Making the Decision to Home School Your Child

It is becoming more and more prevalent that parents make the decision to home school their child or children.  Most’s decision is based upon philosophical and economic reasons.  People find public schooling unstable due to the amount of and unpredictability of teachers’ strikes, leaving their children without formal education for that period of time.  Others complain about public school class sizes – their children do not receive enough one on one attention from the teacher.  Funding cuts mean that the proper equipment and best teachers become unaffordable to the school.  Many people have moral and religious issues with the content of the public school curriculum.  Other parents want to protect their children from bad influences and exposure to illegal substances which are rampant in many public schools.  For many of these parents, it is not an option to send their child to a private school, which meets their expectations, because of being extremely expensive.

Even though the thought of taking charge of your child’s education can be idealized, it is important to take the following factors into consideration:

  • It requires time . Giving your child an education that meets the requirements of your local government, involves spending a lot of time preparing and teaching. There are experiments and projects that need to be done, you have to grade papers, organize and go on outings, give music lessons, etc.
  • Personal sacrifice . You have to realize that home schooling your child will mean that you spend more time with him/her, and have less time to yourself. It is very important to keep a good balance and ensure that you have support structures in place in order to make personal time.
  • Financial sacrifice . It is quite improbable that the parent taking charge of teaching, will be able to hold down a full time job. If you are used to be a two income family – certain adjustments will have to be made in the household.
  • Socialization . Many people are concerned that when you home school your child, he/she loses out on contact with peers. It is a valid concern, which will require you to organize socialization time with other children in the form of outings, sport or other activities and also play time.
  • Household organization . If you are used to having your house spic and span by 9am, you may be in for a shock. As mentioned earlier, home schooling involves you spending alot of time with your child, meaning that the washing and ironing might have to wait while you are teaching your child to build a volcano. It is important that chores get divided and time reallocated to tasks, everyone will have to make sacrifices in order to have the household running optimally.
  • Agreement . Both parents have to agree on the decision to home school their child. They have to be in agreement over how it will affect the household and how to deal with it. It is also important that if only one parent is taking charge of the education, that the other parent acknowledge the need for social and emotional support.
  • Willingness . Lastly it is extremely important that your child is willing and enthusiastic about being schooled at home.

Fortunately, home based education does not mean that you as the parent are left to your own devices to formulate a curriculum and try to copy what you learnt at school.  There are many structured programs available which ranges from online programs to virtual schools.  Groups have been formed to give support and advice to other parents.  Cooperative home schooling involves families getting together for a couple of hours a week, where the parents can share their expertise with the children as a group in a certain subject.  Sometimes experts are brought in to teach more involved subject matter.

Steve Moitozo is an avid supporter of home schooling and feels the advantages of home schooling can be summarized into four main points:
1.   Religious and Philosophical convictions . People with strong convictions can build these convictions and beliefs into every aspect of their curriculum and therefore take charge of  topics and subject matter.  This is one of the biggest advantages – the ability to teach your child according to your belief structure.
2.   Socialization . With home schooling socialization becomes community based and not classroom based.  Children learn to interact with not only the children in their class, who are the same age, but also older and younger children.  Being schooled at home, expose them to real world problem solving.  They see their parents dealing with household and social problems and learn from that.  The children do not sit isolated in a class room being mostly exposed to theoretical problems.
3.    Academic excellence . Home schooling gives the parent the opportunity to focus academically on the child’s own level of mastery, versus a class room where he might be held back by his peers or left behind.  It gives the child the chance to work at his own pace – it is not a bell that indicates the time allocated to a certain subject.  The parent can work with the child’s own learning style in opposition to children at school who only get exposed to the teacher’s teaching style.
4.   Time as a family . The family get to spend more time together, without their child sitting in  a school environment for six hours a day from the age of 5 or 6.  The family get to be the influencing party, without the child being exposed only peers most of the time.

Home schooling can be a wonderful experience for both the parents and the children, but it is important to take it one year at a time.  The decision to send your child to school again can be just as difficult to make than the original decision to home school.  It is important at all times that the best interest of the child (socially, emotionally and cognitively) be kept in mind.