Over the past few decades, many people have considered the homeschool vs. public school debate and opted for homeschooling. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, around 5% of all students were homeschooled as of 2021, which represents tens of millions of children and an increase from previous years.
What homeschool benefits are driving millions of families to make such decisions? Let's dig into the conversation so you can figure out whether homeschooling might be the right choice for your family.
The Socialization Question
If you've raised the topic of homeschooling with anyone outside the homeschool community, you've probably heard about how homeschool kids aren't socialized. It's one of the largest arguments presented against this option in the homeschool vs. public school debate. It's also, quite frankly, incorrect.
Flexible socialization is actually one of the biggest homeschool advantages. In a public school setting, kids are grouped almost primarily with children their own age. They're also told when they can and can't talk, and they're afforded limited minutes each day for play — a critical activity for developing social skills in childhood.
In contrast, the socialization opportunities in homeschooling are almost unlimited. Here are just a few ways kids of any age can be social as homeschoolers:
- With their families. When educated at home, kids have more time to build relationships with parents, siblings, and even extended family, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles.
- While running errands. Kids will interact with the general public a lot more while running all types of errands and can even work on conversation skills, being good customers, and learning to navigate transactions themselves.
- With other homeschoolers. Homeschool groups are easy to find in many areas these days. You can join an academic co-op or a group that hangs out in nature together or find playdates at parks so your kids can make friends of all ages.
- With kids in play settings. Even outside of structured activities, kids can learn to play with others. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to take your children to many play settings, including parks, libraries, museums, and pools, when they aren't crowded so they can have quality time with other kids who might be present.
A Flexible Homeschooling Schedule That Works Around Your Family
"But how do you find time to teach your children?" is another common question about — and argument against — homeschooling. This one arises out of the misconception that because students attend public schools for 6 to 8 hours daily, that's how long learning actually takes.
In reality, homeschool learning takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours a day of structured "work" time for most students. Younger students, such as those in kindergarten and first grade, can often exceed grade-related learning objectives in just 30 minutes a day, and even high schoolers may only need a few hours of computer work to keep up with required curriculum.
The rest of your homeschool days are flexible, and your family can work, play, and learn in ways that work for you. Families with readers may check out dozens of books from the library so each child can explore their own interests during free time, for example. Families with experiential learners or more active kids might explore local museums or parks for enrichment activities.
You can do homeschool work at dawn, dusk, or anytime between. You can work 4 days and play 3, work year-round with plenty of breaks, or follow a standard public school schedule and take the summer off. When you homeschool, you're in charge of the schedule.
Tailored Homeschooling Curriculum That Supports Each Child's Interests
Another homeschooling benefit is the option to invest in a tailored homeschooling curriculum that supports each child's interests. This can be especially important as students grow because they can direct their own learning to achieve individual goals.
In public school, kids usually have only a few — if any — learning tracks to choose from. Most public high schools assume kids will go to trade school or a 4-year university, and they provide classes that support either of those two options. As a homeschooling family, you can support any path your child wants and move seamlessly across interests as they grow and evolve. When you take a kid-centric approach to learning, you usually vastly increase their chances of success.
You're in Charge of the Mission and Values of Your Homeschool
Homeschooling values and morals are your values and morals. When you choose to homeschool, you can instill the values you want your family to have and support them with everyday lessons, books, and media choices and even in who you choose to build community with.
While families can always work to instill good values and morals in their children, public school often teaches things that aren't in keeping with those values. You also roll the dice a bit with who your children will be in contact with and what they might learn from other kids. This can be especially impactful for younger children, who have not yet established strong personal boundaries and values.
A Few Other Homeschooling Benefits
Once you start digging into and truly understanding how homeschooling works, you can discover many advantages of this choice. Here are a few more:
- Create a personalized learning experience. You might wonder if you can homeschool if your child has special needs of any sort. In many cases, homeschooling lets you create the personalized experience each student needs for success. After all, you know your child better than anyone else, and you know what they might need to learn.
- Ensure a safe learning environment. Homeschooling removes many of the unfortunate and frightening issues public school children face. You can substantially reduce the chance that your child will face bullying, for example, and you won't have to worry about violence in schools.
- Reduce peer pressure in homeschooling. It's not that homeschool kids don't have peers. It's that they tend to have peers who understand the value of each person and individual choices. That, along with the fact that you move alongside your children into many social and learning situations, helps you counteract the negative impacts of peer pressure.
Is Homeschooling Right for You?
Homeschooling is a personal choice, and it may not be right for everyone. When considering the homeschool vs. public school debate for your family, don't fall into cliches and misconceptions. Dig deeper into the benefits of homeschooling before you make a choice.