As the new school year begins in the ongoing pandemic, the experience of going to school has changed from the way that we all experienced it growing up. In fact, the school experience was different well before the pandemic affected the world as we knew it. With the advances and proliferation of technology, the increasing class sizes, the budget cuts, the emphasis on standardized testing, the shrinking access to arts and music programs, the advent of social media going to school is a completely different environment for kids today. This has led to many parents re-thinking how their children learn and receive an education. Homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular option. In 2019, approximately 4% of children in the US, and 2% of children in Canada were home-schooled (https://redtri.com/why-homeschooling-in-the-digital-age-makes-more-sense/ and www.ontariohomeschool.org). Like anything there are advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling, yet before I discuss that let me define what homeschooling is as there is some confusion with the various schooling options now available due to the pandemic.
Homeschooling is defined as: home-based education of students that is created and delivered by the students’ parents without any support from teachers or the education system. This is different than the at-home online learning option offered by many school districts due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Parents often make the decision to home-school their children because the experience the public school system affords their children has been less than ideal. Often, children have been bullied, or have anxiety in the classroom, others are not receiving the support they need in a traditional classroom due to overcrowding and a lack of resources, and still others are home-schooled because they are involved in activities outside of school that require them to travel or train daily (elite athletes, actors/performers).
The advantages of home schooling are that parents have control over teaching and learning styles, it is often student-lead, meaning learning is focused on what interests their child. There is flexibility in how the days are structured. Home-schooled children learn at their own pace based of their abilities. There is a closer bond formed with the family/parents due to the increased time spent with the child. Studies have shown that children who are home-schooled have more confidence and are more successful academically than their peers in traditional schools. Home-schooled children also face less peer pressure and peer influence which results in less social-behavioural adaptations that may seem undesirable to their parents.
Some disadvantages to consider when making the decision to switch to homeschooling. The main one is a loss of income for the parent who will be staying home to home school. There is a cost involved in obtaining teaching materials necessary. There may be a higher level of stress for the homeschooling parent who is taking on both teacher and administrator duties on top of regular parental duties. More energy and effort is needed to ensure adequate socialization of home-schooled children including participation in sports teams.
If you are considering making the switch there are great resources available online that can help answer your questions and concerns as well as guide you through the homeschooling process. One such site is The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents’ website: https://ontariohomeschool.org/ . Whichever method of education you choose for your child, don’t forget to discuss all the options, pros and cons with your child. It is their education and when they feel part of the decision-making process they will be more receptive to learning whichever method of education is agreed upon.