Now, I will admit to having a bias. This is not a journalistic piece in which no bias is supposed to exist as I tell you all about homeschool pros and cons. I have to tell you that it is difficult for me to come up with “cons” for something I believe in. They are just going to look very different from what you would expect if you are approaching this from a neutral perspective.
Lots of people who are anti-homeschooling will tell you a huge list of “cons,” none of which I agree with. I’m biased. I’m biased for homeschooling. So the negative impact we experience is far outweighed by the positive. And if that isn’t going to support your position as you discuss homeschooling with your spouse, grown child, or peers – just leave now. You probably aren’t going to like what I have to say.
The Homeschool Pros
What are the positives about homeschooling? There are so many, I may end up needing to write a book. But for now let’s stick with what I think of as the Big 3.
Homeschool Pro #1 – Freedom of Education
We can use methods that help our child excel. We can vary our teaching methods to help each child at his/her level. We can let children work at their own pace. We can use materials that support our worldview and help our children defend this worldview should they choose to adopt it. We can cover things not taught in school. We can go deeper and stay longer in any area of history or science we enjoy. We can skip the stupid stuff. (No busywork!)
Homeschool Pro #2 – Freedom from a Forced Schedule
We can visit the grandparents whenever we want. We can go to the beach whenever we want. We can schedule dentist appointments, doctor appointments, and haircut appointments at the busy curly girl hair salon whenever we want. And if that wasn’t enough – we can also have birthday celebrations in the middle of the day, go to playgrounds at the park when everyone else is in school, and take our breaks to line up with significant family events. And we don’t have homework hardly ever. And at the Star Wars Premiere? You will find us at the earliest matinee with an essay about the movie due from each student within just a couple weeks.
Homeschool Pro #3 – Freedom to Socialize
Yep, you read that right. We get to socialize. We get to socialize with people of all ages, from every circumstance. We are not forced into peer-level boxes. We learn to talk to adults, play with little kids, interact with the elderly, and yes, we even get to interact with people our own age. When we graduate, we can converse intelligently with those old enough to become our supervisor or college professor. We experience lifestyle socialization.
The Homeschool Cons:
Or, The Negative Things About Homeschooling Nobody Mentions. These are the negative impacts I’ve seen on our family as we homeschool. The good was first, this is the bad and the ugly.
Homeschool Con #1 – A Big Mess
People are in your home 24/7 making messes. You have to serve three meals a day, which means that your house has three sets of dirty dishes every day. Children actually get to spend time playing with their toys every.single.day. Which means every day, there is a mess of toys to pick up.
People use your bathrooms for eight hours longer than the average American home. That’s more mess. Children who are home all day change clothes more often. I’m not sure why this is true, but I can guarantee you that when we are out for the day, less clothes end up in the wash. Homeschooling is a messy business. Crafts are good, but boy can they make a mess with scissors, paper, glue, glitter, and paint. Oi.
Homeschool Con #2 – Higher Electric Bills
We have to have the heater and air conditioning running like we are here all.day.long. Because we are here all day long. We also have to cook more (I already mentioned that, right?) so that uses more electricity too. And the lights are on most of the day except in the rooms with big windows. So yeah. Our electricity bill is higher. I’m not kidding.
Homeschool Con #3 – People Think You Are Crazy
This might not matter to some people. And I consider myself pretty good at ignoring peer pressure. But there is nothing more aggravating than being looked at like you have three heads when you take a few of your school-aged children to Target before school lets out. Especially if one of them insists on wearing skirts with tennis shoes all the time. I mean seriously. I’m wearing jeans. But my daughter is wearing a skirt with tennis shoes so we must be “crazy homeschoolers” right?
Worse? When people talk to your children like they are deprived, even when you are standing right there. More than one store clerk has said something like, “You poor thing, when do you ever get to make friends?” to my stunned children at a period in our lives when we lived on a base full of homeschoolers and they could spend six to eight hours a day “playing” with their friends.
To Sum Up: The Positives and Negatives of Homeschooling
What does it all mean?
Well, in the end it means that every life choice has a positive side and a negative side. Our decisions should not be made solely from making a list of pros and cons. In this case – I could never have predicted the negatives when we made the decision to homeschool. I had never experienced those negatives. And for people who do not homeschool to make a list of “negatives” is to judge. Don’t judge based on opinion or bias. Look at the facts.
Are homeschooled students academically handicapped? — Ask your local college acceptance board.
Are homeschooled students incapable of socializing in a group setting? — Well, that depends somewhat on the child. Some children are naturally more adept at making conversation. Some people are going to be nerdy whether they homeschool or not. (Admit it, it’s true! You graduated with a few nerds who struggled to have a conversation didn’t you?) The good news is, homeschooled nerds can be helped in the process of socializing by parents who understand. In general, homeschooled children make well-rounded, conversation-ready adults.
Do homeschooled students dress weirdly? — Well, again, that might depend on the child or the family’s budget. For my part, I’m so glad my daughter gets to wear clothes that make her comfortable and don’t make her crazy. She can wear dresses and skirts with tennis shoes if she wants – and not get laughed at. And that’s a good thing.