There are a lot of positives to homeschooling – proponents say it’s personalised learning in a safe environment that allows even the most introverted child to thrive. On the other hand, some fear a socialisation gap that the kid will feel later on. One parent in the UAE, who requested anonymity, is struggling with the thought of homeschooling while his wife thinks it’s a good idea. We asked an expert to weigh in on how to discuss the topic without straining their bond. Here’s what Eleonore Brocq, Clinical Psychologist Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic, said:
"To introduce this topic, it’s important to set an historical context. Unschooling in an educational philosophy developed in the 1960s by theorists including John Holt and Ivan Illich. Their ideas, particularly around children exercising the liberty to choose the direction of their learning, are becoming increasingly popular in educational research. They said, traditional schooling could confuse the creation of a product – such as a test result – with learning. They argued learning is a process, not an end point. They believed that children learn best when the learning is meaningful and accessible to them. The core idea of homeschooling is coming from this unschooling philosophy: the kids need to learn at the speed, and in the style, most appropriate for them. They used to call this approach 'personalised learning'.
"For parents considering homeschooling their children, they should, in the first place, consider the reasons behind their choice to homeschool and seek advice to ensure the best outcomes for their child socially, emotionally and academically.
"Some people believe homeschooled children miss out on socialising with others and are sheltered from the normal pressures of life. Many question how parents can cultivate important aspects of social development such as resilience and effective interpersonal skills in their children if they are not being exposed to peers in a typical school setting. An Australian survey captured data on various aspects of the homeschooling experience, including socialisation. They found that homeschooled children have ample opportunities for engagement and socialisation. This includes being involved in various learning and other community groups, and participating in homeschooling co-ops. Concerns about socialisation are persistent despite a number of research papers that found homeschooled children are not denied opportunities to socialise. A study conducted in the unites states even concluded that 'homeschooled children’s social skills scores were consistently higher than those of public-school students'.
It’s important to delineate homeschool time from time simply being a family, even if any activity can become a learning experience.
"However, a successful homeschooling experience happens when children and parents know the expectations, set targets and enjoy it. Homeschooling should be a deliberate choice and a decision taken by the whole family, together. To homeschool, the child’s parent or guardian is the teacher, and the home is viewed by authorities as a school. Parents who take on this challenge can be understandably worried if they have the time, the patience, the skills and the money to provide a home school for their child.
"Children will need to develop an understanding of when a parent is being parent, and when the parent is being an educator. It’s important to delineate homeschool time from time simply being a family, even if any activity can become a learning experience. Finding the balance requires patience … Being aware of this challenge before you start is a must! You have to be also aware that you will have less time for yourself during the day and that is potentially giving you more stress and more fatigue because you are taking on both the responsibilities of the parents and the teachers.
"On the other hand, you have the satisfaction that your children are learning, developing skills, and maturing in a way that aligns to your goals and values. And your child can move more quickly through assignments and subjects they understand, and send more time on topics that are challenging.
"To sum up, I’d rather say that choosing to homeschool your child is a big decision, and you should be aware of the reasons for and against doing so before you take action. Research has shown that being homeschooled does not impact a child’s social, emotional and psychological development, or their achievement levels – in fact, they often achieve more- but it is a huge, expensive commitment to make. Homeschooling is not right for every family, but if you have the time, money, effort, and home set-up to make it work, your family might thrive in this environment."
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