The Pros and Cons of Home Schooling Your Child

Deciding where to send your child to school is arguably one of the biggest choices a parent has to make. Ultimately, where you send your child or children to school has the potential of shaping the kind of person they become and the experiences they have.

Schooling options for parents include public school, private schools, alternative options such as charter schools, and home schooling. Home schooling in the United States is legal, and many parents choose this as the method of schooling for their child.

In fact, home schooling is the fastest-growing form of education, according to independent research conducted by organizations ranging from the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), a nonprofit research and educational organization, to the federally funded National Center for Education Statistics.

The decision to home school a child generally involves funding and availability of a parent’s time. Although a public education is free, some parents are turned off by what they perceive to be the low quality of a public education and the design of the curriculum, which many feel doesn’t allow for the individuality of the particular student to shine.

For some families who don’t like the thought of public school, private school may simply not be a viable financial option. Accordingly, home schooling is a very viable option for many families. Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to home schooling your child/children. Let’s take a look at some in detail.

Pros

Control over what your child learns – Although every state has the legal authority to set educational standards, it may not limit how parents choose to meet those educational standards. As a result, a parent that is home schooling a child has more freedom to design the educational curriculum.

Such curriculum can be tailored to the child’s specific strengths and can work to improve weaknesses. In a public school environment, it is very difficult for teachers to tailor lessons to individuals, since they simply don’t have the time or budget available. Also, for children that are mentally or physically challenged, a home schooling environment/curriculum can address their specific wants and needs.

Keeps family closer – Home schooling has the ability to bring a family closer together. When a parent stays home to administer their child’s education, they often have time to form a closer bond than they otherwise might. Also, many home schooling parents say that at-home education alongside brothers and sisters brings siblings closer together.

Flexibility – As a “home schooler,” you are not constrained by the school’s uniform code, schedule, vacation dates, class schedule, etc. The child and parent have more flexibility to learn on more fluid terms. If something seems to work well, it may be put into practice; if it does not, it may be scratched. In a public school setting, on the other hand, making these changes is time-consuming and full of red tape – if possible at all.

The above sounds great, correct? Well now let us take a look at some of the drawbacks to home schooling:

Cons

Time intensive – A parent that home schools their child must be both parent and teacher. Parents must spend time designing the curriculum to emphasize their child’s strengths and improve upon their weaknesses. There are, however, some excellent pre-made curricula on the market, which parents can simply tailor to their children’s needs.

Isolation – A home schooled child may feel isolated from his or her peer group. This may result in the child lacking certain socialization skills or being overly dependent on his/her parent. Although public schools have their downfalls, they are an excellent medium through which children learn to interact and form relationships.

Many home schoolers, aware of this potential problem, are careful to socialize their children through home school co-ops (which are easier to find now that home schooling is becoming more popular) and extra-curricular activities.

Limited Opportunities – Critics of home schooling argue that home schooled children have a much more difficult time with college admittance than do children who have attended a traditional classroom setting. Home schooled students will ultimately face challenges when applying to college including lack of traditional transcripts and a diploma. Most colleges will still require the student to take standardized tests, such as the ACT and/or SAT.

This problem can be mitigated by careful record-keeping on the part of the parent, by helping high-school students choose appropriately challenging curriculum, and, for some, by taking local college courses in conjunction with high-school classes.

Difficult – It may be difficult for both parent and child to separate the teacher/student relationship from the parent/child relationship. Parents may have the tendency to be too strict or too lenient. Boundaries may be blurred as the child receives different types of discipline from both a parent and teacher.

Deciding whether to home school your child is a difficult decision, and it is not one that should not be taken lightly. Some parents are convinced of the benefits of home schooling while others see only the drawbacks. In the end, no one can make the decision as to what is best for your child and your family except you. There are certainly many factors to consider.

Published or Updated: April 5, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Evan says:

    I was just talking to The Wife about this very issue! I think the biggest negative would be the isolation. There is something to be said about the learning experience one gets having to navigate through peers and school

    • Wendy says:

      Funny, your pros are right on, but your cons are way off. Do you homeschool? Do you know any homeschooled children? My experience has been that homeschool kids, in general, have *more* time for “socialization” than their school counterparts. After all, school time is not supposed to be social time. In school, kids are actually punished for talking in class, being boisterous in the hallways, and even gym time and recess is structured.
      Also, the blurb about boundary lines being blurred when parents are both parents and teachers… that scenario promotes consistency. A teacher outside of the home most likely will not be approaching anything like the parent would, as they do not live with the child nor are they an “expert” on that particular child as an individual.

      • wendy says:

        Also, as homeschooling is on the rise, so are colleges that recruit homeschoolers. In fact, many colleges, including Harvard, publicly note that students who were previously homeschooled actually fare better in a college environment where they must work indenpendently and take responsibility for their own education. This is basically the opposite of what usually happens in a school environment, where the child is rewarded for doing what the teacher says and how s/he says it should be done and discouraged from doing things on an individual basis.

  2. jim says:

    Homeschooling can be very successful in many situations. In other situations it can be a very poor education. My cousin homeschooled for all the wrong reasons and she was not at all qualified or capable of providing a good education. They got a horrible education. The daughter is now an adult and upset that she was cheated out of a “good” education at a public school. (if she is envious of a public school education then that tells you how bad her homeschooling was)

    One thing about homeschooling that doesn’t seems to get discussed is how qualified the parents are to do the homeschooling. I don’t know why this isn’t talked about more. Theres no assurance at all that the parents will be good teachers or know the material well. Teaching is a specific skill that we aren’t all automatically good at.

  3. Briana @ GBR says:

    I think kids benefit from going to traditional school, at least for the sake of socializing, but, parents should still be extremely involved in their child’s education. How about setting up some at-home courses on what you want your child to learn? The learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings :)

    • Ayman says:

      Let’s hope for the best for Elf. It’s going to be hard on all of you for a while. Tie a rope and hang on…good tgthhuos, good tgthhuos,kindness, kindness, kindness. It means so much more when your child is handicapped in one way or another.You know, you are asking for a miracle. We had one, one year. The year I could breathe…

  4. Kimberly says:

    After homeschooling for 10 years and managing a homeschooling parents support group for many of those years, I have some observations that differ somewhat from the article and comments left. In our homeschooling parents’ group of over 100 families, most homeschooling students have numerous activities outside of the family home. One homeschooling mom specifically chose homeschooling to educate her daughter around her performance schedule at the local community theatre. As to the issue of college acceptance, many colleges do require standardized exams, but just as many colleges have an alternate acceptance track for homeschoolers that may or may not require standardized exams. This takes advantage of the unique application package homeschoolers bring to the process. One homeschooling mom in our group homeschooled her son from 3rd grade through high school. He applied and was accepted to a college in NY state. He recently graduated and is in the process of finding his first full time job.

    Parental qualification is a question that occasionally arises from people who, such as one commentor, know a horrific homeschooling experience and ask for qualifications for parents to teach education topics. The focus that this issue lacks is that there is no qualification test for parenting. A parent is a child’s first teacher. They teach the child to dress themselves, tie their shoes, brush their teeth, and all of the standard lifestyle skills required to function. All without having to pass a qualification test. As the child ages, the teaching demands may cause the parents to seek out experts in a particular field so that the child can receive information the parent does not possess. Homeschooling by a dedicated parent is no different than teaching a toddler to tie their shoes.

    Homeschooling does have its pros and cons. I would not recommend it to everyone, since it does take time and dedication. A parent who is not dedicated to the education of their children will make a poor educator indeed. It is my experience, however, that non-dedicated homeschooling parents are truly few and far between.

  5. Karen says:

    There are no negatives for us in homeschooling our son. We have homeschooled him from birth and, if we were to use the public system’s “label”, he would now be a sophmore in high school. He is far more advanced in social skills, maturity, development and academics then if he attended the public system. He learns 24/7, 365 days a year and not from 8-2 5 days a week. He learns at his own pace, advancing where he wants to but completing all of the “minimal requirements” that the system requires. Is it easy? Not at all. It requires dedication, patience and time for both parents and child. I would make the same choice again, my son does not feel cheated out of an education and is is more socially adept than any other teens I’ve been around. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  6. Meghan says:

    Interestingly, many parents who homeschool their children are former public school teachers. That is, many who have worked within the system do not feel comfortable subjecting their own children to it. I fall into that category. In addition to a Master’s Degree in Education, I also hold a law degree.

    Parents have many reasons for choosing to homeschool, including the sorry state of our public education system. The poor quality of academic instruction and inadequate and substandard socialization available in public schools are of paramount concern.

    My husband and I had fully intended to send our children to the public schools. Our decision to homeschool resulted from experiencing the reality of the school systems (in two different regions of the country) first- hand 11 years ago. We have been homeschooling ever since. I have known hundreds of homeschooling families over the years, and have never met one that didn’t take the education of their children very seriously. My suggestion for improving our public schools: return to local, parental control.

    I invite those who question whether homeschool graduates “get into college” or “socialize” successfully to investigate some of the many studies available to support our contention that they do. I am very sorry for those few instances where homeschooling may have failed a child. As I said, I have never seen a case like that myself. I have, however, personally known dozens of children who were failed miserably by years of public schooling. I am very sorry for those large numbers of children.

  7. Foobard says:

    One negative would be that the parent would be able to brainwash their kids into all kinds of crazy ideas, without acknowledging alternative viewpoints.
    I’m not against homeschooling, I think it would be perfect for innercities where thuggery is common in the schools. Safety would be a great reason to homeschool. Especially if you can’t sell your house to move into a good school district in the burbs.

  8. Lynn says:

    Well, there will always be pros and cons and lets face it, any child who is educated in a setting with only one or two other kids around, with an adult who is completely focused on them and them alone, will do better simply because they are getting more attention. If public ed teachers only had classes of 5 kids they would be doing a much better job as well. If they had the freedom to teach around their hectic day or the childs ‘preference’ as to what they want to do when, they too would have better successes. I think its totally unfair to say one is better than the other when the circumstances are so very different. I know homeschooled kids that have done well, I know some that have not, same with those educated in private schools and public schools. There will always be successes and failures. Reality is every system, yes even that nasty ol’public school system has pros and cons. Not every parent can be a good teacher or have the funds to stay home, or the desire, or the patience, or the education themselves. Some do. Not all children do well in such restrictive environments when they get older. I currently have 8 young people I work with, all homeschooled, they lack structure, they have difficulty accepting some things must be done at certain times and they have had issues with coworkers simply because they have had limited exposure to so many different views and behaviors. THey are very bright, they can speak a couple of languages, they are book smart but they are very lacking those critical people and social skills. And yes, they participated in social activities while being homschooled, but an hour or two a week of something isn’t the same.

  9. Lindsey says:

    I enjoyed reading this article and all of the comments. However, I feel just as unsure now, as I did at the beginning. UGH. Help!!!

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