Many families don’t know that attending school is not a legal requirement in the United States. Although your kids may jump for joy if you were to tell them that, they should know that it is legally required for them to be educated.
Kids can receive a traditional education by attending a public or private institution. Some families choose a different education platform like online schools or homeschooling. Over the last decade, the number of students being educated through nontraditional outlets has skyrocketed. There are now more than 1.5 million students in the United States that are homeschooled and the number continues to grow. But why?
There are plenty of reasons parents decide to home school their kids. The most popular reason is concerns over the school environment. Other reasons parents may choose to home school their children are:
- A desire to provide religious or moral instruction
- A dissatisfaction with academic regulations imposed by the Department of Education or individual private institutions
- Nontraditional approach to children’s education – or “unschoolers” who consider typical curriculums and standardized testing as counterproductive to quality education
- Increasing family time, lowering financial burdens and travel expenses
- Child has special needs (other than physical or mental health problems) that schools cannot or will not meet
- Child has a physical or mental health problem
Like any other education decision, there are pros and cons to a parent making the choice to home school their kid. Some things to consider:
Advantages of Home Schooling:
- One on one attention, allowing them to take their time in subjects they don’t understand without being left behind, as well as excel in subjects they enjoy.
- Get out in the community more. They may get to experience hands-on education at community resources. They also might volunteer or participate in “service learning” where they take on local projects.
- Learn in the comfort of their home. Parents have the advantage to rid of any distractions as well as control their child’s surroundings.
- Flexible schedule.
Disadvantages of Home Schooling:
- Laws and requirements vary across the United States, and it’s up to home schoolers to comply with local regulations. Learning about and following local regulations can be a lot of additional work for the parent.
- As homeschooled kids become teens and old enough to guide their learning, they may be left more on their own to find resources and do their own research. At the time this may be difficult, but this independence will pay off in college.
- Time commitment is a huge factor. Without careful planning the parent teacher may never have time to herself. Planning time for homework, housework, field trips, lessons must be scheduled to avoid chaos.
- The lack of convenience to some school facilities, such as a gymnasium, science lab, or art studio.
If parents choose to home school their child, they need to go above and beyond in getting their child socialized and involved outside of the house. Parents who choose to have their kids learn from home can still get their kids socialized by joining home schooling groups, public school extracurricular activities and sharing lesson times to name a few.
There is no right or wrong answer for choosing the type of setting a child should be educated in. Many factors will play into the decision, and it’s a parent’s job to make the best decision for their child’s future. Meeting with families who have chosen a nontraditional education route can be a great way for you and your child to learn more about the options.