Homeschool or School?

To homeschool or school a child now becomes a real decision to make, as more and more successful homeschoolers outshine their counterparts and prove that they are sophisticated learners that renowned universities want to attract.

With the gap between the education system and families' education expectations widening, families are turning to homeschooling for more control over their children's education. 

Despite all these, I still see an important, albeit changed role schools play in our children's educational journey, and therefore believe every child should attend both homeschool and school some time.

My Homeschool and School Experiences

So far, I have sent my five children to a total of fourteen schools: five in Singapore, two in Australia, two in China, two in the US, and three universities in different countries.

I also homeschooled my children at different times:  before all five went to kindergarten, when my son was not allowed to go to school in lower and upper primary, when my daughter experienced bully problems in school and wanted to pursue sports in upper primary, when we moved to a new country and I couldn't find schools for the boys then aged 8 and 11 and when four of them were doing grades 9 to 12.

Therefore, it is fair to conclude that I still have a lot of faith in schools, especially the ones with good educators. Yet, at various times of their lives, when I felt it was better to homeschool, I would do so. 

Generally, when there is a good school available, I will not miss an opportunity to send them, but when there isn't I will not hesitate to arm myself with a good curriculum and teach at home.

There are merits of both sending children to school and homeschooling, and I will mention three each in this article and write the rest later in the book*.

Benefits of homeschooling

You can find my simple Homeschool curriculum here.

Homeschooling is more efficient academically.

It takes a fraction of the time required by traditional schools to impart the same knowledge . Time is saved from traveling, waiting between classes, waiting for the class to get into order or for the teacher to complete other administrative tasks. 

My cleverer boys finished Algebra I at high school level in three days and the slowest of them took two weeks. No matter which school I sent them, they would have taken at least a semester to a year to do the same.  Teaching at home saves a lot of waiting time, and allows us to move at our own pace.

Homeschooling is cheap.

Besides the materials and the parents' time (which can be costly), there's very little else to pay for.  I managed to homeschool my children despite having a full-time job as I will typically spend two hours a day with them. 

Once the child has learned to be independent, the parent's involvement can be minimal.  I think the key to homeschooling or any schooling is to instill that love for learning so that they want to pursue the knowledge themselves.

So it is possible to keep a job and still homeschool the children, making it an even more financially viable option.

Homeschool accommodates child-paced learning.

Depending on the curriculum subscribed, homeschooling allows children to move at their own suitable paces without having to compromise with classroom structures. 

Therefore, properly homeschooled children are normally ahead of their peers academically.  In fact, many radically accelerated children were homeschooled, as well as many children with disabilities who went ahead to do better than their school-going peers.

Benefits of Schooling

School environment encourages diversity.

I believe it is important for children to be aware of where they are in their environments and societies, and mixing with peers in schools gives them a good understanding of that.

In schools, the opportunity to work with people with different intellectual, financial and social abilities provides a glimpse of the kind of society they live in.

Schools make children more resilient.

It takes a lot of skills for children to exist and function in schools: to compromise in a classroom, to obey their teachers, to respect other children and their properties and to learn playground politics. 

The important skills required to compromise and co-exist with non family members are difficult to be taught at home effectively.

Children should learn from strangers.

The greatest gift humans have over other creatures is the ability to learn from people not within our own immediate communities. School-going children are taught by teachers they like or dislike; there is very little room for choice.

I believe schools offer an opportunity for children to learn from anybody - an important life skill children should possess.  People who can learn from anyone has the currency to tap knowledge from an infinite pool of resources.

So how do we decide when to send children to school and when to homeschool them?  Better still, how do we mix both to get the best education outcome for our children?  I will share with you my thoughts through my journeys in the next article.