Benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling

Mother homeschooling daughter

Homeschooling may lead to closer family relationships

With the increase in technologies that enable parents to work from home and from relatively remote regions I find that more and more parents are considering homeschooling their children.  Added to this is the disillusionment many parents feel with the traditional schooling system and it’s overall failure to produce self-directed learners.   Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages to keep in mind when considering homeschooling:

 

Benefits of homeschooling:

  • Children can study when they want for as long as they want.  This enables children to work according to their own level of ability.
  • Homeschooling provides greater flexibility and freedom as the family’s timetable no longer revolves around school hours and school holidays.  This may alleviate scheduling issues for children who demonstrate a particular talented for a sport or activity that falls outside of the normal school set-up.  Dear family friends of ours decided to home school their daughter – a gifted horse rider, this has not only allowed her to pursue her horse riding career but also enabled her to start giving riding lessons to younger children and so contribute meaningfully to the family’s income.  The increased flexibility will also enable a family to travel.
  • Home schooled children are generally exposed to lower levels of peer pressure, potential bullying, and competition than their mainstreamed counterparts.  This can be especially beneficial for tween and teenage girls as several studies have found that these girls generally have higher levels of self-esteem when home schooled.  There is also much less pressure on children to conform or “fit in” with others.
  • Homeschooling can lead to closer family relationships.
  • Homeschooling can provide greater stability in difficult times, for instance if a child or parent is very ill.
  • Children who are home schooled generally do not need to be transported to and from school and do not have to do heaps of homework – all of this results in well rested students with more time in which to complete their studies.
  • Homeschooling lessons often progress at a much faster pace as less time is wasted on trivia such as moving between classes or ensuring that everyone in the class is on the same page.
  • Homeschooling environments are better suited to supporting children with learning difficulties.  Hyperactive children for instance are less restricted and can be allowed to move around while learning.
  • Homeschooling enables parents to pay more in-depth, personal attention to subjects with which their children struggle (or in which they excel).
  • Parents have greater opportunity to transfer their values and beliefs onto their children.

 

The disadvantages of homeschooling:

  • Homeschooling takes up a lot of parents’ time – this may present a particular problem for single parents or parents who still need to work while homeschooling.
  • Most families need to sacrifice one parent’s income in order to home school their children.  These financial constraints may mean that children have less options available to them and may not be exposed to certain experiences (such as travel or attending particular shows).
  • Spending all your time with your kids may be particularly draining and may lead to increased conflict in your household.
  • Homeschooling often implies limited exposure to team sports or social events.  Your children may also only be exposed to other children in your immediate neighbourhood, which are bound to be of a similar social standing and economic class as them.  They may not learn to get on with children who are different or children whom they do not necessarily like – this may mean that they never really develop a full set of social skills and conflict resolution skills.  Home schooled children also often suffer from social awkwardness which may be debilitating later in their lives and careers.
  • Special experiences and activities (such as dissecting a frog or doing chemistry experiments) may require more effort to pursue and organised.
  • Students may never be exposed to expert teachers to deepen their knowledge in specific subjects.
  • Parents may encounter teaching problems they don’t feel equipped to handle.
  • The structured environments of mainstream schools are often criticized for being restrictive, but that same structure also holds several benefits.  Home schooled children may never learn to respect authority other than that of their parents or to follow orders and procedures without this structure.

 

Comments ( 4 )

  • author-hexa-bg

    Good day

    My experience of the negatives of home education is a bit different to the ones listed above.
    I do not agree with your comment that, “Homeschooling often implies limited exposure to team sports or social events.” I would say this may or could be the case but it is definitely not often. There are so many opportunities available for team sports, individual sports and social events. Some schools allow home educated children to partake in their sport teams. Many join clubs for soccer, base ball, or basket ball, etc. Home educated children also attend holiday clubs and camps. They attend church or go to Mosque. They join the Voortrekkers or Scouts. They take drama lessons or yoga, or they join a choir. All of these (and there are many more) are places where kids from all walks of life come together. Among home educators they also organise sporting events and training as well as science, math or chess clubs. Oh, and these are also the places where home educated kids learn to respect other figures in authority and to follow orders and procedures. As a side note, being home educated does not mean the child is exempt from following orders and procedures.

    As for the statement, “Students may never be exposed to expert teachers to deepen their knowledge in specific subjects” my objection would be that parents utilise the internet or the assistance of a tutor (sometimes online). There are so many resources available with expert teachers, e.g. Khan Academy (which is also free). I certainly did not have and I haven’t recently heard of an expert teacher who had the time to invest in his/her pupils and to deepen their knowledge of a subject. We also never did science experiments ourselves and the times it was presented by the teacher, I could probably count on one hand. The majority of schools does not currently have a functioning lab. My home educated son has done more experiments at the age of 8 than I have done in my entire high school career. And this was not difficult or expensive at all. I can foresee him joining a science club when he reaches his teenage years, which it will provide him with yet another opportunity for teamwork.

    “Parents may encounter teaching problems they don’t feel equipped to handle.” Well, this is just part of life. We all experience situations we feel we are not equipped to handle. And even in a school set-up one’s child may present you with teaching problems you don’t feel you can handle. (Just ask the parent who’s child has recently been diagnosed with ADHD or an inability to focus) That’s why we have a community, resources and experts to assist us. All one has to do is be willing to ask.

    One of my biggest fears when I started home education was that my relationship with my son would suffer. That we would become tired of each other. The exact opposite happened. Our relationship is stronger. He is more willing to tell me things now compared to when he was in school. We have time to play and to discover together. We spend hours reading books to each other. And he has time to play with his friends as well for his extra-murals. When he was in school and I had a full-time job our time was limited and we would try to touch base and build a relationship while I’m preparing supper, helping him finish his homework and getting him to bed in time. It was all such a rush with so much unhealthy pressure.

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Anelle,

      Thank you SO much for your insights. It helps tremendously to get in depth comments from parents who are actually living these experiences first hand. As you rightly point out, homeschooling can be a fantastic experience for some families and each child and family is so different that it is almost impossible to give general advice about what works best. From my experience many homeschooling-moms have complained about the fact their children’s social interactions with others always take place in structured environments (group sports, clubs, scouts, etc.) instead of just being able to engage in free, unstructured play. A wonderful solution to this (if your local primary school will allow it) is to enrol your child at the school’s aftercare so that he or she can play freely with age-related peers in the afternoons.

      Are there any other mom’s out there who would like to share their experiences or advice in this regard? We would love to hear from you

  • author-hexa-bg

    Hi my little brother is 4years old and has been in and out of school because of health reasons which by the way occur each time he’s back in crèche it’s different illness each time but I’m afraid his development is being slowed down by all this, should we maybe consider homeschooling?

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Tholoana,

      There are many other factors that need to be considered as well, for instance – does he enjoy the social interaction at school? Will he the opportunity to interact frequently with children of the same age at home? Would going to school offer him more opportunities for extra-murals or sport than homeschooling, etc?

      If he is not contracting any serious illnesses, but just the regular childhood illnesses – the solution might be to rather try and strengthen his immune system so that he does not get sick to easily, rather than to homeschool him.

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