Home schooling has become increasingly popular in recent years, with a 2020 report by the U. S. Department of Education finding that
7% of all students were homeschooled in 2018 – an increase of over 2% in just the past five years. As home schooling has become more popular, debate has grown over its potential merits and risks.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the risks associated with home schooling, with a focus on six core areas of risk: social isolation, economic considerations, educational quality, parental capacity, risks to physical and mental health, and legal considerations.
One of the primary risks of home schooling is that of social isolation. Homeschooled children often struggle to make new friends, as they are unable to make connections with peers at school, in after-school clubs, or through other social activities.
This can lead to feelings of social anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression, as well as mitigate opportunities to learn communication and interpersonal skills. Social groups outside of the family, such as youth groups and sports teams, can help somewhat, but they often can’t provide the sustained interaction with same-age peers that is so important for social and emotional development. In addition, one of the key benefits of the school environment – exposure to diverse peers and perspectives – is largely lost when a student is homeschooled.
This can lead to a lack of understanding of others, which in turn can lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority to different social groups and prejudicial beliefs. It’s important to note that there can be mitigating factors – many homeschoolers are part of homeschooling cooperatives, organized regional or online communities of parents and students, which can provide ample opportunities for socialization.
For some, one of the main risks of homeschooling is the economic impact. Home schooling can be expensive, requiring material investments as well as time and effort of parents – generally a stay-at-home parent, or a parent who works at home or is able to work reduced hours.
The cost of materials for the homeschool student can range from hundreds of dollars per year for a basic curriculum to thousands for more expansive curricula. In addition, some homeschoolers may choose to pursue co-op classes, online classes, or tutoring, all of which can add to their costs. Home schooling also introduces economic risks to the parents as well, in that it may require one parent to stay home or reduce their hours.
This can lead to lost income for the primary breadwinner, if one parent must give up a full-time job to make homeschooling work. Alternatively, it can lead to increased childcare costs, if both parents must work when the child is at home.
It may be difficult for homeschooled students to receive a quality education. Without a teacher or certified instructor, it can be difficult to ensure that a child is learning the skills they need, and parents may not have the education needed to ensure their child is learning adequately. Even with a comprehensive curriculum, there’s no guarantee that a child’s learning needs are being met, as all children learn at different rates and have different educational needs.
Additionally, homeschoolers often lack access to certain special activities, such as field trips, science and math labs, and specialist classes. These can be a great way to supplement homeschooling, but may be difficult to arrange in a homeschool setting.
For the most part, homeschooled children are able to catch up with their peers and attend college, but there is no guarantee that the education they receive is adequate for college preparation and there is the risk of falling further behind.
Some consider the risks of home schooling to include the risk of a parent’s capacity to homeschool. Homeschooling requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of parents, and while they may have good intentions, parents may not have the knowledge or resources needed to provide a quality education. Furthermore, homeschooling is not for everyone – some parents may not have the emotional or psychological capacity to homeschool their children effectively.
In such cases, it’s important for parents to be aware of their limitations, and to seek other forms of education if necessary.
Risks to Physical and Mental Health
Risks to physical and mental health are another potential concern. Homeschooled children often have little to no shortage of physical, mental, and emotional development.
Lack of physical activity and exercise, due to lack of access to organized activities such as school sports, is one potential risk. In addition, children are are at risk of developing unhealthy habits, such as spending too much time alone or in front of screens. Mental health risks are also a concern.
Isolation and lack of access to supportive peers can lead to depression and other mental-health issues. Furthermore, the rigor of home schooling, as parents may feel the need to push their children to progress faster and further than they should, can lead to stress and burnout.
There are also legal considerations associated with homeschooling, as each state has different laws and regulations regarding the form, content, and assessment of homeschooling. Parents should familiarize themselves with the specific legal requirements for their state, and be sure to adhere to these requirements.
Improper homeschooling may lead to legal action and/or the loss of homeschooling privileges.
As we can see, there are potential risks associated with home schooling that should be carefully considered. Though it may be a viable option for many, others may find it a financial burden or too time-consuming and challenging. Each family needs to weigh the risks associated with home schooling against the potential benefits, and decide if it is the right educational option for their child.