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Homeschooling: Is it Really All That?

Educators weigh in on its value for students

John Huthmacher Staff Reporter
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4 min read
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I’ve seen situations where it was extremely well done by the parents and was beneficial to their children.If you have the right adult teaching students in a one-on-one or one-on-two setting, that’s hard to beat. But it takes the right adult.
- Superintendent Jeff Schneider


With the COVID-19 virus driving schools around the globe to offer courses that keep students out of the classroom, the concept of homeschooling has been getting an extended look from parents who may otherwise have never pondered such an option.

Following the social distancing guidelines of world healthcare officials, most schools have turned to offer their courses online for students to complete in the privacy and safety of their own homes.

Parents Getting a Crash Course

Apps created specifically for homeschooling such as Trello, ABC Mouse, and Adventure Academy are being accessed more than ever by parents looking to help their public or private school students navigate the oft-times confusing world of online education.

These apps help keep the learning experience fun and interesting by incorporating games, music, and adventures into otherwise dull or intimidating lesson plans.

Superintendent Jeff Schneider has been educating and advocating for students for 26-plus years. He oversees a Midwest public school district that is currently utilizing online lesson plans in response to the pandemic crisis. And while the formats and lesson plans are different, Schneider said the current forced homeschooling scenario is giving parents a glimpse into what homeschooling has to offer.

“Would this give people a taste of what homeschooling is about? No doubt,” Schneider said. “What we’re doing right now, we are literally building the airplane as we fly it.

“It (homeschooling) is probably drastically different from what we’re doing right now. If you were to find 20 parents that homeschool, you would probably find 20 parents who are doing it in different ways based on their family situation and beliefs. There’s no cookie-cutter way to do that.”

Is Homeschooling a Better Way for Students?

So is homeschooling as effective at educating children as public and private schools are? In some circumstances, Schneider says it may actually offer a more beneficial learning environment.

The X-factor: the expertise and level of commitment by parents doing the teaching, he said.

“I’ve seen situations where it was extremely well done by the parents and was beneficial to their children,” he said. “If you have the right adult teaching students in a one-on-one or one-on-two setting, that’s hard to beat. But it takes the right adult.”

Where Homeschooling Works for a Family

Amy Hoagland, 34, seems to fit the role. A mother of four who was homeschooled with her younger brother as a child, she is homeschooling three of her children, grades 6, 3, and kindergarten.

“My husband farms, and one of the things we love with homeschooling is that it is very flexible, especially with his schedule,” she said. “It’s a good fit for our family.

“I was homeschooled and really didn’t think about it all that much. Honestly, I loved the freedom and flexibility.”

In addition, the social side of the equation was never a factor, she said. Co-mingling with friends from public schools and other homeschooling families was perfectly normal for her. Social awkwardness was a nonfactor.

Nor has it been a problem for her children, though she admits that, as a non-sports minded family, they are oblivious to what may be gained through sports-related interaction with teammates.

“My kids were involved in gymnastics, very involved in our church, and played kids soccer at the YMCA, so they’ve been well-socialized,” she said. “But I don’t think homeschooling is for everyone.

“If you had a family that was big into sports, it would be harder. That’s not to say there aren’t homeschooling sports, they are just harder to find.”

Still, the advantages of having the freedom to customize lesson plans far outweigh any disadvantage the homeschool model brings to their household, she said.

“They are very well-rounded,” she said. “I feel like they get the chance to experience a lot more things than if they were in school from 8 to 3. It gives them time to focus on the things they really love.”

When Kids Benefit from Homeschooling Education

Sandra and Jim Dobesh homeschooled their two children in Guam and later in a small Midwestern US town through the 2000s. Both educators by profession, they decided after attending a seminar on homeschooling that it was the best fit for them to instill their deeply-rooted Christian values and open-ended educational philosophy on their son and daughter.

“For us, it was the right thing,” Sandra said. ”They both said they had a good childhood and were grateful we homeschooled them.”

Both children have enjoyed exceptional success in their respective educational endeavors: their daughter works for a computer company headquartered in New York City while their son is pursuing a full-ride doctorate degree in Germany while studying in Japan.

“Anybody can do it but not if they don’t want to spend their time and energy in teaching,” Jim said. “Some people don’t have a teaching personality. To us, it wasn’t work.

"It was slightly radical but I’m glad we did that. Their lives were enriched by that.”

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Homeschooling: Is it Really All That?

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