If you’re researching the hows, whys and wherefores of home
education, it’s also a practicality to consider reasons why,
perhaps, it might not be the right option for your family.
Those who are already home educating have probably learned by hard experience that early dreams of sweetness and light can quickly disintegrate in the harsh light of reality. Home educating for the right reasons doesn’t necessarily change circumstances, but it goes a long way towards maintaining confidence on the days when the road is bumpy.
The following list has been compiled from an informal poll conducted amongst local home educators.
Keep in Mind
All these points are huge generalities. Only you know the realities of your family life, and as the parents, you are the ones best qualified to ascertain what will and won’t work for your family.
For example, if you really love an immaculate house, the prospect of cleaning science experiments off your kitchen ceiling might be an entirely valid reason for you not to educate your children at home. (Although it’s entirely possible to home educate in a way that completely avoids such situations – I’ve certainly never had to do that!) On the other hand, you might be completely freaked out at the prospect of becoming such a ‘non-conformist’, yet when you get into the swing of home education, you end up feeling like you were born for it.
These are the more facetious suggestions – please don’t take them too seriously! You might want to rethink notions of home education if you:
- just can’t bear to be parted from your babies
- think children must suffer in order to learn
- really don’t want to have to wash the results of science experiments off the kitchen ceiling
- think home educating is the easy way out of getting up and taking the kids to school
- believe that home educating from 3:15pm – 8:40am is enough for you, and you owe it to society to share your children with them for a miserly 6 hours per day
- believe that teachers are far more qualified and know more about your child than you ever will
- consider that the government knows best what your child should learn
- believe that you are busy enough all day, whereas teachers devote their whole attention to the children’s needs all day.
The following suggestions are common considerations, and can be genuine reasons for some parents to dismiss home education as an option. These points are well worth researching properly, however, as the realities are often quite different in practice. You might be NOT seriously considering home education if:
- you believe your child would miss out on specialised classes available in some schools
(a considerable range of specialised classes are available to home educators)
- your child has special needs that you believe you don’t have the resources or the confidence to address at home
(most research shows that constant one on one ‘intervention’ by untrained people is more effective than the occasional support a school can provide. It depends on what the school is able to offer and deliver, as well as the child’s individual needs, and yours.)
- you don’t believe you could give your child the educational diversity at home
(you’d be surprised!)
- you believe you’re not smart enough to teach your own child
(who taught them to walk, talk, eat, etc?)
- you think you’re not qualified to teach
(who better than the person who loves them most in all the world? Talking to other home educators and seeing the array of resources available is very helpful here.)
- you think the only way for a child to make friends / learn to socialise / meet friends / get socialised is to go to school
(home education is not an isolation chamber, and real life happens to everyone)
- you think your children will be isolated and won’t develop social skills
(attend a home educators picnic and chat with some of the parents, and some of the kids)
- you are not sure enough of yourself to handle it when others question your motives and your methods
(confidence comes with experience and having a solid network around you, so involvement with other home educators is invaluable here)
You may be dismissive of home education for the following very valid reasons, but such points could be worthy of revision at some time in the future. If you believe:
- you can have adequate input into your child’s education while they attend school
- your child can readily weather the negatives of school and emphasise the positives
- the community aspect of school life is beneficial for both you and your child
- you enjoy the excitement of hearing about their day at school when they get home
- you have a large family with wide age ranges, and don’t feel capable of organising so much curriculum
- you are overly concerned about what others will say (your parents, grandparents, friends, etc.)
Some of these suggestions might sound harsh. They aren’t meant to be cruel, but they are included to prompt genuine thoughtfulness about your own non-negotiable ideas or the truth that you know about your self/family/circumstances, etc. Home education might not be the right educational choice for your child if:
- your child is really loving school
- your child’s personality genuinely thrives at school
- you are truly happy with the public (or private) school system
- you have access to a school that best meets your child’s educational and social requirements
- you don’t enjoy spending time with your children
- there is long-term sickness or disability in the family, particularly of a terminal or mental nature (I don’t have personal experience of this, but the recommendation was made by someone who did. I have read articles which suggest that home education under such circumstances can be utterly beneficial for the whole family. Nobody can know your circumstances as well as you – just keep in mind that the priority must remain what is in the best interests of the child.)
- you need to work and your family’s well-being would be compromised by home education
- you want to work, so your children need to be at school
- you are stressed by sacrificing an income
- you feel absolutely no desire or call to home educate
- God is very clearly telling you not to (there are many christian home educators, but many who aren’t too)
- you genuinely believe that home education would be detrimental for your child or your family situation
- you live in an isolated area, unable to interact with other home educating families, and this would deeply trouble you or your child
- you think home educating your children will be a breeze
- you are not prepared to commit to providing for the educational needs of your child, whatever they may be and whichever direction they may take
- you aren’t willing to make the time, energy and financial commitment that it takes
- you are unwilling to be flexible
- you are unwilling to learn, yourself, in the process, as well as about yourself
- you think it will save time
- you know you genuinely could not provide adequate social interaction from home
- you think earning money for your family is the most important thing you can do for them
- you believe that you pay taxes so that someone else will educate your children
- there is undue conflict surrounding an attempt to home educate
- you don’t have your partner’s cooperation
- your partner is unsupportive to the point of placing your relationship in jeopardy
- your anxieties about not ‘conforming’ outweigh any perceived benefits of taking an alternate path for your children
- you are severely stressed about taking on such a role
- you want your children to have the values of society
- if you’re determined to ‘do school at home’ – it doesn’t work
- you believe your child will never learn anything by staying at home
- you think or know you wouldn’t cope emotionally or financially
Our best advice is to pour yourself a nice cuppa (or a glass of wine if you prefer),
put your feet up and discuss your thoughts with your loved ones.
Deciding whether or not to home educate can feel huge.
Most likely, though, as you look at what’s best for
your child and your family, everything will work out fine.
Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.
~ Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller’s teacher)