If you are considering homeschooling or are researching your child's education, you probably know that children, even in the same family, have different educational needs. For some, that means child-led education, while others thrive in a formal school environment. Various types of education can be provided at home, or in a communal private or public school. What should you consider as you decide if homeschooling is right for your child?
Your Child's Temperament and Your Own
Does your child thrive in a very structured environment, where activities are scheduled in advance and there are few alterations to his schedule? Do you also enjoy staying "on task," or do you follow your whims, learning as you go? While it is possible to have success with different personality types, it is something to consider heavily. If you are miserable letting your curious child learn what she loves at her own pace, but she cries when you incorporate a stricter schedule to save your sanity, it might not be an optimal learning environment for either of you. Be realistic about your limits, your child's limits, and how a potential educational environment works with each of your needs.
Is it your child's dream to play in the marching band? Does she have an absolute passion for debate or chess? While it is possible to participate in sports activities or study the arts outside a school, it is unlikely that your homeschool co-op will have a marching band. In some areas, finding a youth orchestra or baseball team not associated with school is difficult. Many places allow homeschooled children to participate in school activities, so they can have those additional learning experiences.
Your Child's Abilities
Afraid your ultra-bright kid will outlearn you if you homeschool, and you'll hold them back? There are so many educational websites and online college courses today that there is nothing to hold them back—not even you. Your child can still do an internship with a college professor while still technically in high school, or grow up to earn a Master's of Science in Civil Engineering. Many states offer free or reduced tuition for high-school students taking college courses, homeschoolers included. Does your child have special challenges, like learning disabilities or physical handicaps? While some schools offer wonderful services for special-needs children, others fall short making you the very best person to care for and educate your child.
There are amazing teachers everywhere; at home with their own kids, in public schools, and in private institutions. Homeschooled children have higher average test scores and higher college graduation rates. Public schools may offer necessary services, or simply provide a stellar education where you live. Maybe you have access to a charter or private school where your child just seems to fit and grow. There is no absolute "best" choice—only the best choice for your child and your family.