Is Homeschooling Right for Your Family?

Choosing to homeschool your kids is not a new concept. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase “school choice” took on a whole new meaning as more and more parents considered homeschooling a solution for their families. To curb the spread of the virus, school districts around the country offered a variety of educational possibilities, from in-person school with masks to full online school to a delayed start to the academic year to a hybrid model that offered some days in a physical classroom and other days virtually. Even as things opened back up and returned to normal, some schools continued to offer a virtual option. And since some younger kids are still unable to get the vaccine, some families feel uncertain about sending their kids back to brick-and-mortar schools. UPDATE: November 2022

On October 20, 2022, the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add COVID-19 vaccination to the childhood immunization schedule. While the CDC makes vaccine recommendations, each state will determine which ones are required for school entry. The updated schedule is set to be released in early 2023. If you’re thinking of teaching your child at home for the first time, or you’ve always considered this option for your family, you likely know there are many pros and cons.We’ve rounded up a list of common advantages and pitfalls you may encounter—with input from real-world homeschooling parents. As you weigh your decision, give some thought to how each of these might impact your own circumstance and trust that whatever decision you make will be the right one for your family.

Individualized education

Less time for yourself

Missing out on certain opportunities

Facing judgment and biasProsFreedom Whether you call it self-determination, freedom, or control, one clear advantage of homeschooling is the ability to make your own choices. As a homeschooler, you’ll be able to freely travel or move, include religious teaching in day-to-day learning, and not worry about social pressures or bullying your child may encounter at school. Plus, in home-based education, all subjects are fair game, from sailing to sewing to science. Practical skills, volunteering, artistic pursuits, and traditional trades can all fall under the broad umbrella of homeschooling. According to some homeschoolers, teachable moments are always happening, and “school” isn’t limited to school hours. FlexibilityWho doesn’t like to set their own schedule? By educating at home, you determine the structure of your day. If your child struggles to wake up by 7:00 a.m., for example, you can start school later. And, since homeschool timing is fluid, you can go ahead and make your child’s dentist appointment on a Tuesday at noon. You even have room to push back a lesson when you (or your kids) just aren’t feeling it. There are many ways to make it up later. Individualized EducationEvery child is different. Unfortunately, in the larger group setting of regular school, teachers can’t always tailor lessons to your child’s unique needs. At home, on the other hand, you can meet your child right where they are, customizing lessons to their particular interests. Does your younger child need a little extra help with math? Take an extra 15 minutes to help them understand fractions. Is your older kid into outer space? Start an astronomy unit! Homeschooling also lets you vary your approach from child to child if you have more than one—in terms of learning styles and grade levels. Plus, you get to celebrate any success or achievement together in real time. Strong RelationshipsThe more time you spend with your kids, the more opportunities arise for bonding. If you’ve always wished for more hours in the day as a family, perhaps homeschooling is the boon you’ve been craving. Positive experiences like fun field trips, a-ha moments in learning, and “recess” at the park can all build closer parent-child and sibling-to-sibling relationships. In some cases, homeschooling’s flexible schedule can even allow for more time with both parents—if work schedules usually limit time together on weekends or holidays. Cons A Lot of WorkIn addition to the domestic responsibilities of your role as a parent, you’re now a teacher, tutor, curriculum researcher, and principal.

It’s quite possibly the humdinger of all reasons not to homeschool: Teaching your kids at home is simply a lot of work. Creating, teaching, and grading a day’s or week’s worth of learning on multiple subjects takes serious time and effort. (However, many prepared curriculum packages do exist.) Plus, as delightful as it can be to tailor education to each child’s learning style, this can add to your workload, too. And if you have younger children at home who aren’t school age, you may also struggle to keep them occupied while you sit down to teach older kids. Less Time for YourselfNot surprisingly, the workload of homeschooling—and kids home all day—is likely to leave you with less time for yourself. Some homeschooling parents say they don’t have time to shower, let alone exercise or take care of their own needs. For parents who are used to a quiet, kid-free environment during the day, this aspect of homeschooling can be a major adjustment. Inability to Work All the work of homeschooling is guaranteed to take up hours of your day. Therefore, as a homeschooling parent, you may not be able to work outside the home, or you may have to cut your hours significantly. For some households, this may be a financial deal-breaker. Too Much TogethernessWhile many families find that homeschooling boosts good vibes between siblings and parents, there is such a thing as too much togetherness.