Making the Decision to Homeschool/Homepreschool: Comparing Institutional Schools with Homeschools
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 16, 2010
It’s spring here in sunny California, and before long, it will be summer. It’s the time of year when parents-especially parents of young children-make important decisions about their children’s educational future: Should your child go to preschool/school, or should you teach her at home? Does your child need another year of preschool, or is it time to break into Kindergarten? And of course, every parent wants to know: What are the advantages/disadvantages of institutional school versus homepreschool/homeschool? Why do parents choose to homepreschool/homeschool, anyway?
Parents decide to homepreschool for many of the same reasons they decide to homeschool:
*To avoid the bad behaviors children “catch” from each other within institutional settings
*To protect their children from communicable diseases, head lice, bomb scares, and bullies (yes, even at the preschool level!)
*To avoid pushing their young children from the security of the “home nest” prematurely, realizing that parent/child attachments are diluted when children attend institutional schools (Home Grown Kids, by Moore.)
*Because they want to raise their own children, maintaining their role as primary caregivers to the children they love
*To protect the innocence and joy of an old-fashioned childhood
*Because their children are too developmentally delayed or too developmentally advanced to benefit from traditional schooling
*Because they think they might want to homeschool, but they want to “try it out” first
*Because they enjoy their children’s company, and want to continue doing so
*Because they know they can do a better job for less money than any “preschool” or government school could
For spiritual or religious reasons!
This is by no means a complete list of the reasons families choose to homepreschool/homeschool. There are many, many more! Some of those reasons become clear once we compare institutional schools (of any kind) to home-schools. Below you will find a chart, inspired in part by a chart Clay and Sally Clarkson include in their wonderful book, Educating the Wholehearted Child.
|Who is Your Child?||Who is Your Child?|
|Your child is a part of a group, and is treated as such. Institutions must focus on conformity to group standards in order to teach “en mass”. Children must progress along with the class.||Your child is an individual with individual needs, learning styles, strengths/weaknesses, readiness skills, and even interests –all of which are addressed. Each child progresses at his/her own pace.|
|Development of the Whole Person||Development of the Whole Person|
|Only academics are addressed, not the whole person. Emotions, spirituality, character issues, family life and life skills are not attended to.||The whole person is addressed, including emotions, spirituality, family life and life skills. The family’s own morals and beliefs can be systematically taught.|
|Learning Styles||Learning Styles|
|Learning is usually formal, regimented and heavily teacher directed. This stifles individuality, creativity and the natural desire to learn. Time is limited, and activities must be stopped when time is up.||Learning can be formal or informal, as needed to best fit the child, family and topic studied. Time and freedom help to unleash the child’s creativity, individuality and enthusiasm for learning.|
|Scope and Sequence||Scope and Sequence|
|Instruction follows a scope and sequence turned on its head. Children are pushed into early, formal academics before developmental readiness has developed. Older student’s curriculum is “dumbed down”, accommodating the slowest learners. Too much is asked of younger students, and not enough is asked of older students.||Instruction is individualized and children can progress at their own pace. This allows younger children the time they need to develop emerging skills. As children grow older, curricula gradually becomes more and more challenging, and students can tackle advanced studies and thinking skills that are normally not pursued or developed.|
|Relationships with Teachers||Relationships with Teachers|
| Children have little opportunity to develop lasting relationships w/ teachers. Children must learn to adapt to different teachers and expectations every year.
Relationships between the teacher/student are necessarily distant and formal. Just as the teacher and student begin to know each other, the relationship is broken off.
| Parents have a lasting, loving and comfortable relationship with their children, and children naturally want to please their parents. Behavioral expectations do not change from year to year. Since parents and children already know and love each other, there is less stress and no adjustment period.
Studies continue year to year in a seamless, uninterrupted manner.
|Time and Attention||Time and Attention|
|The teacher can give students a limited amount of individualized attention, and is unable to respond to each child’s individual needs and interests. Most students receive less than 7 minutes of individual responses in an entire day.||A warm, loving parent can give each child nearly unlimited attention, and the parent can accomplish in 2-3 hours what a institution cannot accomplish in a whole day, or even longer! One-on-one tutoring cannot be surpassed.|
|Independent Learning||Independent Learning|
|In a classroom, the teacher is the authority and children rely on him/her to disseminate information. There is little time to oversee independent learning.||In the home, the parent is the authority and also the facilitator, helping each child learn how to think, learn, and do research independently.|
|Wasted Time/Distractions||Wasted Time/Distractions|
| There is much wasted time: Taking attendance, passing out papers, waiting on other students, settling the class down, etc. In reality, most hour long classes boil down to 30-40 minutes of actual instruction time—and little to none of that time is individualized instruction.
Real life experiences offered? Few to none.
The classroom is full of distractions and disruptive students.
Less is taught in more time compared to homeschool.
| There is no wasted time. Life itself is the classroom; many real life lessons/hands on experiences are included. Parents can teach more efficiently, covering more information in more detail in less time.
The home has less distractions and a more relaxed/quiet atmosphere.
|Methods of Teaching||Methods of Teaching|
|The classroom setting routinely employs methods that are “experimental”, rather than the tried and true (such as “whole language” versus phonics.) Reliance on textbooks, with little or no usage of real books or experiences, results in lifeless learning. Retention is often low, since children “learn the test” and then forget it.||Parents are free to choose the best “tried and true” methods, carefully choosing the best textbooks or “real, living” books to enhance learning. Life experiences, real books, discussions, games and activities augment and reinforce learning as the parent sees fit.|
|Children are routinely moved ahead in their studies without regard for the child’s skills or mastery of the subject. Children are tested yearly, on “grade level” materials. True retention is low, since children are “taught the test” and then promptly forget it. Most government school students score in the 50-60% range.|| HS children have the time needed to master basic concepts and skills before moving ahead. Children are tested as parents see fit*. Parents know how their children fall academically, and often use alternate methods of testing (such as oral tests, presentations and narration.)
Children are not taught the test, nor do children always use curriculum that teaches the same topics as public schools do. Even so, children usually score in the 80-90%.
|Grades are necessary to help parents/ teachers track a child’s progress. Assessments tend to concentrate on academic progress while overlooking spiritual development and character/morals|| Grades are unnecessary, at least until Jr. High/ High School age, are used only to help motivate a child or for transcripts. Since parents can work with the child until the concept or skill is mastered, every child can get an ‘A’.
Parents can assess their children’s spiritual/character development and work on these areas as part of the curriculum.
|Homework is routinely assigned and often necessary, due to the time constraints of institutional learning. Parents often spend many hours a day helping their children with homework…they might as well be homeschooling them!||Homework is usually unnecessary. Work is finished during “school” hours. Immediate feedback is available on completed work, and mistakes are then corrected while the assignment is fresh on the student’s mind.|
|Government schools routinely teach a worldview that is anti-God, anti-family and opposes the beliefs of parents. Tolerance of sin, acceptance of “theories” as facts, rejection of absolute truth, and the consensus of the masses are taught. Children are encouraged to reject their parent’s values and “think for themselves”.||Parents are free to teach their own worldviews, beliefs and morals so that their children can be grounded in the faith before being exposed to opposing views. Children are encouraged to see morals, religion, and politics through a Christian worldview, and are encouraged to truly think for themselves, unswayed by the ‘conscientious of the masses”.|
|Family Ties||Family Ties|
|Institutional schoolers miss out on growing up with their siblings, and close ties are often difficult to establish–especially if there is a great difference in age. Every family member goes his/her own way, and does his/her own thing.||Homeschoolers develop close ties to their siblings, and usually are each other’s best friends. Age differences don’t matter; families with children who are spaced widely apart find that older children are not only great helpers, but benefit from learning how to care for younger children.|
|The goal of institutional socialization is to make each child fit in with his/her peers, school, and society at large; to turn out a certain type of person–a tolerant “global citizen” (conformed to this world.) Christian children often succumb to the “youth culture” in order to “fit in”.||The goal of HS socialization is to instill a set of morals, manners and skills that help the child interact with people of all ages and cultures. Children are encouraged to think for themselves, not just follow the crowd. Children are prepared to stand firm in their own beliefs.|
|Peer Pressure||Peer Pressure|
|The secular values/philosophies taught in class and modeled by other students often clash with the values taught to Christian children. The pressure is so strong that many children choose to disobey family/Biblical standards in order to fit in and avoid ridicule.||In the Christian home, Biblical and family morals are taught, modeled and reinforced. There is no culture conflict; the parent’s culture and beliefs become the child’s culture and beliefs, too.|
|Peer Dependency, Identity||Peer Dependency, Identity|
|Children become peer dependent, and come to respect the values and opinions of their peers more than those of their parents. (Thus, the “Generation Gap” is formed.) The child’s identity becomes based on the acceptance of peers, which is based on conformity, appearance, sports abilities and sometimes intelligence.||Children do not become peer dependant, and continue to respect and value the advice, opinions and beliefs of their parents. No “Generation Gap” is formed. Children’s identities are formed within the family and as a child of God. Children mature without the worry of “conformity”, and learn how to think for themselves.|
|A friend is someone who sits next to you in class or plays with you. Little time is spent developing deep and lasting friendships. (Remember a teacher telling you weren’t at school to socialize?) The atmosphere in most schools is a competitive “pecking order” that includes groups of exclusive friends called “cliques”. This is not very conducive to forming lasting friendships.||A friend is someone who has similar values, beliefs and interests. Deep and long-lasting friendships are formed as families’ fellowship together. The atmosphere of the home and the real world is naturally conducive to forming friendships; children become friends with people of all ages and from all walks of life.|
|Real Life and the Real World||Real Life and the Real World|
|“School” is an artificially created atmosphere that is unique unto itself. When else in life are you grouped with people all the same age, doing all the same things at the same time? Little or no experience with real work or the adult world is provided, thus children are usually unprepared to live the adult life and instead live in a perpetual childhood.||“Home” is the real world. Home provides experiences with people of all ages. As children work with their parents and accompany them on their errands, they are exposed to the real, adult work world. Children are bettered prepared to live as adults, and understand the roles and duties of both parents.|
*Some states do require testing; find out what your state requires at www.hslda.org .
To find out more about making the decision to homeschool/homepreschool, take a look at the following tabs above: “What is homepreschool?” “Resources.” “Important Links.” “Goals of Homepreschool.” You can find even more information on my posts, “Preschool at Home: You Can Do It!” “What Preschoolers Really Need”, and “What Preschoolers SHOULD be Learning,” and “Preschool Goals.”
Deciding about preschool versus Kindergarten? Check out the tab, “My Articles” and look up “Preschool or Kindergarten?” If you are in the process of making the decision, be sure to click on my links on the sidebars: “Exploring Homeschooling,” and “Why NOT to Put Your Child in Preschool?” Finally, don’t forget about Home School Legal Defense, where you can find information about your state’s homeschooling laws, support groups, and getting started.
This post contains excerpts from the book, “Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.