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Homeschooling isn't your typical choice, and many people are curious. Just how does homeschooling impact a family's mental health, and what about socialization?

Where will your child attend school? Many millions of parents all across the world don't have to spend time pondering this question, because the answer is already obvious — the local public school, of course! Those with the means and inclination to do so may instead consider private schools or alternative educational systems such as Montessori and Waldorf. Homeschooling, on the other hand, is still the domain of "weirdos". Might you be one of them?

Homeschooling is on the rise. The 2012 US census suggests that three percent of school-aged of that country's children are now homeschooled, and their data also reveals that worries about the kind of environment children would encounter in brick and mortar schools are among the most common reasons that lead parents to decide to go down this particular rabbit hole [1]. In England and Wales, meanwhile, only a meager 0.5 percent of children are estimated to be "home educated", as UK folks tend to prefer to call homeschooling — but data the BBC got from local authorities indicates that the practice has risen by 40 percent between 2015 and 2018 [2]. There's still no doubt that homeschooling isn't anywhere on the radar for most people, mind you. Families who consider it have to be willing to march to the beat of their own drums, to be just a little bit different

The thought of homeschooling may cross your mind when:

  • Your child's academic or social needs are not met at school
  • Your child has medical issues that make regular school attendance a problem
  • You disagree with the school's educational philosophy
  • You take issue with the way in which your child's school has gone about meeting your child's academic and social needs 

The list goes on. Whatever your reasons for considering home education, there is no doubt that the prospect can be daunting. 

The last few decades of American history have proven that homeschoolers can and do excel academically and get accepted into colleges. It's not hard to find online comments about the political merits of homeschooling either, though I have to say that it's possible to be a genuine leftist without being an unschooler and not all homeschooling families are in it to ensure their kids don't learn about evolution or sex in public schools. 

If you are seriously considering homeschooling, you probably have two basic questions. The first is whether you'll be able to pull it off academically, and the second is how homeschooling would impact the whole family psychologically. We'll address that second question here.

What Is Homeschooling, And Why Would You Want To Do It?

Homeschooling can be defined as family-directed education, as opposed to institution-directed education. Non-homeschoolers may have visions of a mom teaching her kids math at the kitchen table. Though this can happen, homeschooling doesn't mean that all learning occurs in the home on a tight schedule, or that homeschooling families attempt to recreate the public school experience in their homes. 

Homeschools are as varied as families themselves. I educate my children loosely following neo-classical principles, for example. Our homeschool is rich in languages — including Latin — and we emphasize literature and history studies. Others get inspiration from Charlotte Mason or Maria Montessori, unschool, or have an eclectic (mix and match) approach.

Any parent who is considering homeschooling will want to read up on the different educational philosophies and decide which one most closely fits their family. Then, they'll inevitably end up tweaking things to fit their children's own unique needs. 

There are many different ways in which parents can organize their child's education. Many choose to make co-ops and academic and other extracurricular activities an integral part of the experience. Some hire tutors for certain subjects. Others still make use of virtual schools. Though these schools are technically public schools, such children do learn at home. 

You might find yourself wondering why parents would want to homeschool, rather than being interested in exactly how they do it. "One of the things I really love about homeschooling is that there is no single answer to this kind of question," Amy Sharony, the editor of the homeschool magazine Home/School/Life told us.

See Also: Back To School - Helping Your Kid Adjust

"Every homeschooler I meet has a different story about why she started homeschooling. Sure, there are common themes — problems with traditional schools, the desire to have more family time, educational philosophy — but ultimately, every homeschool family has its own individual reason for homeschooling and its own unique way of putting together a homeschool life. I think homeschoolers as a group are incredibly diverse."

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