Of late, the debate on homeschooling has resurfaced, with surveys and studies supporting both sides.
I have to admit that I was terribly biased about homeschooling when I first heard about it as a concept. For the longest time, I viewed it as being the cheap version of actual school, relegated primarily to the rural poor in Hicktown.
I assumed it was primarily made of families who couldn’t afford to send their kids to formal schools, and had to make up for it by teaching them at home.
Completely illogically, I subconsciously linked it to cultish behavior (whether far right or far left almost didn’t matter) and isolationism. It is only much more recently that I have come to view it less skeptically.
The notion of homeschooling covers a real range of informal to semi-formal education, but usually involves following a semi-structured curriculum and textbooks, taught in a home environment (usually by a parent as teacher). Most home-schooled children will also do formal tests, thus allowing them to ‘graduate’ from school.
Advantage of homeschooling
The most obvious advantage to homeschooling is the very individualized teaching to each child.
While in formal classrooms, the needs of all children must be taken into consideration in determining the pace and depth of the curriculum covered (with laggards and geniuses all forced into a homogenous lowest common denominator), homeschooling offers flexibility to cater to each child’s learning style, and to pull in other subjects which are of interest to the child. Other advantages include the relatively low cost.
But there some significant disadvantages as well. Homeschooled children, while they are generally sheltered from schoolyard bullying, lack the social bells and whistles that are such a major part of going to growing up (although with social media, virtual friends are easy enough to make!).
The lack of classmates and competition can create a false reality, and less of an understanding of age appropriate social norms.
It was also quite difficult for a parent (not a qualified teacher) to assume the role of a teacher as they lacked training and teaching methodologies, although, again with online tutorials and Khan Academy, this is easier to overcome.
There are also many home-school support groups and tutors who can step in to help, with the homeschooling industry gaining much more momentum with the ‘free-range’ parenting trend.
If I had to home-school, I think what I would hate the most is not having the school day to get a break from my children – as a parent, I quite looked forward to my children leaving the house to go away to school because it gave me time to do my thing as a person, not as a parent. If push came to shove, I could do it, but would I want to? Definitely not.