If you’re considering whether to try home schooling or send your child to a local public or private school, you aren’t alone. A good education is the most important thing we can give our children. Public schools seem overwhelming, and private schools expensive. But do you have what it takes to educate your kid at home?
So your kid is ready to start school – or at least some form of schooling – soon. What will come of her? Of course, you feel uncertain. And with good reason. Are traditional schools good for anything? Will your kid survive? Psychically, of course. These are just the types of questions we’re planning to tackle in this next and complicated list.
Public School vs Home Schooling
Normal schools have one or two main issues. The first is that, given their conservative nature, the kid that goes through this type of education often feels forced to do things he doesn’t want to. Or he ends up having anxiety or severe depression. Surely, this does not happen too often, but cases do exist. And if we think of the teachers we used to have when we were young, we can understand the situation far better.
The second problem with normal schools is that they cling too much to tradition. In traditional schooling, the student is not the focus of education, but rather the class as a whole. And no matter how much modern methods try to change this, the fundamental issue remains:
Teachers treat the class like they are a single, multi-faceted entity. Through this, the kids are subjected to a form of groupthink. It’s been proven time and again that this is the case. The most worrying of facts is that teachers cannot do anything to prevent this.
Kids want to belong to a group. It is human nature that we try to be part of a group. And being part of a group often translates into thinking like one. If we are to look at history, we’ll understand why this is not really okay.
The Tough Decisions Over Home Schooling
This is just scraping the surface of what traditional school does that is inappropriate. Sure, conservatives will bring counter-arguments, saying that school has worked for such a long period of time. A simple question: has it?
The better argument can be made for compulsory education of any kind. Of course, education must be provided to our kids. How else are they supposed to grow, to spread their wings, and fly off to college? If we look at human history as a thread, then mandatory education is only a small dot at the end of that thread. And in that small dot of time, we managed to send people to the moon, of all accomplishments.
The above reasoning could be a simple way to make your kid understand that he needs school. Whenever he or she is feeling down, take them aside and give them a small history lesson. And this may come especially in handy for those of you who do decide to practice home schooling.
There’s just one issue, now that we’ve gone over the basic philosophical babble behind home schooling, and that is: Who will be doing the homeschooling? Could it be you, the parent? Should you hire a teacher, or tutor? The answers to these questions are obviously complicated. But before we delve deep into trying to give some answers, let’s talk more in detail about what homeschooling implies.
Home Schooling – What to Do and What Not to Do
As with everything else in life, there are several opinions as to what exactly home schooling should look like. Because of these diverging opinions, there have arisen four major different methods for home schooling a child. These range from traditional curriculum presented in a home environment to highly customized program that takes account of the kid’s needs, hobbies, and interests.
Do keep in mind that these are highly variable and can be used interchangeably. They can also be completely changed and modeled after your own child’s preferences.
The Structured Approach
Naturally, structure means tradition, so consider this method the most conservative approach to home schooling. It’s basically a school away from school. For this type of learning, you may need several home school curriculum packages. They can be easily found online or purchased from one of the schools in the area.
Parents can purchase these packages can for one one or more subjects. They’re also available for a whole variety of schooling disciplines. Traditional home schooling packages contain everything a parent teacher or a tutor may need. This means all the materials that would be otherwise provided by the school. These include textbooks, traditional tests, answers to these tests, interactive mediums for teaching, and teacher guides. Because not every parent knows exactly how to use these.
This type of home school, however unpopular, may prove to be best for the future integration of the kid into a traditional high-school. This transition often proves extremely difficult for home schooled kids and has been the basis of much criticism against home school programs.
The Unit Study Approach
This method of teaching kids at home is far more permissive than the previous one. And it’s been also proven to be a lot better in actually educating the child. It has also been determined that it is a fan favorite – if we may call it that.
As you may have guessed, this method includes unit studies on a subject being the focal point of the entire home school curriculum. This means that if your kid can focus on a particular interest, like Japanese history and culture. Unit study integrates elements from Japanese culture and history into all the subjects – science, math, geography, music, history, literature, or art. The subject your kid chooses does not have to be complicated. He may like something as simple as whales. (Although, whales are not at all simple).
Through this method, kids can learn more naturally, develop a more authentic thirst for knowledge, and stop running for the grades. Given the high variability of this method, it can easily be combined with any of the other methods, particularly with the next two.
The Unschooling Approach
The unschooling approach is seen as an extension of what has been called the natural learning approach. This latter method implies that the child is not forced into learning anything. Instead, the parent lets the child do as he may, with close observation of his habits and modes of behavior. The parent or tutor then reinforces his behavior by giving positive responses. This method puts an emphasis on learning moments. These are points of the day when the parent sees an opportunity for learning. In this method, kids still may use textbooks when the parent feels it appropriate.
Unschooling goes a bit further than this. This home school method implies that the child do just about anything he wants to. Under supervision of course. It is basically the same as natural learning, with a few added rules. Unschooling, by definition, is a term coined by John Holt. It implies that the child is being taught using no method close to traditional school. Be mindful that unschooling means educating by doing. This does not imply that the kid is being uneducated.
The Autonomous Learning Approach
This type of home schooling approach has the main goal of making the kids undergoing it be self-aware. Through the autonomous learning approach, the kid usually decides for himself what the subjects are most interesting.
All of the home schooling methods imply at least some degree of autonomous learning. However, the full-blown form of autonomous learning implies kids choosing for themselves whatever subjects they want to learn. This is along Math and English, which are required. In some of the more extreme forms of autonomous learning, these two subjects are also scrapped.
Now that we’ve covered the basic aspects involved with homeschooling, it’s time to move on to more straightforward problems. These exist in the battle between the traditional school and the home school.
The Pros and Cons of Home Schooling
We’ve made this small list as a preview to our larger article which can be found here. But, the fact remains that for every single pro of keeping your kid at home for school, there exists an equal con which, obviously, makes parents doubt their reasoning behind choosing to home school. Let’s see a more general list:
- PRO: Adjustable home school curriculum that will actually help your kid.
- CON: You may lack the experience necessary to correctly assess your kids’ capabilities and adjust the curriculum accordingly.
- PRO: You get to choose the exact method by which your kid may develop his abilities and learn.
- CON: Some kids may actually perform poorly if you choose a method that doesn’t fit their specific needs. Sometimes, traditional classrooms can better reinforce your kid’s passions and habits.
- PRO: You can adjust the learning schedule to suit both you and your kids’ needs. This means that the child will finally be getting enough sleep.
- CON: The schedule can become too flexible. If you do not manage to keep a firm grip on your child’s waking habits, you may end up beginning learning at noon.
- PRO: Learning focused on experience is much more encouraged and through it, kids are more efficient.
- CON: Some of the things that your kids need to learn are more complicated than you can teach.
- PRO: Your kid may become very self-aware, independent, and strong.
- CON: He or she may also become elitist, dismissive, and even stubborn and overconfident.
Home Schooling Comes with Social Development Concerns
- PRO: You get to spend more time with your kid, strengthening your relationship with him.
- CON: Your kid may become bored of you always watching over his shoulder. This can lead to an estranged child who always keeps to himself. He may spend all his spare time outside the house.
- PRO: Your kid may avoid the complicated social situations that usually arise in the typical school. No more dramas over nothing. And most importantly, no more bullying.
- CON: Unless you enter home schooling groups, your kid may end up not making any friends, not socializing, and keeping away from kids his age in general. This will result in poor social skills.
- PRO: Your kid may have an increased chance of getting into the best of schools. Kids who have been schooled at home generally demonstrate better academic performance.
- CON: Your kid may have a hard time adapting to high school.
Weighing the Options for Home Schooling
As you can see, there are a lot of arguments that can be brought up for home schooling. Equally, there are plenty against home schooling too. In the end, what it all comes down to is you and your kid. Even before the time comes for school, parents should make themselves aware of all the habits, all the hobbies, and all the interests exhibited. This will help you decide what to do when the moment arrives to begin education.
Remember that the most important thing is the education of your child. Don’t make a stronger case of being at home or at school. The main issue should be the quality of the education that the kid gets. Home school requirements clearly hold that the parent or tutor teaching the kid must be aptly prepared. If you feel that you cannot meet the child’s needs, don’t be afraid of quitting. There are a lot of schools that accept previously home-schooled children.
Home School Programs
There are a lot of good home school programs out there that you can choose from. Don’t forget that you are not alone in this process of educating your kid. For this very purpose, we’ve put together a small list. It contains some of the most successful and accepted institutions that offer home schooling materials. You can find this list here. If you have any further questions, remember to check our detailed pros and cons section!