Reasons for choosing the homeschooling option for children vary from family to family.
“Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire” was the opinion of Anglo-Irish poet W B Yeats – and his sentiments are those that also drive parents who homeschool for ideological reasons. They do it simply because they believe that their children will receive a richer education that way.
For other parents, the decision happens when doubts begin to surface about problems or inadequacies their children are experiencing in the mainstream sector. When serious issues such as bullying, psychological trauma, disruptive learning environments and poor learning results arise, they take a strong decision to take their children out of school because they figure that even if they can’t do better, they surely can’t do any worse when their child is already in a bad situation at school.
In either case, homeschooling can have definite advantages. The first of these is control. Committed parents have their child’s interests solely at heart and do not have to share their attention around. With their children as willing motivated partners they will have more say over the subjects and levels that are taught. They can monitor their child’s progress more closely, spot challenges sooner and save valuable learning time.
Parents are emotionally closer to their children than teachers and can spot when their offspring are tired, unwell or when their brains need the refreshing break of switching to another subject for a while. ‘Time out’ can sometimes work wonders for tired student brains and parents are in a better position to offer it than overworked teachers coping with crowded unruly classrooms and regimented curriculum schedules.
Assessment, also, can be more closely monitored and beady-eyed solicitous parents are unlikely to miss a trick when it comes to their children’s baseline averages and learning goals. Teachers have many more than one set of results to focus on.
The valuable extra learning minutes and hours that have been gained by not wasting time means that there is more time for children to actually relax and enjoy what they are learning. Parent and child can take longer over tasks and experiments. These can even be repeated as there are no stressful queues of children all pushing for an opportunity to try an activity – in many mainstream schools, they just won’t get one. The bell will sound for recess and the teacher will need to resort to having the whole class watch one lucky student carry out a task. The others have to make do with laboriously writing up notes about what they could glimpse of their friend conducting a class experiment.
One to one attention is probably the most expensive and valuable educational resource any government can provide so very few students benefit from it. Homeschooling parents, however, are able to offer this close personal attention in abundance and their children often thrive on it.
Fast progress is often made by the brightest students whilst those who have challenges in one particular learning area are able to make up for it by excelling in another.
Unhappiness at mainstream
For those students who are being homeschooled due to unhappiness at mainstream school, progress is often surprisingly fast – transforming their learning lives. Emotional trauma is a severe block to learning and to the absorbing of new information. Bullying can paralyse a child’s ability to take in knowledge, much less remember it. Relaxed and unstressed at home however, he can start over if he tries learning again.
Even children who have not suffered the trauma of bullying can have their learning prospects hijacked by a non-conducive learning atmosphere. Disruptive pupils, harassment and undisciplined classrooms can lead to a chaotic atmosphere in which it is impossible for interested students to learn. Poorly-performing schools and overworked or under-committed teachers can bring about sub-standard results. Against this backdrop, the calm, familiar atmosphere of home can seem an oasis for learning and it offers the added benefit of help close by.
Homeschooling parents do not have to be ‘know-alls’ either, or super-parents who can do-it all and be-it-all. Different parents will have different strengths and where there are gaps, they can fill them with specially selected tutors. Homeschooling does not have to mean parent-only schooling. It is only natural that successful homeschooled students will soon outstrip their parents in subjects they have decided to specialize in. Then it is time to allocate some funds to outside tutors. Again, it is now the family who is in control of hiring and firing – not the school. Tutors can be hand-picked to suit a child’s needs and can be offered a trial period. Accomplished replacements can soon be sought for sub-standard tutors.
Funding is another good reason for families to consider homeschooling. For some moms it is a heaven-sent opportunity to work from home by teaching her children herself.
Some areas will allow tax rebates which will lessen a family’s financial outgoings and provide the mom with a ready-made (although challenging) job. Money saved can be put by for educational learning resources and opportunities – or college. Another incentive is that homeschooling families can sometimes benefit financially from taking vacations out of season. This is a cheaper and less crowded option – making cultural vacations better value and more enriching for the student.
Closer to home, students can benefit from educational visits too. Outdoor learning activities can be undertaken when the weather is favorable and at short notice if a homeschooling topic suddenly presents itself. Museums and galleries can be visited in the quiet time when the rest of the students are in school. The visits can also be personally customized to each student’s needs – rather than the ‘blanket’ lecture experience that is necessitated by large groups.
Money can be saved on entrance tickets through grouping with other homeschooling associations. Children do not have to suffer socialization disadvantages as these associations often offer meets where parents can gain support and children can make new homeschooling friends.
Among the top reasons for homeschooling children is the sense of achievement it brings them. A program tailored to their individual learning needs will breed success, which in turn will lead to motivation – and more success.