Should You Homeschool Your Child?
It’s a daunting task for parents to take their children’s education into their own hands. But more and more people are doing it: about 2 million students in North America are homeschooled, and that’s only counting those whose parents have registered their kids with school boards. The real number could be a lot bigger. But what makes parents decide to homeschool their children?
The reasons vary from the practical, such as the lengthy trip to school and the constant threat of teacher strikes, to situation-specific, as is the case with children who show promise in art, sports, or other areas outside the curriculum. Some parents simply enjoy the experience and want to monitor their child’s progress with things other than grades. There’s no universal rule as to whether or not a child should be homeschooled–it’s a decision that should take into account several factors, including the child’s learning style, the parents’ commitment, and the many implications it can have for the child’s future.
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you have the time and energy for homeschooling. It takes more than a couple of hours of spelling and math on the kitchen table; you need to follow a curriculum, prepare lessons, give and grade assignments. You should also be careful not to take the ‘home’ in homeschooling too seriously: a child needs to get out of the home and learn from things other than schoolbooks. Trips to the park, museums, and local libraries are essential to rounding out a homeschool program.
Next, make sure you can afford it–you may not have to pay tuition or buy as many school supplies, but it’s a given that at least one parent will have to commit to the task full-time. If you’ve lived with two incomes for a while, this may take some getting used to. Compare the annual costs of sending a child to school to the income you’ll be giving up if you decide to go this route.
The most important factor, of course, is whether your child is ready for it. Some children simply thrive better with parents as teachers, but others will feel they are missing out on things like making friends, learning from a variety of mentors, and getting to know other people. It’s often a good practice to take it one year or one semester at a time, and leave a door open so that your child can go back to traditional schooling any time they want.