When considering homeschooling your child, it’s natural to have some concerns and wonder whether it could negatively impact their development, personality, education, or anything (and everything) else.
Homeschooling will not automatically ruin your child. Studies and personal stories show many benefits. The key to a successful homeschool experience is to be a loving parent, provide a diverse education, respect your child, follow the law, and answer their questions.
By choosing to homeschool, you can provide a more focused learning environment, fewer distractions, and the chance to strengthen family bonds. Let’s chat about the nuances of making homeschooling a positive, successful experience for your family.
When beginning your homeschooling journey, it is essential to understand the components of homeschooling clearly.
In this section, we will delve deeper into homeschool curriculums, the flexibility of homeschooling, and the resources available to you and your child.
As a homeschooler, you can tailor your child’s education to their unique learning style and interests. You can customize your own homeschool curriculum by combining various educational philosophies, teaching methods, and resources.
When selecting a curriculum, consider your child’s learning preferences, and think about the educational goals you have for them.
Numerous pre-packaged curriculums are available, or you can design your own by integrating a blend of textbooks, online courses, and hands-on materials.
For example, my kids have had a mostly positive experience with Saxon Math, a complete math curriculum. They don’t like doing flash cards and math facts every day, so we’ve customized their math lessons by doing either the flashcards or the math facts every day, not both.
Flexibility of Homeschooling
Homeschooling offers great flexibility, allowing you to adapt the learning environment better to suit your child’s needs. This can include customizing schedules, adjusting learning goals, and cultivating a unique educational experience.
One of the major advantages of homeschooling is the freedom to set your own schedule. You can create a routine that fits your family’s lifestyle, allowing you to integrate other activities, such as field trips, sports, and hobbies, into your child’s education.
The flexibility of homeschooling has been our family’s absolute favorite part of the experience. The kids love not having to spend 6 to 8 hours each day in a classroom, and they love doing hands-on activities, experiments, and field trips based on their interests.
Homeschooling is a lot easier than it used to be, as today, far more online, offline, free, and paid options are available to homeschooling families.
My neighbor, who homeschooled her children decades ago, had to create her whole curriculum based on what she knew. Not many resources were available to her, so when we chatted a few weeks ago, she loved seeing that her grandchildren have many more options should they decide to homeschool.
Here are some of the homeschool resources you can find these days.
- Online websites and forums: Connect with other homeschooling families and share advice, curriculum reviews, and support.
- Local homeschooling groups: Join a group in your area to meet other homeschoolers and participate in group learning opportunities, field trips, and social events.
- Educational resources: Leverage online courses, textbooks, podcasts, and other resources to enhance your child’s learning experience.
- Support from educational experts: Consult with educational specialists for guidance and recommendations about the best homeschool practices.
By understanding the key elements of homeschooling, you can better evaluate whether this educational option fits your child and your family.
Socialization and Relationships
Homeschooling your child doesn’t have to hinder their social development as long as you actively seek social opportunities.
One concern parents may have is whether homeschooling will limit their child’s social interactions with peers. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your child interacts with children of the same age group.
- You can facilitate playdates and extracurricular activities.
- You can participate in local homeschooling communities.
These opportunities will allow your child to engage with other children and develop friendships.
Field trips are a fantastic way to expose your homeschooled child to diverse experiences and environments. You can organize or join group field trips with other homeschooling families to fulfill the dual functions of education and socialization.
Visit museums, galleries, and historical sites to provide your child with cultural and social experiences. These trips are a great way to connect with other families who share the same values and priorities for their children.
Joining a homeschool cooperative (co-op) is another excellent option to help children develop social skills and relationships. A co-op is a group of homeschooling families who share resources and expertise and provide educational and social experiences for their children.
There are so many types of co-ops, and it’s fantastic to have options.
- There are co-ops where you help teach classes where you have experience (or expertise).
- Some co-ops are where you drop your kids off for a few hours while licensed teachers teach them.
- Playdate co-ops are a thing, too.
- Field trip co-ops can organize fun, educational, or mixed-type outings to get the best discounts possible.
Co-ops can allow your child to work in groups, participate in group discussions, and develop teamwork skills that mimic those gained in public or private schools.
Homeschooling can help you build a strong bond with your child. As the primary educator, you have direct involvement and influence over your child’s learning and development, and working with them makes it even better.
You can tailor your child’s education to their needs and interests, fostering intellectual growth and a close parent-child relationship. Additionally, engaging with other homeschooling families will provide valuable support and resources to enhance your homeschooling experience.
Socialization and relationship development are achievable for homeschooled children through intentional planning and engagement in social opportunities. With a proactive approach, you can help your child succeed socially and academically during their homeschooling journey.
Advantages of Homeschooling
Homeschooling has multiple advantages, including freedom and flexibility, personalized learning, and individualized support.
Freedom and Flexibility
One of the main benefits of homeschooling your child is the freedom and flexibility it offers. You have more control over your child’s learning environment, allowing them to focus on their interests and passions.
As a homeschooler, you can freely travel or move, adapt to your family’s schedule, and choose educational resources that align with your values and beliefs. You can choose religious or secular learning.
Homeschooling allows you to provide your child with a personalized, tailored learning plan. You can adjust the curriculum and pacing to suit your child’s needs, strengths, and learning styles. This helps nurture their love for learning and encourages them to explore their interests more deeply.
With the ability to choose from various learning materials and adapt lessons, you can better support your child’s educational growth and development.
Special Needs Support
If your child is gifted or has learning challenges, homeschooling can give you the ability to provide the necessary support they need. You can offer individualized teaching and attention, focusing on their needs and abilities.
WebMD suggests that homeschooling could be a good fit for children with sensory issues, as it allows you to create a more comfortable and conducive learning environment at home.
By customizing the educational experience, you can better support your child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development, ensuring their special needs are effectively addressed.
Disadvantages and Potential Risks
For all of the benefits of homeschooling, it also has some drawbacks that must be acknowledged. Knowing these disadvantages means you can be better prepared as a homeschooling parent or that you may be able to work around them to avoid them.
Balance and Parental Burnout
Finding a balance between your personal life and homeschooling responsibilities can be challenging as a homeschooling parent. You must maintain your well-being while ensuring your child receives a quality education.
Homeschooling parents might struggle to find “me” time due to the workload and having children home all day. This can easily lead to parental burnout, affecting your mental health and your child’s learning experience.
Make sure you’ve got time to yourself so that you’ll have the capacity to be your best self as a parent and a homeschooling teacher.
Too Much Focus on Academics
Focusing solely on academics could limit your child’s exposure to extracurricular activities, personal development, and practical life skills often learned in a traditional school setting.
While homeschooling may provide a comprehensive academic education, it’s important not to overlook the other aspects of a well-rounded learning experience.
Ensure you incorporate various activities and skills in your homeschool curriculum to prepare your child for their future endeavors better.
If you can keep the focus on balance rather than one area in life, then you could avoid this problem entirely.
Potential for Negative Socialization
One of the primary concerns for homeschooling parents is socialization. While homeschooling can offer a nurturing environment, it might also limit your child’s exposure to different social settings, potentially impacting their ability to form peer relationships.
Homeschooled children may face difficulties in socialization compared to their traditionally-schooled counterparts, especially if social needs aren’t prioritized as part of the homeschool curriculum.
Encourage your child to participate in social activities outside of homeschooling, like sports teams or clubs, to help them build friendships and develop social skills.
When we homeschooled during the initial lockdown periods of the Coronavirus pandemic, we couldn’t socialize at all. So we didn’t focus on it and felt the stress of that loss of social support. Now that socializing is no longer medically contraindicated, we definitely make sure to spend time socializing!
Comparison with Traditional Schools
When considering traditional schooling options, you may debate between public and private schools.
- Public Schools: Taxpayers fund public schools and must follow government regulations and standards.
- Private schools: Private schools rely on private funding sources, such as tuition or donations.
- Homeschools: These are taught by families or co-ops and may be financed by the family or school funds depending on the setup and the state.
- Charter schools: Charter schools may be public or private, depending on their charter or setup.
Public vs Private School
Remember that the quality of education and resources can vary significantly between public and private schools, depending on factors like funding, teacher qualifications, and class sizes.
Private schools may offer more specialized curriculums, while public schools will likely have a more diverse student body.
Homeschool vs Traditional School
Both homeschooling and traditional schooling have pros and cons; the best choice will depend on your family’s needs and preferences.
Compared to traditional schooling, homeschooling offers flexibility in curriculum design and scheduling, allowing you to tailor your child’s education to their unique needs and interests.
Studies have shown that homeschoolers can perform as well or better academically than their traditionally schooled counterparts, scoring a nationwide average of 72 points more on the SATs in 2020 in the United States.
However, homeschooling may require a significant time commitment from you and the responsibility of managing your child’s entire educational experience.
In a traditional school setting, your child would have access to trained educators, extracurricular activities, and a structured environment that could help them develop social skills and build friendships with their peers.
Regarding safety, homeschooling can offer a more controlled environment, minimizing the risk of exposure to unfortunate situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or school shootings.
However, if you’re trying to teach chemistry at home, that can be a lot harder, as you likely won’t have the specialty equipment (and safety equipment) that is commonplace in traditional school chemistry classrooms.
Creating a Well-Rounded Homeschool Experience
When building the homeschool experience, you’ll want to consider how you handle conflict between children, your homeschool hours (or routines), and which resources you plan to use.
Here’s some more detail on each of these important factors.
As an involved parent, it’s important to recognize that bullying can occur in any environment, even within the homeschool community. Addressing bullying proactively can help create a safe and supportive environment for your child.
By teaching your child about empathy, respect for others, and appropriate ways to resolve conflicts, you can help them build positive relationships with their peers and handle any potential bullying situations they may encounter.
I’d love to tell you that my four kids get along perfectly all the time every day. That would be a fantasy and not reality, though. We’ve set some home rules to help keep our interactions as positive as possible – while instituting consequences when things get out of hand.
School Hours and Routines
Establishing a routine is essential for a well-rounded homeschool experience. While flexibility is one of the key benefits of homeschooling, implementing a consistent school schedule can help your child develop time management skills, discipline, and a sense of responsibility.
You should design the school hours around your child’s needs and learning style. However, you should also ensure they have a sufficient balance between structured learning and free time for relaxation and play. This can help instill a strong work ethic and teach them the importance of a balanced lifestyle.
We’ve had several schedule iterations because we’ve had to adapt and change over time. Know that’s totally normal, and be prepared to change as needed.
Making Use of Libraries and Community Resources
Local resources like libraries and community centers can enrich your child’s homeschooling experience. Resources, classes, courses, activities, books, and other experiences can enrich the homeschool experience.
- Libraries offer a wealth of learning resources (from books and educational materials to workshops and interactive events).
- Explore clubs, social groups, and collaborative learning opportunities within the homeschool community to ensure your child builds a strong social network and feels connected to peers.
Community resources can augment your child’s education, offering hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to explore new interests.
Participating in educational events, workshops, and field trips can help your child develop a more comprehensive understanding of the world around them, making them a more well-rounded individual as they grow.
What Experts Say about Homeschooling
Parents commonly wonder what the experts say (or think) about homeschooling. While individual experts may have their own opinions, we’ve found a set of generalized opinions based on profession.
Psychologists have extensively researched the effects of homeschooling on children’s academic and social development. Some studies suggest that homeschooled children can succeed academically and develop strong social skills.
When deciding on homeschooling, it is important to consider your child’s learning style and social needs.
Here’s our source for what psychologists say about homeschooling.
While there may not be a specific consensus among pediatricians regarding homeschooling, many emphasize the importance of a nurturing and stimulating learning environment for children’s growth and development.
If you can provide this through homeschooling, it may be a suitable option for your child.
Our pediatrician thinks it’s cool that we homeschool and has offered some great ideas for activities and outings we’ve taken.
Educators have diverse opinions about homeschooling.
- Some believe homeschooling can offer flexibility and personalized learning experiences, leading to more effective education.
- However, others express concerns about the lack of regulation and oversight in homeschooling, which may pose various risks to children’s well-being.
It is crucial to thoroughly research your state’s homeschooling regulations and consult with local educators to ensure a well-rounded education for your child.
Employers of Homeschooled People
There isn’t a general consensus among employers about homeschooling. Many employers today recognize the value of homeschooled employees, who often possess strong independent learning skills and adaptability.
Nonetheless, ensuring that your child acquires essential workplace skills and networking opportunities during the homeschooling process is vital.
Experts in fields like early childhood education and parenting coaching emphasize the evolution of homeschooling. If you stay well-informed, engage in best practices, and remain aware of your child’s needs, homeschooling may be a viable education alternative for your family.
Tips to Ensure Homeschooling Is a Positive Experience
Finding the right balance when homeschooling your child is key to ensuring a positive experience. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
- Choose the right curriculum: Select the most suitable learning materials for your child. This may require visiting curriculum fairs, researching online, or talking to other homeschooling families for recommendations. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling. Choose what works best for your child’s unique needs and interests.
- Create a comfortable learning environment: Make sure your child has a designated and comfortable space for learning. This could be a dedicated room, a corner of a larger space, or even a portable setup that can be moved around as needed. A comfortable learning environment should be free from distractions and equipped with the necessary resources for successful learning.
- Set a routine: A regular learning schedule can help your child stay focused and develop good study habits. This might include setting specific times for learning, breaks, and recreational activities. A consistent daily routine can provide a sense of structure and stability for both you and your child.
- Be flexible: Part of the beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility. Be open to adjusting your plans and methods as needed to address your child’s interests, strengths, and challenges. If something isn’t working, don’t hesitate to explore alternative approaches until you find what works best for your child.
- Incorporate social opportunities: One common concern about homeschooling is the potential lack of social interaction with peers. To overcome this, connect with local homeschooling communities, enroll your child in extracurricular activities, or organize play dates with other families. Regular social opportunities for your child can help them develop essential interpersonal skills and make homeschooling a more enjoyable experience.
- Stay connected: Contact other homeschooling families and online communities for advice, support, and resources. Building a strong network of experienced homeschoolers can help you navigate any challenges and enable you to learn and grow as a homeschooling parent continually.
By implementing these tips, you can help ensure that homeschooling becomes a positive and rewarding experience for you and your child.
Homeschooling is what you make of it. You can make it an amazing experience if you put in the time, work, and effort. It can also be a disaster if you don’t put in the time, work, and effort.
So if you’re considering homeschooling, put in the time to research and set it up positively. Talk to other homeschool parents – this is when co-ops are the best! They’ll be able to give you great ideas, resources, and tell you what’s worked (or failed) for them.
Ready to take your homeschool research to the next level? Read this article next, 18 Homeschool Fun Friday Ideas (#4 is so much fun). Making one fun learning day each week was one of the best things we ever did for our homeschool!
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homeschoolers.
- 4 Surprising Disadvantages of Homeschooling | GoStudent. (n.d.). GoStudent. https://insights.gostudent.org/en/4-disadvantages-of-homeschooling
- Bauld, A. (2022, May 26). Considering Homeschooling? Here’s What to Know. US News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/education/k12/articles/considering-homeschooling-heres-what-to-know
- Garone, S. (2022, November 16). The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling-5074888
- Goodwin, C. (2021, September 2). The Research on Homeschooling. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/parenting-translator/202109/the-research-homeschooling
- Griffis, T. (2021). The Disadvantages Of Homeschooling: 11 Things To Consider. The Pragmatic Parent. https://www.thepragmaticparent.com/the-disadvantages-of-homeschooling-11-things-to-consider/
- Mineo, L. (2020, May 15). Law School professor says there may be a dark side of homeschooling. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/05/law-school-professor-says-there-may-be-a-dark-side-of-homeschooling/
- Nehring, L. (2023, March 9). Unbelievable Risks of Homeschooling Your Kids. True North Homeschool Academy. https://truenorthhomeschool.academy/unbelievable-risks-of-homeschooling-your-kids/
- Rope, K. (2021, March 1). Home Schooling: Pros, Cons, What You Need to Know. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/home-schooling-pros-cons
- Shannon-Karasik, C. (2018). How Homeschooling Affects Your Kid Later, According To Experts. Romper. https://www.romper.com/p/how-homeschooling-affects-your-kid-later-according-to-experts-7859329
- Wisner, W. (2022, June 8). Homeschool and Socialization: How to Keep Your Child Connected. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/keeping-your-homeschooled-child-connected-socially-5075790