When considering whether to begin home schooling your elementary or middle school age child, it's a good idea to make a list of the pros and cons. If you don't know much about home schooling, this might require research - reading some books, talking with experienced home school parents, reading articles on line or whatever information sources you find available.
The following is a list of some of the factors that our family considered many years ago when making the decision to home school.
I can set my own schedule. The children won't have to get up before dark and go out on cold, rainy days.
My children will have time to play and use their imaginations. They will not spend half their day standing in line for lunch or to use the rest room or waiting their turn for anything. They can progress at their own pace and not be held back until the rest of the class is ready to move on. If they finish their assignment early, they do not have to wait for the bell to ring before they can go to the next subject. By working at their own pace, they can complete their school work sooner and have more time to pursue hobbies, interests, chores or play.
We can take advantage of community and home school activities during the day. The local parks, tennis courts and McDonald's play land will not be overrun with children or teenagers during the school year. The children can participate in activities that would not be available to them if they were in school. They won't have to spend the whole day in school and then spend the evening doing homework. Doctor or dentist appointments can be in the morning or early afternoon.
I can choose the kind of people I want my children to be around. My children won't be coming home using language that would make a sailor blush. They will not be subjected to excessive amounts of peer pressure. They will not be intimidated or victimized by students or by teachers who abuse their authority.
I can teach my children the values and religious beliefs that our family upholds. No liberal or atheist teacher will undermine the values I strive to instill. My children will not be taught that homosexuality is normal or that having sex before marriage is okay. They will not be offered birth control or abortions behind my back. My children will not be targeted by angry or troubled class mates bringing weapons to school. My children will be less likely to be offered drugs or confronted with making choices they aren't mature enough to make.
We can approach education from creative angles, and not just keep our noses in a book all the time. We can do oral lessons, reviews, tests, hands-on activities, educational computer programs, educational CDs/DVDs and any method that will make learning more fun and interesting. We can design lessons geared toward our individual children's learning styles and not just a cookie cutter/one size fits all approach. Our children will not be lost in the crowd and expected to conform. They will see themselves as unique individuals with special talents and gifts.
I can't put my kids on the yellow school bus and crawl back into bed when I don't feel well. I don't have much time to myself. The children's playful noise or arguing gets on my nerves. In the winter, I can't send them outside or to the gym every day. The local community and home school groups don't offer enough winter activities. I have to take the children with me everywhere I go. This can get really old.
The children aren't always as cooperative and enthusiastic about their school work as I wish they would be. Sometimes, I worry if I'm doing a good enough job teaching the children. If I want them tested, I have to pay out of pocket. My tax paying dollars don't cover testing as it would if they were in public school. Although I pay taxes just like everyone else, I am discriminated against when it comes to using the resources and facilities of local schools.
Many people don't understand or agree with my choice to home school. I must learn that I don't have to convince them or prove anything to them. This is a choice my husband and I have made, because we feel it is best for our family. To get the encouragement I need, I must spend time with supportive friends, family, and other home school families.
*In addition to considering the pros and cons, it is a good idea to actually attempt to home school your child, perhaps for a few weeks over summer break. You child will probably protest this, but, if you decide not to home school in the Fall, your child will have had a good review in preparation for the new school year. If you choose to home school, the days you completed will count toward your state's required days for the school year, so be sure to document the days. In any case, it will give you a chance to experience what home school is really like and help you to make a more informed decision about whether home school is the best choice for your family.
Note: First published on mytincottage April 22, 2001. I adapted a segment of an archived article I published on mytincottage.com in 2001.