Just what is Homeschooling and how does it work?

When one thinks of Homeschooling one generally thinks of all classes being taught in the student’s home, often by the parents themselves. However, it can fall into one of the following categories:

  • All subjects are taught by the parents. This is more usual with younger children who are in their primary years.
  • Some subjects are taught by a parent who has specialist knowledge of a particular subject area and some subjects are taught by outside tutors who come to the family home.
  • All subjects are taught by outside tutors who come to the family home or some or all of the tutorials take place at a tutoring school.

Homeschooling has always been and continues to be controversial. Let’s look at some of the ‘pros’ and “cons” of such programmes.

The Pros

Educational Freedom.

Most homeschooled students have the choice to study and learn the subjects that interest them. They can study and learn at a time that suits them and for as long and as frequently as they want. Students can choose subjects that are not usually available in most schools, such as Sociology or Psychology. A programme can be designed that includes, for example, a personalised selection of Primary, Junior Secondary, IGCSE or A level courses, together with SAT or ACT, IELTS or TOEFL.

Physical Freedom.

Many parents who allow their children to partake in homeschooling programmes say that they and their children experience a real sense of freedom. Their lives no longer revolve around school hours, homework, and the school calendar. They are able to plan vacations during off-peak times when prices are lower, take part in mid-week activities and generally live their lives according to what works for them.

Emotional Freedom.

Unfortunately, peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies are all part of a typical school day. This can be a particular problem for girls. According to several studies, self-esteem takes a dive in girls who are in the junior secondary division of school. However, similar studies of homeschooled girls have shown that self-esteem remains intact and that these girls continue to thrive. Children who are homeschooled can dress, act and think the way they want, without the fear of ridicule or a need to be part of the “cool group”. These children live in the real world, where lives aren’t dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation.

Well-Rested Kids.

As more and more studies are illustrating, sleep is vital to the emotional and physical well-being of kids, especially pre-teenagers and teenagers. The effects of early morning classes can be devastating to many children, especially those who are not morning people. When children are well-rested they can study and learn more effectively.

Pace.

Individually tutored children can accomplish in a few hours what takes a  week or more to cover in a typical classroom setting. One-to-one tutorials ensure that the student is “on task” for the whole time of the tutorial and the tutor teaches specifically for that student, enhancing strengths and addressing weaknesses as necessary. Homework can be assigned in each subject but tailored to the needs of the individual student rather than a “one size fits all” that might normally be assigned to a class. IGCSE courses which usually take 2 full years of classroom study can be completed in only one academic year. Of course, the intensity of tutorial teaching must be adjusted to suit the learning style of each student with a course taking longer or shorter depending on what pace is judged to be the most effective.

The Cons

Financial Constraints.

The cost of one-to-one tutorials can be very expensive, especially if the tutors are experienced and well qualified. However, if parents do at least some of the tutoring then that reduces the overall cost. One should also bear in mind that one-to-one tutorial programmes are usually shorter than a regular school programme and so this will alleviate some of the cost.

Limited Extra-Curricular Activities and Team Sports.

While community sports activities can fill the void for younger kids, teenagers often find limited opportunities to join sports teams, especially competitive ones. Some families have overcome this problem by creating their own teams. It is important for parents to encourage their kids to develop an interest in other activities that do not form part of the daily academic programme. Activities such as music, drama, astronomy, chess, and of course sports are all extremely worthwhile and provide a balance in any child’s education.

Social Issues.

Parents and their children often express their concern about the fact that students who do not attend regular school miss out on the day to day social interaction between kids. This is a valid concern and those parents who have spoken about this positively have said that they ensure that their children do take part in social activities with others. The prevalence of social media these days perhaps makes it less of an issue although this highlights other concerns that parents need to be aware of and vigilant towards.

Might Homeschooling be a valid option for my child?

The short answer is, “Yes”. Read the “pros” and the “cons” carefully and consider the impact of each of these on your child. There are, of course, many excellent schools in Thailand and in Bangkok particularly. So many of these schools offer fantastic academic programmes such as IGCSE and the IB and also offer a tremendous range of extra-curricular activities. Whether to opt for a Homeschooling programme is a decision that is such a personal one and it is a decision that is different for each family. Life, however, should be about having the opportunity to choose what you feel is right for your child. Most children and their parents are very happy with the education that schools offer but for some families the chance of having a much more flexible educational programme is undoubtedly attractive.

Gary King

Mr. Gary King, former Assistant Principal of Bangkok Patana School, is the Director and Founder of GK Consultants, an educational consultancy located near Emporium in central Bangkok. Just recently GK Consultants began to offer Homeschooling Programmes to those students who would prefer more flexibility in their academic life and in particular those who intend to enter for external examinations such as IGCSE as private candidates. If you would like to apply for a GK Consultants Homeschooling Programme then please call or email us at the contacts shown below.

2018-06-05T07:19:11+00:00