Typically when thinking of homeschooling the image that comes to mind includes young children in their pajamas completing school work from the comfort of their home. Or, today a lot of people may think of the virtual learning that occurred throughout the 2021-2022 academic school year. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of school districts to transition to a virtual form of learning exposing students to a homeschooling experience. Homeschooling is when children are educated at home by family members, rather than learning in a typical school environment in-class (State Policy Network).
Not every child learns the same way as their peers. In fact, some students require learning at home to thrive in education. Homeschooling is not as rare as many people may believe. About 3% of the school-aged population, 2.5 million students, learn in a homeschool environment (State Policy Network). This rate has slowly been increasing, especially with health and environmental concerns.
Benefits of Homeschooling
When typing into Google, “What are the benefits of homeschooling?,” an array of results appear. Across these different sites is consistent crossover on what parents and educators believe the benefits of homeschooling are.
Receiving a personalized education is the number one benefit to homeschooling. A personalized education allows students to tailor their learning to their own speed and interests. They will still focus on following the curriculum but they have the freedom to take extra time on assignments they are struggling in or are passionate about. Alongside teachers, parents can play a larger role in helping customize a lesson plan for their children to follow. In fact, research has shown that homeschooled children outperform conventionally schooled children by 15 to 30 points on standardized tests (Ray & Valiente, 2020).
In addition to a personalized education, homeschooled children are also able to develop skills that may have taken longer to develop in school (Connections Academy). These skills include time management, self-motivation, and leadership. At home, students don’t have the schedule created by their teachers to follow when deciding how to divide their time throughout the day on specific subjects. They are also not receiving as much extrinsic motivation as they would have if learning in a conventional school environment. As a result, at-home students need to manage their time accordingly to ensure they don’t fall behind on school subjects, and need to remain intrinsically motivated while engaging in various schoolwork. These skills often take time to develop, but homeschooled children develop these skills at a faster rate. They are also able to further develop their leadership skills. Most time students learning at home don’t have as much guidance as they would have by their teachers. They learn to take initiative and to create their own academic and career goals.
Outside of the academic sphere, homeschooling also strengthens the relationships between children and their family members. Typically in conventional school learning, a student spends most of their time in-school surrounded by their peers. At home, students are able to create a stronger bond with family members as they share their learning experience and goals with other members in the household.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
Although homeschooling has numerous benefits there are also some disadvantages to learning at home. Homeschooling may serve as an ideal alternative during a specific time, but without the proper commitment on behalf of parents and children, it may not be the best long-term solution.
With the COVID-19 pandemic came the transition to virtual/distance learning. This allowed students to continue receiving an education from the safety of their homes. Many times homeschooling may be compared to distanced learning, but there are significant differences. In distance learning students were still learning within a larger class. Oftentimes they would log onto a virtual video call where they received class lessons from their teachers, guidance on schoolwork, and the opportunity to engage with peers. Homeschooling differs from this because it requires much more independent work without as much access to a teacher or peers. Without proper time management skills, self-motivation, and support from family members homeschooling may serve as more of a struggle than a benefit.
Although homeschooling serves to provide a personalized education it can also lack in preparing students for college. The process of getting into college will be similar to students who attend conventional schooling, but attending college may not be as easy (Classroom). Students will have to decide whether or not to live on campus, and will have to adjust to learning on a college campus. This may include adjusting to in-person lectures, comprehensive reading and notetaking, as well as an increase in social interaction. Children who are homeschooled do still have the same opportunity to pursue higher education, but it just may be a more complicated adjustment.
How to get your student started with homeschooling?
In California there are five types of homeschooling. The one that typically comes to mind is the, “home-based private school.” This option of homeschooling is done by, “filing a private school affidavit with the California Department of Education” (HTH). This option of homeschooling is a parent literally opening their own school where they are responsible for attendance, curriculum, immunization records/waivers, and faculty “qualifications.”Another homeschooling option is the “Private School Satellite Program.” Within this program parents are their child’s teachers, but the specific private school the child is enrolled in will help offer support, resources, and testing.
An option not typically thought of when considering homeschooling is a public charter school. Within their homeschooling programs most public charter schools programs offer some funding to help parents in purchasing materials for a child’s educational needs (HTH). Charter schools also offer teacher support, but most of the teaching is still conducted by the parents. Hiring a California-certified teacher is another option parents may choose when deciding to homeschool children. Rather than completing the private school affidavit to homeschool, a certified teacher can create an opportunity for independent study at home. In order to choose this option the certified teacher/tutor hired would have to instruct a student for, “at least 3 hours a day for at least 175 days a year” (HTH). The fifth option parents can choose when deciding to homeschool their children is, “enrolling in a public school that offers a home-based study program” (HTH). Within these programs the public school will set the school curriculum, and all assignments completed by the student will still be submitted to the school.
Homeschooling does have its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. When deciding whether or not to transition your child to homeschooling, it is important to determine how much time you as a parent can serve in your child’s learning experience, and how much involvement your school district will have in this form of learning.
By Viviana Cabrera