As a parent of a homeschooled child, or as someone considering homeschooling, you may well face the mild concern or incredulity of well-meaning individuals who question your choice to keep your child outside of the traditional school environment.
It is important to realize that there are two common reasons for this response; fear that you are depriving your child of natural and essential social interactions or the simple distrust of anyone who would decide that the standard set by society isn’t ‘good enough’ for them.
The latter concern is not one a parent should spend much time defending. You know your reasons and trying to explain them to individuals who favor conforming to what they perceive as ‘normal’ society is often fruitless.
The prior statement, however, is one that any parent considering homeschooling should seriously ponder. What, if any, advantages or disadvantages might your child face from being homeschooled rather than surrounded by their peers in a classroom environment?
One home school advocate made the point that a child is easily influenced by their social environment. A social structure that places your child almost entirely with others of the same age does not promote a balanced view of community.
Whether you recall that children at one time were taught together amongst both younger and older children, or you consider that before daycare, two working parents and TV, children spent more time in the company of the adults in their lives, you no doubt realize that a child benefits from a social circle that extends beyond their peers.
Providing them the time to develop their viewpoints and opinions outside of intense peer pressure can give them the inner strength to stand up for their beliefs or maintain individuality even in a peer-based environment.
Homeschooled children can just as easily fall into a routine of limited interaction which is equally harmful. However, conscientious parents can ensure that their homeschooled child participates in activities and accompanies them on errands and visits that widen their social circle which can include both children, adults, and the elderly as well as various social and economic groups.
TIME TO EXPLORE INTERESTS
The traditional school program requires that children allot short periods of time exploring a subject and then move on to a new topic every 45 minutes or so. If your child is engaged in a subject they are more likely to retain the information as well as enjoy the learning process.
Homeschooled children are not restricted to typical daily routines and a lesson can be extended or developed according to the inclination of the parent and child.
Since many homeschooled children only sit for lessons for four hours or less per day there is more time to pursue other interests such as learning a musical instrument, practicing for a sport, learning a new language, or engaging in religious or social activities that develop their sense of self.
The time that otherwise may have been wasted waiting for the class to be ready or the teacher to have the time to assist them.
MERGING BACK INTO A SCHOOL STRUCTURE
If parents have taken the time to balance their child’s routine to include a selection of activities such as dance or art classes, working with tutors or other instructors in a classroom-style teaching situation, they can feel certain that their child can merge back into a traditional school setting should their lifestyle or the child’s direction change.
Whether a parent home schools their child or not, it is important for parents to acknowledge the need for their children to become involved citizens with a world outside of their immediate peer group.
Socializing, developing talents, involvement in the community, and even religion can and should be large factors in children’s development.