Homeschooling Pros and Cons – An In-depth Comparison
Legally, homeschooling is legal in every U.S. state. Socially, it is widely accepted throughout the United States. Several other countries are experiencing continued growth and support. This increase is not a fad, but a steady progression over time.
Statistics show that, on average, homeschoolers consistently perform better on standardized tests. Without public school busy work, homeschoolers accomplish more in less time. Homeschoolers then have both the time and freedom to pursue their own unique interests. They tend to excel in college because they are self-disciplined and have often taken early college courses in high school.
Just because there are many reasons why homeschooling could appear popular to a new parent, everyone should weigh the pros and cons before making this life changing decision.
What follows is the most extensive list we could compile of pros and cons about homeschooling. Because the importance of each item on this list is subjective, the list is not organized in any particular order.
It is very common for one homeschooling ‘pro’ to have a ‘con’ associated with it. As with everything, there are tradeoffs. As a parent, you will decide what aspects are most important for your family. Hopefully, your school choice decision is heavily influenced by the well-being of your family.
- 1 School choice
- 2 The Pros of Homeschooling
- 2.1 Educational Liberty
- 2.2 Technology Can Be Used To Teach
- 2.3 Create A Love For Learning
- 2.4 You Get To Learn Too!
- 2.5 Flexible Schooling
- 2.6 Religious Freedom
- 2.7 Secular Freedom
- 2.8 Additional Emotional Stability and Safety
- 2.9 Building Family Relationships and Family Ties
- 2.10 Increased Control, Efficiency, And Feedback
- 3 The benefits of homeschooling
- 4 The cons of homeschooling
- 4.1 The Best Benefits of Homeschooling Are Often The Biggest Cons Of Homeschooling
- 4.2 Extremely Time Consuming
- 4.3 Homeschool Socialization May Be A Disadvantage
- 4.4 Financially Difficult
- 4.5 Social Criticism
- 4.6 Limited Access To Team Sports
- 4.7 Insecurity
- 4.8 “Homeschooling Kids Are Weird”
- 4.9 Reduced Competition or No Competition
- 4.10 Missed Experiences And Lack Of Exposure
- 5 The disadvantages of homeschooling
- 6 The Statistics Of Homeschooling VS Public School
- 7 The Most Popular Reasons For Homeschooling
- 8 Conclusion - Homeschool or Public School?
School choice has traditionally been a ‘dirty phrase.’ It often signifies a lack of faith in the public system. But in reality, there are many school districts that are in budget crises or facing accreditation warnings.
Because a child’s education has huge implications on his or her development, school choice is a decision that should not be taken lightly. As more parents begin to realize the need for educational reform, school choice becomes a more accepted term.
What are the available options?
There are private schools, charter schools, open enrollment programs, boarding schools, and homeschooling to name a few. Are these options better than the public education system? While there are many objective facts, it is ultimately a subjective decision that every parent must make.
“I’m just a parent who has run out of school choices”
Sometimes parents look into home education, not because they are overly passionate about a particular homeschooling philosophy, but because they are running out of options. These parents usually feel overwhelmed.
Facebook groups overflow with knowledgeable and excited homeschoolers. Imbued with passionate reasons for homeschooling, online resources may be excluding. (Not to mention homeschool mom blogs.)
Unfortunately, at times education seems like a problem that needs to be solved. Not everyone who homeschools was born to homeschool – although many ‘mommy blogs’ will beg to differ. You might be an accidental homeschooler, and that is perfectly okay.
The Pros of Homeschooling
The majority of states in the U.S. allow homeschoolers to pick and choose what they want to learn and when they want to learn it. Children are no longer restricted by the strict schedule and organization of public schools.
Catering the education to the child
All students learn at different rates and excel at different subjects. And most students struggle with at least one area of study. Because of homeschooling’s educational liberty, parents are able to delegate more time to certain subjects and less time on others. So, if your child really struggles at Math, it might make sense to spend fifteen extra minutes on mathematics each day. And, because the student is a proficient and prolific writer, he or she can finish English homework in half the time. Once the student has completed a curriculum for the year, it’s possible to dedicate new found time to further developing what the student is most interested in. It is very easy for a homeschool parent to accommodate this.
Catering to your child’s learning style
Public schools do not cater education styles to fit each child’s learning style. When you discover your children’s learning style you will be more prepared and equipped to teach them. Children often have the same learning styles as their parents, but this is not always the case. Once you discover your child’s learning style, you will be able to better connect with him or her. You can use this knowledge to better adjust your curriculum and schedule. Once you figure out your child’s learning style you will be able to teach with the highest level of effectiveness. The most common learning styles are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing.
Check out this learningRX article for more information about the various different types of learning styles.
Tailoring lessons specifically for each child
Catering to your child’s educational needs can go as far as designing specific lesson plans that are best for your child. For instance, even though many parents require that their children complete curriculum that includes educational standards, the lessons can be changed to better suit the student’s interests. For example, if your child loves to sing, it is very easy to incorporate memorization of subjects into song. Or maybe instead of taking 5-minute breaks it's more beneficial to take 10-minute sessions during difficult subjects to practice the violin.
Boost and develop your child’s natural talents
Homeschoolers have been known to publish books at extremely early ages. This is because homeschooling granted the student the ability to develop his or her natural talents at a much faster rate than in public school.
A better alternative to no child left behind
In a way, homeschooling is a ‘better’ alternative to no child left behind. No child left behind can greatly hinder the education of some students while accommodating for other students. Because you have the educational liberty to move at your own pace, your child will not ‘be left behind’ and won’t ‘drag behind’ any classmates.
Many children get bored in public school because they aren’t being challenged or the system includes lots of wasted time.
Homeschoolers can teach subjects that public schools do not offer
Many homeschool families find that one of the biggest pros of homeschooling and educational liberty is the ability to incorporate or teach subjects that most public schools do not offer. Many homeschoolers take Latin and other valuable subjects that are rarely offered. Other homeschool parents teach their children to be bilingual at a very early age when they pick it up the easiest. Artistically oriented families can emphasize teaching the arts while public schools continue to cut them.
Choosing when to teach certain aspects of education
Some homeschool parents do not want their children exposed sexual education until they are older. Other parents believe their religious beliefs are being contradicted during science classes at public schools. Homeschooling gives families the ability to omit or stagger certain topics until they deem their child mature enough to handle them.
You can address the “big issues” when you think your child is ready.
No more homework!
Everything is homework now! Most homeschoolers do not need to do additional ‘homework’ because they have already gotten the learning benefit during the day. Homework is usually assigned to allow students to practice an assignment. This practice can easily be incorporated into the day.
Technology Can Be Used To Teach
Technology opens up so many doors for supplemental education. There are hundreds of free lectures available and millions of informational websites on the internet. Parents that need to save time can order curriculum that is computer or internet based. Technology ‘changed the game’ by enormously expanding the scope of homeschooling. It is now possible for parents and students to create unique lesson plans with only a few keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. Even parents who are not tech savvy can choose to send their children to an online school. There are also online curriculums for parents that want more control.
Technology opens up doors for new subjects that are not limited to traditional textbooks and workbooks. Your children can now model inventions and print models with a 3D printer or learn basic web development and host their own website.
Create A Love For Learning
Many public school students have been conditioned to think that school is boring and something they don’t want to do. Public school kids long for the summers, pray for snow days, and look forward to leaving school at the end of the day.
Learning is exciting! Learning is a rare and wonderful gift and opportunity. Homeschooling can help foster a love for learning so that your children genially enjoy what they do each day and look forward to it. Children will discover that there are learning opportunities everywhere! Learning is not just limited to within the walls of a classroom.
Many parents look back on their middle school and high school educations and wish that they had the opportunity to do it all over. Once the real world hits, there are problems to worry about and bills to pay. This flows into the next benefit which is…
You Get To Learn Too!
Homeschool parents discover that they learn just as much as their children. Your children will teach you as you teach them. Are you smarter than a 5th grader is a nice reminder about how much of our education we have forgotten. Any parent that genuinely enjoys learning will love the opportunity to re-learn so many things they forgot.
In addition to structuring curriculum and subjects, homeschoolers are not confined within the ‘rules’ of a public school. This means that homeschoolers can go on educational trips on a whim. Or, they can purposefully schedule vacations or trips at off-season times. It means that when a parent’s work schedule changes they are able to accommodate. Public schools are known to waste a lot of time, and homeschoolers can usually finish the same amount of ‘work’ in 1/3 the amount of time. The flexibility of homeschooling opens up many doors in the way of field trips and educational visits.
This is one of the most well-known pros of homeschooling. Many parents believe that homeschooling allows them the ability to incorporate important aspects of their religion into education. Sometimes this means having religious elements present on a daily basis. Other times it just means that the environment contains less exposure to aspects of public education that conflict with religious beliefs.
Because homeschooling allows parents to incorporate any type of religion into their curriculum, homeschool students have more opportunities and time allotted to spiritually develop. Although lots of homeschool families are Christian, the spiritual development benefit is by no means limited to Christian spiritual development. Many people who do not claim to be ‘religious’ claim to be ‘spiritual.’
Incorporate Your Beliefs And Values Into Every Day Questions
Young children are curious are never stop asking questions. This is a good thing! Encourage this! This also gives you the rare opportunity to be the person who answers these questions. Many parents choose to use questions as tools to incorporate values and beliefs that are important to their family.
While the religious aspects of homeschooling are often well known, many people forget that homeschooling has just as much to offer for secular, agnostic, or atheist families. Secular homeschooling is a well-established and growing movement.
Additional Emotional Stability and Safety
Many public school students struggle with anxiety and pressure. Their mornings are rushed in order to get to school and they are constantly comparing themselves to other students. Some children that struggle in public school become anxious about their grades. Homeschooling eliminates the morning rush and parents can choose to evaluate and test their children in ways that are more emotionally beneficial.
Avoiding the bullying of public schools
Public schools can cause severe emotional damage to some students. Children who are smart, different, or disabled are often the targets of bullying. Along with the additional socialization of public school comes peer pressure, unnecessary competition, bullying, and an exaggerated need to ‘fit in.’ Sometimes parents choose to homeschool their child after he or she has become the residual target of several bullies.
Avoid exposure to alcohol and illegal drugs
Public school students are exposed to drugs and alcohol. The Huffington Post reported that 17% of high school students use illegal drugs. Statistics from DrugAbuse.gov report a 58.2% prevalence of alcohol and 34.9% marijuana among high schoolers. Most homeschoolers attend events, groups, and practices that take place outside of the home where they can still be exposed to drugs and alcohol. Nevertheless, homeschooling greatly cuts down the risk of early exposure to these substances. Because parents understand their children better than anyone else, it allows the parent to have full control over how they choose to educate and explain illegal drugs.
Building Family Relationships and Family Ties
The majority of homeschooling families believe that their educational decision has fostered family bonds and relationships. Homeschool families are often very close. This should be no surprise – home education usually means that parents spend much more time with their children. If a family has more than one child, the children also spend time learning together with their parent(s).
You have the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship.
Help your child mature during difficult times
Increased Control, Efficiency, And Feedback
It’s clear from the other sections that parents get control and are able to boost their child’s learning efficiency. Additionally, with more control parents are able to attend to problems and struggles that can persist for weeks and months in public school systems. Ironing out a problem quickly can save time, emotional distress, and eliminate future problems. It is especially important that this happens during student’s early and formative years.
Parents never need to wait to hear feedback from the school. Instead of relying on teachers to report problems or offer insights, parents are able to realize these things on a day to day basis.
One-on-one learning isn’t a possibility in mainstream education. There is no way to beat the student to teacher ratio in homeschooling.
The benefits of homeschooling
All of the pros about homeschooling listed above are benefits that homeschooling can offer. Homeschoolers are often curious individuals who have learned to be self-disciplined. They see the entire world as a learning opportunity and are rarely bored. They learn for the sake of learning. When the parent is a coach in addition to being a teacher, the children learn to be independent. Homeschoolers rarely live in threat of failures. They are willing to take risks because there is no classroom of students to judge them. Learning at home allows students to experience freedom. The real world is full of freedoms that homeschoolers are exposed to at an early age. Their decisions have consequences that are realized at an early age.
When you learn something for the sake of learning it becomes a ‘life experience.’ People remember life experiences while they easily forget memorization and textbooks. When this is incorporated into a family setting, parents and children and siblings form bonds that are unique and lasting. And with the freedom that accompanies homeschooling, students travel to new places, spend extended time in their favorite museums, and have the ability to develop their talents.
The cons of homeschooling
Now it is time to list the cons of homeschooling in our pros and cons comparison. The cons of homeschooling are often the pros of public school. Mainstream schools do offer plenty of benefits of their own.
The Best Benefits of Homeschooling Are Often The Biggest Cons Of Homeschooling
All of the benefits listed above take commitment and time. For instance, in order to incorporate your beliefs into everyday questions, you must be receptive to questions and put thought and effort into facilitating an answer. In order to iron out problems early on you must be observant. In order for your children to supplement their education with field trips, you must be willing to plan those trips and dedicate your time to driving them there. For almost every benefit there is a level of implied dedication, time, effort, or care that’s required.
Extremely Time Consuming
As alluded to above, homeschooling takes a serious time commitment on the parent’s end. Not only do parents need to plan the schedules and curriculum, they usually teach most of it. Because it takes so much time, it essentially becomes a full-time volunteer job. For a single parent, this time commitment can mean homeschooling is anywhere from difficult to impossible. When there are two parents, it is most common for one parent to work and the other to be a home educator.
You will have to spend 24 hours a day with your children… most days of the week.
Researching methods and curriculum
In order to create the best learning environment for your children, you need to spend time researching all of the materials you will use.
Homeschool Socialization May Be A Disadvantage
This is often the first disadvantage that comes to mind. When children do not spend their entire days with other kids, how do they learn social skills? The only people at home are family members. Children are already comfortable with family members. How can homeschoolers regularly meet new friends without going to school?
Most parents solve this problem through co-ops, sports, lessons, groups, churches, and other events and gatherings that take place outside of the home. Other parents will point out that the public school environment is actually quite unnatural. There is no real life scenario where groups of people are categorized by age and spend their entire day moving to a set routine of classes.
The potential lack of social development ultimately rests in the hands of the parents.
Homeschooling can cost money. Anywhere from a few hundred to thousands. Most families can find ways (especially through technology and free resources) to make homeschooling itself affordable. However, the time commitment that could be spent on a full time or part time job causes a big financial hit. Forgoing employment is a difficult commitment to swallow.
Although homeschooling has become more and more accepted, homeschoolers will still encounter individuals that criticize their decision. Many people do still have a negative opinion about the practice. Sometimes this can even mean friends or family.
You will need to learn how to justify homeschooling on a public stage.
Limited Access To Team Sports
While homeschooling provides the flexibility and time needed to excel in sports, many team oriented sports are only associated with a public school. Community sports like football are difficult to organize and play without a public school talent pool and audience. Additionally, in most states homeschoolers cannot participate in any ‘high school’ sports through the public education system. They are allowed to join club teams, but not compete for a high school. However, many homeschoolers are able to have an advantage in individual sports like running and swimming.
What if I’m not a good teacher? What if they would be better off in public school? Am I doing this right? These are questions that every homeschool parent considers at least once. While these insecurities are very real concerns, they are also easy to blow out of proportion.
Parents must learn how to be very patient when teaching their children. They must learn how to be okay with being behind schedule (or ‘behind’ the public schools). Parent teachers must learn how to get out of their comfort zone. You will need to encourage your children even when you don’t want to. Parents that don’t like asking for help will have a difficult time doing it all on their own. Seeking advice from seasoned homeschool families is essential to overcoming problems and optimizing your home school.
“Homeschooling Kids Are Weird”
Are homeschoolers weird? It’s a popular saying, but is it really true? Some students who are home educated do not get enough exposure to the outside world. Others, get a wide variety of exposure to people of all ages.
What if it isn’t the socialization aspect that makes homeschoolers weird? Sometimes families with strong religious beliefs are accused of ‘sheltering’ their children. At the end of the day, this family doesn’t care that the outside world judges them as ‘weird.’
If this is a serious concern, there is research. Some studies found that home educated children are just as social equipped as their public school peers. Other studies claim there are adverse behavioral issues that are more common in homeschoolers.
Reduced Competition or No Competition
Most people agree that some competition is healthy. While homeschooling decreases the anxiety of some students, it can eliminate the need for compaction for others. Advocates for public schools argue that competition breeds achievement. There are many events that take place in public schools that foster competitive spirits (such as sports, auditions, and spelling bees). These events can encourage students to try their hardest for something. Without this encouragement to strive for something, will homeschool students miss opportunities to realize talents or discover new aptitudes?
Yes, many homeschoolers take part in sports teams and hobbies outside of the house. It is worth pointing out that this participation is often the result of prior interest.
Missed Experiences And Lack Of Exposure
There are experiences other than sports and competitions that homeschool students will miss when they are educated at home. More importantly than just events, homeschool students usually lack exposure to a diversity of cultures. Even if the student engages in co-ops, teams, and groups outside of the home, there is a good chance that they are not comprised of the same diverse spectrum of people that can be found in public schools.
If a parent wants their child to be exposed to a wide variety of subjects, then a homeschooler can receive a more diverse education than the public school counterpart. However, if the parent only caters to what the student likes, the student will not be exposed to a wide variety of subjects. This is a problem most commonly voiced about ‘unschooling’ where the student has full control over what he or she learns.
The disadvantages of homeschooling
To sum it up, homeschoolers are often exposed to fewer social situations and regularly interact with a less diverse population. Often times they do not get as much interaction with other people of their own age. Some homeschoolers are easily recognized or socially awkward. Sometimes by removing a child from the public school system they miss out on valuable opportunities and competitive environments.
As a parent, you will need to invest lots of time into your children’s educations. There is a good chance that your family’s income will also take a hit.
The decision is left to the parent. Are the disadvantages of homeschooling too great? Or do the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the cons? Comment below with your pros and cons! Did we miss something important?
The Statistics Of Homeschooling VS Public School
What do the statistics say?
First, there are already over a million homeschool families in the United States. Homeschoolers make up 3.4% of the population. This number is growing with an 18% increase in growth [source 1] [source 2].
What about academic performance? The research provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association claims that the average homeschooler outperforms the average public school and the private school student. They reported that homeschoolers didn’t just outperform traditional students on average, but across the board. There wasn’t a single subject where the average public/private school student outperformed their home educated peers [source].
The Most Popular Reasons For Homeschooling
Surveys taken by the general homeschool community help to identify the most popular reasons for homeschooling today. Survey participants were asked to answer their #1 reason why they chose to homeschool. The survey results have been changing over time, trending towards the current #1 reason which is a concern for a safe school environment.
Reasons for homeschooling from a 2007 poll/study
In 2007 a study found there were 3 primary reasons why homeschool parents chose home education.
- Concern about the public school environment
- A desire to provide religious or more instruction
- Parents were dissatisfied with the instruction at other schools
#1 Reasons for homeschooling from the 2012 NCES survey
What follows is the reported #1 reason that parents reported for why they decided to homeschool.
- 25% homeschool out of concern for a safe school environment
- 21% homeschool in order to teach their children religious and more points of view
- 19% were dissatisfied with the academic instruction and chose to homeschool instead
- 5% wanted a non-traditional learning approach that wasn’t available in traditional schooling
- 5% homeschool because their children have special needs that are not met in traditional schools
- Everyone else, 21%, was lumped into the ‘other’ category which includes reasons like finances, family time, family importance, travel, and schedule reasons.
What’s changed? Today’s #1 reason (safe environment) was 21% (4% lower) in 2007. Safety surpassed the #1 reason from 2007 which was religious or moral reasons. That number dropped from 36% to 21%. This is the most significant recent change. The variety and polling size of ‘other’ has also been increasing.
These polls provide a solid overview of where the current homeschooling community’s values lie.
Conclusion - Homeschool or Public School?
At the end of the day, the decision is 100% yours. Hopefully, this page has been informative and useful. If you have any questions that we didn't answer, please do not hesitate to contact us. You might also find the additional resources below useful.
There is nothing better than hearing advice from a collection of homeschoolers. NPR did an excellent interview with a collection of parents:
Many people laud the benefits of homeschooling. But the practice also has critics. Host Michel Martin talks with a group of parents about their personal experiences: homeschooling advocate Michael Farris, dad Paul Hagen and mom Shawn Spence.
Listen to the recording online for free: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/06/209512313/parents-on-the-pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling
Last modified: April 28, 2017