Homeschooling is growing in popularity. Still in many countries, such as Sweden or Germany home education or self study is not common or even illegal. In the USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, however, home education is a viable choice for some parents who are not happy with the education system or find accessing suitable schools difficult. Growing interest in teaching kids of all ages at home can be observed on many social network forums in many countries. Having encountered various educational challenges during our travels in various traditional school environments, we were often wondering if we should do 'home education' with our children too.
So we decided to take a look at the education statistics and find insights tips and advice to decide upon the viability of homeschooling. While in the US about 3% of all pupils are registered as homeschoolers, the numbers in other countries such as South Africa, where we are living now, are much higher.
The reason for parents choosing to not attend a 'regular' school or 'unschool' which equates to 'dropping out' of the national education system are varied: While some parents have to use homeschooling due to vast distances, which also is a main reason for the high occurrence of home study in Australia or Canada, parents might also consider the national education system as being over-regulated or dysfunctional. Bullying incidents and aggression by peers towards the child as well as a low standard of education are often named as prominent reason for choosing homeschooling.
This question bugs not only us, but many parents. Often we encounter seemingly unsurmountable challenges when raising children and school issues come up too often in our discussions to feel comfortable with the current situation. Sometimes it all gets to much and to close the eyes and denying nagging worries seems not possible anymore. Then we question 'our' school's ability to teach our children what we deem essential in educating their young minds. Young children are naturally inquisitive and often active, and might appear even 'hyperactive'. If you have a young child who is keen to learn but not motivated enough by the educators in preschool or primary school, the child will play up. And you might wonder if the education system which tends to streamline children, is the right way to go forward with. Sometimes children are deemed as 'not ready for school' because of some obscure measurements and regulations and are held back from starting school against the will of the parent and 'school-ready' child.
Once children reach senior primary school, some children display a strong interest in certain subjects or they lack or seem to lack interest, or academic knowledge, in school. Schools, in general, do not support children who question the teacher's knowledge, oppose their peers reactions or challenge the system. Children cannot be 'put in boxes', some children might need extension work, other children need more support with learning to calculate, spell or write. Others might benefit from special attention by the teacher and getting a variety of tasks. Some children develop at a very different pace then their peers and seem not to fit in.
Teenagers, high school learners, often struggle more within the school environment as you might deem healthy for their development. They might have strong interests already in some subjects and have acquired already a thorough knowledge in other subjects and are frustrated with the lack of opportunities given by teachers and the traditional school environment to motivate them and stretch them further. Or teenagers struggle with social problems that are unfortunately common in many schools at this age level: drug abuse and alcoholism, bullying, low morals and aggressive behaviour and even gang violence.
Having considered the advantages and disadvantages of home study, it is now on you to decide.
This is an decision nobody else can take for you. Let me assure you, instinctively, you will do the right thing for your child. Just listen in! And don't be discouraged by well-meaning friends and family who do not agree with your decision. In the end, it is your life and your decision is for your and your children's wellbeing. Nobody else can live your life for you!
Recently, I came across a fantastic note by motivational speaker Scott Eddy, which I want to pass on to you.
Wishing you all the best for the exciting way of educating your children, whichever way you choose.
Regina Gräff is the founder and editor of the free info sites ExpatCapeTown.com and Kids-World-Travel-Guide.com and co-author of the 'Living in South Africa' handbook. Born and raised in Germany, she has a MA phil degree in languages and intercultural communication. Regina is a serial expat and has worked as a teacher and educational consultant in various countries including the USA, Australia, Singapore and the UK. Since 2005, she lives with her family in Cape Town/South Africa.
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