By: Linda Warren
Most people believe that if your child does not go to public or private school that they are being homeschooled. Maybe or maybe not. That depends on who you ask and what definition of homeschooling you follow.
School-at-home is generally considered at school curriculum administered at home. Sources of the curriculum might be the public school system, private school system, or an independent full curriculum distance school.
The pros of school-at-home are numerous but let’s choose two pros that are particularly interesting to people who never thought they would homeschool.
The first pro is that the entire curriculum is administered by a school, whether it is a local school or a distance learning school. This means that they generally interface with your state’s department of education to make sure that you are educating at home legally. Sometimes the local or distance school will also have accreditation. What this used to mean is that your child’s diploma would hold the same weight as a private or public school diploma but that is not exactly the case anymore. I will tell you a bit more about that shortly.
The second major pro of school-at-home is the idea that everything, the entire curriculum comes as a package. The parent does not need to collect various materials from different places. The curriculum is standardized and every student enrolled in this type of education will get the same instructional materials.
The pro of the entire curriculum coming in a package can also be one of the cons of this type of school-at-home. By having a standardized curriculum the parent is not given the option of allowing the student to study any one subject more in depth than any other. The student is expected to complete work at a pre-determined pace, and there is little flexibility to allow for a student’s individual learning style.
This is actually the point where the contrast between school-at-home and homeschool are most notable.
Homeschooling can differ greatly from school-at-home, but it can also resemble school-at home.
One of the most important hallmarks of true homeschooling is flexibility. When a parent chooses to homeschool they are choosing to take control over their child’s education and also ultimate responsibility. What this means is that parents choose what their children study, in what order, and what depth. This allows not only for student interests but also the student’s learning style. There are many sources to choose from when choosing homeschool curricula and it is possible to pick different subjects from the source that best fits your child’s learning style.
A second important aspect of homeschooling is the idea that the parent is in control of timing and schedule. In most states this means that parents choose when and if to have their children submit to standardized tests. Being in control of the family’s schedule can be very important, especially if there is any aspect of the family’s schedule is variable. One particular example might be children in military families. Deployments do not occur according to school schedules. Having the schedule flexibility to take a break when the military parent returns is of great benefit.
It was mentioned earlier that school-at-home often provided accredited diplomas for high school graduates. Recently, many states have passed rulings that allow diplomas from any homeschool to hold the same weight as other schools. This is good news for families who educate at home.
Which is better?
So which one is better, school-at-home or homeschool? Well, that would depend on you, as the parent, and your child’s needs. Some students need a lot of structure, and need to move at a pre-determined rate. Other students need to move at their own pace, faster in some subjects, slower in others. There are positives and negatives to both methods of educating children at home. Consider which might work best for your family if you are considering home education.