A risk/benefit chart

In making your decision as to whether or not to homeschool, a simple risk/benefit chart is one way to find out what you want to do. The chart will reflect the items you feel are important or unimportant, and the value you assign to the items will be the relative values you choose.

On a blank sheet of paper make a line down the middle. On one side label the top ‘Benefits of Public School.’ Label the other side ‘Drawbacks of Public School.’ On another sheet make the same layout but change the labels to the benefits and drawbacks of homeschooling. Now write in what you think and give a value to each entry on a scale of 1—10 or 1—100, whichever feels as if it would give you a more accurate picture.

Examples of items for each list:

Benefits of public schooling

  • easy
  • you’ve already paid for it
  • someone else thinks it up
  • comprehensive
  • possibility of good teachers
  • recognized by military and colleges
  • sports teams
  • source of friends for children

Drawbacks of public schooling

  • peer pressure
  • instruction isn’t individualized
  • possibility of poor teachers
  • bullying
  • gangs
  • drugs
  • cliques
  • disagreement with curriculum

Benefits of homeschooling

  • Family has choice of mode of instruction
  • choice of materials
  • child doesn’t have to ride bus
  • no violence
  • no daily rush
  • less cultural pollution affecting family
  • increased use of family library
  • integration of family vacations into learning

Drawbacks of homeschooling

  • Loss of mom’s daily freedom
  • give up job
  • cost (since public schooling taxes are still levied)
  • house doesn’t stay as clean
  • pets’ fur gets worn off from perpetual petting

Once you’ve entered all your pros and cons and you’ve valued them according to what is important to both mother and father, add each column and then compare the totals. Which category has the least ‘points?’ Which category has the most ‘points?’ Which category is overloaded with tens (important to you) or ones (ho-hum items)? Does your ‘inner voice’ agree with what the totals indicate?

This exercise will give you an idea of what you think and where your ideal education connects with your reality. From there you should find your path through the forest of ‘school trees’ is easier to find. The meadows and glens may take a little longer to discover, but the adventure should be worthwhile.


Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.


Is survival enough?

Another insidious doubt that screws itself into your mind may be that you attended public school and you survived so how bad can it be. Right? But is ‘survival’ what you want for your children?

For some parents the answer is, “Yes.” They do believe that having to struggle and fight for a place in the sun makes their children strong, and that strength is needed in order to make their way in the world. Struggle may engender some strength, but what is lost while the child attempts to maintain an equilibrium in that kind of world?  While the child uses daily energy to stay afloat in a sea of peers and pedagogues, for some there is not an equal amount of energy left for building a secure, confident self.

This question of whether or not mass-schooling (whether it was public or private) is to be used or not may be a question that parents with college degrees don’t want to tackle. It is hard to question whether or not all your hard work was worth it or not. Is choosing homeschooling a repudiation of all those irretrievable, expensive years?

The ‘outputs’ of homeschooling (adults who were homeschooled as children) give some comfort when we ask ourselves hard questions about homeschooling our own children. These people have not only survived, but have thrived. They have gone on to college, are employed, are married, are raising children. Just like everyone else.

But if you are still considering the question of whether or not to homeschool the ‘quasi-answers’ so far may not be adequate. You may want a yes or no answer, not paragraph upon paragraph of weasel-words timidly couched in ‘may, would, might or could.’ Unfortunately, even staunch homeschool advocates can’t provide that answer. Still there are ways of narrowing the information field so that you can not only see the forest and the trees, but you can see the groves, clearings and meadows as well. Homeschooling works, just as well as everything else.


Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.

Who is the decider?

For some parents the decision to homeschool is easy and is perhaps a choice made at or before the child’s birth. But for others it isn’t so simple. There may be concern about the wisdom of homeschooling, about the loss of social experiences, or about the lack of parental training to teach certain subjects. Parents may worry about ‘getting it all right.’ Parents may even disagree with each other about whether homeschooling is the right way to go about educating their children. Extended family members may express their opinions as well, and try to get one of the parents onto their ‘side.’ All of this may be done with one goal in mind, that which is best for the children.

So what is best? And who should make the decision?

The second question is easiest, the parents make the decision.

And what is best? That depends on more things than can be addressed in one book. Schools across America do not have identical curriculums, neither public schools nor private schools. Schools in different countries around the world concern themselves with different areas of learning than their neighbors. There is no one set body of knowledge that people must learn as children so that they grow up to be successful adults. For that matter, there is no set definition of Success. What is engaging and rewarding for one person is torture to another.


Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon

This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.