’t have to take College Entrance exams like the SAT or ACT feeling that the superior education they provided for their kids at home should be good enough. I understand the thought process, but the lack of College Entrance Exams can destroy a students chances to get accepted into colleges. They give validity to the High School Transcripts you provide.
Truth – Good transcripts along with good SAT/ACT scores will make your homeschooled student stand out among the applicants and may even give them an advantage over kids who graduated from Public Schools.
Reality Check – While it is correct that Public Schools test their students often, it’s important to understand how that plays out in the classroom. Many teachers know the questions that are going to be on the test weeks before test day. Often these teachers will “teach to the test”. So rather than showing subject mastery, it simply shows their ability to memorize certain problems or questions. They teach this way for weeks before so their students will test well. It takes time away from teaching and hinders those students who don’t need to go over the same material over and over. There is precious little time for actual instruction in the classroom and this only worsens the problem.
Truth – The Homeschool environment is very flexible. If your child is struggling with Algebra, then focus more time on Algebra. If your child has a love for Shakespeare, then add some time to focus on his works. If they are fascinating by World History, let them focus their history studies more in that area. There is no greater way to educate your children. The Homeschool environment simply can’t be replicated in a public school classroom with all of the bureaucratic requirements and constant distractions.
Reality Check – There is no one size fits all in the world of education or at least there shouldn’t be since there are four recognized categories of learners and the only type that thrives in the public school system are the Reading and Writing Learners. Unfortunately, very few of us are Reading and Writing Learners.
The four categories of learners and a brief description:
Reading & Writing Learners – Reading and writing learners excel with the written word. reading and rewriting information works well for them. This type of learner is the only category of learner that will thrive in a Public School classroom where lessons are derived from textbooks.
Visual Learners – Visual learners learn best by seeing the material whether through maps, graphs, whiteboard presentations and other visual aids, they are the second most likely to excel in Public School classrooms as many teachers will use visual aids in their classrooms.
Auditory Learners – Auditory learners do best when listening to information. It often helps them to discuss topics or even to repeat the information to themselves out loud. They are more likely to recall a conversation than something they have read and they will typically struggle in a public school classroom setting. at the bright side is that they may find the lecture heavy
college classrooms easier than most.
Kinesthetic Learners – Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. Hands on activities and experiments work well for them. If your child learns this way and many do, they are likely to struggle in a public school classroom. They won’t like to sit still and may be tagged as a behavioral problem simply because they are wired differently. They need to be actively engaged in the lessons or they will not retain the information. A public School Classroom is a disaster for these kids.
Truth – Homeschool curriculums are not one size fits all. Most homeschool families use an eclectic mix of content that works for their children. Some are completely online, some are all workbooks and everything in between.
Some students are able to adapt to the standardized teaching methods in public school but many struggle. That is the great thing about homeschooling. You can select curriculum, videos or online instruction that fits into your child’s learning wheelhouse. Many kids who have struggled in public school thrive in the homeschool environment including those with learning disabilities. Homeschooling works!
Sidenote: It is a pretty common occurrence when you ask a homeschooled student what grade they are in, that they cant tell you! They will say, “I think I’m in 7th or 8th, maybe 9th if we’re talking about science.” That is because they are allowed to work at their own pace and move faster on the subjects they excel at while spending more time on the ones that challenge them. Makes perfect sense!