Why Go to School? The Advantages of Traditional School vs. Home School

Homeschooling is growing at a rate estimated around 11 percent each year, with the number of home-schooled kids in 2001 estimated to be 1.7 million. If you're feeling dissatisfied about your child's education in public school, you may be considering homeschooling – and while there are some benefits, there are a few drawbacks, as well.

A Viable Alternative

One common misconception about homeschooling is that home schooled children aren't as academically accomplished as kids in public school. But the truth is, current research finds home schoolers do as well as – or better – than their peers, score high on SATs and other college admission tests, and have the same opportunities at higher education. The most important question whether you're able to put in the time to educate your child.

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the ratio of students to teachers. Public school classes top out with as many as 35 for 40 children per class in the more crowded schools, not offering much opportunity for one-on-one attention for your child. You could have an absolutely enormous family, but you'll still see a better student/teacher ratio at home than in a traditional school. With more time for your student (and more learning time in general), you can create a focused-learning environment for your child at home, without the distractions and social difficulties of public school.

While the educational benefits of homeschooling make some parents fervent advocates of the method, there are kids that it simply isn't right for. Many children thrive in a diverse environment surrounded by their peers. One big drawback to homeschooling is that your child with have considerably less social interaction with other children, a vital part of maturing and emotional growth. Even with planned outing and "playdates" with other kids, home schooled children miss out on day-to-day social interaction with their peers, and that isolation can have an adverse effect on their education and emotional health.

Deciding if homeschooling is the right choice

Teaching your child at home is right for some kids, but absolutely the wrong approach for others. So, how do you know what's best for your child. First, take a hard look at why you're considering homeschooling in the first place. Is your public school system inadequate? Do you have strong moral/religious beliefs that you feel aren't served in public school? You must also ask yourself if you'll be able to provide a constructive, nurturing educational environment, and can afford the time to plan lessons and exercises.

Other considerations:

  • It will cost more for your child's education than if they were in public school.
  • You'll be with your child 24 hours a day, every day.
  • It may be difficult to find children with whom yours can build quality relationships.
  • You'll be spending a great deal of time planning and developing lessons.

Not for everyone

You may believe that you're shielding your child from the "dangers" of public school, but by homeschooling you're also depriving them of important socialization. Children in public schools come from a diverse array of races, religions and cultural backgrounds – by depriving them of the opportunity to socialize with a broad range of children, you run the risk of creating kids who don't fit in with their peer group, and who may not be able to understand other points of view.

Before committing your child to homeschooling, think not only about what he or she would be gaining by that unique experience, but also what might be lost by eschewing the more traditional route.

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