Some parents do so for religious or political reasons. Others wanted to organize their children’s education. And everything moved to Zoom in 2020 when more than a few were frustrated by how challenging school was — or wasn’t — for their kids.
Whatever the reason, in 2020 – 2021, about 3.7 million students, or about 7% of all school-age children in grades K-12 in the United States, were homeschooled. This number has increased dramatically since 2019, when about 4% of American children were homeschooled.
Although the number of homeschooling children is increasing, the jury is out on whether homeschooling is better than traditional public or private schools.
On one side of the argument are those who believe that home-schooled children receive a higher education, which leads to an advantage in college admissions and scholarships. On the other hand there are those who argue that homeschooling can lead to social isolation and lack of contact with different cultures. Let’s look at both sides of the argument in detail so you can decide for yourself.
Advantages of Homeschooling:
There are many reasons why homeschooling is considered more flexible than traditional schooling. Sick days and holidays don’t have to keep kids behind in school. Parents can tailor lessons around illness, travel plans and work commitments without following a rigid curriculum or schedule.
Homeschooling is especially relevant due to the growing popularity of remote and flexible work. Parents who work remotely to maintain flexibility may find that homeschooling fits their family’s lifestyle well.
Personalized Learning / Effective Learning
Every child is different, with unique interests and learning styles. What may seem like an attractive learning method to one student may be difficult, ineffective, and boring to another. 78% of peer-reviewed studies show that homeschool students perform significantly better academically than traditional school students, further strengthening the argument that individualized education is more effective.
However, this is not practical for public and private schools as they cater to many children in each classroom. With limited resources, it is unattainable to personalize teaching methods based on each student’s preferences and abilities.
Beyond academics, homeschooling appears to positively influence career achievements and the likelihood of success as an adult. For example, 69% of peer-reviewed studies reveal that homeschooled individuals outperform their counterparts from traditional schooling backgrounds in many aspects of adulthood.
The findings are not surprising as parents pay more attention to their children’s learning needs and develop adaptive strategies to better address those needs. Thus, compared to traditional schools, home education results in more effective learning.
Avoid in-school safety issues
By keeping children at home, parents can ensure they are getting the education they need without worrying about them being bullied or forming destructive friendships.
Homeschooling also ensures that children are not affected by the increasingly violent incidents in schools across the United States. According to the National Center of Education Research, there were 93 shootings at public and private schools during the 2020-2021 school year. Unfortunately, 43 people died in these incidents.
Help children build independence and maturity
Homeschooling can help children become independent and self-reliant. Learning at their own pace while motivating themselves to be accountable for their progress can instill a sense of confidence and responsibility. Homeschooling allows children to explore their interests more deeply, leading to greater independence and self-direction.
In addition, children can develop time-management and organizational skills by managing their schedule around studies and extracurricular activities.
87% of peer-reviewed studies echo these benefits of homeschooling, confirming that homeschooled students score statistically significantly better on social, emotional and psychological development metrics than those in mainstream schools.
Save taxpayers money
Homeschooling saves taxpayers a great deal of money by reducing public education spending in the United States.
According to the National Education Association, taxpayers spend about $15,240 per student per year. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, 3.7 million homeschool students saved the U.S. government more than $56 billion. Imagine the potential for future savings if the number of homeschool students continues to grow.
In addition to saving money on education, homeschooling families also save taxpayers money by not using public services like transportation and lunch programs.
Cons of Homeschooling:
Although homeschooling has many benefits, it is important to weigh the benefits against the potential disadvantages before deciding whether to homeschool.
Time and financial investment from parents
One of the biggest drawbacks of homeschooling is the additional time and financial investment required from parents. According to Time4Learning, homeschooling a child costs the parent(s) between $700 and $1,800 per year. At the same time, dedicating time to homeschooling means fewer work hours or lost income for one parent.
As a result, retirement plans may need to be redone, investments rebalanced, and alternative sources of income sought. All these changes can be stressful if not planned in advance.
Furthermore, each state has its own rules when it comes to homeschooling. Parents must follow state-level homeschool requirements if they live in one of the 23 states. For example, Indiana parents must provide at least 180 days of instruction per year.
In some states, parents are not required to notify anyone if they intend to homeschool. In other states, more paperwork is required, including submitting standardized test results and letters of intent.
Confusing regulations, extra time commitment, and financial costs can deter many parents from considering homeschooling.
Adjustment period for parents and children
Teachers and staff receive training to create the right ecosystem for teaching in a normal school. A large amount of support is needed to enable proper mental and physical conditions for early education.
For parents, simulating the same environment at home can be a challenging learning curve. Additionally, homeschooling demands that parents teach a wider range of subjects, which may mean an extra time commitment outside of work and lessons.
Families must make many adjustments to homeschooling for it to bear fruit, from developing a workable schedule to finding the right teaching style. Creating a healthy learning environment takes time, patience and conscious effort to find the right balance for everyone.
Parents may find that balancing work and homeschooling commitments can take a toll on their relationship. Couples may not be able to recharge or spend time together. According to BMC Public Health Research, parents who homeschooled experienced significantly higher levels of psychological distress than those who did not. In the long term, parental stress can affect children’s emotional well-being.
Parents should take time to reconnect and engage in activities outside of the daily grind.
The bottom line
Homeschooling is gaining popularity, with many parents choosing to educate their children at home. There are many advantages to homeschooling, as well as downsides. Before making a decision, it is wise to discuss all the pros and cons as a family. Both parents and children must be aligned and committed before deciding whether homeschooling is the right choice for your family.