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What are the pros and cons of home schooling?

At Simply Learning Tuition, we are often asked by parents, ‘is home schooling better than traditional schooling?’. In this analysis we break down the pros and cons of home schooling to help decide if it could be a better option than classroom based learning for your family.

There are many things to consider with home schooling, not least of which is cost and the availability of funding. Parents in different countries need to respect the legalities of home schooling in their country and also consider how they will implement an effective home school programme. As you will see from the table below there are many pros and cons of home schooling; we have tried to discuss each of them in a way that will help you make the right choice.

SLT’s founder Nathaniel McCullagh was a home school tutor for several years. In a recent television interview Nathaniel shared his views on the pros and cons of home schooling.  Our overall advice, based on working with hundreds of home school families is that Home Schooling can be a great option for some children and some families, but not all. It has to be done carefully to be effective. Executed poorly, it can be a disaster for all involved.

The top five differences between classroom learning and home schooling

1. Home schooling gives you the freedom to teach what you like
2. Home schooled children do not have to attend a school classroom setting
3. Home schooling facilitates one to one (or small group) teaching
4. Home schooling parents get to teach their own children
5. Home schooling offers lifestyle flexibility

  1. Home schooling gives you the freedom to teach what you like

Pros:
Not having to follow a curriculum allows you and your child to pick and choose the subjects they are most interested in. Spending time on subjects a child enjoys and is naturally drawn to can be a great way to build confidence to help them tackle other subjects they find more challenging. Additionally, you can choose the methodology from which you teach (Montessori, Waldorf, classical etc.), allowing you to instil your own values and to have control over the entire direction of your child’s education. You can also take exams at whatever age you like – there are no hard and fast rules.

Cons:
Freedom comes with great responsibility. Parents must be sure that they are teaching a sufficient range of subjects to prepare their child for life, not a life planned out by the parent, but one with sufficient breadth to give the child the tools they need to succeed, in whatever field they are interested in.

In reality many parents are extremely grateful for the UK National Curriculum,  the curriculums produced by home school organisations or other home schooling resources. With care, they can tailor each programme to one that they think will prepare their child most effectively for the future they want. Even if a child misses a few subjects from their school years, provided they have instilled in them a genuine love of learning (which may come more naturally to some children in a home school setting), they will be able to catch up.

  1. Home schooled children do not have to attend a school classroom setting

Pros:
The benefits of home schooling are particularly clear for children who aren’t flourishing in a school environment. This may be due to a range of reasons, such as social or emotional difficulties that aren’t being supported. Many children take a period of home schooling to help catch up from absence caused by illness or anxiety. For children who are particularly talented at sports or music, home schooling also allows them the ability to focus on these competitively, while still completing their education, whether this is at home or whilst travelling.

Cons:
In addition to the fact that you have to buy all of your own resources, parents have to cultivate a social and activity programme for their home schooled child. This is surprisingly easy and there are many home school groups to help with this. Of more concern perhaps is the fact that home schooled children missing out on the training to be competitive within a classroom setting, to fight their corner, raise their hand when it may be hard to. A great deal is learnt by brushing up against peers.

  1. Home schooling facilitates one to one (or small group) teaching

Pros:
The benefits of individual attention are hard to overstate. The ability to teach at the child’s pace and in a way that compliments their learning style (visual, auditory etc.) are invaluable.

Cons:
There are very few from an academic perspective, except to point out that a level of dependency can form when a child has undivided attention.

  1. Home schooling parents get to teach their own children

Pros:
Many parents choose to home school because they want to spend more time with their children. Closeness to your child can help develop a better social life with them and in many ways a better co-curricular life. As a parent you can dedicate time developing skills such as sports, or acting, or community involvement that would otherwise be compressed into the weekends.

Cons:
Many would argue that many parents are not the best teachers! Parenting skills are not the same as teaching skills. Are you honestly able to teach a broad range of subjects, such as classical Literature and Physics to an equally high level? What value do you place on your own time? Would it be better for your family if you went out to work and have a tutor, or a school to educate your child? The sheer amount of time that goes into sourcing teaching materials and planning lesson represents a major lifestyle change for home schooling parents. As well as a fun and engaging teacher, are you also a brilliant administrator who can organise all of your child’s examinations?

  1. Home schooling offers lifestyle flexibility

Pros:
Without the need to adhere to school terms or hours, families are free to travel as and when they like. This can be hugely beneficial in terms of being able to spend more quality time together, or perhaps to build a nomadic lifestyle around your child’s education – even choosing travel destinations based on their educational benefit. Provided you have the necessary resources, which include a good internet connection, text books, dedicated room, if possible you can teach almost anywhere.

Cons:
We can’t see any!

Does Home schooling give better results?

Proponents of home schooling often quote research that suggests that home schooled children tend to become more successful in life (if one considers income as representative of success). One study also showed that adults who were home schooled are more content with their lives and see the world in a more positively. Doctors in the USA – where home schooling is a lot more common than in the UK – recommend that parents make special arrangements to involve their children in social activities outside of the home. A lack of socialisation can inhibit the development of certain emotional and social skills, so we always advise parents to include even small group activities in their child’s timetable when possible, for example a sport or art club.

Home schooling with SLT

SLT has a range of home schooling packages where a tutor, or team of private tutors is introduced to your family to do all of the teaching. This can be tailored to your family’s precise needs. We have more than a decade’s experience of creating effective programmes, either online or in person teaching, all over the world. We take care of all the details, including tutor selection and management, exam entrance and support for the next steps.

You may also find it helpful to read some of our home schooling case studies, to see how other families have used tutors to make the process seamless and efficient.

If you would like to discuss your family’s home schooling requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.