Thank you to the The Expat Hub for providing today’s guest post. The Expat Hub is a website with lots of useful tips for those who are considering a move overseas or those like us who have already made the move.
Homeschooling isn’t something I have considered for my own children, we are fortunate to have good schools in the area and my children are happy. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone but the article below outlines the pros and cons of homeschooling both generally and from an expat perspective.
Homeschooling is a subject which always seems to inspire debate.
It might not be for everyone but with the number of children being home schooled on the rise it’s clearly a viable option for some families.
But is it a good choice for families who have emigrated?
Before we talk about homeschooling in specific relation to expatriate children here are some of the most commonly argued pros and cons of homeschooling.
• Testing has shown that homeschooled children are good self-directed learners, do as well in exams as their public/private school counterparts and are well received at colleges and universities.
• Although the national curriculum has to be covered (and the children must prove their competence in specific subjects through testing) generally speaking there is far more educational freedom at home then in the classroom. What can be taught, how it can be taught, and where is much less prescriptive.
• Bullying is a sad aspect of mainstream education, something which can have a negative, and in some cases incredibly serious, impact on a child. In a homeschooling environment bullying isn’t an issue. Consequently a child may be less likely to suffer from low self esteem or condition their behaviour to ‘fit in’. Homeschooling can also be a fantastic way of gradually building up the confidence of a child who has been a victim of bullying in a traditional school.
• By not having to stick to traditional school hours homeschooled children and their parents can work out a schedule which benefits everyone. Children can also stay in bed a little longer, allowing for better rested (and more intellectually receptive) students.
• Homeschooling can also help build stronger ties between family members. Parents of rebellious children have often noted how destructive behaviours lessened or disappeared following a period of homeschooling. Spending more time with their children allows parents to know them better, giving them the opportunity to witness important life changes they could otherwise miss.
• One of the things many parents have commented on is how, without schoolroom distractions, children are able to accomplish more work in a shorter space of time. This often means that the concept of homework going on well into the evening, a major stress of many parents, is no longer an issue.
• During difficult times like illness, bereavement or moving children in traditional education are prone to experience disruption and can find it difficult to focus. The natural flexibility of homeschooling means that it is much easier to work around a family issue.
• Going to a traditional school can also be a costly business. There are school uniforms to buy, PE kits, packed/school lunches, lunch boxes, pencil cases, bus fare/petrol costs and school trips. Some or all of these expenses can be eliminated with homeschooling.
• Whilst homeschooling is more flexible than having to stick with a school timetable it does take up a lot of time for parents. As well as the actual teaching involved there’s marking, lesson planning/activity organising and lunch making, and a dozen other things besides!
• Some people consider homeschooling to be ‘weird’ and those who do it are in the minority. Parents, and children, must be prepared to experience criticism and negative comments.
• Homeschooling is a full time job, one which requires a serious investment of time and effort. For those parents who have to work alongside to supplement their incomes life can be very busy and tiring.
• Further to the point above, homeschooling can severely limit your household income, particularly for single parents. Even couples can find it a struggle to make ends meet if one of them has to give up work in order to make homeschooling a possibility.
• Although spending more time together as a family is something which sounds like a pro in theory, the reality can be difficult and littered with ups and downs. Parents have to be prepared for the occasional tantrum or argument, and children have to understand the way they’re expected to behave during ‘school’ hours.
• If you have just one or two children to teach the group and team activities you can enjoy together are going to be severely limited. Many homeschooling families find it necessary to enrol their children in extracurricular activities, particularly sporting ones, so they don’t miss out.
• In some instances children who are homeschooled find it difficult to interact with others outside of the home environment. Whilst the loss of social interaction is the main point raised by homeschooling detractors, parents who want to home school can arrange activities, take their children to public events and encourage them to make friends within their local community. Social isolation can be a problem, but it’s one that’s relatively easy to work around.
So those are the pros and cons of homeschooling, but what different things do you have to consider if your family is emigrating?
Firstly, although children tend to adapt to new environments more easily than adults, how well they are able to acclimatise varies hugely according to their age, confidence levels and previous experiences, and can even be affected by whether or not they have siblings.
Generally, the older a child is the more fervent an attachment they will have developed to the home they’ve left behind and the more resistant they’ll be to all the changes in their lives. Homeschooling can be a good option in this case, and it can also help you overcome the initial language barrier older children often face when entering the schooling system abroad.
Choosing between a pricy international school and a cheaper (but often more culturally challenging) local school can be a real headache for parents. Deciding to home school can alleviate some of the stress!
If your move abroad is temporary sending a child to a mainstream school can be a real upheaval when you have to leave. Home schooling is a great way of making sure your child doesn’t miss out on their education without the issues of them having to adapt to a new school only to leave soon after. If you talk to the teachers at your child’s school before you move you may even be able to pick up their curriculum exactly where they left off, making the transition smoother.
The Big Con
If you’ve emigrated for good it’s important to get the family integrated into their new environment as quickly as possible. Homeschooling might be a sensible and attractive option but as a family you run the risk of spending too much time together and not enough time getting to know your new home and meeting new people. When it comes to homeschooling abroad social isolation is as big a problem for parents as children. If it is something you want to pursue ensure that you and your children are involved in separate activities which will encourage you to make your own connections. Building a life for yourself beyond the family home can be the most challenging thing about emigrating and making your family a self sufficient unit really won’t make things easier in the long run!
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