By Margarita Nahapetyan
In the past few years the number of parents who decided to educate their children at home has significantly increased. According to The Parent Survey which is published by the National Household Education Surveys Program, in 2001 the number of home-educated children achieved one million, which is approximately 1.7 per cent of the U.S. population. The rate has continued to grow every year since, from 7 to 15 per cent, and currently there are about 2 million children who receive their education at home.
In fact, home education has become so popular that colleges and universities now accept applications from children who have never been to school. And later, as adults, these kids become self-directed learners and reliable employees. But like any important decision involving a child, parents have to weigh all advantages and disadvantages before deciding if home education is the right choice for the whole family.
For many, many years home schooling was considered to be a wrong thing to do, assuming that parents just keep their kids at home without actually teaching them anything. Many people are against home education thinking that children lack knowledge of elementary academic subjects and are not able to normally socialize with other children. Also, there is a wide-spread opinion, that the school teachers are better equipped and are better prepared to teach children than their parents. Children have better conditions in school facilities, such as laboratories and libraries, and most importantly gym. Stay-at-home kids often have limited opportunities to participate in sports teams, especially competitive ones. Depending on where they live, home schoolers may or may not be welcome to take part in the public school competitions.
Home schooling may affect the family income. Since children are being educated at home all the time, much more money must be spent on the things related to education - home educators are responsible for purchasing books, supplies and other materials for their children, in addition to paying school taxes. For married parents, one partner must give up full-time job out of the home in order to home educate. This can be a big sacrifice for a family budget if people are not well-to-do. But surprisingly, most home schooling families believe that the partial loss of income is well worth the satisfaction of watching their kids grow and learn at home.
There is no question that learning outside school can consume a lot of time for both mother and father. If they chose to be with their kids 24/7 they need to be prepared for that, and, of course if parents fail they will only have themselves to blame. But most home school parents see it as a big plus which gives them more opportunities for personal and familial bonding and growth.
However, home education has many advantages as well. First of all, there are parents who are very well educated and equipped to teach their children. Otherwise there is always a possibility to hire a tutor. Also, there are several very good curriculums created specifically for home use, and which are easy to follow both for students and parents. The good thing is that the parents can explain the material and teach their kids while they play games, so there is an atmosphere of no pressure and force. Parents can better control the topics their children are exposed to and repeat as many times as it is needed the material that is hard to adopt. Children can follow their lessons slowly or quickly, everything depending on their abilities. However, parents should take into consideration, that teaching gifted children or children with special needs might require preparation of a different kind.
The home environment is a safe environment for children, both physically and emotionally. At home, children develop in an atmosphere that is free from bullying, pressure from other students, and harassment. Parents know exactly where their children are and who is taking care for them. Education at home allows children to spend their time in the real world environment where adults spend their time. Unlike other kids who attend public or private schools, home schoolers have flexible schedules which allow them to spend more time building strong relationships with parents and siblings. Families grow up too quickly, and home schooling is a good opportunity for many parents to reconstruct their lives around their children rather than around their employer, and gives them a good chance to focus on goals and interests of their kids.
There are multiple and different reasons why parents decide to remove their child from the public school system. But no matter what is the reason people should understand that home schooling is not for everyone, and in order to make the right choice for a child, parents should carefully weigh all the pros and cons before making such an important decision.