The Pros and Cons of Home Schooling

Home schooling can be a positive choice for both parents and children who feel that they may have unique needs or require specialized care. Home schooling has increased in recent years as many parents feel that their local schools may be providing insufficient education, or their children are not able to meet the demands of a standardized school program. Approximately 2 million children under the age of 18 are home schooled in the United States currently, and this option does open doors for self-directed and independent learning for a variety of skill levels.

The Benefits

Benefits of home schooling provide some key freedoms including physical, emotional, educational, and religious alternatives. Home schooling opens up the door to a balanced lifestyle, and a limited requirement of homework:

� Physical freedoms include not having to commit to traveling or commute time, giving the child time to work on a home-enforced schedule instead. Families do not need to plan around school calendars, vacations, or even field trips.
� Emotional freedom gives the child the ability to study without peer pressure or anxiety. Self-esteem may be boosted and allow the child to express themselves more freely.
� Religious freedom allows the child to express family values and spiritual beliefs in a comfortable and safe setting.
� Educational freedom allows the parent(s) to coordinate the curriculum, standards, and subjects. If a child is excelling in a particular area, they can easily continue to grasp new knowledge without limitations. Alternatively, if they are struggling with a particular subject, they have the chance to slow down and work through it one-on-one
� A Balanced Lifestyle: Children who are home schooled have the opportunity to work with a balanced lifestyle of exercise, a stable environment conducive to learning, and can get enough rest. They can focus on their work with much more clarity and sustain this over a period of time, as they are not worrying about other factors. These might include worries about commuting, taking part in physical exercise they may not be comfortable with, or working within classroom settings that are distracting.
âÂ?¢ Homework: Since the home is also the classroom, the curriculum and subjects covered will not necessarily require ‘homework’ or work done outside of class. In this way, the incorporation of a well-guided education can greatly benefit a child’s growth in areas outside of just learning subjects!

The Challenges

There are some negative aspects of homeschooling, and these should be accounted for against the many benefits. These include financial resources, time restraints, social interaction, extra-curricular activities, and over-dependence on parents:

� Financial resources may be limited for homeschooled children, as textbooks, materials, computer needs, and other supplies will need to be purchased individually by the family. This can be a financial burden, and impact the level of education that the homeschooled child receives.
� Time restraints mostly involve the parents; if they both have full-time jobs, it is unlikely that the child will receive the necessary time and attention they dserve as an at-home student. Parents will need to factor in how much time they are able to give and offer to the home-schooling arrangement, as well as what portion of the day will be devoted to themselves, and what portion to the child.
� Social interaction is often limited, especially during the school hours when most children are at a physical school. Parents will need to encourage socializing through local gropus, sports, or church/volunteer opportunities to overcome any obstacles to social learning.
� Extra-curricular activities will be limited to local opportunities, and a lack of access to school-promoted events, activities, team sports, and parties may have an impact on the child.
� Over dependence on parents can be overcome with the right approach; however, it will be a natural outcome when the child only has a couple of key people to depend on for all needs, including learning, environment, and handling stress. Parents can encourage overall self-development by making sure the child has access to other resources, a social life outside of home/school, and enough support for any personal issues with even a counselor.

Overall, homeschooling can be a very positive approach to learning and education, but it may not be appropriate for every child. The choice greatly depends on a child’s specific needs, talents, and abilities, as they may be better-oriented to adjust to a social climate of a formalized school; other children will benefit considerably from a one-on-one, at-home environment for their learning and growth process. Whatever parents decide to do, it is always important to gauge and track how the child is growing, what and how obstacles are overcome, and balance out what choices are best to open more doors for their child’s future. The benefits truly do pinpoint difficult areas such as self-esteem, unbounded learning, freedom of expression, learning to be a self-learner, and observing family and social values.

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