Is Homeschooling a Good Option for Your Family?
Parents choose homeschooling for many reasons, including concerns over bullying and peer pressure, dissatisfaction with the school system or because they live in a remote area or want to travel.
In Australia the number of homeschooled students almost doubled between 2011 to 2018. Research in Australia and internationally has found that homeschooled students perform as well or better than those in mainstream education.
While homeschooled children don’t suffer academically, there are many factors to take into consideration when deciding if this is the best option for your family:
One of the great advantages of homeschooling is that families don’t have to adhere to the school calendar. You can hold lessons at the time of day that suits your family and take holidays when you like.
While it may seem ideal to create your own schedule, parents shouldn’t underestimate how much time and energy they need to devote to homeschooling. Keeping up with state requirements takes a major commitment which will impact on all aspects of your life, particularly income and employment. Be prepared to be scrutinised to show you’re taking your role as a home educator seriously.
Some kids fail to thrive in mainstream schooling because they find it difficult to adapt to the curriculum and teaching methods. Home schooling provides much greater flexibility in how students are taught, allowing parents to find a teaching style that works best for their child. Students can focus on areas that interest them and learn at their own pace.
There’s a lot of support available online to help you make the right choices, but again, it takes a serious commitment to research and apply different methods. Teaching philosophies practiced by homeschoolers in Australia include the traditional approach, the Charlotte Mason, Montessori and Steiner methods and unschooling/natural learning.
In a traditional classroom where the teacher’s attention is spread thin between many students, much time is lost to busywork. Homeschooled students can accomplish more in less time due to the focused attention they receive, leaving more room for other pursuits.
While focused adult attention is of benefit to students, home educators need to make sure students are suitably challenged. It’s important for kids to develop resilience and independence, and this requires space to make mistakes and work things out for themselves.
The internet has made it much easier for homeschooled students to interact with each other and form friendships. There are many websites and groups where students can chat and learn together. Some have regular meet-ups so students can socialise in person.
These groups can help young people feel connected, but they can’t replace the intense social interaction that comes from attending school every day. Parents need to make sure homeschooled students have many opportunities to socialise and make friends through extracurricular activities. This is time-consuming and can be costly.
Parents often choose homeschooling because their child is being bullied or has difficulty coping in a mainstream classroom. The reduced stress of learning from home can help these students focus on their education and develop confidence.
On the other hand, homeschooling can be stressful for the whole family due to the large amounts of time spent together. Unlike a classroom teacher, you don’t get to say goodbye to your student at the end of the day. To avoid emotional burnout, you’ll need to take regular time out for yourself.
A home tutor can help parents with every aspect of homeschooling and provide valuable support.