A child's education is a high priority for every mom, yet deep disagreements exist over the best learning environments for school-age children. Passions tend to erupt around the question of homeschooling in particular, which increased a whopping 74% in the United States between 1999 and 2007, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
To better understand the appeal of homeschooling, as well as its drawbacks, we looked at recent conversations on the topic, particularly among moms who homeschool. Here's what we found.
Homeschooled Kids Get Customized Curriculums
The most often cited benefit of homeschooling is the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to match your child's learning style and interests. "My children have a totally customized curriculum," shared Angela M., a mother of two girls in Texas. Homeschooling moms say that individualized lesson plans and one-on-one instruction are incomparable for developing a child's strengths, and also for creating time to address weaknesses. Connie O., who homeschooled her two sons, argued: "In public school, he would be placed in a grade and expected to dumb down or man up to the across-the-board curriculum... in homeschooling, our children are allowed to soar where they excel." Moms also noted that homeschooling's flexibility allows for more hands-on, experimental learning through experiments and educational field trips.
Homeschooling Limits Exposure to Negative Behavior and Experiences
Many parents decide to homeschool because it can limit a child's exposure to negative influences and experiences. Katherine P., a mother of three girls, shared: "The last straw was when I discovered how much my then-3rd -grader knew about sex (and a lot of it wrong), because they allowed a student to read Cosmo at school…She was getting just awful information before I had had the opportunity to teach her these things as a mother." Homeschooling can also shield children from the experiences of being teased, bullied or pressured by peers.
Are Educated Professionals Better Qualified to Teach?
Some Circle of Moms members reason that professional teachers are usually more qualified than parents to teach children. Kara T. explained: "Teachers have been educated—and constantly stay updated—on new instruction techniques…Parents may not always know what material needs to be covered and when it is appropriate to do so." Other moms who have chosen not to homeschool, such as Torie P., acknowledged that their personalities are not a good fit for teaching: "I know that I cannot teach them properly. I don't have the patience or self-discipline to do it."
Homeschooling proponents, however, reason that gaps in the parent's abilities are more than met by the high-quality homeschooling resources they can tap. Sara H., who was a teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom, shares: "There are numerous homeschooling curriculums out there that line up with what schooled children are expected to learn. There are co-ops that families can join to get support and help if needed. Many of the homeschooling parents I know personally will have their child tested when the public schools administer standardized tests, just to be sure they are staying on top of things."
Do Homeschooled Kids Get Enough Social Interaction?
Perhaps the most common argument against homeschooling is that homeschooling deprives children of social interaction with their peers. As Velvet R., a mother of three, put it: "Children do need to have a social life, and homeschooling is not going to give them that." But moms who homeschool, including Katie F., contend that children have numerous social opportunities outside of public schools, from sports and dance classes to church groups and community choirs: "Homeschoolers definitely DO NOT miss out on socialization! I homeschool my kids and we are involved with a great homeschool group. We go to park days, creative learning classes, and a wonderful reading program. There are so many extracurricular program geared specifically to homeschoolers."
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