Deciding on how to educate your child is one of the biggest, most important choices you’ll ever have to make as a parent. Do you opt for the “traditional” classroom experience that public schools offer? Should you go the private school route? Perhaps a charter school? Or how about homeschooling?

If you’re reading this, you’re obviously considering homeschooling. In this blog series, we’ll take a look at the world of homeschooling, from the decision-making process to enrollment. Today we’ll look at the factors to consider when making the impactful decision on how to educate your child.

As with all things in life, each education option comes with its pros and cons. Many people find that the best way to make a difficult decision is to lay out the positives and negatives in a list and thoughtfully consider all of the information in front of you. But what is it that you actually need to consider when deciding whether to homeschool?

School environment.
Millions and millions of students are educated through the public school system, and while some schools are better than others, kids can still receive a quality education that can lead to college and career success. But the public school environment isn’t for everyone. Parents send their kids off on the bus every morning and can only hope the day goes well for them. They don’t really see or know what’s happening in the schools, what type of interaction their kids are having with other students, what kind of influence others are having on their kids. There’s also bullying, ostracism, cliques, and all of that worrisome negativity.

That’s not to say these are things every child (or even a majority of children) has to deal with in a public school setting. But, sadly, these types of behaviors do exist. In a homeschool setting, however, they don’t. With homeschooling, you’re in full control of your child’s environment so they’re not subjected to this kind of negative behavior.

But what about friends and…the “S” word…socialization? This is a common argument against homeschooling, but research has consistently shown that homeschooled children socialize quite well, and their socialization is not limited to kids their own age. Homeschooled kids tend to interact better with adults, have fewer behavioral issues, and go on to live quite social lives beyond school. Homeschool groups and co-ops offer plenty of social time for kids, as do extracurricular groups and volunteering/community activities. There are even homeschool sports leagues for athletic kids, so they don’t miss out on sports in school.

Classroom/learning environment.
Public schools, and even private schools, are what they are–their classrooms are one-size-fits-all learning environments. Depending on the size of the school (or the town you live in), classrooms can be packed with 20 to 30 students, all learning the same material at the same pace, delivered by one teacher who is expected to fit a required amount and type of curriculum into the school year. Individual attention? Nope. Slowing down (or speeding up) lessons to cater to a student’s preferred learning pace? Never. The ability to further explore a student’s area of interest or particular topic? Not in the schedule. Unfortunately, in this type of classroom environment, each student is a face in the crowd, graded by a number.

Homeschooling? Couldn’t be more different. After all, what other type of schooling allows you to take your child’s education into your own hands? With homeschooling, in most cases (like here at Bridgeway Academy), you and your student lay out the roadmap by deciding which courses, formats, schedules, and activities work best for his or her strengths, learning style, and personality. Being able to customize your child’s education and learning environment is not only reassuring, but it also sets him or her up for success. And what parent doesn’t want that for their child?

If your child shows an interest in a particular topic or subject, you’re able to stop everything else and spend time focusing more on that area, building a love of learning and exploration that’s priceless and lifelong. If your student has trouble comprehending a lesson, you can take all the time you need to ensure he or she gets it before moving on. With homeschooling, children get all the individual attention they need, and they learn in a way and at a pace that most benefits them–not 25 other students.

And while this may seem trivial, the physical environment of the homeschool classroom is far more conducive to learning than that of a public school. Think about it…which would you rather have for your child? A stuffy, bland, overcrowded classroom filled with distractions? Or a comfortable, warm, welcoming environment with little distraction and instruction that’s customized for one (or possibly a couple) student(s)? It seems like an obvious choice.

Home life/schedule.
Your family’s lifestyle is also a major factor to consider when deciding how to educate your child. Here are a few reasons why you may not want to go the traditional public school route:

  • Religion/family values. If you’re a religious family and are looking to instill your values by way of a faith-based education, public school is obviously out of the question. There are private schools, such as Catholic schools, but many are quite cost-prohibitive and also come with some of the same down-sides as public schools. Homeschooling is an ideal option for faith-based education. Many homeschool programs (including Bridgeway) offer the choice of secular or Bible-based curriculum and allow you to work religious teachings into your child’s education.
  • Athletics/acting/music. There are some supremely talented kids out there who need ample time to hone their craft, whether it’s sports, acting, music, or other endeavors. These are kids who have serious chances of becoming professional athletes, performers, and musicians, and in order to dedicate themselves to perfecting their craft, they need time to practice, rehearse, compete, and work. How can that be accomplished with regular school hours? It can’t. That’s why so many young athletes and child prodigies opt to homeschool. Because homeschooling offers so much flexibility, these kids can practice for hours and still find time to do schoolwork. They can take online classes or work on a computer while they’re on their way to a meet, competition, concert, or audition. In other words, they get the best of both worlds–the time they need to focus on their talents and a high-quality education that offers the flexibility they need.
  • Parents’ work schedules. Some families have two working parents, and their schedules just may not work with traditional school hours. If that’s the case, homeschooling allows these parents the opportunity to educate their children at a schedule that’s most convenient for them, whether it’s early morning, mid-day, or late at night.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when figuring out what’s best for your child’s education. There are pros and cons for every scenario, but there are also quite a few compelling reasons to strongly consider homeschooling. If you’re leaning toward homeschool at this point, great! Our next blog will focus on what you should look for in a homeschool before you make your choice. Read Part 2, part 3 or part 4 of this series!