homeschooling and child development

Homeschooling and Child Development

I was recently contacted to answer a few questions by a student who was doing a research assignment on  ‘How can home schooling at an early age be detrimental to a child’s development’. Whilst I strongly disagreed with her question (the bias was obvious) I answered her questions. Here are my answers.

Why did you decide to home school your child?

We realised that homeschooling was a viable option and we decided to just do it for a few years and delay formal schooling. We thought this would help our child mature in a positive social environment. We felt quite sure we could meet his academic and social needs through our current social network. It was so successful we continued on with all of our children.

Do you believe that your child may be at a disadvantage in regards to their emotional development?

No – I strongly disagree! If anything I believe they are much more emotionally mature and this has outworked itself to be especially evident in their teenage years. I often get comments that my kids are very mature and can establish eye contact with adults and have met many homeschool kids that are very able considerate and mature in their responses. I think that homeschool kids develop skills outside of the school environment. They are often more likely to mix with adult and a diverse age range of children. This allows children to learn how to relate to people of all ages. They are not restricted to peer group norms and can therefore develop their personality without the hindrance of negative peer group pressure.  In cases where a child is having some issues with emotional development school can be very detrimental but in a home environment you can work with these issues in a much gentler way and avoid some of the consequences you see from a kids bullied and those that have developed poor self esteem.

Do you believe that your child may be at a disadvantage in regards to their social development?

This is an interesting question because I think that homeschool kids may lack the sophistication of their peers because they are not up to date on all the “in” things that another child at school may be interested in. This can mean they may not know the pop culture of that particular generation. My son has often commented that some of the music that his friends talk about he hasn’t heard of. However this is not really an issue of social development as homeschool kids often bridge the generational gap and are comfortable with a wide range of ages. My kids have grown up in the city so there has been ample kids to hang out with that are homeschooled but I know that some kids get lonely and parents need to be a bit more proactive in making opportunities to develop friendships. They can do this with homeschool groups, sports, and other after school interests.So the answer to that question is really depends on what you mean by social development. I have 4 kids and they all have good social networks. There personalities determine how comfortable they are in different circumstances. One is a little shy but has a solid group of friends and is very demonstrative when he’s comfortable, another is reserved but very social and the other two are very comfortable performing before crowds.

Is your child learning the same content as mainstream schools?

Again yes and no is the answer. One of the reasons a lot of homeschoolers love home education is because they have more control over the content. So yes by in large we teach all the 3r’s as would be expected but the ideological views of school and the content of some subjects would be more individualised to the child and the families preferences.

How does home schooling prepare your child for life after school?

Better than school I believe because you can introduce your child to life experiences as opportunities arise. Children can pursue their interests and start working on those things from quite a young age.

Who teaches your child and what are their majors in?

When your children are young you are teaching them more intensively yourself but as they grow and mature you become more of a coach and mentor. Your role changes and you now work out their curriculum but they do most of their lessons on their own with you checking and helping as needed. I don’t think we have majors per se in homeschooling. We follow interests and try to give our kids a liberal education.

Is homeschooling for everyone?

No I don’t think it is. Of course I am presenting a view of when homeschooling goes well and because the motivation of the homeschoolers that I meet is that they love their kids much more than an institutional they tend to do their best for the child. When obstacles come their way they look for solutions. However I do know that homeschool requires commitment from the parent to make choices that require a sacrifice time and money and intentional outlook to work through issues as they arise. Home schooling is a choice and to “make people” homeschool would be a disaster because not all parents are wired to homeschool and they would flounder with the magnitude of responsibility that comes with making the choice to educate your children at home.