Children are intrinsically creative. From the moment they become aware of the world around them they carry their own unique representations of it in their heads, right alongside the other imaginary worlds they build there. Albert Einstein once said that his schooling almost destroyed his interest in Mathematics and Physics, but that it recovered upon leaving. There is something in this. Geniuses are people who perceive the world uniquely, building and constructing their knowledge on top of the foundations they built in childhood. Apparently, the concept of relativity was born from an idea of Einstein picturing himself chasing a sunbeam, catching up with it and imagining the consequences. This type of thinking cannot be taught but it can be inspired and nurtured. More importantly however it can be destroyed by centres of schooling that favour set curriculums and stifle inventiveness. It is an approach that implies rigid answers to things rather than fostering a spirit of inquiry. Light a fire of curiosity inside somebody and it can change the world.
This brings me to the issue of home schooling. It is a question I will face soon enough and with this in mind I have endeavoured to produce a list of pros and cons. I must acknowledge before I begin however that the weight of such considerations may be greater or smaller depending on personal circumstance. I can understand that a struggling single mother or indeed family in an under-performing school catchment may well have more urgency and fewer options than a more affluent family with access to any type of schooling they might wish. So with this in the back of our thoughts let’s consider some of the advantages and disadvantages.
Your child has your exclusive attention.
This is a considerable advantage for a child attending a class in a state school, where sizes often exceed 40 or more. Teachers are overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them (a sizeable chunk of this is bureaucratic nonsense) and pupils invariably bear the brunt of this. Differentiation is at the heart of any teacher training course but given the size and number of the classes it is simply not practical to the degree that any parent would wish. This inevitably means that the issues facing many struggling students are often missed or unaddressed. Clearly this is not the case with home-schooling. There is no place to hide and academic and behavioural issues can be dealt with promptly to ensure a child reaches its full potential. More generally, home education allows parents, children and other family members to spend more time together. As a result, quality engagement is no longer restricted to evenings, weekends and school holidays. It also enables you to take advantage of off-peak times and daytrips, helping you to save money and avoid the crowds. Of course this can be a double edged sword. 24/7 with your child might degrade the relationship you have with them. This may be offset however by other means, such as support from family members and other home schooling parents.