From time to time, its healthy to reflect upon your decision to homeschool and reconsider whether its the best option for you. It's a normal thing for every parent to do because we are always looking out for the best interests of our children. There's certainly trade-offs to homeschool versus a traditional school but do the benefits still justify homeschooling? Am I doing my children a disservice in the long run by homeschooling them? Ultimately, everyone's answers to these self-doubt questions will be unique to their own situation. In this article I'll share some of the questions I ask myself when I'm feeling doubtful.
I think we can all agree that we want the best for our children. We want them to thrive both academically and emotionally but is homeschool really in their best interest? My children were previously in an expensive private school. They were pretty happy and didn't have any problems with bullies or unnecessary stress from their peers. We needed to live in a very busy city though and that presented its own downsides. My kids didn't even know how to ride a bike because there was nowhere safe to learn close to where we lived. We ended up moving to a very rural area with lots of space and started to homeschool. Now the kids have lots of space to go outside and play in nature. The first week we got here my son went outside and taught himself how to ride his bike. In just 3 days he was riding around exploring the neighborhood. These are life experiences that can't be easily quantified and measured. When I think back on my own childhood some of the fondest memories are of being outside in nature exploring my neighborhood. Now sure that's a comparison between rural and urban life you might be thinking to yourself. For us though, it means our options on traditional schooling changes. Public schools where we live are a non-starter. They have very low standards and even poorer facilities. That leaves just 2 reasonable private school options that I'd consider but both of them are over 30 minutes away by car. That's at least one hour a day wasted on the bus commuting to and from school.
That leads me to my next concern: wasted time. When I first started homeschooling I was amazed how much material we could cover in such a short amount of time. We didn't have to waste time standing in lines, queuing for lunch, changing classes, quieting down, and all the other ways traditional schools waste time each day. My kids can do all their work and have lots of time to play and explore while homeschooling.
They do miss their friends and that's one of the biggest downsides to homeschool. They have made a few friends in the neighborhood though and when the other kids are done with school they can go out and play. Are they missing out on learning to socialize with other kids? My son loves playing online games and over the years has found kids around his same age that share his same passion. They play online regularly building things in Fortnite Creative, Minecraft, and Roblox. He at least isn't isolated but socialization is something we continue to work on. My plan this year is to try to get him into some type of group activity where he can be around other kids his age.
But is it up to par academically? To answer this, I remember the first weeks of homeschooling. My son had just recently taken his math exam at his school and got an A which I was happy about. However, to my surprise when he started doing the math book I got him for homeschool he was completely lost. He could barely do the simplest of math problems. He had three years taking music classes twice a week at his school yet he had no idea how to play a single instrument. This is all while making A's in his private school. Within a few months of homeschool he was already past his peers in math and was playing the piano with two hands by just using a mobile app. He's now in fourth grade but working out of two 6th and a 7th grade science books. These are books where he has to read a few pages of complex science topics and then actually think about and apply what he's read. My daughter is only in kindergarten but she is making great progress on her letters and learning sight words. Academically, I'm fairly confident neither a public or a private school could compare to the quality they're receiving by homeschooling.
Will they be disadvantaged in college admissions? College admission requirements vary greatly and also continuing to change. This is going to be a difficult question to answer given they are still years away from college. What I do know is some homeschooled children who were not academically focused enough may require additional courses before being admitted to a 4 year university. That being said, however, its also financially wiser to get past your general education requirements over with at a cheaper community college and then move onto a 4 year university for your major subjects. That path is also going to be much less of a hurdle because entrance requirements into a community college aren't going to be the same as a university. A lot of universities are doing away with entrance exam requirements like the SAT and ACT. What that means for homeschoolers is still up in the air but its definitely something to consider. Ultimately, I'm 100% confident there is a path towards a university education for any homeschooler even if it might not be direct.
Every so often I doubt our decision to homeschool but after some reflection I'm usually pretty happy with how far we've come. There's pros and cons to every learning environment. Its important to recognize the drawbacks and work towards improving them. Don't just ignore that your child is lonely. Do something about it. Try to get them engaged with other children. Your child's mental health is just as important as their education. Learn from mistakes and continually try to improve. Take notes and keep a journal to track your progress. Doubting your decision to homeschool is normal and healthy and reflecting on it will help you improve the outcome.