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What are the pros and cons of homeschooling? Are you for or against it? Estimates vary, but somewhere between 2.7% and 5.8% of American children are homeschooled. The reasons parents give for homeschooling their children are many, but they include wanting to spend more time with their children, and to be more in control of their learning and instruction. Opponents point to the lack of ability of parents who are untrained in educational disciplines and the inability of homeschooled kids to form close social relationships outside their families. Would you ever consider homeschooling your own children? If you were homeschooled, what was your experience? 

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I am for the right to homeschool, but I don't believe that everyone has the ability to do it well. As a teacher, I have actually had more good experiences with homeschooled students who have transferred into public school than bad. I'm sure that's a reflection on the parents who were doing the homeschooling. They were probably committed and involved. It's definitely not for everybody, but in some cases it's a good option.

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Several of my husband's cousins were homeschooled in Texas because of religious reasons.  The followed the A Beka curriculum with their four children to varying degrees of complexity based on their financial situation at the time.  Some years they did the full curriculum, while others involved lots of reading and probably not much else.

My biggest concern with homeschooling after meeting my husband's grown cousins is their lack of social skills.  I am aware of some parents who home school their kids while having them involved in club sports or other activities to build their social skills.  My husband's four grown cousins all still live with their parents and, while they are a very close family unit, they have little interaction with the outside world.  Two of them went to college and did ok academically, but I wonder if they will ever have the social skills necessary to succeed in this world.

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I was homeschooled for a couple of years, though it was in very different circumstances than those experienced by most Americans.  For me, it was because I was living in a place where most schools weren't in English and my parents weren't convinced that the missionary schools that used English were good enough.

For me, the major problem was the way it affected my relationship with my mother.  I got plenty of socialization because we had lots of friends who would come around and play.  But my relationship with my mom suffered because I would resent having her push me to do better and more school work.  If she had been a "real" teacher, that wouldn't have been a problem.

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My own experience is that many parents homeschool their children because they find various elements of curricula objectionable for religious reasons.  I am conflicted over this, believing strongly that parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit to do so religiously, but also believing strongly that children schooled with this motivation are not being exposed at all to different points of view, which is a very poor way to provide the next generation's citizens in a democracy.  In short, I think that public education promotes exposure, tolerance, and better citizenry in the long run.  Everything that tends to dismantle our public education system is of great concern to me for this reason. 

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My main concerns against long-term homeschooling are the lack of social skills that may never be developed in such a restricted environment. I have taught many former homeschooled kids who later transferred into public and private schools, and this seemed to be their primary drawback: They run the gamut between highly undisciplined to extremely shy or withdrawn around others. In many cases, the homeschooled kids did not receive a well-rounded or thorough education from their parents (usually the "teachers"), and the children found themselves scholastically far behind the other students. In many cases, I don't blame the parents for not wanting their children exposed to the high risk non-educational aspects of public schools--bullying, fighting, drugs, etc.--but I believe all children need to become acclimated to the outside world and its ups and downs: the good and bad that they may never encounter inside the overly protected seclusion of their own homes. 

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This question will become even more critical if the voucher plan goes through. Vouchers and home schooling remove students and money from public schools leaving them with the most difficult to educate. My experience with home schooling has been quite varied. Some parents are truly devoted to educating their children with all the world has to offer and one to one help when they need it. They made sure to provide social experiences which were either part of the local school district's social activities or ones they planned on their own. The problem was that most of the parents didn't know how to teach math especially and the other subjects were taught without any plan. The books available for home schooling contain some good material, but again, it depends on the parents to truly teach it. Most of the students returned to school, in Minnesota at least, woefully behind in curriculum. They found functioning in a larger classroom, the expectations of working with classmates and being successful in the bustle of a middle school hard to do. Of course, there were exceptions and those students were a delight-- disciplined, eager to learn, responsive to suggestions and willing to work hard. Because of my experience in an 8th grade classroom with returning home schooled students, I am against the idea.
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One of the pros of homeschooling is not having to teach a government mandated curriculum, some of which can be directly opposed to your belief system. Another pro of homeschooling is precisely what is stated in the above question - getting to spend more time with your children and imparting to them your gained wisdom and experiences and relating it to the studies at hand.

One of the cons of homeschooling is not teaching a well-rounded curriculum as is typically the case in the public school system. Homeschooling may mean you have less resources to offer for learning. In addition, another con of homeschooling is the lack of large group activities that children can become involved in. The various clubs and activities at a school, sports and otherwise, are very beneficial and contribute to children forming quality relationships and learning teamwork.

I am for homeschooling (though I have never been home schooled), despite some of its drawbacks, precisely for the first reason I mentioned - having to adhere to a government curriculum that you may partially disagree with. I'm from Ontario, Canada, and the Ontario government is getting a little too pushy in my opinion on what they're demanding that public schools promote and teach, to the exclusion of subjects that some parents want taught in the schools but cannot have taught in the schools.

Homeschooling

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