Home-schooling has become a viable option for many families. Home-schoolers say there are many reasons why they opted to take their children out of school, ranging from concerns around bullying to simply feeling that the structure of formal schooling is oppressive and not conducive to proper learning.
But is it for you? Home-schooling is a huge responsibility and can lead you to question if you’re doing the right thing for your child’s education and their future. It also usually means that one of the parents needs to stay at home, reducing the house-hold income of the family.
Proponents of home-schooling say there are many benefits. Because children can work at their own pace, children tend to take greater responsibility for their own learning and development. It also gives greater time flexibility. Child psychologist Anel Annandale says: “It allows a child with a specific gift for a generally time-consuming interest, such as a gifted gymnast or horse rider, to schedule schoolwork around her practice and training schedule.”
A key reason for opting for home-school is concern about peer-pressure, bullying and high levels of competitiveness, all of which are far less of a factor for home-schooled children. Many parents, however, worry about their child not learning social skills, but according to www.south-african-homeschool-curriculum.com research has shown the opposite to be true, with home-schooled children often being more confident and able to relate to both younger and older more effectively.[i]
Many home-schoolers feel that their family is closer as a result of home-schooling and according to Educational Psychologist Raquel Ferreira: “Extended periods of time together strengthen family relationships, not only between the child and his parents but also with his siblings. As they get to know each other, the family members form bonds that last a lifetime.”[ii]
Parents often worry about the size of classrooms in formal schools, and that their child will get lost in the crowd. Home-schooling is all about one-on-one tutoring, which allows for more time to actually learn and teach.
But there are also downsides. There are questions about whether home-schooling adequately prepares learners for the demands of tertiary education and the stresses of the working world. School is about more than just the general curriculum and provides the child with vital skills and life lessons that they may miss out on in the home-school situation. There is also a sense that home-schooled children may miss out on a level of healthy competition and extracurricular memories. Children who are very sociable or really enjoy or excel at group activities and group sports are thought to generally fare better in a traditional schooling system.
One of the biggest concerns is around parents being able to manage the pressures of work with the demands of home-schooling. Most often, one parent needs to stop working, which results in a loss of income to the family. Parents also worry about being able to teach subjects that they themselves are not familiar with such as algebra or physics. Although many of the curricula that can be purchased provide extensive parent guide books, parents sometimes need to look to the use of private tutors.
There’s also the question of resources and parents may not have access to the same resources that schools do. For instance, practically demonstrating a chemistry experiment may require a lot more effort and money than it would in a traditional school with a fully-equipped science lab.
These are just some of the pros and cons of home-schooling. There is a wealth of information on the web and those thinking about home-schooling are encouraged to research extensively. There is a great set of webinars by home-schooling mother and consultant, Shirley Erwee that will help short cut some of this research for you:
Making use of one of the many home-school support groups is also recommended:
At the end of the day, home-schooling is hard work, and definitely not the easy way out. Experts advise that you need to prepare thoroughly and be willing to make sacrifices, especially when it comes to your time. Home-schooling is not the norm, and not everyone will agree with your choice. But it is the case that more and more people are opting to go the home-schooling route.