What are the disadvantages of homeschooling compared to traditional schooling?
When it comes to homeschooling, opinions are divided on whether it is really useful or not. As both traditional and distance learning have their pros and cons, parents are often undecided on what to choose. Parents are increasingly opting for homeschooling, but is it the right choice?
It can seem like such a good thing, with choice and flexibility, but the truth is that many choose homeschooling without being quite aware of its shortcomings. As a matter of fact, homeschooling can even set children back, which is certainly not a parent’s goal when opting for homeschooling over traditional school systems.
Very few things in this world are all pros and no cons, and this certainly applies to education at home, so we will take you through the disadvantages of homeschooling just so you can be reasonably sure that you have made the right decision.
First of all, the 3 important things you need to know are:
- What is homeschooling all about?
- What is the parent of a homeschooled child responsible for?
- Why are homeschooled children at a disadvantage?
What is homeschooling all about?
Homeschooling is a worldwide trend that involves educating children at home instead of at a traditional brick and mortar school. Usually, parents choose this type of education due to scarcity of educational options, hope in projected progress, and/or a variety of religious and other beliefs.
Although most parents of school-age children know the difference between private schools and public schools, people are not sufficiently aware of the difference between homeschooling and traditional schooling.
Homeschooling began as parents questioned whether they might be able to educate their children more effectively than the existing system. Although homeschooling was illegal in most states as recently as the early 1980’s, homeschooling has been legal in the United States since 1993. Although the number of homeschooled children has steadily increased ever since, we have recently witnessed a boom in the number of families opting for homeschooling in the last few years.
But, what is the real situation today? How does homeschooling affect children’s development? Although the advantages of homeschooling have been widely praised, the disadvantages remain less discussed and worrisome to educators and families alike.
What is the parent of a homeschooled child responsible for?
Since homeschooling requires a huge commitment and a lot of time from the parents, they have to spend most of the day with the children.
Some parents might think that homeschooling basically boils down to distance learning, and that pretty much all they need to provide, in addition to some of their time, are:
- Internet and connectivity
- A computer
- A printer for worksheets and handout materials
- Basic school supplies at home
However, when it comes to the material resources, proper schooling of any kind requires a lot more than that, as we have pointed out in the previous section, and “going to school” at home requires practically constant parental supervision.
If the parents does not work full-time, dedicating that much time and energy to homeschooling might be possible, but the toil it can take on practically all leisure activities of their own might easily prove overwhelming. If you think this regime might be too strenuous, you should definitely (re)consider whether this solution is right for you and your child.
Why are homeschooled children at a disadvantage?
Homeschooling might be an ideal alternative for parents, but not the right solution at all times. In most cases, it is not an effective approach to educating children due to the absence of qualified educators, the scarcity of actual opportunities for children to develop their social life, as well as the fact that parents have to invest a lot of time and dedication.
The disadvantages of homeschooling include:
- Lack of social interaction and increased sense of isolation
- Absence of curriculum structure
- Decreased focus on learning and concentration, reduced outcomes
- Slower pace of learning
- Financial burden
- Lack of facilities
Lack of social interaction increases students’ sense of isolation
The lack of non-verbal communication and social contact is a big downside and disadvantage of homeschooling. Homeschooling does not provide the possibility of sitting next to a peer and sharing the school experience, socializing and going on field trips with schoolmates
For homeschooled students, the most common methods of communication and social interaction are with parents or individuals leading the learning, or through social networks, email, or possibly video conferences.
This limited way of interaction inhibits the development of social skills, norms, and cues which become almost intrinsic to students in traditional settings who spend their days interacting and socializing with peers and are exposed to different types of people, cultures, beliefs and opinions daily.
Another drawback for homeschooled students is that they are not exposed to a wide range of perspectives and ideas that comes from the experience of having classmates who come from different backgrounds and have different personal beliefs.
The end result for students who are homeschooled the majority of their lives is often that they cannot communicate properly with different groups of people, highly likely to have an adverse effect on their future lives.
The absence of curriculum structure
The absence of curriculum structure has a lot to do with the time management systems that accompany the traditional school programs.
In school it is common to have a certain curriculum that all teachers follow. At home, however, it is different, because you decide for yourself what you will study and how much. Of course, all sorts of structure can be imposed upon teaching at home, but the fact is that actual teachers at actual schools adhere to a completely different time schedule.
Less focus on learning and concentration reduces outcomes
Homeschooling seems to be more relaxed than going to school, because instead of teachers, children are taught by parents, who tend to be less strict than teachers.
Due to the lack of unbiased monitoring, there is a great chance that students will relax, lose the will to learn, and be quick to decide to do something more interesting.
“Nobody oversees what I am doing all that much; in fact, I am not even sure anyone knows if I follow the classes” – these may be frequent thoughts of a student studying at home.
Over time, students may increasingly lose focus and concentration, which will not contribute toward achieving positive results.
Slower pace of homeschooling is a big drawback
Learning from home results in a lack of a qualified teacher’s help when the student needs it most. This slows down the pace of learning, which negatively affects the child’s progress and the ability to develop more advanced skills.
Parents who do not have teaching experience are not necessarily able to transfer knowledge to their children effectively in a cross-curricular way. In the best cases, homeschool parent-teachers often invest countless hours learning a diverse curriculum and topics to teach their student. However, parent-teachers often struggle with older students as topics become more challenging and harder to explain. Thus leading to increased frustration, confusion, and loss of interest in learning, which results in a slower pace of delivery.
Home classes can present an additional financial burden
Another major disadvantage of homeschooling is the absence of the additional resources that the school provides, but you cannot afford for your child. That implies the cost of materials for all school subjects, guidance counselors, computer software that they do not have on their laptop, as well as some additional resources in the form of extracurricular programs.
Homeschooling can make a hole in your pocket with all the extra materials children need to have. That creates very high expenses, and presents an additional source of stress for the parents. For example, if your child wants to participate in a sports competition or learn to play an instrument, it will be out of your pocket rather than provided from the resources that a school already has. Additionally, in order to pay full attention to your child, one partner often gives up permanent employment, loss of income is a great sacrifice for many families.
Lack of facilities is a big disadvantage of homeschooling
The home may not be as well-equipped for learning as the classroom. When it comes to education, very few homes are. For instance, for experimental classes such as physics and chemistry, it may be difficult to procure all the necessary chemicals, materials, apparatus.
Most homes also lack sports facilities such as swimming pools, running tracks, gyms and courts. A house or an apartment can hardly compensate for all the facilities and conditions necessary in order for a student to benefit from quality physical activities or exercise routine.
So, does homeschooling work?
If you take a closer look at the whole situation and what you achieve in the end, you may find yourself becoming more and more aware of the disadvantages of homeschooling and the most obvious potential flaws of homeschooling.
Although online learning certainly has its advantages over traditional teaching, it is up to you to decide if it is better for your child to develop in a real-world environment with teachers, or at home.