Homeschooling (or home education) is a practice where children get formal education at home instead of in school. They are taught by their parents or tutors. Home-educated children (or homeschoolers) have been increasing at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics revealed over 2.3 million children were being homeschooled in the USA alone.
The 2020 pandemic brought home the concept of what homeschooling is in pretty much everyone’s lives. Parents suddenly found themselves responsible for designing curriculums, setting daily timetables, researching ways of making learning fun and weaving them into everyday routines. Even with the hybrid classroom systems, the onus of keeping their children motivated and on the learning path fell on the parents.
Suddenly, mired in informal homeschooling situations, we quickly discovered the positive and negative effects of homeschooling. With the opening of regular schools, the debate about homeschooling vs traditional schooling is back to the fore. With an increased number of parents opting to continue homeschooling, let us look at a few facts about homeschooling and debunk a few common myths regarding homeschools along the way.
Homeschooled kids are not social
Homeschooling in no way means shifting your kid’s studies from a traditional classroom and plopping your kid inside a room and educating them in a solitary environment. It entails a curriculum designed to capture your child’s interests, to lead them into age-appropriate learning, indoor classes, outdoor excursions, play dates, and building a learning environment in their everyday activities.
Many homeschooled children are enrolled in extra-curricular classes like ballet, football, swimming, dancing, etc. Homeschooled children go to parks, camps and community events that provide them many opportunities to socialize. Multiple homeschooling groups and communities abound for parents and children to build connections, share resources, and much more. Many parents regularly plan play dates for their children and encourage them to make friends and socialize with them regularly.
Home-educated children do equally well, if not better, on social skills, emotional intelligence, and psychological well-being measures. Research shows that their answers were promising when homeschoolers were questioned on self-esteem, self-regulation, peer play, leadership, family cohesion, and care for the community for various studies. Studies also found evidence of a strong sense of autonomy in homeschooled kids.
Homeschooling is repetitive and boring
With the freedom to design homeschooling curriculums, accredited homeschooling programs, alternatives to formal homeschooling systems, and access to outstanding educational toys that support parents in their journey, boredom or repetition would probably be the last problem with homeschooling.
The road to homeschooling is definitely challenging, but the challenges are fun with enlightening experiences and adventures that are in store for parents and kids. There are many ways of homeschooling, multiple activities to keep the kids occupied, and indoor and outdoor planning to make learning fun. With so much due diligence being put into the process of homeschooling, it can hardly be considered repetitive or boring.
Here are a few resources suggested by the U.S. Department of State for you to focus on to ensure you have the most fulfilling learning experience planned for your child. Also, read a few of our suggestions for finding the best homeschooling toys for your little ones to keep the energy up and the learning fun and educational.
Homeschooling limits learning
Traditional classrooms, textbook lessons, monthly tests, and a grading system aren’t the only way to gauge how much a child is learning. In fact, a homeschooler enjoys a more liberal learning experience. Lesser stress on metric grading ensures better retention of lessons. Additionally, lessons based on interests or lessons designed with multiple activities lead to a marked improvement in concentration.
Children love learning new things. One has to try very hard to take that away from them. In fact, it is in our genes to learn and to adapt. It is a given fact about homeschooling that it offers flexible schedules for kids to spend time ‘exploring’ different aspects of life, including personality development and social conduct besides regular study. Homeschooling allows kids to ‘investigate’ their fascinations and discover their passions.
All said and done, there are definitive tests for homeschooled children to measure their prowess and assuage any fear of homeschooling parents regarding their child’s development. Many studies show that homeschooled children did not in any manner lag behind in academics.
Typically, homeschooled kids score 15 to 30 percentile points above public school students on standardized academic tests. Similar results are very common with SATs and ACTs for college admissions. One of the prominent reasons (in our opinion) is that homeschooling gives you a chance to provide a tailored teaching experience for your child with lots of hands-on activities.
Homeschooling is all fun and no hard work
A common problem associated with homeschooling is that it is thought to be all fun and no hard work. On the contrary, hard work is the exceptional amount of time and effort that parents put into planning curriculums and designing activities around the interests of their children and the lessons associated with them. In doing so, they combine learning and play seamlessly. The activities planned are as much fun as they are informative and develop multiple skills in the child simultaneously!
Homeschoolers have more time to devote to play in their timetables, but that is because their learning sessions are so focused that they finish that part of their routine early. Most homeschooling kids have a fixed schedule regarding their classes. The difference is that the classes are solely centered on them and designed engagingly. This motivates children to comply with routine learning with more concentration and grasp concepts effectively. The subjects also align with their interests, leading to a faster recall. This ensures that the learning finishes on time, leaving them with more time to indulge in play.
Only parents who are qualified teachers can homeschool
We certainly cannot question a teacher’s diligence, hard work and specialization. But to say that parents aren’t qualified to teach their kids if they aren’t teachers themselves is a myth that needs to be debunked. What is our home but a homeschool to us as we grow up? It’s where we learn our first lessons and continue to learn life lessons. Our parents aren’t exactly certified in teaching us how to eat, sleep, walk and talk either. What makes all the difference is the efforts they put into enabling us to learn.
You need not be a certified teacher to homeschool your child. This is a significant fact of homeschooling as well. Once set on homeschooling, parents try to teach their kids the best way possible. They spend nights researching, designing lessons, and evaluating their progress and whatnot. They keep track of their patterns and likings and link them to lessons accordingly. They invest in getting the best setup, equipment, opportunities and toys to support learning.
And as for qualifications, none of our teachers is qualified to teach all the subjects, right? The same goes for parents. If needed, there are hundreds of resources available to parents to use in case they aren’t comfortable dealing with a particular subject themselves. They can hire tutors, take online courses for themselves or the kids, send kids to cottage schools, or even co-school within their own homeschooling community.
Homeschooling is expensive
One of the negative effects of homeschooling is thought to be on the pocket of the parents. Of course, every parent wants and does the best for their children, but nowhere does that dictate a high homeschool budget. Homeschooling means teaching your children at home. What budget you allot for it is entirely your decision. And you can take calls regarding resources based on that.
Homeschooling does not mean splurging on expensive setups, hiring a private tutor, or requiring one partner to give up their profession and become a stay-at-home parent. Homeschooling does not require huge investments of any kind. In fact, people of almost all pay scales decide to homeschool based on their confidence in the education system of their region, not financial status.
Homeschooling definitely calls for diligence and sacrifices. But with the number of resources and guidance out there, parents can condense their children’s subjects and learning requirements according to their earning prowess. For example, parents can take a print of many lessons and activities from websites and resources shared online. Equipment, books, stationery, furniture and toys can be purchased second-hand or during sales.
Homeschooling is a lonely road
There are tons of other parents who are homeschooling their kids. They all help each other via volunteer non-profit organizations (like HSLDA), online groups and forums, regular meetups, and co-op activities like museum visits, zoo trips, etc. Kids never lack socialization as they interact with other kids and share their knowledge and experiences daily.
Parents, too, do not feel that their homeschooling journey is solitary because of the community of homeschoolers growing around them day by day. The community provides guidance, support and comfort. It opens up options for co-schooling and play dates. Sharing insights and resources is part and parcel of these voluntary and governed communities of homeschooling parents.
It is an undeniable fact about homeschooling that the community has grown more extensive and better organized during and post-pandemic. As it goes with everything, there are certain pros and cons related to what is homeschooling as well. The important thing is to keep busting myths surrounding the topic of homeschooling and deciding which way of education works best for your child and your family.