Pros and cons of homeschooling

Before you decide on whether to homeschool your child, you should make sure you are clear on what homeschooling is all about. Then you can decide whether homeschooling is right for you and your child.


What if the average cost to educate a child was over $5,000 but you could drop it to just over $500 per child? According to a really old (1997) report on homeschooling, you could do just that by taking your child out of public school and schooling them at home.

Last winter, after several days off school with bitter-cold temperatures, coupled with a few serious cases of cabin fever, I posted on Facebook that I was “feeling overwhelmed” (appropriate emoticon included) about trying to keep my cooped-up kids from fighting with each other for hours, and I wondered aloud (or at least on Facebook) how homeschooling parents handled being with their kids all day — every day.

Well, let me tell you, I innocently fanned some flames. Anecdotal evidence and opinions were fired back and forth including topics such as socially awkward homeschooled kids, the terrible public schools that we have to send our kids to now, parents using school as a babysitting service, and people who shelter their kids too much.

You get the idea.

But as the comments died down, I got curious: What are the benefits of homeschooling, and what are the downsides? What are the financial benefits and downsides?

[Note: I was able to find some research on homeschooling. However, the person who compiled the report I read felt that the design of the studies did not actually prove that homeschooling caused the benefits homeschooled kids exhibit. Citing a need for further studies, he also said that homeschooling could not be proved to be more negative than public schools.]

What we know for sure

Homeschooling is becoming more popular each year in the United States and other countries around the world. In addition, homeschooling households are diverse, covering a variety of religions, political leanings, parent education level, and household incomes.

Characteristics of homeschooled kids

According to the research I found, homeschooled kids score above their peers on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT. They are actively involved with activities outside their family such as volunteer opportunities, sports or music activities, field trips, and clubs.

As adults, they attend more public meetings and participate in local community service more often than the general population. They also succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than students who attend public school.

The pros of homeschooling

So why is homeschooling associated with some academic success? Since I don’t homeschool my children, I reached out to some friends who do. These are the reasons they homeschool (some are for academic reasons and some are not):

1. Educational flexibility. Homeschooling parents have the ability to customize the education plan to their child’s unique interests and learning styles. Maybe some parents have a wiggler who does well in a hands-on environment with one-on-one instruction and the same wiggler would have difficulty following classroom rules. As far as curriculum is concerned, some states have stricter regulations of what must be covered; but in general, parents have great flexibility in exercising educational freedom. One of my friends has a son who loves robotics and is on a robotics team. Another friend requires her children to attend a Toastmasters meeting.

2. Flexible schedule. Families can go on vacation when it is less expensive. Also, attending museums during the school days means fewer people are present. If children are sick, the content could easily be rearranged to fill another time slot.

3. Efficiency. In a classroom of 20 kids, there is a wide spectrum of behavior and academic ability. Children who find school easy may get bored. Kids who struggle to learn …


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