Is homeschooling better than international private schools’ education?
MANY PARENTS TRY TO FIND the best possible education for their child by comparing learning in a homeschooling setting or at a private international school. It is important to be well informed about what the best option is for your child. Below I will outline the pros and cons of homeschooling and of private schools.
Homeschooling will provide your child with individual attention, a curriculum suited to the child’s interests and the pace of learning adjusted to your child’s need. Parents can focus the education on their beliefs, their values and their vision of academic success for their child. The child will feel the specialized attention he/she gets from his/her parents and family. Likely your child will become much more independent as he/she will have to learn to be self-directed. It can be very cost effective. Lastly, learning at home avoids the traveling to and from a school.
However, as a contrast, homeschooling makes it more difficult to build friendships with peers; there is less opportunity for social connections outside the family. Parents need knowledge and skills to research and deliver the best schooling for their child. They need the time to invest in their child’s education, taking time away from their own potential academic and career progression. As homeschooling is done by one or two parents, the child is not exposed to a range of different teaching styles, learning styles and skilled teachers in different subject areas. Schools have libraries, science labs, computer rooms, sports fields that homeschooling cannot provide. Schools also have a variety of afterschool programs and clubs that will be difficult to duplicate at home. Some children might find it smothering to be with family 24 hours a day and they may feel they are missing out on experiences that others have. Lastly, tertiary education providers might have limited understanding of the curriculum and type of learning experienced by homeschooled applicants.
International private schools offer curriculums such as the IB, IGCSE, A-level and AP; they provide choice in the programs parents want their children to receive. These programs are well recognized by most universities and colleges all over the world. Often, international schools have small class sizes with highly qualified and experienced teachers. The schools welcome parent input and involvement.
Many schools offer values education through profiles, philosophy, the type of discipline they offer and special programs like Round Square. Schools can provide huge variety in the resources, facilities, subject choices and expertise of the staff employed. International private schools have options in their subjects, especially at Secondary level, providing a more individual type of education. They also provide services for students who need more time, for very fast learners, for gifted and talented students and for students with learning challenges. International schools provide global citizenship opportunities and social interaction with people from other nationalities and cultures. Learning interactions with peers may enable your child to develop socially, make academic connections and reach conceptual understanding better than through homeschooled explanations.
However, as a contrast, private education is expensive. Often the fees are not the end of the costs either; field trips, residentials, exams, resources like laptops and graphical calculators will need to be paid for as well. Private schools seek parent involvement and communication between parents—teacher—students. This is time that many parents do not have. Every school has rules and regulations that your child will have to adhere to, even if you do not agree to one or more of those. Academic learning might not be as fast as homeschooling as lessons are pitched at mid-learning level with differentiation for more advanced learners. Lastly, your child will have to learn subjects he or she might not have any interest in.
As an educator in an international school, I believe that it is important for children to be with their peers. Parents can ‘buy’ excellent education at an international school, that will provide an outstanding curriculum with highly qualified teachers, the resources needed, individual attention, values education and a variety of choices in and outside the written curriculum. This avoids the huge investment parents would need to make in time, expertise, attention and organization in a homeschooling situation.
Currently Deputy Head of School at Renaissance International School Saigon, Richard Fluit has extensive experience teachingin and leading and managing international schools. He joined RISS 3 years ago as their Head of Secondary after years workingat a British international school in Cuba. Originally from the Netherlands, Richard is well-known in the international media for contributing poignant, thought provoking articles on differentcontemporary issues in education.