Critics of homeschooling argue that schools provide important socialization skills to help children succeed as adults. Says middle school teacher Mr. Franklin “School prepares children to thrive in the workplace as adults. They have to be to school at a certain time. They have assignments and projects with due dates, and have to learn to budget their time. They have to learn to deal effectively with many kinds of people, both peers and authoritarian figures, including getting along with people they don’t like. All of those skills are needed to thrive in most jobs.”
Critics also point out that teachers are trained on the most effective teaching methods, making them better equipped to teach concepts. Says Jason Amaden “I don’t buy that argument because in school children pass subjects with a C, meaning the kids only understand about 70% of the material. My kids have to do it over and over until they get it 100% right.” See also our article about spelling mistakes.
Another con argument about homeschooling is that in higher grade levels, teachers are experts that can provide more depth of knowledge than an average parent can. Mr. Franklin also adds that teachers are sometimes important inspirational figures that help shape the direction kids decide to take their lives. “For example, a good science teacher can inspire a student to become a scientist. A parent teaching science at home may not garner the same inspiration.”
How does a parent decide if homeschooling is right for their children? Most parents I talked to wouldn’t even consider homeschooling, feeling that they were not properly equipped to take on the role of educator. Homeschooling is certainly a tremendous commitment of time and energy, and most dual income families I talked to said they simply did not have the time to devote to homeschooling.
But if you are lucky enough to have the time, patience, and talents to take on the role of educator, should you? It really depends on your child’s personality. Some children thrive in an environment where they get more individual adult attention, making them good homeschool candidates. Others thrive when they have more contact with other kids, making them more suited for traditional school. Says Karen Arnold “The hardest thing for our children was the lack of peers their own age. Our kids enjoyed the traveling, but were happy to get back to school and friends again.”
Some kids thrive at home because they can spend more time studying subjects they enjoy than they get to in a traditional classroom, making the overall educational experience more enjoyable for them. “I’ve supplemented Matthew’s curriculum with additional courses, like Latin and logic, that I knew he would enjoy” says Karen Johnston.
Some kids need a regimented structure to flourish, and traditional school tends to provide a better structure than homeschooling does. And, finally, some kids also do well when they have reinforcement from more adults and/or peers. Says Karen Johnston “The biggest con for me is that, while I have no problem getting Matthew to do the work in subjects he likes, I have a very hard time getting him to work on the subjects he does not enjoy. I think if there was competition with other kids, or there was a teacher threatening disciplinary action, he’d be more willing to do the work.”