The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
As with anything in life, homeschooling comes with both pros and cons. Read on to find out a little bit more about what this could mean for you and your children.
Homeschooling is a big life change for any child or parent, and it’s one that comes with a number of benefits along with quite a few difficulties.
The Cons of Homeschooling
Homeschooling is an experience that is sure to give you an immense amount of respect for any individual that chooses to educate numerous children on a daily basis as their primary job. Although there are plenty of benefits to homeschooling your child, we'll first start with some of the rougher aspects of this change of lifestyle to get those out of the way and give you a realistic view of what to expect.
If you struggle with organization, you may struggle with homeschooling your child.
Some of us moms have, at some point, taken pride in how organized we are (or were). Before my oldest was born, I could genuinely tell you what I would be doing each day nearly down to the minute because of how structured I liked to live my life. Once you have kids though, you know very well how any attempts at plans and structure typically go flying out the window no matter how much effort you put into making it work.
When it comes to homeschooling, this can be especially true. Before beginning any year of homeschooling, the first thing you have to do is structure out your schedule (I prefer to make mine match the county school system’s calendar to keep things easy) and then make sure that you have all of the necessary materials to meet your state and county’s requirements regarding subjects, content needing to be learned within those subjects, and also making sure that you plan your curriculum to match the number of mandatory school days required by law for your area.
This may sound like a lot, yet also somewhat simple, but it gets overwhelming quickly. You need to review all of your materials before even beginning to write down your lesson plans to get an idea of the approximate workload for your child, Afterward, you’ll need to do a bit of math to break down the number of pages in each workbook and see what the average amount of those pages per week would be. Then, you would finally begin the process of writing it all down and ensuring that you don’t overload your child into oblivion while still managing to meet all of the legal requirements imposed by the local education system.
Once you’ve done it a few times, you get the hang of it. However, prepare to spend quite a few days of your time planning it all out and getting it structured properly. You will likely get mentally exhausted from trying to make it all work, but the end result is overwhelmingly satisfying, which is a huge plus. Also, once your lesson plans are complete, you simply just go by the schedule once the school year starts, and everything is there and 100% ready to get completed each week.
In addition to the lesson plan and curriculum, you will also need to stay on top of being organized when it comes to all of the associated paperwork. You’ll need to ensure that you keep accurate records of your child’s curriculum and workbook information, the lesson plans, any forms required by the schooling body you’re enrolled with, your child’s grades, and also be sure to have those grades submitted on time and to the proper individuals or legal bodies.
I strongly recommend keeping one calendar for referencing your child’s schedule and workload and another calendar for marking all of the important dates for grade submissions, any mandatory remote meetings regarding progress updates or legal concerns, and the dates for re-enrollment.
It is SO MUCH WORK.
It goes without saying that homeschooling is a LOT of work. Occasionally, I’ve heard people unfamiliar with it mention how easy it must be to simply have a kid at home with no real schedule and the freedom to do anything they please. In this hypothetical world, it would also make the parent’s life easier without having to worry about bus schedules or school pickups.
This could not be farther from the truth. There may be more flexibility when having a child be homeschooled—especially in cases where a child or parent may have physical or mental health concerns that would otherwise make a “typical” schedule be difficult for them to maintain—but I can assure you that having your child at home 24/7 and trying to multitask (while also ensuring they stay on task with their responsibilities) is not for the faint of heart.
Not only are you responsible for all of the planning and scheduling for your child’s education as mentioned above, but you are still responsible for your own responsibilities as well. This may be working from home, taking care of the home in general, or taking care of one or more additional children—or ALL of the above! Count your blessings if you have an older child that’s responsible and willing to get their work done, allowing you to manage all of the other tasks you have to complete in the span of a day. For those who have younger children, children new to homeschooling or school time in general and in need of some extra help, or a child of any age with attention-related or defiance-related issues* (*I’m in that last category), you’re going to have a lot more to deal with.
You may see a lot more gray in your hair and feel a lot more frazzled, but homeschooling your child (even in harder circumstances) is still possible and done by many other parents out there—myself included. If you think you can handle it, buckle up and get ready to weather the storm. Like anything else with kids, you’ll have your good days and your bad days.
Say goodbye to your personal time and your alone time.
My oldest was once enrolled in daycare due to the job I had at the time, and the one off-day I had per week while she was gone for the day was just hours of the purest, most rejuvenating silence and freedom I have ever experienced and needed every day since. I could take a long shower, play my preferred music throughout the house, and even take time to read a book or do a jigsaw puzzle without interruption. It gave me back my sanity that was daily drained by work and parenthood the rest of the time.
Once she became old enough to be homeschooled, I loved having her at home with me more often (especially once I became able to work from home shortly afterward as well), but there was none of that calm and peaceful tranquility and silence anymore. There was no time alone. There have been no days alone since to properly recharge, have that previous sense of freedom to go wherever I chose when I had free time, nor just simply do whatever I wanted to do because I was alone.
Having started parenthood a bit young, it was honestly quite devastating because I had then become an instructor responsible for ensuring my little one’s education on top of everything else I was already doing. At that point, there became no time for me or my own wants, hobbies, or sanity.
I still stand behind the perspective that it’s been worth it due to our personal situation and my oldest’s health concerns over the years, but just prepare yourself if you still need some semblance of freedom and free time to function well.
Curriculums can get a bit pricey.
Whether you’re making your own through a mish-mash of different books or you’re buying a premade set of materials for your child’s homeschooling curriculum, this can get a bit expensive.
When we first started, I bought the sets available online since I had no clue what I was really doing or what to expect. These ran me anywhere from $500 to $800! However, they included all lesson plans, all of the necessary materials, and even some crafts to do throughout the year as well. Most of those companies also had great customer service for parents with questions about how to do everything.
Currently, I plan out my daughter’s curriculum myself (ensuring it meets all guidelines) and buy most of her books off of Amazon or from our local bookstore. This also allows me to review the books she’ll be using and find those that are the right fit for her learning style rather than what just simply meets the requirements for each subject. When choosing the books myself, it also helps me find better deals and save more money compared to buying a huge bundle and paying for a brand’s name stuck on the box too.
Less social interaction.
Although families that have a lot of members or children may do well with the limited amount of social interaction that comes along with homeschooling, those who have just one child may find it to be quite difficult. With homeschooling, whichever entity you choose to enroll with and do the schooling through will often provide a number of opportunities for field trips, social events, etc. However, for those of us with social butterflies, these few (albeit regular) social occasions may simply not be enough.
Finding fellow homeschooling parents and children is the best possible solution, assuming you and your child can both befriend the other parents and children. Realistically though, everyone has different schedules and this can often lead to your child having fewer friends and less social time.
Prepare to deal with opinionated people.
Almost like pregnancy all over again, when you start homeschooling, everyone is going to have an opinion about it. Most of these people have not been homeschooled nor even know anyone who has been homeschooled, yet they all seem to have very strong and very negative opinions on the matter.
At the end of the day, homeschooling your child is your decision, and that’s all that matters. Homeschooling will not make your child “weird” or “socially awkward”—my charismatic, motormouth, friend-to-everyone fourth-grader is proof of that. Whether you choose to homeschool due to religious beliefs, health concerns, or other family or life issues, it is your personal choice and what’s best for you and your child.
It’s a significant change in your entire lifestyle.
Taking on the task of singlehandedly providing your child’s education on a daily basis is something that will definitely cause a massive shift in your overall lifestyle. You may have some slight flexibility in your schedule compared to rushing to get them ready for traditional school each morning, but it will become a responsibility that permeates the majority of your daily life.
You will spend far more time preparing and engaging in your child’s education than you might think when you’re the one solely responsible for it. You also have to make time for all of the grading, additional tutoring, and discussion of confusing concepts each day as well. Within just your first year or even the first few months of being your child's teacher, you will develop an immense amount of respect and awe for the instructors that choose to do so on a daily basis for 30+ kids every day.
The Pros of Homeschooling
You may feel exhausted by simply reading through all of the cons associated with homeschooling, but I promise you that it's not all that bad. Even though homeschooling a child can be difficult and bring about a lot of changes in your daily life, it's similar to all aspects of raising a kid in that it comes with the good parts too. Here are the pros for why homeschooling can be such a great solution for certain children and family situations.
Have you dreamed of not having to wake up at 6am each morning just to get your child ready to leave for school? Well, you still have to get up and get your child prepared to begin their schoolwork at home, but if you’re five to ten minutes late starting, you at least won’t have any real penalties!
Flexible scheduling is one of the top benefits of homeschooling a child. Although they may still have sick days when they’re unable to work and will need to be marked as absent on your attendance calendar, if they need to power-nap away a low fever or a stomach bug, you can still get everything done at a different hour during the day once they feel better and the worst of their sickness has passed.
Additionally, some children do better learning in the mornings and some are more alert in the afternoons. Homeschooling allows you to schedule the appropriate subjects and activities throughout the day at the best possible times for your child to succeed. Who seriously wants to do math at 8am? Read about art history and cool science experiments while you’re tired and groggy, then hit the tough subjects after lunch once they’re wide awake and have energy for the day!
The ability to adapt the entire schooling experience to your child’s learning style.
Everyone has different learning styles. In a traditional classroom setting, a teacher can only adapt to so many of those styles at a time, leaving some students struggling to understand the material. With homeschooling, you’re able to make whatever changes are needed to help your child learn the material in the best way possible for retention.
For parents of children with learning disabilities or attention-related disorders, this also provides you with more freedom to tailor the entire learning experience to your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. As a parent of a child with severe ADHD, homeschooling has been a fantastic way to address her focusing issues while still ensuring she’s getting her education, especially by comparison to public school where I’d likely be getting a thousand calls about her being disruptive in a group setting.
Makes accommodating health issues easy.
Whether it’s a disability, chronic illness, temporary but serious sickness, or even something like severe allergies, educating your child at home immediately makes all of these concerns far more manageable. Many schools may try their best to make the environment accessible in a number of ways for students who need additional accommodations, but this isn’t always the case and may not always be easy.
With your child learning at home, you won’t have to worry for a single moment about whether they’re being treated fairly or if their health concerns are being properly navigated and addressed.
Allows families to structure their lessons and curriculums around their personal, religious, social, or other beliefs.
When attending public school, children are exposed to a wide variety of different beliefs, lifestyles, individuals, and experiences. While many people aren’t too concerned about the implications of this exposure, some families decide that homeschooling is a better match for the way in which they want to raise and educate their children without worrying about significant outside influences.
This especially applies to the issue of certain subjects and perspectives being taught in public schools that may not align with a family’s set of beliefs. Additionally, it also may also be best to choose homeschooling if there are significant concerns related to bullying or any social issues that school systems may be unable to resolve.
Removes all safety concerns.
Unfortunately, American school systems have become a target for violence, including violence against children of all ages. Although many schools in the country are now going above and beyond to up their security and ensure a safe learning environment for all, this is a serious concern for some parents.
When choosing to homeschool your child, you may not be able to prevent them from experiencing anything dangerous or traumatic in nature, but the likelihood of them experiencing something as tragic and terrifying as a school lockdown with an active shooter present will be one less thing you’ll have to worry about.
No worries about bullying, peer pressure, etc.
Another concern of parents with children in public schools is bullying. Homeschooling allows your child to completely avoid the risk of this type of harassment and instead focus on their education rather than social concerns or abuse.
Additionally, parents also reduce the risk of their children having to deal with any peer pressure or “bad” influences they may otherwise encounter in a public setting away from the home. For certain children that may be at risk of delinquent behavior and/or substance abuse, homeschooling is a safe option for keeping them in a controlled environment and reducing the risk of that behavior, especially if they’ve already struggled with these issues in the past.
Allows a parent to better manage a child with behavioral issues.
I think most parents tend to dread the thought of receiving a thousand phone calls from the principal about their child misbehaving. With homeschooling, you will just have to deal with it yourself (as you were already doing anyway), but you won’t have to worry about the numerous phone calls, possible detention assignments, or worse.
Whether it’s a mood disorder, an attention deficit-related issue, or some other type of mental health concern, homeschooling allows you to tailor the environment to cater to their specific psychological needs to ensure the greatest chance of success. It also significantly helps for children who struggle with mood instability and may otherwise be unable to function in a standard school environment without meltdowns from overstimulation or simply having a bad day when it comes to their chemical imbalances.
More family time—for better or for worse. ;)
One of the benefits, albeit a double-edged sword type of benefit, is that you’ll have far more time to spend with your child when they are homeschooled. Having a child in public school from 8am-3pm every day means you’re missing a lot of hours with them. This can be a blessing for those who have wild animal children and need a few hours to themselves to rest or get chores done; but, for some, it can evoke feelings of sadness and missing them deeply (especially if this is your child’s first year away from you at school during the day).
When teaching your child at home, you will be getting a lot of quality time with your child. Some days, it’s a wonderful experience and promotes bonding and a new perspective as you learn to see how your child views and understands the world. Other days, it’s like pulling teeth, and you will be wondering why you ever committed to spending so much time trying to provide instruction to what is clearly just a feral animal. Most of the time, it simply rotates between the two.
However, for those who feel like their child always being gone to public school all day and extracurricular activities every afternoon makes them hardly ever get to see their kids or spend time with them, homeschooling can be a real blessing to provide you with all of those moments to interact and get to know your kid better before they’re grown and moving out on their own.
Things to Keep in Mind When Considering Homeschooling
As homeschooling is a very personal choice that will have an overarching effect on your family and everyone in it, there are quite a few things to take into consideration when it comes to making the leap.
The time commitment
Your ability to effectively teach numerous subjects
The effects that doing education at home will have on your family life
Your ability to stay organized
Your other daily responsibilities (which will not disappear)
The effect on your work-life (if you work from home)
How homeschooling may long-term affect your child's overall education experience
These are just a few of the significant concerns you'll need to think about, but we'll be sure to elaborate in future articles on just why all of these factors are so important when making your final decision.
For any readers who have questions and would like those worries addressed in a future post, please feel free to drop us a message, and we'll be sure to cover your concerns as soon as possible.
*We will be providing plenty more lists as the website continues to develop, so please be sure to check back in for additional information.