Pros of homeschooling
1. Flexible curriculum and syllabus
Homeschooling gives more flexibility when it comes to planning the curriculum and syllabus for your child’s learning. It means you do not have to follow the public school curriculum, and you are free to make changes or create your own curriculum, dive deeper into certain subjects, and expand on a topic by adding additional related materials.
This freedom can be of particular benefit when your child is interested in certain subjects and eager to explore them deeper, which would not normally be feasible in a public school setting. By taking advantage of the flexibility that homeschooling offers, you can deepen your child’s knowledge and help him or her to tap into future career interests.
You can also add field trips to museums and historical sites as often as your family can accommodate, to help your child learn outside of the textbook and create long-lasting memories associated with the related topics.
2. Skip grading
This advantage is one aspect that I was not even aware of before I jumped into our homeschooling journey. As I followed my child’s learning speed, it was natural for her to advance more quickly in some subjects and blur the boundaries of the curriculum in the process.
For example, if your child is clearly able to process and understand math at his or her grade level, you can go ahead and move onto the next level. In the meantime, if your child is having a hard time understanding science, you can revisit a lower grade level of science materials and come back to the current level later on.
3. Longer attention span
Studying in a class full of students can create a lot of distractions and it can be a challenging environment for children with short attention spans.
Not only can the homeschooling environment eliminate many of the distractions, but your child can also halt the lesson anytime with his or her questions and receive your undivided feedback right away.
This one-on-one study environment can not only benefit children with learning disorders or short attention spans, but also children who learn best through questions and answers, or those who excel from individual feedback.
4. Individual pace
Every child has a different learning speed, and homeschooling allows your child to learn at his or her own pace. At earlier ages, when your child needs to build an understanding of each subject to set the foundations for future learning, it is important for her or him to have enough time to understand and process materials before moving on to the next level. Homeschooling can provide all of the time flexibility that your child needs to build strong fundamental concepts which will be crucial for understanding more complex concepts later on.
5. Choosing the learning method
Everyone has a preferred method of learning, and unfortunately, in a public school setting, it is hard for one teacher to satisfy each student’s learning preference. A homeschooling setting allows parents to choose the most appropriate learning method for their child.
For example, through observation, you can assess your child’s learning style, as to whether it is primarily visual, auditory, through reading and writing, or kinesthetic.
For example, if your child is a visual learner, add visual content by using related images, adding colours to important texts, including maps, graphs and charts, and employing video materials to help your child understand and retain target concepts.
Simply accommodating your child’s learning style can boost the retention of information and depth of understanding, and enrich your child’s learning experiences.
Cons of homeschooling
1. Lack of exposure to group learning
In school, there are many group learning opportunities, from group presentations to science experiments. But with homeschooling, especially when you have a single child or siblings with big age gaps, it can be hard to organize a group learning. Children can learn so much during the process of group learning, from sharing different opinions to negotiating and adjusting to one another’s differences. The lack of opportunities for group learning is one of the primary disadvantages of homeschooling, which tends to involve learning in a one-on-one or small group setting.
2. Fewer chances to develop social skills
Even enrolling a homeschooled child in sports or a day camp cannot compare to the breadth of social interactions children get from school. In school, children interact all day long with teachers and students who have different views and personalities, through a variety of situations both inside and outside of class time.
3. Fewer chances for presentations
Presentation skills are important in any number of future career settings, since expressing one’s ideas about certain topics, and engaging in discussion are all crucial skills for effective communication.
Unfortunately, homeschooling does not offer many opportunities for your child to speak to large groups of people, aside from a handful of family members. Even arranging for your child to present in front of extended family will never be the same as presenting her or his argument to peers and listening to their views. Presenting to familiar family members that are not involved in the topic of presentation tends to make for a passive audience.
4. Evaluation hurdles
At the end of the school year, homeschooled children do not get the same access to the evaluation offered in a public school setting, by certified teachers. You can seek a teacher’s evaluation – for a fee – if that is the method of evaluation you prefer. But no matter what method you choose, obtaining a legitimately acceptable evaluation to prove your child has achieved the level of competency required for her or his grade can be challenging.
Check your school board for assistance and guidance as to the evaluation methods available. At the end of the day, a formal evaluation can give you peace of mind that your child is following the right path and accumulating a level of knowledge appropriate to his or her grade.
5. Monitoring the schedule
Parents homeschooling older children might consider ways to build a schedule that reinforces certain boundaries, in order to help their children spend their time more efficiently.
In a school setting, whether your child is happy or not, there are rigid timelines that keep students united as a group. Even though some might argue that a school’s one-size-fits-all type of schedule can decrease a child’s motivation and productivity, the school system can accustom children to following a schedule and having a structured timeline during the week.
In a homeschooling setting, it is hard for parents to set a structured schedule and monitor children to make sure that they follow it. The problem is that children – like many adults – can tend to use their time inefficiently and wander off course, wasting precious hours focusing on whatever entertains them.
Although homeschooling can encourage children toward independent study and self-directed learning, there is always a risk that time can be spent unwisely, since children can have a hard time fighting for self-control under limited supervision.
How to offset the disadvantages of homeschooling for a better outcome
1. Enrolling in homeschooling groups
There are homeschooling groups in most communities, where you can find other families going through similar experiences. By connecting with other families you can give and receive support, including shared resources like, for example, arranging group field trips – to expose your child to bigger and more diverse groups.
2. Create a learning pod
Even for just once a week, gathering with other homeschooled children of the same grade to study as a group or practice presenting to one another will increase exposure to group learning.
Creating a learning pod can also reduce the burden each parent faces in making sure their children learn all of the required subjects. In pod learning, parents can divide subjects or topics amongst themselves, so each parent handles a portion of the syllabus as they take turns teaching the group. With older children, each student can prepare a topic to share with the group as a presentation followed by a question and answer period.
3. Learning outside of the home
You can outsource certain subjects by hiring tutors, music teachers, and sports coaches, to create a more structured schedule for your child. Instead of having most of the day consist of learning at home, you can introduce selected extra-curricular activities to diversify the learning experience while giving more structure to the schedule.
4. Use technology
There are many apps and programs that allow you to set how long your child can access particular sites, or monitor overall screen time each day. Although this type of measure might not be for every parent – particularly those who care about their children’s privacy, it cannot be denied that social media and electronic gadgets are big distractions even for grown-ups, which underscores the potential benefits of time-monitoring apps or access control.
Many online learning sites also provide apps that allow you to monitor your child’s learning process and set timers for each session, in order to provide a more structured timeline to help your child study more constructively. This is a way you can watch your child’s learning progress and give some feedback and encouragement along the way.
5. Testing or evaluation by a certified teacher
If you want to evaluate your child’s learning process and competency, you can always hire a certified teacher for the evaluation, or try a test from a recognized institution for a more formal assessment. The results can be submitted to the school board as proof of your child’s progress and development, and carries the additional benefit that it could be used as a record for enrolling in higher education in the future.
In summary, whether your child is learning in a public school setting or being schooled at home, there are strengths and weaknesses to both approaches. But if you do choose to homeschool, identifying the pros and cons in relation to your child’s abilities can not only maximize the benefits homeschooling has to offer, but also enable you to minimize the disadvantages and enable your child to thrive in the homeschooling environment.