People chose to homeschool their children for various reasons and feel about it different ways. Some are enthusiastic, whereas some are hesitant and unsure. Although homeschooling has a large number of benefits compared to traditional schooling system, you and your kids may face some issues that are specific to homeschooling.
It is always better to be prepared for the challenges your family may face and be ready to tackle them. I’ve been homeschooling my kid for two years now (we have our reasons), and I believe I can name all the main pros and cons of it. In this post, I’d want to describe all the basic challenges that homeschooling brings and how to overcome them.
Opting for homeschooling instead of sending your children off to traditional school, you take the sole responsibility for your child’s education and future. Sometimes it feels empowering, especially when everything is going well and you feel you and your children are on the right track. There are, however, other times, when you are in doubt, when you question your methods, your own knowledge or pace of learning. It is natural and you are not alone. When I was teaching my son Math, sometimes I felt that I did a terrible job and he would never learn it right. Eventually, though, he got everything and now he is very god at it.
If you feel a bit intimidated and confused, seek counsel with other homeschooling parents. You can join support groups. Homeschool Legal Defense Association lists them by states on their homepage. Alternatively, look for online support groups (they abound on Facebook and Yahoo).
Wearing too many hats
This logically comes from the issue above. You are the teacher, you are the school board, you are the caterer, and the groundskeeper, but the parent, foremost. It is not easy to be an authoritative figure that maintains order and an encouraging, nurturing mentor – both at the same time. When you always focused on schedule, curriculum, and creating the best learning experience for your kids, finding time to spend with them simply as a mom/dad can be hard. However, it is essential.
There is also one more pitfall. Being together as a family is the most obvious benefit of homeschooling, but it also can become a downside. 24/7 togetherness makes you want to take a break once in a while. To avoid the burnout you should have some time apart. Clubs, hobby groups, and sports teams have come to the rescue for us.
The most widespread notion amongst homeschooling opponents is that homeschooled kids will have problems socializing. However, withdrawing from traditional school does not mean complete isolation. All the activity groups mentioned above are just the places where your kids can meet young people of their age, interact with them, and make friends.
In fact, this talk about social isolation in the 21st century is absurd. Teenagers nowadays communicate mostly through social networks and messengers. This must not be the only way, of course, and you can do some occasional monitoring of their phones to make sure everything is appropriate. However, you need to remember that many kids today know how to find spy apps on their iPhones.
There can be several problems. Overscheduling can happen when you (or the kids) are enthusiastic about too many things and want to attend every class available: art, history, sport, music, science, dancing… It seems you have plenty of time, yet the day still has only 24 hours. Even the most curious and energetic kid will eventually get tired if every minute of his or her day is rigorously assigned to some educational activity. Talk about the possibilities with your children and decide upon some optimal number of classes a week. Children need diversity and stimulation, so avoid under-scheduling as well.
There is also a question of breaks. Sometimes parents what to finish with classes as early as possible to have the rest of the day free for something more diverse (or simply to run some errands). Kids would love that too! However, sacrificing breaks is rarely an option. Young learners simply cannot go as long as grown-ups – they lose concentration and interest unless they are given some time to unwind. I learned that the hard way.
Dealing with disapproval
Unfortunately, many parents who opt for homeschooling do not find the unanimous support of their families. My parents, for instance, freaked out and said that I would raise a dummy. The best way to deal with it is to stay positive and explain that you do what you think is best for your kids. Quite possible you friends and family will see it for themselves and become supportive of homeschooling.
As for the others, their genuine interest is unavoidable, as homeschoolers are still a minority. All you can do is continue to row against the wind towards the wider acceptance of homeschooling. Keep your cool and do not let scrutiny and less than approving comments discourage you.
Forewarned is forearmed – knowing about the possible pitfalls is a step ahead. Despite the downsides I’ve listed here, homeschooling is an amazing option for anyone who wants to invest their time and creativity in their children’s future. After all, no one knows them better than you do.