The number of homeschooled children is growing each year in the United States. The National Center For Education Statistics conducted a mail survey for their latest report on homeschooling and these are the interesting facts about the report. When asked why they chose to home school, 91 percent of parents said it was because of a concern about the environment of other schools; 77 percent of parents said it was because of a desire to provide moral instruction; 74 percent of parents said they home school because of their dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools. When asked to select the single most important reason for homeschooling, 25 percent of parents said it was because of their concern about the environment of other schools.
To help parents who are on the fence about whether to home school or not, check out this list of pros and cons of homeschooling by Isabel Shaw from Familyeducation.com.
– Educational Freedom. Most homeschooled students have the choice to study and learn what they want, when they want, for as long as they want. This is not to say that all the basics (and more!) aren’t covered. But those basics may be covered at age six for one child, and at age ten for another, depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. (Unfortunately, a few states do have unnecessarily restrictive legal requirements; in those states, educational freedom may be limited.)
– Physical Freedom. After the initial shock of leaving the school system has passed, parents who home school say they experience a real sense of freedom. With their lives no longer revolving around school hours, homework, and the school calendar, these families plan off-season vacations, visit parks and museums during the week, and live their lives according to what works for them.
– Emotional Freedom. Sadly, peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies — are all part of a typical school day. This can be a particular problem for girls. According to studies, self-esteem plummets in middle-school girls. However, similar studies of homeschooled girls have shown that self-esteem remains intact and that these girls continue to thrive. (Read A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls by Susannah Sheffer.) Homeschooled kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to “fit in.” They live in the real world, where lives aren’t dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation.
– Closer Family Relationships. Just about every family stressed the important role that homeschooling played in helping them find time to foster loving ties between all family members. Teens seem to benefit enormously from this interaction, and rebellious, destructive behavior often begins to diminish soon after homeschooling begins.
– Time Restraints. There’s no way around it: learning outside of a school environment can consume a lot of mom or dad’s time. Most folks visualize that time being spent at the kitchen table with textbooks and worksheets, but for most families, that’s not the case. My family has never gone that route, choosing hands-on experiences and interesting activities as learning tools, instead. However, planning, driving to, and participating in those activities (or waiting for them to be over) constitute the bulk of my day. And that can be very draining. As a single homeschooling mom, Mickey wrote to say that single parents who home school their kids face even greater time restraints: “We have to be very creative in our timing because I work and home school. Luckily, I work close to home and have a lot of time off, but it’s still a challenge.”
– Financial Restraints. For married parents, one partner often foregoes full-time employment out of the home in order to home school. This can be a big sacrifice for families who are struggling to balance their budget. Surprisingly, most homeschooling families believe that the brief loss of income is well worth the satisfaction of watching their kids grow and learn in freedom.
– Being with Your Kids 24/7. There’s no denying it — if you choose to home school, you’re going to be with your kids most of the time. If you don’t enjoy being together, then homeschooling is not for you. While it can sometimes be difficult, most home school parents view their daily interactions with their kids — the ups as well as the downs — as opportunities for personal and familial growth.
– Limited Team Sports. While community sports activities fill the void for younger kids, teens often find limited opportunities to join sports teams, especially competitive ones. Depending on where you live, homeschoolers may or may not be welcome to participate on teams with their public-schooled peers. Several parents did mention that a few families overcame this problem by creating their own teams.