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Home­school­ing is an edu­ca­tion­al method in which par­ents become teach­ers of their chil­dren and assume the respon­si­bil­i­ty of edu­cat­ing their off­spring instead of send­ing them to a con­ven­tion­al school. The method has grown in pop­u­lar­i­ty through­out the world in recent years, and it presents both advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. Here, we exam­ine the pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive effects of edu­cat­ing a child at home, for both the child and the par­ents.

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Let us first examine why people choose to teach their children:

1- Isolation

Some par­ents home school their chil­dren out of sheer neces­si­ty. They live in a remote or iso­lat­ed loca­tion, which is too far from a school for the child to attend. These chil­dren may live on remote cat­tle sta­tions, off-grid homes or spend their lives con­tin­u­al­ly on the road. While some of these fam­i­lies may have access to dis­tance edu­ca­tion or school of the air, some oth­ers may not, while some fam­i­lies may choose to forego this option.

2- Religion

Fam­i­lies who have a sol­id reli­gious belief sys­tem may not find ade­quate reli­gious edu­ca­tion in main­stream schools or schools close to their home, and sub­se­quent­ly choose to keep their child at home where they can be sure that the child will receive the reli­gious instruc­tion the par­ents desire, away from oth­er neg­a­tive influ­ences. Con­verse­ly, some par­ents choose not to send their chil­dren to school because there is too much reli­gious instruc­tion.

3- Lack of confidence

  Many par­ents sim­ply do not have any con­fi­dence in the main­stream school sys­tem. They believe that it can­not pro­vide their child with the edu­ca­tion they deserve and that the par­ents them­selves can more effec­tive­ly pre­pare their chil­dren for aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess and suc­cess in life itself.

4- Special needs

Chil­dren with spe­cial needs can find them­selves strug­gling at schools that do not have the required resources or exper­tise to meet the needs of that child. Par­ents who are dis­sat­is­fied with the ser­vices offered to their child may with­draw them from con­ven­tion­al schools and decide to edu­cate the child them­selves.

When exploring the pros and cons of homeschooling, it is necessary to analyze its effect on the child and the parents

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We will start by focussing on the child:

1- Academic performance

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In-depth stud­ies on the com­par­a­tive aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance of home-schooled stu­dents and main­stream stu­dents are lim­it­ed. Still, the stud­ies that have been com­plet­ed indi­cate that home­schooled chil­dren per­form well in aca­d­e­m­ic tests and exams. Experts point to the one-on-one teach­ing method as one rea­son for the results and con­trast this with the tra­di­tion­al school­ing set­ting of a class with about 30 oth­er stu­dents, all com­pet­ing for the teacher’s atten­tion and assis­tance. As hard as teach­ers try, it is tough to pro­vide indi­vid­ual instruc­tion, dai­ly, to 30 stu­dents in one class.

2- Flexibility

Anoth­er rea­son for the pos­i­tive aca­d­e­m­ic results may be the greater flex­i­bil­i­ty in learn­ing avail­able to home-schooled stu­dents. Par­ents can adapt the cur­ricu­lum to suit the needs of their chil­dren. That is a sig­nif­i­cant advan­tage, and flex­i­ble learn­ing pro­grams are a goal of most schools, although, in real­i­ty, they can be hard to imple­ment. When edu­cat­ed at home, a child can be taught in a style that suits their per­son­al­i­ty and pre­ferred learn­ing style. For exam­ple, chil­dren can be audi­to­ry learn­ers, tac­tile learn­ers or visu­al learn­ers. Some stu­dents are quite hap­py to be told once how to com­plete a task, attempt it imme­di­ate­ly in front of the teacher and receive imme­di­ate feed­back. In con­trast, oth­ers pre­fer to take the respon­si­bil­i­ty or skill away, work on it in their own space, and come back and demon­strate their mas­tery at anoth­er time. Par­ents can deter­mine their child’s learn­ing style/s and adapt lessons accord­ing­ly – with­out hav­ing to cater to the learn­ing styles of anoth­er 30 stu­dents simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.

3- Interests

Besides, par­ents know their chil­dren. They know their inter­ests and hob­bies, and the best teach­ers are those who can tap into a student’s inter­est and incor­po­rate them into a les­son.

4- Less distraction

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You know what we’re talk­ing about. You remem­ber your school days when the class clown had to make a joke of every­thing, or the bois­ter­ous boys couldn’t help but make them­selves heard while you were try­ing to con­cen­trate (or maybe you were the class clown), These dis­trac­tions detract from a child’s learn­ing, but are much less like­ly to be a prob­lem for chil­dren who are home­schooled.

5- Test, test, test

Home­school­ing par­ents often crit­i­cize the mod­ern obses­sion with test­ing in main­stream schools. They believe schools have been forced, or have cho­sen, to direct all teach­ing to help stu­dents achieve bet­ter results in man­dat­ed, stan­dard­ized tests. Home­school­ing, how­ev­er, allows the par­ents to either ignore or shift focus away from tests and to teach the child a broad­er cur­ricu­lum cen­tred on learn­ing for the sake of learn­ing, curios­i­ty, art, music, nature, play and per­son­al char­ac­ter­is­tics such as phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment.

6- Social development

Of course, there are dis­ad­van­tages to home­school­ing, and the most cit­ed prob­lem is social devel­op­ment. Chil­dren lack the oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act with a large num­ber of peers dai­ly. This restricts their abil­i­ty to learn how to devel­op friend­ships, deal with bul­lies, expose them­selves to dif­fer­ent life expe­ri­ences, lan­guages or cul­tures – even dif­fer­ent food. It is said that the most valu­able lessons learned at school occur in the play­ground. How to nego­ti­ate, choose friends, form rela­tion­ships, avoid or grav­i­tate towards cer­tain peo­ple, cre­ate an indi­vid­ual per­sona, be assertive and oth­er inter­per­son­al skills. For a child who is home­schooled, these lessons can be learned only with sib­lings.

What about the parents?

Home­school­ing can cre­ate many pres­sures and advan­tages for par­ents.

1- Expertise

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Does the par­ent know the sub­ject mat­ter, or how to teach it? Teach­ing chil­dren every­thing they need to know to thrive in the world is a very demand­ing job. Pri­ma­ry school teach­ers require a basic mas­tery of every school sub­ject, and the abil­i­ty to trans­mit this to chil­dren, while sec­ondary school teach­ers must be spe­cial­ized experts in their field, and must have the skills to pass on this knowl­edge and skills to teenagers. Do the par­ents know enough about each sub­ject, and do they have the skills and the per­son­al­i­ty to impart this learn­ing to their chil­dren dai­ly?

2- Cost

Home­school­ing can be expen­sive. Par­ents need to acquire all of the nec­es­sary resources to teach their chil­dren in a way that at least aligns with a con­ven­tion­al cur­ricu­lum. Buy­ing resources and equip­ment to ensure that the child or chil­dren can be taught a wide range of sub­ject areas can be expen­sive. How­ev­er, many par­ents have found a way to home school their chil­dren with­out spend­ing a for­tune. Anoth­er aspect of the cost of edu­cat­ing a child at home is that one par­ent will not be able to work full time, or maybe not at all, as they devote their time to teach­ing. This loss of income must be fac­tored into the family’s bud­get. Fur­ther­more, if the child is sent to sit for stan­dard­ized exams, they will need to be car­ried out at a school or offi­cial test­ing cen­ter, and pay­ing exter­nal­ly for these exams can be expen­sive.

3- Work-life balance

A major con­sid­er­a­tion for any par­ent con­sid­er­ing home­school­ing is their work-life bal­ance. The home becomes the work­place, but it is dif­fer­ent from some­one doing anoth­er occu­pa­tion (archi­tec­ture) from a home office because, in that case, the chil­dren are not involved. For a par­ent-teacher, the chil­dren are the work, the job, and the fin­ished prod­uct. A major chal­lenge for a par­ent edu­cat­ing their chil­dren at home is find­ing ways to sep­a­rate teach­ing at home from liv­ing at home.

4- Family harmony

In a sim­i­lar vein, care must be tak­en to main­tain fam­i­ly har­mo­ny. Teach­ing chil­dren is stress­ful for teach­ers and stu­dents, and con­flict will inevitably arise. One of the dis­ad­van­tages of home­school­ing is the dif­fi­cul­ty of sep­a­rat­ing the student/teacher dynam­ic from the child/parent dynam­ic, as both are lived in the same space! In con­trast, fam­i­lies and experts find a lot of evi­dence that home­school­ing cre­ates stronger fam­i­ly bonds, as chil­dren and par­ents spend more con­struc­tive time togeth­er, par­ents can more read­i­ly see and cel­e­brate their child’s aca­d­e­m­ic and per­son­al mile­stones and can grow togeth­er.

5- Tertiary education

Par­ents may not be as well equipped as schools in prepar­ing stu­dents for ter­tiary edu­ca­tion. Stu­dents who wish to con­tin­ue study­ing after grad­u­a­tion are offered a lot of qual­i­fied guid­ance from school teach­ers and schools, and it may be dif­fi­cult for a par­ent to pro­vide the same guid­ance to their child.

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Last but not least

Home­school­ing presents advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages to par­ents and chil­dren. Learn­ing from home can impact a child’s social devel­op­ment, aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance and their options after school while also cre­at­ing emo­tion­al and finan­cial stress for par­ents. Con­verse­ly, it can also see chil­dren and fam­i­lies grow togeth­er and to allow the child to be taught an indi­vid­u­al­ized pro­gram that will see them thrive. When the atmos­phere encour­ages learn­ing, learn­ing is inevitable. ~ Eliz­a­beth Foss
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