If you are considering homeschooling, you are definitely not alone. Homeschooling is on the rise. In 1999, fewer than one million U.S. students were homeschooled, and in 2016 the number was still just over 1.5 million. No surprise, after 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the ranks of homeschool students have swelled to over 5 million. So perhaps you wonder if homeschooling really is good for students, and if bringing your kids home to learn is a good idea for your family.
“Is homeschooling better?” is a great question, though its answers may be more complex than you first think. Better than public or private school? This decision deserves thoughtful consideration, and we can help weigh out the case for each. The crucial question is, Is homeschooling better for your family, and why? By prayerfully looking at the pros and cons of homeschooling and answering some common concerns that parents have, you can come to a confident decision regarding homeschooling.
Benefits of Homeschooling
Let’s start with a look at the many pros of homeschooling your child. Many of the advantages revolve around freedom. As a homeschooler, the choices about when, where, what, and how you teach your child will be up to you rather than the school (or government). You will have lots of flexibility to customize learning to fit your student’s needs and schedule.
You will be able to create a schedule that suits your family’s needs and preferences. Start lessons early and finish early, or sleep in (after all, there’s no commute time to factor in). You’re free to spend more time on certain subjects. If your child needs more time to master a concept, or if you want to spend more time expanding on a subject of interest, you are not bound to a school’s timetable. Your student can also learn anywhere you want. A field trip or a road trip for sports games held in different areas is no problem when your lessons can travel with you.
Curriculum That Fits
Parents and students have discovered that there are different styles of learning, and homeschooling offers the freedom to present lessons that appeal to your student’s preferred learning style. You are no longer bound to a one-size-fits-all curriculum, and instead you can tailor lessons to enhance your student’s class time.
Choice of Homeschool Style
There is a wide range of homeschooling styles to choose from. Some you may have heard of (like traditional or Montessori) and some might be unfamiliar (like Charlotte Mason or eclectic). Again, you are free to explore and choose a curriculum that suits your family’s needs, as well as switch it up if you discover it’s not quite right.
Building Family Relationships
I love the idea that my child’s favorite memories of school days will revolve around family. A huge pro of homeschooling for parents is spending more time with your children. Seven to eight hours a day for 180 days of the year is a huge chunk of your child’s life miss out on. Class time would give you many opportunities to widen your child’s social interaction, but the core of you’re students learning time will involve you as the teacher or facilitator.
Teaching Family Values
The freedom to present academic subjects with a foundation that reflects your family values rather than attacking them is literally an answer to many parents’ prayers. BJU Press has made it its mission to offer homeschoolers a curriculum that guarantees academic excellence as well as a biblical worldview in every subject and every lesson. Whether your student is learning about science, history, literature—even math—all can reinforce family faith and values.
Reinforcing Biblical Foundations
The biblical values that your children have learned in your home and at church can be attacked by secular texts or teachers. You can choose a curriculum that helps you teach academic subjects and life skills. You will also have the chance to teach valuable biblical ideas like walking with God, developing integrity, resolving sibling rivalry, and more.
Homeschooling is especially good for students who enjoy learning and appreciate structure. Your child can progress at a pace that you can help them to determine. Even the best of students can be tempted to get off track or distract a sibling, which is where parents can help by setting schedules, expectations, and accountability. Overall, statistics compiled in 2021 indicate that homeschool students scored higher on standardized tests, the SAT and ACT tests, than public school students, and that a higher percentage graduate from college ,which brings me to my next pro..
Preparing for College & Career
Yes, your homeschool student can go to college. The success they have compared to public school counterparts continues in college. Colleges and universities are catching on and welcome homeschoolers and recruit them. Harvard University researchers recently published their findings about homeschoolers and revealed that they “generally develop into well-adjusted, responsible, and socially engaged young adults.” At the same time, they discovered that homeschoolers are less likely to attend college than public school peers and instead are pursuing non-college career avenues. Whichever path your student chooses, homeschooling can prepare them for life after high school.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
So is there a downside to homeschooling? For sure. It is absolutely a blessing and the 100 percent best choice for some families, but not for all of them. You certainly want to make this decision with eyes wide open to the commitment your entire family will be making. If you were making a “Pro & Con” list, here are some disadvantages you might include.
Acclimating to the Homeschooling Lifestyle
Homeschooling will change everyone’s schedule and daily routine. Where students once left the home for hours each weekday to learn, they’ll be home more often; one or both parents become teachers/facilitators, administrators, activity coordinators, and more. For some families, this may be too much family togetherness. You’ll have to decide if this is a lifestyle that fits the personalities in your home.
Time and Financial Concerns
Chores, appointments, errands, and household routines will have to be scheduled around lessons and study time. Maybe one parent will stay home full-time to teach, resulting in a loss of income. Obviously, the challenge for a single parent is even greater. Careful time-management and budgeting skills will be needed if your family chooses homeschooling.
Transitioning to Homeschooling
When and how will you make the switch? If you decide that homeschooling is the right choice for your family, you will have a lot of information to process in order to withdraw your child from public school and get ready to begin homeschooling. Fortunately, you can find resources and homeschooling help from people in your church or community who have already traveled this road, as well as from homeschooling groups and curriculum publishers like BJU Press.
Other Homeschooling Concerns
Finally, here are some items that are not necessarily pros or cons. They are realities of the homeschooling world that you must take into consideration as you decide what’s best for your family.
The Cost of Homeschooling
You can’t ignore this one. Millions of families have decided that the value of a homeschooling education is well worth the cost. Still, you will need to figure out how much it will cost when you include curriculum, school supplies (including technology like computer or tablet), field trips, etc., if you choose homeschooling.
I’m willing to include this as a concern simply because it has long been a supposition that homeschoolers are somehow isolated or overprotected from other people. Your homeschooled student will most likely be around fewer people their own age each day, and many parents consider that a positive factor because of the bullying and safety threats currently present in schools. Homeschooling socialization will happen, but it will be different. Homeschoolers can interact frequently in homeschool co-op groups made up of children of different ages. Plus, they are often in situations where they have conversations with adults during field trips and volunteering/service projects—and this helps to develop valuable life skills.
A Partner in Education
All in one curriculum options like flexible online homeschooling from BJU Press will help take the pressure off homeschoolers to create and teach every subject with excellence. Video courses feature expert teachers and give parents the role of homeschool administrator/supporter rather than primary teacher. Homeschooling will always take work and planning to be effective, but a partner in education can be a key to success.
How Do You Decide?
How do you decide if homeschooling is the best choice for your family? In recent years, many families began homeschooling out of necessity or crisis as schools shut down. Polling indicates many parents are choosing to homeschool out of fears regarding public school safety. These are valid concerns. But Paul reminded believers in 2 Timothy, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). When your family makes any decision, the best ones are made not out of fear, but with wisdom and faith.
While I was researching material to write this post, hurricane Ian was approaching my low country South Carolina home. My family has seen many hurricane seasons over decades near the coast, and come June of each year, we have a hurricane kit and a plan in place. We know it would be foolish to make a spur-of-the-moment choice, whether to evacuate or shelter in place just as the crazy winds and rain reach our homes. The key to making our decision is prayer (of course) and well thought out preparation.
Your choice to homeschool is a big decision, and it can certainly be life changing for your whole family. The choice basically guarantees hard work, but also blessings, for years to come. As you research and seek God’s wisdom, you will be doing the essential work for a decision that will bring you peace and purpose.
• • • • •Mabe is a retired homeschooler and high school language arts and technology teacher. Her favorite subjects are Bible and literature. After over twenty years in education, she hopes to adventure with her husband to as many of South Carolina’s waterfalls as possible.