A HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE
While the research and answers tend to focus on the welfare of homeschooled children, there is another aspect to consider: cons for the homeschooling parent.
1. Homeschooling is isolating -- for the parent. Schools are great matrices for social involvement for adults: they give parents a common set of goals to work toward together: PTAs, carpools, sports teams, even birthday parties and just the joy of having children grow up together. Many adult relationships are built through these commonalities.
In contrast, homeschooling families are each individual; they vary radically in perspective and priorities. A few families live in areas with enough like-minded homeschoolers to substitute for these relationships through church involvement or cooperative schooling, but it is a challenge!
2. Homeschooling is an all-day, year-round commitment. There are no off hours. Some parents have a "breather" when the children are at school: they can exercise, run errands, get a haircut, go shopping, decorate, bake, make plans, read, grab coffee with a friend, or work a part-time job. Homeschooling parents have more than a full-time job.
3. Homeschooling provides no income. Parents often sacrifice standard of living, college savings, or retirement savings in order to educate their children. Some parents are also sacrificing a career, with whatever prestige, remuneration, and future employability that may imply.
4. Homeschooling is emotionally challenging. A homeschooling parent is deeply invested in all aspects of the children's education: intellectual, social, emotional, physical, etc. Add to this the fact that many homeschooled children are exceptional in some way (ADHD, Asperger's, highly gifted, Down's Syndrome, etc.) which makes traditional schools not as good a fit for them, and realize that a homeschooling parent has few mentors and almost no feedback except from the child: it is a difficult situation, full of self-doubt.
Let me re-emphasize: no one will come and tell a homeschooling parent, "You are doing a good job." And when a child has flaws, the parent cannot tell whether they are due to nature or nurture, and will often take the blame.
5. Homeschooling can be intellectually challenging. A homeschooling parent is teaching - or finding a class or tutor for - all school subjects. At the elementary levels, this is usually fine; but many homeschooling parents are not the best teachers of high school level subjects. If they do not get help, they may not be serving their children as well as they could.
[comment: it was interesting to read that 2% of USA children are homeschooled, but 7% of USA children with two college-educated parents are homeschooled. Perhaps college-educated parents have higher confidence about their ability to handle subjects.]
6. Homeschooling at the high school level can be expensive. Providing the tutors, lessons, or classes, lab equipment, transportation, etc. for a comprehensive college-preparatory education will cost quite a bit.
7. Homeschooling can be especially burdensome in times of death or severe illness or disability. What is the backup plan?WITCHI researched homeschooling for almost two years before bringing my children home to educate them. While conducting this "independent research" I searched repeatedly online, sent blanket e-mails and interviewed homeschoolers both in person and on the telephone. Fact is, I could not find one negative aspect at all. I spoke to several who "knew someone" who was homeschooled and it was a horrible experience to them...but not one person that I spoke to who is currently homeschooling or was homeschooled has a negative thing to say. The sloppily repeated horror stories were disregarded by me as none were told in first person. The research is profound. Homeschooled teens and adults are most often confident, responsible, independent people with no social or educational handicaps. The need to wear the current hip clothing, listen to pop music, act as if you are someone else and bully or be bullied is not missed from adult interactions. If you are having a difficult time, as I did, with finding negative aspects that are based on documented facts about homeschooling ...maybe that is simply because they are missing from the equation all together.
I am a homeschooling mom. I see a number of draw backs to homeschooling. Obviously I still believe there are benefits, or I would not be currently homeschooling....however, as this question pertains to, "Are there any negatives?" I will address what I see as difficulties.
I homeschooled my eldest daughter in kindergarten. She is extremely social, which I knew before the year began. It was very hard on her to not be in a classroom setting with many friends around. The next year we bought homeschool curiculum, and also enrolled her in the local school, for choir and PE (about a half hour each day) thinking that might be enough to get the benefits of both types of education. She, however, fussed even more because she wanted to stay with her friends all day. We gave in after 2 weeks, and put her in the school full time. She loved it. Her grades remained good, but I must say not as high as they had been during homeschooling. Still she was at the top of her class always. The next year she and her sister (in kindergarten) attended the same school. They both did well (honor students), and both enjoyed the socialization. This year we moved districts, and because of that we decided to homeschool them again. We have four girls, and thoguht that them spending more time together would be nice, and we would see more of them, and wouldn't be driving them back and forth to the same school....... So we went to homeschooling. We plan to move back to the same district in two years and didn't want to move schools....
The biggest negative has been the girl's view point and attitude. They will tell anyone that asks that no, they do not like homeschooling. They don't seem to value the fact that their education has academically improved. They desperately miss their friends. They fuss and even cry about doing assignments, when I know they never complained at all in school. I think it is difficult for them having mom and dad be the teacher, too. Of course there are things all of us do not enjoy in the schooling process, and for our family, what I have seen is the kids feel free to express this in a way that can be quite frustrating to me, as a mom.
Also, I have seen some kids who are homeschooled straight through who really are not good at being with a wide variety of personality types. Often they are not as confident and skilled at relating with adults, and peers. I think, unfortunately, the families who have chosen to homeschool entirely, do not see the difference, and sometimes the kids have to figure it out on their own once they are finally grown and independent. This is definitely not an insurmountable challenge, but one all the same.
It also can be exhausting to be a mom with kids constantly needing you. There is something nice about a few hours free during the day to do the things that need to be done, without interuptions.
Yes, there are good things about homeschooling.... lots of them.... but I must admit that every year I ponder whether I am willing to go through this yet again.
I have looked hard and found no good websites addressing drawbacks to homeschooling. This is curious since so many of the websites that promote homeschooling refer to and rebut -though rarely cite - a seemingly well-established group of critcs.
I am very supportive of homeschooling, though I do not believe, like Michelle, that homeschooling presents no significant disadvantages for children, families, schools, and communities. A website that explored both sides of the issue would indeed be helpful.
I too have done an extensive search looking for cons or drawbacks to homeschooling in order to make an educated, researched decision whether to homeschool. I would like to hear about parents who had a difficult time homeschooling or keeping their kids to grade level or who had trouble finding friends for their kids or whose kids were depressed and miserable from homeschooling, etc. Although I really feel in my heart that homeschooling would be a good thing for our family, surely there is another side to homeschooling-it can't be a wonderful thing for every family who has tried it can it? And though nobody seems to think "socialization" or lack of is a problem at all, surely there are some lonely homeschoolers out there! It seems like all the 'drawbacks' listed out there in cyberspace are written by people with no actual experience homeschooling themselves so they don't have much credit with me.Something oddLike the person who wrote the last answer, I've noticed that nearly all the websites listing disadvantages have been written by people who are in favour of homeschooling. They tend to have rather lurid, melodramatic titles like 'The Ugly Side of Homeschooling' and then go on to attack 'straw bogeys'. The conclusion is always that homeschooling is just fine.
So I'll try to be a little awkward, but I may not be able to cover more than a few obvious aspects just now.
1. How does one provide a good range of subjects for a homeschooled child, a real curriculum? How does one teach the kind of science subjects that require a reasonably well equipped and properly maintained laboratory?
2. How can one (or two) parents teach every from World History and Spanish to maths and physics? (Teaching reading and writing is usually easier).
3. The child is already used to learning from others members of the family. At various stages in their lives, he or she will have to learn the art of adapting to the teaching styles of others. Is this something developed at school?
4. What is the *real* cost of homeschooling, making proper allowance for earnings foregone by the parent(s)? This must be included in any rigorous costing.
5. If a parent gives up a job or a career in order to homeschool, may he or she later feel resentful?
6. On the issue of socialization, we all heartily dislike bullies, arrogant, self-important people (whether kids or adults), BUT we also need how to learn how to deal with them. We need to experience some of the rough and tumble of life; we need to be streetwise to the extent of learning how to spot trouble and avoid it before it hits us.
7. We need to have a feeling for the demands of really high achievement across a range of areas, for competing and so on.
I'd expect homeschooled kids to lead a sheltered life and not be very good at coping with the rougher side of everyday life ... I also wonder how they would handle people they disagree with, people with a fundamentally different outlook on key matters, or would they just avoid those who think differently?
Well, here's someone thousands of miles away, on a different continent, trying to provided some food for thought.
There something very strange, by the way. Thinking this through (to some extent, anyway) and typing it up took me less than one hour, which makes the absence of intelligent arguments against homeschooling on websites very odd.
My own experiences of school were extremely positive ... One of the best aspects of my secondary school, especially between ages 14-18 was being together with a group of exceptionally interesting, lively and intellectually stimulating peers. About 18% of the year group went on to prestigious universities (about half on scholarships).
Now, I know I've been provocative.
NOTE. I wasn't homeschooled and didn't homeschool my own children.
From a previous Homeschooler
I am a previous homeschooler and I can identify several negative aspects of homeschooling. Looking back on my homeschool years, I have now come to realize that I was depressed during the majority of it. I was homeschooled with two of my other sisters, and my older sister also suffered from depression. I never told anyone that anything was wrong growing up, because I didn't identify with people outside of my house well and just hid everything inside that I was feeling. I knew that how I was feeling was not right, yet just accepted it.
I remember being excited about homeschooling at the beginning of every year with the new books and everything, but gradually, life just became dull. I mean, lets face it, I got up, got ready, then studied every day. By the time I reached 3rd grade, I basically read the book then followed the directions. When I got to be in 6th and 7th grade, I was so depressed that I would just go into the basement and sleep.
Anyway, this is coming from a previous homeschooler and it is true. Homeschooling is not perfect. Just like any community that is in the minority, they will do anything to protect themselves, even lie. Don't let the utopian outlook of homeschooling fool you. For the social and extroverted child, homeschooling is awful.
I could go on. I guess I will. I have homeschool friends that suffer as well. They might not admit it, but I know they do. I will talk about one in particular. She came from a large family and was the oldest child. Instead of learning very much, she spent the majority of the day babysitting her brothers and sisters. I know there is value in these skills, yet it did not provide her with a bright outlook on her future. It was like she became a mother as soon as she was old enough to help out.
Even more so, I think it strains family relationships. You are with your brother's and sister's all day long and of course you will fight more than usual. You have no life outside of the house, nothing to look forward to other than TV and video games. Going to swim class twice a week is not nearly the same as being with friends all day.
Finally, I realize that what I lived for every day were the stories I invented in my mind. Since I had no life, I created a life in my mind. It is completely strange for me to not live there anymore, but I am gradually learning to tell people my problems and accept the love they give me. I used to be terrified of people, but not anymore. So, now if I have a bad day, I remember the life I used to live, and practically nothing seems bad compared to that. Even when life is terrible, it is so much better to actually be living it then not.
another note Just thought I'd add something to this. I went to school and not all public school situations are great either. I went to a small public school and was picked on. I didn't have many friends. Probably the best time I had was in the gifted program. I suffered from depression. The teachers were not the best and alot of times added to the problem. I left school right before I turned 16. I got my GED and went to college. I never regreted my decision. I think my situation in school led me to feel inferior of others and I had no self confidence. I don't necessarily think you cannot have a good life and live everyday to its fullest if you homeschool. I think it depends on the situation, the parents, and the children involved. Sometimes the grass on the other side is not always greener. Thanks, Amanda
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