Homeschooling is increasingly gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional schooling. The reasons for this are varied and can range from religious belief and hardships to the recent pandemic leading to a massive decrease in face-to-face learning. Though there may be some drawbacks to this form of education, many parents are touting its advantages when it comes to their child’s mental health and emotional development.
In this article, we will explore whether homeschooling is actually better for mental health.
1: What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is the practice of providing education to children at home, rather than sending them to a physical school. It is a flexible approach of educating children that has been gaining traction in recent years. During homeschooling, parents or tutors are typically the ones responsible for providing the education and materials to their child or students.
There are a few ways that homeschooling can be conducted. For instance, parents and students can use carefully-crafted curriculums, such as those created by homeschool organizations to provide the necessary academic instruction.
Homeschooling can also be structured more freely with parents and children deciding what they would like to learn.
2: Advantages of homeschooling
Homeschooling has many advantages over traditional schooling. Firstly, it allows children to learn at their own pace, and be exposed to information in a way that suits them best.
Homeschooling also allows for parents to customize the curriculum for their children, providing them with the best possible education. On top of this, homeschooling can remove many of the distractions that a public school or larger classroom setting would offer. Due to the close bond parents and tutors have with their students, they also can be quicker to recognize any learning difficulties, or motivation problems a child may have, thus being able to intervene and help solve these issues more efficiently.
Moreover, having direct access to teachers or facilitators also allows children more time to discuss any questions or doubts they may have, providing invaluable clarification.
3: Disadvantages of homeschooling
Homeschooling is not all good, however. Homeschooling can produce a feeling of isolation.
Furthermore, due to the lack of direct peers, it can also be more difficult for children to develop strong social bonding skills. These shortcomings may be solved by extra-curricular activities or community-based classes, such as language learning or arts and crafts, but if these are not provided, it can be a severe issue for children. Additionally, unlike public schools, homeschooling places the entire burden of structuring education upon the parents and tutors.
If the parents’ skills are inadequate, or their passion for teaching is lacking, then a child’s education may suffer.
4: Research studies
Numerous research studies have been conducted to try and determine the merits of homeschooling for mental health. A study published in the Educational Psychology Review in 2007, surveyed 394 children who had attended other types of schooling.
They then compared the results to 139 children who had been homeschooled. The study found that homeschoolers, in comparison to other school-age children, had better social, personal and vocational skills, higher quality of life, and more positive educational outcomes. Although these findings have been disputed due to insufficient data, they do suggest that homeschooled children may have a greater level of adaptability and confidence than their peers.
5: Social implications
Socialization is a vital part of mental health. Many people believe that homeschooling prevents children from forming appropriate relationships with their peers, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
Studies have however, shown that homeschoolers actually socialize more, with higher levels of participation in extracurricular activities, and more involvement in community engagement projects or volunteering. Moreover, it has been shown that homeschoolers are more “socially independent”, meaning that they find it easier to form relationships outside of their immediate family life. This can further lead to an increase in empathy and understanding of people from different backgrounds.
6: Isolation and loneliness
Isolation and loneliness have been linked to increased levels of depression and anxiety. Although homeschooling can provide a safe and organized learning environment, and may be safer from physical risks such as bullying, it may also lead to higher levels of isolation and loneliness. Home schoolers can experience higher levels of loneliness due to the lack of direct contact with their peers.
This can be especially damaging to older children, as they become more adept to forming relationships and require more social contact than younger children. In order to reduce the risk of isolation and loneliness, it is important for parents to be proactive in encouraging their children to engage in activities outside of the home and encouraging them to form relationships.
7: Stress management
As children grow up, they may experience a higher than average level of stress from their studies. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from eating disorders to social anxiety. When a child is homeschooled, the stress from attending physical schools and performing in front of a crowded classroom can be completely eliminated.
Parents or tutors can provide a more attentive environment for their children, identifying signs of stress and helping to alleviate it. As such, children can focus more efficiently on their learning, without fear of failure or ridicule.
8: Learning disabilities
The existence of learning disabilities can make schooling a difficult task for those affected. However, homeschooling can provide more flexibility in aiding them.
Homeschooling allows parents to tailor their children’s education to best suit their needs. It also allows them to experiment with different teaching methods to find the one that works best for their child. In addition, homeschooling can allow a child with a learning disability to progress at their own pace without fear of falling behind their peers.
Homeschooling can also be a great way to provide specialized studies and material to those with learning disabilities.
9: Extracurricular activities
Although homeschooling can be a viable alternative to traditional schooling, it can be more difficult to provide children with extracurricular activities. These activities are often the source of much-needed socialization and have the potential to provide children with greater mental well-being. In an attempt to combat this, homeschoolers can seek out extracurricular activities offered outside of their home, such as athletic teams, theatrical performances or important clubs.
In addition, children can also take part in online communities, providing them with another way to socialize and interact with their peers.
10: Economic considerations
Homeschooling may provide a viable alternative to traditional schooling, however, it is not without its costs. Homeschooling can require not only purchasing or subscribing to quality materials, but also tutors, who can be expensive for some families.
Furthermore, taking children on excursions or to educational events can also be cost-prohibitive for some families. As such, it is important for families to really consider the economic implications of homeschooling before making a decision.
11: Homeschooling vs. traditional schooling
When comparing homeschooling to traditional schooling, there are several factors to consider. As previously mentioned, homeschooling offers a higher level of personalization and one-on-one instruction.
It also gives children more flexibility to explore different topics, which can foster higher levels of creativity and problem-solving. In contrast, traditional school can provide better socialization opportunities, as well as the ability to access a wider range of resources. Furthermore, traditional school can provide children with the opportunity to work collaboratively, which can be a great way to further their emotional growth and connect with their peers in a meaningful way.
12: Advantages for parents
Homeschooling can also be beneficial for parents. It can provide parents with the opportunity to develop an even stronger bond with their children, as well as foster invaluable life skills such as self-motivation, discipline and responsibility.
On top of this, parents can also see a marked reduction in stress, due to the lack of a lengthy daily school commute and potential parental involvement in school activities. Furthermore, homeschooling can also provide parents with greater financial freedom, as they are no longer bound by the costs of traditional schooling.
In conclusion, homeschooling offers numerous mental health benefits to children and families. The flexibility, socialization opportunities and economic freedom of homeschooling are all valuable benefits that should be considered when looking at schooling options. Of course, homeschooling is not right for everyone, and the decision to homeschool should be discussed between the whole family in order to come to the best possible decision.