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Cons of Homeschooling

Homeschooling can be a rewarding experience for families. We recently reviewed the pros of homeschooling; this article details the cons of homeschooling. Consider both the pros and cons of homeschooling before deciding.

While homeschooling can be a wonderful adjunct to “family life,” there are some situations and some parents and children for whom it may not be the best choice. These are some of the things to consider as you make a choice.

Considering Yourself

Considering homeschooling often leads parents to ask themselves some difficult questions about their own abilities and their interactions with their child(ren). Not every adult is comfortable making the transition from college or work, where most time is spent with people who are more or less age peers, to spending all one’s time with children.

Not every person has drive to learn all the jargon and rules that will allow you to meet your state’s homeschooling requirements or the patience to go over and over material through the cycle of teaching, reinforcing, and assessing learning.

Moreover, not every parent-child relationship is of the type that will work well for teaching. It can be difficult to admit that your child may learn better from someone else than from you, but it’s true that sometimes that distance that the teacher who is not a parent has from the child can be a good thing. In addition, schools often have a variety of educators working with students at each grade, whereas at home, there may only be you.

Another consideration is whether your interests are a good match with your child’s burgeoning interests. If you’re both passionately interested in entomology (the study of insects) or geometry or Beethoven, then you may be the best person in the world to instruct him or her. But if your child has his or her heart set on ice hockey, neurology, or graphic design, and it’s not your field and has no interest for you, it’s worth considering where your child will be best served.

Considering Your Child

How and where your child’s needs will best be served is, of course, an important consideration in deciding about home schooling. The elements that can be more difficult to provide in a home school:

  • expensive classroom materials and equipment, such as potter’s wheels and kilns; musical instruments; science laboratory equipment; physical education equipment;
  • the kinds of interactions that require a large number of people, such as collaborative projects; team sports; choral, instrumental, and theater performances;
  • professional staff who can deal with particular special needs or disabilities;

and skilled instruction in these areas may prompt either an attempt to do a joint school/home program, or convince a family that for this particular child with these particular needs at this particular time, homeschooling is not the best choice.

If your child has special needs that would benefit from specialized teaching, such as the support of a reading clinician or a speech-language pathologist, a school that is obligated to provide these services may be a good situation for your child (although you may wish to reconsider homeschooling at a later time).

In addition, if your child plays with other children who are going to a public or private school, your child may not experience the choice as a benefit, but as a deprivation, and this could scuttle your plans. If your child has been waiting his or her whole life to ride the school bus, go to P.S. 217, eat hot lunch in the cafeteria, and have Mrs. Brown for kindergarten, then the adjustment may be difficult.

Considering Your Family Life

Homeschooling may affect your family’s budget. Whereas public schools provide most classroom materials, as well as equipment and facilities for a host of kinds of activities, when you homeschool a lot, if not all, of this burden falls on you.

In addition, your schedule will partly be dictated by the daily demands of schooling, and this may be a challenge, depending on your other family obligations. If you are working part time or have younger children at home, or have a spouse or partner with an office in your home, running a school in your home as well could be an extraordinary challenge.

Considering Your Social Life

Since the time set aside for homeschool requires you to be available to your child(ren) minute-by-minute, unless you are interacting with other people connected to the school-say parents of other students-and you’re both prepared for you to jump up at any moment to attend to the children, socializing during school time probably won’t work.

In addition, since homeschools do not, as a rule, provide the diversity of social contacts that a public or private school does, you may find yourself compelled to spend a good deal of time outside of school making sure that your child has socializing opportunities. These choices can significantly affect your opportunities to socialize with your adult friends.

Considering Your Home

Space and atmosphere are appropriate considerations. A child who is continually being shushed so as not to awaken a baby brother or sister or disturb a parent’s work will not feel free to explore and engage in the task in front of him or her.

Before you make a decision to abandon thoughts of homeschooling, though, take the time to find some other parents who have done it, and see how they have dealt with any obstacles you have discovered for yourself. You may also want to read the article “Pros of Homeschooling” for some more balance.

Written by Mary Elizabeth