Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin
There are many pros and cons of homeschooling which you should consider if you are trying to decide whether homeschooling is for you. The reality is, every family and situation is different and the many benefits of homeschooling may make it a great option for your family…or the disadvantages may push you to find something else is a better fit for you and your kids.
As the popularity of homeschooling has increased, many people are asking themselves if it might be a good fit for their family. But it can be hard to know when to jump in and try it.
Our family has 9 children and over the last 16 years, we have used homeschooling, public school, private school, early college, homeschool co-ops and homeschool hybrids to help educate our kids. Every season of parenting is different and you may find that what works for one season may not be the right thing in the next.
So lets talk about the pros and cons of homeschooling. There are many reasons why homeschooling might be a great fit for your family. It truly does have a lot of advantages.
As you consider homeschooling, it is important to have a pros and cons of homeschooling list that you create and add notes to in your thinking process. Remember, my “pros and cons of homeschooling” may not be the same as yours because our circumstances are different.
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10 Benefits of Homeschooling
There are SO many benefits of homeschooling that range from spending time with your kids to less peer pressure and the chance to teach life skills. Some of them are purely convenience related and others a definitely academic or interest focused. As you consider the many advantages of homeschooling, be sure to make note of any concerns that would prevent that from working for your family.
It is important to get an accurate picture of your situation on paper before you begin…especially if you have any concerns related to childcare, finances or providing for your child’s unique needs. Here is a list of the pros of homeschooling:
1. Homeschooling is Flexible
Let’s face it, not everyone learns the same or has the same academic strengths or challenges. Homeschooling allows parents to tailor an education to fit a child’s needs and interests and let them learn at their own pace. It also allows for flexible scheduling.
That means some families do school in the summer and others take a month off for Christmas. If a family wants to travel, they can. If dad works a weird shift, the kids can still see him. And for teens, they can have a job during the day and get school work done on their own time.
2. You Can Study As Few or As Many Subjects as You Like
In school, students are mandated to study a certain number of subjects. But when you homeschool you can adjust that list. Unschooling allows parents to choose one topic to study deeply while weaving in elements of the other subjects.
If a child or parent is feeling overwhelmed, taking this approach can allow everyone to focus on one main subject rather than focusing on 7 different things at once.
Or…using traditional academic texts, a family may choose to block schedule and do only a few subjects at a time in larger blocks to reduce overwhelm.
Conversely, if a student is very academic, nothing is holding them back from doing MORE subjects. One year, my son Flynn was taking 3 high school science courses at once. He was taking Biology, Physics and Agriculture and did great in all of them.
This is the beauty of homeschooling!
3. Homeschooling allows students to have time to pursue their own interests.
Does your child want to learn about rabbits or goats? Those aren’t normal school subjects. But when you homeschool, you can tailor their education and suddenly you have time in the “science” block to study a topic that is interesting to your child specifically in their own learning style! This is really helpful for hands-on learners who really need to get their hands dirty to understand a concept or idea.
This can be even more helpful for high school students, especially if you have an opportunity for them to work or volunteer in an area related to a future career interest. My homeschooled teens always have jobs and the work experience they gain in high school has been valuable as they step into the next season as well.
4. Homechooling allows students to socialize with people of all ages.
In a traditional school, students are with their same-aged peers all day. But when students homeschool, they may have friends many years younger or older than them.
Because they have more control over their day, homeschooling can lend itself well to social activities with older adults or grandparents as well as activities that include a diverse age of kids. Homeschooled students are often very comfortable socializing with people of all ages.
The other day, my 13 year old was supposed to be working on math. But when my mom walked and we started having a conversation that centered on theology and culture, I glanced over at him. He had stopped working and was just listening. When I asked what he was doing he said, “I’m just listening. What you are talking about is more interesting than math!”
That is the beauty of homeschooling. Learning can happen anytime!
My Favorite Homeschool Books for Moms!
5. Homeschooling has many Academic Advantages
If you have a child who is academically gifted, homeschooling can allow them to pursue their interests deeply. In addition, it is easy to accelerate a student in some subjects while staying on grade level in others.
By the time they are in high school, many homeschooled students are taking mostly college classes, working, or taking classes at a career center. All of these things can give students some academic and career advantages in the future if the child is self-motivated!
My 2nd son had completed 7 high school science classes by the time he was in 10th grade. Because he was so interested, he was taking outside classes at a local science center as well as taking classes with a private teacher on top of his co-op classes. He was a sponge and homeschooling gave him the time to pursue these interests deeply.
That son finished high school at a private school where he could take more advanced science and math and have mentors who he could talk to. After graduation, he said, “Homeschooling definitely has advantages. It lets you learn something as quickly as you want. When you are in school, you have to learn at the pace set by the instructor.” That is so true!
6. Homeschooling has Religious or Faith Benefits
When you homeschool, as a parent you can decide how to integrate faith into you child’s education. In a traditional school or even private school setting, the way faith is integrated is harder for a parent to influence. However, when kids are homeschooled, your faith can be something you teach, practice and celebrate easily as you teach your kids all the other subjects.
In our family, we enjoy using holidays and daily life to teach our faith
7. Homeschool Community Benefits
Having been part of public, private and homeschool groups, I can tell you firsthand that a homeschool community is something hard to find in other school environments. In a homeschool community, the parents are investing in their own kids but also in their friend’s children.
This investment of time, money and skills into friendships can lead to some very close relationships which last far beyond the years of homeschooling. I have homeschool friends that I made 16 years ago who have graduated their kids and are no longer in my homeschool group. We still hang out in a monthly mom’s group all these years later.
Homeschool activities usually happen during the day which leaves the evenings free for family activities. When some of our kids went to school, this was something I noticed immediately….suddenly losing many evenings a week to school sports and activities. I love that homeschooling allows the family to be home most evenings.
8. Homeschooling Is Less Expensive than Private School (and some Public School)
If money is a concern, homeschooling can be a good option especially in comparison to private school tuition which is often $7,000-$20,000 per year or more. Even public school has some cost to attend especially if your student is doing a lot of activities with fees attached…or they want new clothes and the latest gadgets to fit in with their peers.
It is possible to homeschool for almost free using online resources, library books and curriculum obtain through thrift shops or second hand….especially for the elementary years. But if you don’t want to piece it together and have some money to spend, a budget of a few hundred dollars a year per child will cover the majority of your subjects…even less if you buy second hand.
So when we talk about the pros and cons of homeschooling, there are clearly many advantages of homeschooling that are worth considering as you weigh your options. That said, homeschooling is not the best fit for every family. There are some disadvantages to homeschooling and an individuals personal circumstances may also come into play here.
As much as I love homeschooling, it actually stopped working for us one year and we quit homeschooling for a year!
9. There are Endless Field Trips in the Real World
One of the best parts of homeschooling is the endless real world field trip opportunities. They don’t all have to cost a lot of money. A field trip can be visiting a local fire station or a local food pantry. Our homeschool group enjoyed going to a local grocery store bakery to see cakes made and another trip to see chocolates made. These all provided great opportunities to see how the real world works.
10. Homeschooling is a GREAT Way to Teach Life Skills
Life skills is an all encompassing term for the skills our kids need to launch successfully as adults. Traditional schooling often focusses on academic skills, but we all know that there is much more to life than academics.
In your homeschool, you can have built in times for chores that teach hard work. You might have family time at the table…or you might have family time mopping the floors! While not all of mine are homeschooled now, that training instilled when they were young is still there. They have learned how to cook, clean, fix things, care for their clothes, shop carefully, problem solve and much more.
Lets look at some of the disadvantages of homeschooling.
10 Disadvantages of Homeschooling
While not popular to talk about, there can be disadvantages of homeschooling especially when you look at families situations on a case by case basis.
1. Homeschooling Can Be Isolating Socially
Homeschooling can be isolating if the parents don’t make intentional choices to find outside opportunities for social interaction. Unlike the early days of homeschooling, today there are MANY different ways homeschoolers can make friends. However, I regularly meet homeschooled students who have few friends. One of the main reasons for this is that students are not seeing the same peers multiple times a week.
They may have one group of peers at church, another group at co-op, another group at dance class etc.
In addition, if a child is very extroverted and the parents are more introverted, this can lead to stress for everyone. The parents may not need or want the extra socialization, and feel stressed trying to seek out social opportunities for their child.
Any and all of these can lead to homeschooling feeling isolating.
2. Homeschooling Can Feel Expensive
If you are coming from the public school environment where all the essentials are paid for, homeschooling can feel expensive. All of the sudden you are faced with buying the educational materials and resources your child needs and if you aren’t sure what you are doing, the tension is real. You don’t want to waste money on things you aren’t sure are the right fit for your child.
While you can homeschool for almost free for elementary, as your kids get older you will see they have unique interests. And this will mean they might want special lessons, classes or supplies to pursue their interests.
At that point, if you have no budget for the “extras” homeschooling can feel like a burden and be hard for both the parents and students.
One of our big expenses has been tech and outside classes. It seems like we were always buying computers and software or paying for a few kids to take outside classes. Some of this is optional but it becomes more essential during the high school years.
3. Homeschooling Can Be Extra Challenging If Your Child Has Special Needs
If you have a child with learning challenges, trying to figure out how to educate them on your own…without the schools can feel very challenging. They may have their IEP serviced in school, but if you homeschool, you will need to meet their needs using other resources which may require extra time and/or money.
We have 3 adopted children and adding them to our family meant that some of our biological and adopted kids are VERY close in age. We have 3 sons that are each a year or less apart…so when they were little they were, 5, 6 and 7…and now they ware 13, 14 and 15.
The one in the middle of that bunch really struggled to learn to read. It was really hard. And the dynamics of those 3 boys meant we had chaos all the time. Our son who struggled with reading needed SO MUCH of my time to help him make any progress. But the other 2 needed attention too as they were just little boys who needed direction…and redirection. It was HARD to meet their individual needs!!
Homeschooling in elementary was a really hard season for us. The son with learning challenges did go to a school for a few years and eventually returned to homeschooling. We have now accessed outside classes and tutoring for him to create the supports he needed for success.
4. Homeschooling Does Not Have Built In Support
If your child has trouble in school, you know who to contact…the teacher…the principal…the guidance counselor. But when you homeschool, there is no number to dial…at least not one that you have on speed dial. Homeschoolers build resources and connections over time, but in the beginning, it can feel like you are stepping into something new with no support.
If you are in that situation, support groups or homeschool coaching can be a great option to give you the information and ideas you need.
5. Your Family May Not Support Homeschooling
If your family does not support homeschooling, that can feel isolating. You may feel like you need to “prove them wrong,” which can put extra pressure on you as a parent to “succeed.” If family does not support homeschooling, you may face extra criticism which is hard for some of us.
One thing to consider here is that sometimes our family doesn’t seem to support something because they don’t understand…or they think we may be taking on too much. If you decide to pursue homeschooling, you should plan to slowly and gracefully educate your family and not become offended by their lack of support!
6. Homeschooling Requires a Lot of Parental Energy
What do I mean by this? As a parent, it is your job to stay tuned in to what your child is learning and to facilitate them learning what they need to learn. Regardless of the homeschool philosophy you have, it is still your responsibility to help them get what they need to learn. And this can be a huge mindset shift if you have never homeschooled.
It can be hard to stay on top of the work getting done day in and day out for a whole school year.
I would say that for me personally, this has been the number one disadvantage of homeschooling.
When I was homeschooling 7 kids at one time, I had to be perpetually focussed on what they were doing and it left very little time for me to regroup and refocus. I also had to know where they were and what they were doing. I felt like if I sat down for a minute, someone was going to run out back and I would need to track them down again.
When I burned out on homeschooling, this was the biggest reason why!
7. Extracurriculars Can Be More Challenging For Homeschoolers
One of the things we noticed as our kids got older was that I was spending a ton of time driving them to all their things. One of the “benefits” of school is that there are many extracurricular options located right on the premises. The school also help transport them to sports and other activities so parents don’t do ALL the driving.
Some homeschoolers choose to only allow their kids to do extracurriculars on certain days…or they might let them do things through the public school. Either way, if you have several children, transporting them to all the extras can become a part-time job.
In my current season of life where I have kids in school and homeschooling, I spend 2 to 3 hours a day driving them to all the things. It can feel like a lot!
8. Homeschooling Might Not Work if Both Parents Work…or You Are a Single Parent
At first glance, it is obvious that homeschooling needs a parent to school at home right? So if parents aren’t there because they are working, homeschooling might be challenging. When people look into homeschooling, they are often asking themselves if they can educate their kids on top of their existing responsibilities.
And if you are working…this might not be possible. But then again it might! This is one more area where you can evaluate to see whether this option can work for your family!
However, some families are able to get creative. Parents might work opposite shifts. They homeschool on the weekends. Or sometimes grandparents or others are involved in helping make this possible.
9. Homeschooling May Be Difficult With Preschoolers and Babies
Parents may have good intentions and make wonderful plans when they homeschool but it is often VERY difficult to homeschool with young children. It can cause a lot of distraction for older siblings or simply make it difficult to find a good routine. Because I had many children quickly, I realized that I had a cycle of being very organized and great at planning…but struggled to implement my great ideas. And as a result we usually did the bare minimum so I could keep up with the little kids and housework.
10. Field Trips and “School Trips” Require Paying for the WHOLE family.
Until some of my older kids went to school, I never realized how often we skipped field trips because I didn’t want to pay for ALL my kids. When kids are in school, if they go on field trips, you are usually only paying a few dollars for one of your children to go.
There is a local farm that people rave about. But even on “Homeschool Days” it is over $10 a person to go. When my kids were younger, I used to say, “Going to that farm for a few hours is going to cost me $120…I guess we won’t buy groceries this week!”
When my kids went to school (private school), I was so happy for them to be able to go on some cool school trips that would have been unaffordable for the whole family. Whether that was a trip to camp for a few days, on a backpacking adventure in the Smokey Mountains or staying with a family in Norway…all of it was more affordable when it was just one of them going.
Homeschooling Preschool? What are the Pros and Cons of Co-op Preschool?
If your children are in preschool there are several pros and cons to joining a homeschool co-op preschool. The pros of course are socialization, making friends and adding structure to the week. The cons however are more nuanced because having young families in a co-op can be difficult IF they are not going to attend regularly.
Here are my pros and cons as a former co-op director. The apply if you don’t have older school aged children.
The Pros of a Homeschool Co-op for Preschool
- A co-op is a great place to make friends for moms and kids.
- It adds structure to the week.
- Its a great way to “try” the homeschool lifestyle
- It is often more inexpensive than a regular preschool
The Cons of a Homeschool Co-op for Preschool
- Families with only young children are absent more often which is hard when parents are also volunteers
- Families with only preschoolers are often less committed because they don’t need the accountability a co-op provides.
- A homeschool co-op usually requires moms to volunteer which means they don’t get a break like a traditional preschool provides.
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling for the Homeschool Parent
When we are talking about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling, one area that is usually overlooked is the affect of this learning choice on the homeschool parents. While I don’t believe this should be the only determining factor, it is wise for parents to consider the full picture when they choose to homeschool or when they reevaluate their education choices.
- Parents may have very little free time if they homeschool.
- Homeschooling lets you spend LOTS of time with your kids
- It offers flexibility to try new things as a family.
- Most parents have academic strengths and weaknesses themselves so it may be difficult to teach some subjects.
- Homeschooling often means one income for the family which can lead to financial challenges.
- Homeschooling requires a LOT of time…
- Homeschooilng is a lot of work!
- It can be easy to doubt whether you are making the “right” academic choices for your kids.
- Spending time with your kids all day may not be QUALITY TIME…but more like chaos control!
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling Are Really About The Best Fit For Your Family
As you look back at that list of pros and cons of homeschooling, it all really boils down to making an informed decision for you and your family. What works for my family may not work for yours. Some families choose to homeschool only one child and send the rest to school. Some choose to homeschool all. Some homeschool for elementary but not highschool. You get the idea. You Have Freedom to choose what is best for your family! It truly is amazing!
If you are struggling with whether homeschooling would be a good fit for your family…or maybe for just one of your kids and could benefit from outside opinion or input, feel free to email me at [email protected] . I’d be happy to help you navigate the best educational option for your family!
Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!