Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Positives and Negatives of Home Education

This is part of a short series about starting home education.

Part 1
Part 2

Home education has many benefits but it is essential to count the cost before you start. There are plenty of beautiful posts around which make everything look lovely and yes, there are great advantages and joyful days. However, we live in a fallen world. Parents are sinners and children are less than perfect. There are days when the children are difficult and their mother is struggling with hormones or seasonal affective disorder or both; the washing machine breaks down; a toddler scribbles on the wall and dad is going to be out until late. Yes, we've all been there and home educating certainly isn't going to make life perfect or make our children perfect. It may be used for our sanctification but that may well not be an easy process. 

So these are incomplete lists of some of the major benefits and disadvantages. I'm not trying to put anyone off but being realistic. 

  • Being able to keep to educational aims.This is usually accompanied by other benefits such as
  • Seeing each new stage.
  • One to one working.
  • Individualised work for a child's needs. 
  • Individualised work for a child's interests.
  • Enjoying being with the children.
  • Many educational trips.
  • Time outside. 
  • Holidays in term time.
  • Family cohesiveness.
  • Parental learning. 
When I asked my children about home education, they had a different list of benefits. High on their list was home cooking,
Recent Roman themed meal
more trips and flexible term times so that they can take birthdays off and arrange not to be working when there are special visitors.

  • Cost-there is definitely an expense to home education. Even if you educate using library books, free trips and practice writing in the sand in the park there are expenses. The most major cost is the loss of a two income family. Other expenses include extra heating, meals, wear and tear on the house, educational materials and the cost of exams.
  • No peace!
  • Difficulty keeping up with housework.
  • Balancing home education with other responsibilities.
  • Managing home education with health issues. 
  • Managing opposition.
  • Home education takes time. 
  • Being counter-cultural. Christians are used to this to some degree but home education accentuates this.
Every family will have to balance the equation for themselves. Some of the issues are more weighty than others. Some issues need to be counted but are a cost willingly paid.

For example, home education takes time. This means that there is less time for other activities. We made a decision, after home educating for about eighteen months that the balance of home education, part time work for me, caring for an older relative and managing a household just didn't work.

There are stories around of people who home educate at night and at weekends. It might work for them but I know that our children are not going to manage their best effort at maths and phonics at night and that Saturday working is resented. We want to keep Sunday as the Lord's Day so working then just isn't on for us. Of course, learning happens in evenings and at weekends but this isn't the sit down and sort out a difficult concept type of learning. 

We decided that I would stop working and concentrate on managing the family and the children's education. It isn't a decision that we regret but was an important milestone. Other families manage this in a different way, perhaps, with both parents working part time or with a grandparent helping out. 

The perceived negative of lack of socialisation is usually a non-issue. Most home educators don't stay at home all the time and will meet up with other people both at home education groups, after school/weekend clubs, church activities, informal meetings and trips. Having had children in school and at home, I have found that the number of friends tends to be similar although children in school have more acquaintances. Home educated children also tend to have little regard for year group when making friends so may have friends over a wider spread of ages. 

What is important is to balance the all important reasons for home educating and other positives against the negatives. For Christians, this is a decision which takes much prayer and thought.

Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.
Romans 14 verse 4

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  1. Yes, there are many costs as well as benefits.

    Two extra benefits: The children can continue to learn even though they may be too sick to attend school. This has been a huge blessing in our family. Also, the children do not have to be exposed to ungodly school policies.
    Homeschooling is a big commitment, but I have only rarely wanted to quit. The children also are not at all interested in attending school.

    1. Thank you, Annie Kate. Thank you for your points. Thankfully, our children have been generally well but I have found that on days when they wouldn't have gone to school, they have generally managed to do a little at home. Yes, I agree about not exposing children to ungodly policies, this fits in with keeping to educational objectives and a Christian worldview.