It’s Kyla from Little Footsteps Big Learning, and today I will be discussing the pros and cons of homeschooling. Before we get to this, I thought I’d give a little background on myself. I’m a mom to three boys, age 6, 5 and 2, and I’m currently homeschooling them.
I studied elementary education, and after that, I had several years of experience teaching in a variety of situations, including working at an elementary school, working with special needs kids, and teaching preschool. Preschool is kind of my main area of focus that I spent the most time in and love the most, and now I teach homeschool. My oldest son went to kindergarten in public school, and then first grade we started him in homeschool. So we’ve had a little bit of both, me from the teaching side, and him from the student side, and me also from the parent side.
This blog post was originally published as a video.
The Pros of Homeschooling
1) Being Involved With Your Kids
The top reason for me is being involved with your kids. Obviously, with homeschooling, you’re going to have them at home more, and you’re going to be more involved in their education and what they’re learning. You have a little more control over what they’re learning and just knowledge about what’s going on in the school day. I’ve appreciated being able to discuss things at the dinner table to reinforce what they’re learning. When Dad comes home, we have dinner together. I can prompt the kids to tell him about their day, and if they just say, “Uh, I don’t remember,” I remember what they learned, and I can prompt them in that.
2) Control Over Your Schedule
You get to choose their schedule if you homeschool, customize your schedule, and make it work for you. There’s a lot of flexibility in that.
3) Not Confined
With public school, you have a start time for school and an end time for school. You might have a bus coming and picking up and dropping off your child at a certain time that you need to be at the bus stop, and your whole life runs around that schedule and being there.
With homeschool, that’s usually not the case. You may have your child signed up for certain classes or activities that happen at certain times, but usually the schedule is pretty flexible.
3) Lots of Options
When I first started looking into homeschool, I didn’t realize how many options there were. I kind of thought the options were you homeschool, or you do public school or there’s other private schools and whatnot, but it’s mostly a classroom setting or a homeschool setting. And as I started looking into homeschool, I realized there are a lot of different options.
There are some state funded homeschooling programs that you can use their curriculum and teach them at home. There are online public school options, which is kind of public school, but it’s also kind of homeschool. It’s a little mix in between. You can also just buy your own curriculum, find your own curriculum that you love, and do your own thing. Lots of different options to choose from.
4) Snow Days & Sick Days
If your child is sick or if there’s too much snow outside that a public school would call a snow day, that’s not something you have to worry about really at home. You don’t have to worry about driving on the roads to get someplace because you’re already at home where you’re going to have school, and you can still do school like normal.
On sick days, those are a little more flexible depending on how sick your kid is, but you can still squeeze school in. You’re at home; maybe taking things a little bit slower, but you don’t have to worry about your kid going to school and getting other kids sick.
Instead of having snow days or sick days, where your kid is not going to school, something that’s really nice with homeschool is being able to do things like sunny days that instead of taking the day off of school when there’s snow outside, I would much rather take the day off of school when there’s sun outside, when there’s really nice weather and say, “You know what? Today we’re going take a break. We’re not going to have school today. We’re going to get outside and do something outside because the weather is so nice.”
5) Opportunities & Flexibility
I have chosen to have my kids involved in a nursing home. We get together with a group of other homeschoolers, and we go to a nursing home. We sing songs to them, and what a great way to get out and serve and to have them involved in that. We have a lot more flexibility of our time because we homeschool, to be able to pick a time that works for us, and that ends up being part of our school day once a month.
Another thing is swimming lessons. Since we’re home during the day, our hours are more flexible, and swimming lessons can be at an earlier time instead of just needing to cram everything into those after school hours. That was something that was a really hard thing for me when my son was in all day long kindergarten. He would be gone majority of the day, and then when he got home, it was rush, rush, rush from one thing to the next. If you wanted to do any extracurricular activities, it needed to happen during those times after school, between after school and bedtime, and that can make your family time really stressful. With homeschool, you have a little more flexibility in your schedule to choose to have swimming lessons earlier in the day, or some sort of extracurricular activity where it’s not taking away much family time in order to do those things.
6) Kids Learn From Each Other
At school, obviously at a public school setting or a classroom setting, but also at home, it’s really neat to see how my 2-year old picks up on the things that my 6-year old and 5-year old are learning. We’ll do calendar time right here in this space, and I involve our 2-year old. It’s really neat to hear him chanting what different letters of the alphabet and see him mimic what his older brothers are doing. Even though he’s 2 and I’m not doing any formal schooling with him, he’s learning. By time he gets to be the age of doing a little more formal schooling, I hope that he already has ingrained in him a little bit more of the schedule of things.
The Cons of Homeschooling
1) Not Feeling Prepared
The number one con that I hear people talk about when they are considering homeschool is not knowing how to start, or if they are ready.
“How am I going to know where my child needs to be at?”
“How am I going to know if I’m teaching them the right things?”
“If there are any gaps in their learning, am I leaving anything behind? How am I going to know that?”
There are definitely resources that can help you with that, but that’s definitely a con of homeschooling versus not homeschooling. It’s your responsibility to make sure they’re learning what they’re supposed to be learning.
2) The Schedule
We talked about customizing your schedule as a pro, but there’s also a con to that because you have to choose your schedule. You have to figure out what you’re doing and what’s going to work best for your family. It’s not already built in; it’s something that you have to do.
Also with that is the flexibility. I talked about that being a huge pro, but it can also be a con because, depending on your kid’s personality, too much flexibility could lead to laziness, to not getting the things done that you’re supposed to. What’s your personality like? Is flexibility going to help your kids stay on top of things, or is it going to be more damaging for you and your kids?
3) Being With Your Kids All the Time
I talked about you getting to spend a lot of time with your kids and how great that is, but that can also be a con because there are a lot of things that needs to be done in life. And doing homeschooling, I have constant responsibility over my kids, and that is great. I love spending time with them, and I love teaching them. However, it does make it a little bit difficult to schedule doctor appointments, to have just me time, getting home projects done, those other things that need to be done can be a little more tricky when your kids are with you all the time.
4) All the Options
I talked about how many options there are with homeschool and choosing different options, and that is really great if you know what you want and customizing that to your child. That can also be overwhelming because there’s too many options, and it’s so hard to know how to choose.
5) Limited Access to Teachers & Specialists
Wen you’re doing homeschooling versus something like public schooling, you do not have the access to lots of teachers and specialists that can help you out. For example, if your child has speech delays or another disability that you might not detect but a specialist at a school could detect, not only are they there to help hone in on those things, but then you also have the resources for those. And not just for things like special needs, but also having all of the classes like art and music and gym. You have teachers who have gone to school for that specific area, and they know that so well. And if you’re doing homeschool, you don’t have access to those right at your fingertips like you normally would with something like public school.
6) A Sense of Community
Something that I really loved about sending my kid to kindergarten in public school was this built-in sense of community. My child already has kids in his class that he’s getting to know, kids that he’s friends with. There are events that happen at the school. There’s the wonderful PTA that puts on events like the science fair project or talent shows or cultural events, just lots of different activities like that that are already built in.
You already have that community, and with homeschool, if you’re wanting a community like that, it’s something that you need to seek out, which is great because you can customize and know what you’re getting into and not just, “This is what’s given to me.” But you have to go to the work to go out and find it, and that can be a little bit of a challenge. There are lots of online groups that you can find in areas, but it is definitely something that you have to dig out and you have to find.
About the Author
Kyla Shurtz is a mom of 3 boys (ages 6, 5 and 2) with a baby girl on the way! She studied Elementary Education in college, taught 8 years in a variety of school settings, including public school, working with special needs children and teaching preschool. Kyla now homeschools her own children and is enjoying the adventure! She has been married to her wonderful husband for 9 years, she enjoys photography and loves the outdoors-especially hiking, camping and family bike rides. Kyla has a love of learning and a love of teaching. She is passionate about bringing encouragement and sparking ideas for other moms and teachers.