Different approaches to homeschooling offer different benefits to some degree, but there are also major benefits that all approaches share in common.
The freedom to choose their homeschooling approach in the first place allows parents to avail themselves of the specific homeschooling benefits they want, based on their own values and philosophies of living. For instance, an unschooling approach may lead to greater benefits of freedom and creativity, while a structured approach may lead to greater benefits of accelerated academic performance. The point is that, either way, the parent gets to decide which path to take and therefore which approach-specific benefits to receive.
Academically, the main benefit of homeschooling is that each child can receive individual attention that is tailored to their own abilities and readiness to progress. Each child can therefore learn at their own pace. Even in a curriculum-based or grade-based approach to learning, in the home setting there is no need to push a child through to a certain lesson by a certain date. When a child isn’t understanding what is presented or is having difficulty retaining the information given, the parent can continue working with the child until the lesson is assimilated before moving on to later lessons that build on it.
In this way, homeschooling children are never left behind if they’re having difficulties, which makes homeschooling ideally suited to those with learning differences (“learning disabilities”).
By the same token, neither are they held back if they’re ready to advance, which makes homeschooling ideal as well for gifted children.
The “average” child benefits in a similar way, since there really is no such thing as an “average” child — each child is a unique individual with a unique set of talents and interests that make some things harder for them to learn and others quite easy.
The flexibility afforded by being able to set your own timetable is another advantage, both in terms of the logistics of family life and in terms of children’s readiness to learn.
Another major benefit is positive socialization. From the point of view of both social and psychological development, there have been a number of studies that confirm what homeschooling families witness firsthand, which is that homeschooled children tend to have more developed, positive social skills than their schooled counterparts. Homeschooled children learn their social skills from their parents rather than their peers, so they’re learning from adult role models. Because they don’t spend much time in peer-intensive environments like school, but do interact with other children in smaller or more supervised groups, homeschooled children don’t experience too much peer pressure or bullying, so they don’t tend to develop dysfunctional bully-survival strategies nor the excessive peer orientation that is of such concern these days.
As Vancouver psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld warns, excessive peer orientation undermines the natural authority of parents and thus impedes the natural course of the child’s psychological development. By contrast, not having excessive peer orientation to contend with, homeschooling parents retain the ability to guide their children gradually to a connected type of independence by way of the natural dependency of childhood, which is what children are developmentally supposed to have in relation to their parents, in whose care Nature/God has placed them.
Which leads us to another one of the main benefits of homeschooling:
Developing and nurturing strong family bonds
As family members —parents, children, siblings— spend time together, sharing their lives, learning and playing and working together, they develop close ties with each other and a secure emotional base from which children can venture out into the world as they grow older and more independent.
In point form:
The short-version list of benefits of homeschooling include:
- closer family bonds
- course of study can be tailored to the child’s individual interests and abilities
- the learning environment is more relaxed and natural
- children can learn free from physical and psychological bullying
- diminished influence of peers and “peer pressure”
- more positive and broader socialization experiences with children of various ages as well as adults