The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
According to the Department for Education (DfE) and media reports, homeschooling is a growing trend in the UK. Having never previously recorded the number of homeschooled children in the UK, the DfE set about gathering this information in Autumn 2022.
The DfE’s published findings show that an estimated 80,900 children were homeschooled in October 2022, and this number rose to 86,200 in January 2023. This is a significant rise in a short period of time, and while figures need to be studied over a longer period, it gives a good indication of the growing popularity of homeschooling amongst UK families.
In this post, we cover the pros and cons of homeschooling and how tuition agencies like JK Educate can support and bolster homeschooling for both parents and children. We also include resources for further research to help parents considering homeschooling for their children.
HOMESCHOOLING – WHAT IS IT?
Instead of attending traditional public or private schools, homeschooled children are taught by their parents at home.
Under the Education Act 1996, those who choose to home-educate their children are responsible for ensuring that the education provided is efficient, full-time and suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs. They are not required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and do not have to follow the National Curriculum.
Many homeschooling parents choose this way to educate their children because they have strong beliefs and ideologies about what their child’s education should include and how it is delivered. For other families, they may choose homeschooling because of their child’s unique aptitudes.
The educational philosophy a homeschooling family chooses will significantly influence the structure of their days. Most of us are familiar with only one style of education—the traditional system of textbooks, desks in rows, and standardised testing—but a wide array of educational philosophies exists. These methods include Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, classical, leadership education, interest-led learning, unit study, and more. Homeschooling parents have the freedom to blend ideas that best meet their children’s needs.
THE PROS AND CONS OF HOMESCHOOLING
With such broad definitions and flexible requirements, it can be difficult to pin down homeschooling’s pros and cons. Successful homeschooling depends on many factors, including the individual family, the parent’s teaching abilities, the style of learning utilised, the curriculum taught, the child’s personality, learning style and unique needs.
Nevertheless, it is possible to draw on the experiences of homeschooling parents and children, review homeschooling research studies and reflect on the opinions of education specialists. These resources enable us to analyse, in broad terms, the advantages and disadvantages that a homeschooled education can offer a child.
So, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling your child.
PROS OF HOMESCHOOLING
This means different things to different people – from wanting to provide a customised homeschool curriculum that will allow their child to learn at their own pace to wanting to include religious instruction or other types of ideology.
In his best-selling book The Element, British author and speaker Ken Robinson writes that “the key to [educational] transformation is not to standardise education, but to personalise it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”
A homeschooling atmosphere provides a natural setting in which parents can deliver a personalised method of teaching that matches the child’s unique interests, abilities, and learning style.
Homeschooling promotes healthy family relationships. Strong parent-child and sibling bonds form when families learn, play, and relax together. Even the inevitable squabbles can provide opportunities for growth and bonding if handled with love and patience.
Aside from the intrinsic value of a loving family, current research strongly suggests that healthy family relationships promote higher self-esteem, steadier future relationships, and greater overall physical, mental, and social well-being.
And what about socialisation with peers? Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities may take some extra effort. Still, studies generally suggest that there’s little difference in social skill development between homeschooled students and other students.
Protection from bullying and peer pressure
Homeschooled children do not have the same exposure to peer pressure and bullying as traditionally schooled children, both of which are tied to poorer academic performance and lower self-esteem.
Parents often decide to homeschool because they do not want their children’s values to be defined by their peers or for their children to face social ridicule or bullying. In private or public schools, the pressure to “fit in” or achieve a perceived level of social status among classmates can be significant.
Homeschooling removes these potentially negative exposures, allowing your child to express themselves naturally without fear of ridicule or the desire to fit in with the crowd.
Without a classroom of 20-30 children, your child gets all the attention they need. Parents and children can move through material quickly or slow down if they need to. The overall quality of education increases when a child learns in a one-to-one environment, especially when a child’s learning style is considered.
Flexibility and free time
Since parents have a choice of curriculum, there is complete freedom in how to teach and what to teach. If your child has a particular interest, you can spend time developing it. Some parents may have a particular value system they want to incorporate, and others may have a child with special needs who requires a customised approach. The benefit of homeschooling is that the possibilities are endless.
The benefits of free time are similar; parents who homeschool have no need to follow the strict routine that traditional schools set. There’s the opportunity to take holidays in the off-season or even change the months that are spent schooling. Appointments don’t require special notice to a school, and children can learn at a time of day that works best for them.
Academic performance and success
A common misconception about homeschooling is that students receive an inferior education. While UK statistics and studies are minimal, we can look to the US homeschooling statistics, and these show the exact opposite to be true.
In the US, Ivy League universities are actually recruiting homeschool students because of their higher success rates in exams and at college. During the application process, being homeschooled helps a student stand out against the crowd.
According to the US National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), home-educated children typically score 15 to 25 percentile points above public-school students on standardised academic achievement tests. 78% of peer-reviewed studies on academic achievement show homeschooled students perform statistically significantly better than those in institutional schools (Ray, 2017), and home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
Perhaps most interestingly, the NHERI reports that homeschooled students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
CONS OF HOMESCHOOLING
Burden of responsibility
Deciding to homeschool is a big decision not to be taken lightly. You suddenly become not just a parent but also a teacher, administrator, principal, and more. You must prepare, plan, organise, and keep each child’s lesson plans, tests (and scores), and projects every year. It’s a huge responsibility that cannot be taken lightly.
Creating, teaching, and grading a day’s or week’s worth of learning on multiple subjects takes serious time and effort. However, prepared curriculums and home school support is available from tuition agencies such as JK Educate, so you are not totally alone in your teaching efforts.
Additionally, if you have younger children at home who aren’t school-age, you may also struggle to keep them occupied while you sit down to teach older children, or you may have two or more school-age children who require different levels or styles of teaching for particular subjects. If you’re not prepared for the organisation and planning required, homeschooling may not be the right choice for you.
Inability to work
The work of homeschooling is guaranteed to take up many hours of your day. Therefore, as a homeschooling parent, you may not be able to work outside the home, or you may have to cut your hours significantly.
Also, take into consideration the cost of schooling a child at home. This can be a lot higher than people first anticipate. Not only will you need to buy all the teaching resources, such as books, teaching aids, whiteboards and computers, but you will also need to fund extracurricular activities and pay for exams. For some households, this significant cut to household income, coupled with the additional costs, may make homeschooling impractical.
Too much togetherness
While many families find that homeschooling improves relationships between siblings and parents, there is such a thing as too much togetherness.
You may find that spending all day, every day, with your children leads to feelings of frustration or confinement. You may also go through an adjustment period as your children learn how to view (and respect) you as their teacher.
It’s important to take breaks, both for yourself and your child. Or, depending on the resources in your area, you might try a homeschooling co-operative or enrichment programme one day a week to provide your child with socialisation opportunities with people outside the family. Adding formal tutoring is also an option for subjects that you struggle to teach or your child has a special aptitude for.
At JK Educate, we support homeschooling through our homeschooling support service and our online one-to-one tuition service. Including tuition and support like this into your weekly teaching schedule can give parent teachers some breathing space and provide fresh input and teaching styles for your child.
Missing out on certain opportunities
Despite the enormous flexibility of homeschooling, in some ways, it can limit opportunities for your child. For high school-age children, for example, a homeschool curriculum may not be able to provide the same variety of electives as a large public school. After all, how many of us have a woodworking area or science laboratory in the back garden, let alone be fluent in several languages that your child might like to learn?
If your child wants to pursue subjects you can’t easily teach at home, you’ll have to diligently seek alternatives. The same holds true for social opportunities. As a homeschooling parent, it’s up to you to provide the social interaction your child won’t get from school activities, assemblies, playground interaction and everyday classroom partner work.
CONSIDERING HOMESCHOOLING? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you are considering homeschooling your child, take a look at the below resources to find out more about your responsibilities and the Government and local authority requirements for homeschooling.
To learn about your responsibilities as a homeschooling parent, there are several guidance documents from the Government that you need to be familiar with:
1.) The elective home education guidance document is for local authorities and schools about children educated at home but it is very relevant for parents too.
3.) The DfE has also published guidance for local authorities (PDF).
4.) Also review the Government webpages on homeschooling.
Local authorities have no formal powers or duty to monitor home education provision. However, they have duties to identify children not receiving a suitable education and intervene. As part of this, the DfE recommends that authorities should contact people who are home educating on at least an annual basis so they are aware of the suitability of the education being provided.
If your child has SEN and attends a special school, you’ll need to get the council’s permission to educate them at home. You do not need the council’s permission if your child attends a mainstream school, even if they have an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
The council can make an ‘informal enquiry’ to check your child is getting a suitable education at home. They can serve a school attendance order if they think your child needs to be taught at school.
HOMESCHOOLING SUPPORT WITH JK EDUCATE
If you are considering homeschooling, it’s important to know that support is available. At JK Educate, we value and respect that every child is different. That’s why we offer personalised tuition and special homeschooling support. No matter what your child’s abilities or the teaching style you use, we can support you in bolstering your teaching skills and your child’s learning.
Our homeschooling service offers a range of support that includes daily check-in calls with your dedicated tutor, curriculum planning for those who require it, a homework setting and marking service, and the ability to WhatsApp message your dedicated tutor anytime for additional support as you need it.
There are many other services also available at JK Educate, from SEN support, one-to-one tuition, mock exam practice and much more. To explore JK’s homeschooling service, read the homeschooling page of our website or get in touch with us today to find out how we can support your child to achieve their full potential.