The subject of homeschooling has produced numerous impassioned debates among parents and educators. Many say it’s a means of providing their children a safe environment to learn and it’s the best way to educate children given the current state of the public school system.(1) Still, others point out several arguments against homeschooling and why parents need to think long and hard before considering it for their children. Here’s a look at some of these arguments.
Lack of social interaction
Perhaps the biggest argument against homeschooling is the lack of social interaction between homeschooled kids and children their own age. Socialization, which is defined as “the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status,”(2) is an important part of a person’s growth that is developed in traditional schools. This crucial aspect in a person’s life is limited in children who are homeschooled because most of their interactions only happen with their family members and other adults. As a result, they are ill equipped to deal with people from different age groups, particularly when they enter the “real” world, such as going to college.
Proponents of homeschooling argue that the social environment children are exposed to at home is better than the ones outside because homeschooled children are not exposed to bullying, peer pressure, and other negative influences that children in traditional schools have to constantly deal with.(3) While it may be true that by homeschooling, parents are able to protect their children to some degree, the children will eventually have to leave the house and deal with the outside world.
Unfortunately, the fact that they’ve been sheltered may make the children unprepared to deal with social situations that they should’ve been exposed to as they were growing up had they gone to a public school. Some of these social situations involve dealing with people who have different beliefs, cultures, and family backgrounds, having teachers or professors who take a teaching approach that is different from what the children are used to, and forging friendships with people that they meet naturally rather than those they encounter through planned gatherings.
Lack of experience in education(4)
Parents may know their children and may be, to some extent, able to deal with the individual child’s learning abilities and preferences. However, professional teachers don’t only have the background in teaching, they also learn various techniques to teach a particular subject. Moreover, teachers have the experience teaching the same subjects year after year and they learn to develop the best strategies over time. This isn’t something most parents can say they have, unless they are professional teachers themselves who have had extensive experience teaching in a public school setting in the past. A way around this is for the parents to handle the subjects they are most equipped to teach and to find tutors or other homeschooling parents to take over the others. Unfortunately, this is not the case in some areas.
Compared to sending children to public school, homeschooling can be expensive. Costs include the purchase of the latest curriculum and teaching tools, books, computer software, project materials, field trips, and many others. Another cost of homeschooling is the loss of income since at least one parent will have to stay home to teach the children whether full-time or otherwise.(5)
Inadequate learning facilities(6)
While many parents decide to homeschool because they feel that they can give their children better education, a lot of homes are just not equipped with adequate learning facilities. Lessons may be conducted in a designated area in the home, experiments may be done in the kitchen, or the backyard could be where the art projects are created. All of these are fine but parents will have to look to other places for sports and other group learning activities if they want their children to get the best form of learning there is.
Homeschooled children are exposed to parental bias, which doesn’t always mean a bad thing. Problems, however, could arise when the parents’ beliefs and way of thinking are too narrow and limiting that exposure to contrary ideas can create conflict in the minds of the children. What’s worse is that these kids may not have the capability to handle these opposing viewpoints in a constructive way since they wouldn’t have enough experience with as well as exposure to similar situations.
Homeschooling may have many disadvantages but it continues to grow in popularity not only in the U.S. but in other countries, as well.(7) One of the major reasons for this is statistics indicate that homeschooled children do better than students from traditional schools in terms of academic performance and standardized tests(8) while religion is another important factor in the parents’ decision to homeschool.(9) Because of these, it would seem that homeschooling is not going anywhere anytime soon.