Should I homeschool my child(ren)?

The pros and cons of educating your children at home…

You may have had a taste of homeschooling during the lockdown and firmly made up your mind one way or another, but there is plenty to consider if you are weighing up the options. Ultimately, it will depend on your unique family situation and finances.

Pros of homeschooling

Your child(ren) can learn at their own pace. Most people learn most effectively when they are learning about things they are interested in and going at the right speed rather than at the general pace of the class, which can be overwhelming or restrictive. They may also feel more confident about asking questions in a family environment than in front of a large class.

You’ll have more time for fun. One-to-one (or to however many kids you have) is so effective you’ll get everything done in a much shorter time span. You could choose to teach only in the mornings and have afternoons for sport/craft/music/reading/adventure, or vice versa. You can meet up with other homeschool families for social activities or share homeschooling duties.

There are no schools runs when you’re doing it at home. This means you can create a routine that works for your family and avoid sitting in queues or getting soaked at daily drop-off and pickup times. You could introduce later wake-ups for older children, which may help to keep stroppy teenage behaviour at bay!

You can take holidays whenever is most convenient for your family. This may mean cheaper, quieter breaks and less strife over booking holidays from work. You can also take impromptu breaks or extend holidays if the sun is shining and you’re having a wonderful time.

Your kids won’t have to take endless tests and exams. You can choose to put your children in for GCSEs and A levels when the time comes, but they won’t have to sit countless other school exams. You could even home-educate to a certain age and then (re)introduce your child to the school environment later on if you wish to do so.

You won’t have to teach your kids anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Of course, it makes sense to cover a broad range of topics and to keep an open debate about anything and everything they raise with you. However, you will have more control over what and how they are taught.

Cons of homeschooling

You may have to quit your job. One parent usually has to give up full-time employment to take on homeschooling duties, or both parents may choose to work part time and share the duties. This may effectively cut your family’s earnings in half, so it’s worth working out the finances before taking the plunge. Remember that you’re not just planning lessons and teaching, but you will also need to manage field trips, social activities and leisure time.

The resources can be costly. While there are plenty of online resources available, you will have to pay for items such as teaching tools, textbooks, stationary and potentially some subscription services. Broadband will be an absolute must, and you’ll need to foot the bills for things like national exams and swimming lessons. You may save money in other areas, such as on travel to school and uniforms, however homeschooling is likely to be more costly than mainstream schooling, and you won’t have all the same facilities at home (for example science labs).

There may be limited socialising opportunities. Kids who go to school are around their peers all day long, while you will have to make a special effort to make sure your children spend time with kids their own age in order to develop good social skills and form strong friendships.

Kids have no means of comparison. If children are not learning alongside their peers they have no idea how well they are doing comparatively, which may not be helpful in terms of their motivation and confidence levels. They may also struggle with exams if they are not used to working in such a formal environment.

Patience levels may quickly run out! It may be that your child doesn’t learn as quickly as you expected, or you may find it a challenge to keep them several children motivated and prevent arguments. It can be difficult to balance the role of teacher and parent, both for you and for the kids. Patience levels can quickly become frayed, and if you lose control of the classroom you may have trouble regaining it. This may also have repercussions when it comes to spending normal family time together.

Spend plenty of time in prayer before you make a decision either way, and make sure you have plenty of support in place if you do decide to teach your children at home.