When considering whether to send you child to a public school system or home school, many factors come into play. There are many things to consider before making the final decision. I remember when my oldest son, now almost 23, was a youngster and how I wanted to home school him to “protect” him from the evils of society he may experience while attending a public school. Well, my good intentions didn’t get very far. He ended up attending public school and survived just fine without any real incident.
My thinking was that if I home schooled my son, I could somehow shield him from being bullied or teased and protect him from his peers who were drinking, doing drugs or otherwise inappropriate behaviors. At the same time, I worried about him missing out on things that the majority of his peers would be experiencing, such as certain social functions associated with school. My final decision became clear to me the year before my son would begin kindergarten.
I tried to implement an experimental mini-curriculum at home, with little success. I found that my son was unable to distinguish “school time” from “home time” and never really learned to associate me with being his teacher, as opposed to just “mom.” I realized this plan was not going to succeed and chalked it up to experience. With two younger siblings at home, it was also too difficult to find time alone with my oldest for “school” without interruption. I am happy to report that he thrived in the public school environment and suffered none of the traumas I had feared for him as a young mother.
If you are seriously considering home schooling, it appears from the vast majority of information available on the Internet, you can do this relatively inexpensively. However, there are certain other “costs” associated with home schooling, some that do not involve money. Your first consideration should be the time commitment. Are you available for the several consecutive hours throughout the day needed to teach your child? Will you still have time to balance all of your regular duties around the household, as well as all of your other outside responsibilities?
Another consideration would be realizing if you truly have the potential to act as your child’s teacher. Sure, every parent is a teacher to their child in several ways, but as for an actual school setting, perhaps not. Such as with my case where my son never really acknowledged me as a teacher, and I realized he would give his undivided attention to a regular classroom teacher because he was able to differentiate the teacher as something separate from mom. Also, patience is a key factor. When teaching a child, you need to be patient, and I find some parents tend to be harder on their own children sometimes, because they expect too much from them, whereas a classroom teacher may be more objective because she is removed from the parent/child relationship and all that it entails.
Financial issues can be concern as well, as home schooling usually means one parent stays at home during the hours that a child would normally be in school. Can your household survive on one income? I am not sure about the actual monetary costs associated with home schooling, but there seem to be a lot of free materials available, so I doubt it would be any more costly than the fees and expenses associated with public schools.
Another truly important factor to take into consideration is the social aspect. Home-schooled children will not get the exposure to their peers on the same level they would if attending a public school. Sure, this can be a good thing, as in your child won’t have to be the victim of the school bully or be exposed to classmates smoking in the school bathrooms. However, it also means your child will never get to experience prom, will never get invited to the homecoming dance, run for class president or attend the big Friday night football game. The big one, they will never experience the excitement of the anticipated high school graduation ceremony, something we as public school parents live for. You need to decide if you can provide enough social interactions for your child, such as sports programs and activities outside the home to compensate for these missed social experiences.
I have known a few children who were home schooled, and I must say, they are all highly intelligent, well adjusted, socially functional human beings. I could also say the same for many children I know who have attended a public or even private school setting. Bottom line, the choice is ultimately up to you, the parent. Definitely take into consideration all of the pros and cons to your particular circumstance before deciding if home schooling is right for you and your child. For more information on home schooling, see http://homeschooling.about.com/ .