Homeschooling is an incredible way to enable your child to have a thirst for learning but making the decision can be hard. If you are reading this you probably know you really want to but something may be holding you back. What you have to remember from the start is that everyone who homeschools has a different way of doing it, there is no right way, only the way that works best for you and your child. I will attempt to look at some of the pros and cons but there are probably many more!
- You can work to your own schedule. This may look like getting up later or formal learning in the morning or it may look like no schedule at all depending on what style or ethos of homeschooling you take on (see a previous blog to look at the different styles in more detail). This is particularly useful if you work from home as homeschooling can be flexible to fit in with your work. Many people forget that there are 7 days in a week and homeschooling doesn’t have to fit into a 9am-3pm routine.
- If you chose to do any kind of formal learning you will have a lot more free time as when your formal learning is happening it is on a 1:1 basis and it is much quicker. Imagine your child is in a class of 30 children and the lesson is an hour long, each child may only get 2 minutes of adult time spent focused on them. Most of the time, it is far less than this as the teacher is focused on working with one particular group or other. So you may only need to do 10 minutes of each area/topic a day or 10 minutes in total depending on their age and remembering that the general rule of thumb is that children can only concentrate for as many minutes as they are old in age. You can also be flexible and if your child is whizzing through what they are doing you may only spend 2 minutes. You can take breaks in what you are doing and come back to it, slowing things down if they are not getting the concept and you can recap things throughout the day instead of condensing something into one session.
- Your child can pursue learning that they are interested in, for example a particular sport, subject or theme. You can easily cover curriculum objectives through themes of learning. For example you could use Minecraft to create stories, historical setting and practise mathematics.
- Children are no longer compared to one another, they become motivated by their own goals and aspirations. This is really great if your child has additional needs or anxiety around being perfect and not making mistakes.
- You don’t have to worry about all the school pick ups and drop offs, that crazy stress of rushing to get everyone ready, forcing breakfast down their throats and panicking about where to park!
- When they are ill, you need not think about whether they are well enough to go to school, you can just relax, nurture and comfort your child.
- There are no rules to adhere to, newsletters to keep up to date with and constant things you have to buy.
- Your child can learn wherever they are, they are not tied to sitting at a table surrounded by children distracting them or being made to sit next to someone they don’t want to and they are not made to sit at a table that shows the rest of the class their ability in each subject!
- You don’t have to deal with homework, forcing your child to do extra work to be able to pass the weekly spelling or tables test.
- You can customise your child’s learning to meet their needs and passions. This is what schools would like to be able to do but can’t with a class of 30 children.
- You have much more time to be able to discuss things, work through their misconceptions, talk about big feelings and explore world issues.
- When you meet other homeschoolers your children will be socialising with children of all ages and as a result they often feel more comfortable talking and relating to adults. There is not so much peer pressure as everyone is generally accepted as who they are.
Homeschooling is definitely not the easy option and so here are a few of the things I found hard when I first started.
- Initially I found it really hard to deal with other peoples feelings about us homeschooling, annoyingly everyone used to say that I would be okay because I had a teaching background but this was not true! I made some huge mistakes by trying to replicate school at home. I have learnt that other peoples thoughts are theirs to think, now I don’t let them bother me, I can see that what I am offering the children is so much more than they would get in school. This is easier said than done particularly if it is your partner with these big feelings…
- Your children are around 24/7. I love being with my children but after a while you recognise that you need space from them to be your best you. Something I didn’t think about to start with. It is fine, you just need to work out how you can get some time out on your own, either going out or creating a space in the house that is yours and you can retreat to and focus on your own interests. This is a really good thing to model to children anyway.
- Your child’s journey is not linear and you need to be able to adapt to their changes, their needs and their passions in order to show that they are listened to and you care about what they love. The more you listen to them while they are younger the more they will trust you to tell you big stuff when they are older.
- The bottom line is that you’ll need to invest time and energy into homeschooling. It’s a big responsibility. But when I look back at all the memories we have created by learning together and the experiences we’ve had, it’s so very worth it!
- The amount of research I have done into different methods and learning in general is way more than I ever did in my 20 year career in education, be prepared to do your research, work things out for you and your family and don’t just follow what other people are doing, the journey is like a river with many different bends and researching as you go can help you grow alongside your children.
- Finally, financially it was really hard going from two salaries to just one but at the same time it has been a really useful exercise. It made us more appreciative of what we do have and more creative with how we use money or make money, another great learning experience for the children to be part of.
I would say if you are choosing to homeschool to protect your children from outside influences then don’t, this is not going to help them get on in the world, as independent beings. Homeschoolers in general are more about exposing their children to the world, modelling how to respond and be with the world. Allowing them to explore but being right there for them to ask those questions and potentially make wrong decisions but know that is ok and that we are all learning.
If you are worried about homeschooling because you are not a qualified teacher, read my blog, Can Anyone Home Educate Their Child. Honestly, it is true! Teachers deliver lessons from an archaic curriculum that dates back to Victorian times, it hasn’t changes much since then. Reality is that they spend most of their time crowd managing and fire fighting. Or, if you are thinking it will be too hard because your children are different ages, it really is fine, you work out how to juggle things or to spend time with one while the other is busy. One of the great things about homeschooling is that if children find their passion they become pretty good at being self directed with their learning, a great life skill.
Depending where you are in the world or the country you may have to produce some evidence of what your child has done and possibly against a curriculum or set of objectives. You may have a system in mind but Collage app has been designed to record learning in all areas. You can upload learning as you go and create a report to share with your Home Education Officer OR you can keep the learning stored for your child to see what they did while they were homeschooled. I print mine termly and share it with the children, we like to think about things we have enjoyed and things we would like to explore, it helps me think about resources and experience planning. The thing they like most is being able to put it in their treasure chest as a memory of what they did.
I bet when you sit down later with a cup of tea and reflect on all your reading there are more pros than cons! Whatever you decide, keep your children at the heart of what you do.
Top tips if you are new to homeschooling