Homeschooling in California: 10 Pros and Cons of Homeschooling You Need to Know

Everything in this world has pros and cons, homeschooling in California is no different. Today we are talking about 10 pros and cons of homeschooling. First, the 5 cons and then the related 5 pros!

5 Cons of Homeschooling in California

Now, before we get into all these cons, I must remind you to hang in until the second half of this article. Don’t become overwhelmed or downtrodden. There is a light in the grey (I can’t even call it darkness).

1)You must make all the education decisions.

Yup, you are in charge of pretty much every area of your student’s education. One of the wonderful things about homeschooling in California is that you just have to cover a few specific subjects but to what depth and how is totally up to you. That means you are in charge of the researching, the evaluating, and the paying for anything you might want to use.  That can seem like a huge weight on the shoulders of homeschooling parents.  It is even on you to figure out how much time is spent on what subject. What time should you start in the morning? When do you play? Do you do a set start time in the morning? How much playing should happen before everything is done for the day? How much needs to be done every day? Do you take holiday breaks? Summer breaks? Federal Holidays? Homeschool all year?

2)They are there all the time.

Yup, you don’t just get to drop them off for hours and do your own thing. They can have classes outside the home, but it just isn’t the same. You have to figure out where they are going to be when you have doctor’s appointments and when you want to shampoo the carpets. If you want to work, you must figure out how to handle your children. Do you work in home? Do you get a sitter? It can be a challenge. Did you want to do a women’s Bible study at church? Many of them have childcare up to school age but after that, it is hit an miss.

Not to mention you may just want to go on a walk or read a book in peace, imagine that😉.

3)It can be hard to make neighborhood or closely located friends.

The reality is that most of those kids go to public school and know each other from that. I remember my next-door neighbor went to a private school and struggled to get to know the kids in our neighborhood. That was even though she and I decided to be best friends and I would introduce her to them all (yes, I went to public school).  You may find that all your children’s friends may live quite a bit away so you can’t just send your kids over to play catch or take a swim. In our situation, most of my children’s friends are about 25 minutes away. Which may mean they just don’t hang out with friends quite as frequently as if they all went to school together.

4)They don’t have an opportunity to win as many awards and honors that look great on college and job applications.

It is true, they may not win Reader of the Year or Principal’s Honor Roll. They won’t necessarily get on the varsity team or be the best in the district for anything. I know people who got scholarships for winning the school’s science fair. Saying you have the best anything in a home school just doesn’t have the same gravitas.

5)Kids can feel like they are missing out.

This isn’t a quantifiable thing, but every homeschooled kid has moments of feeling they are missing out. My own kids would say when they were little that they wanted a school bus when they outgrew the minivan. Sounds crazy right, but it was something they had seen in the neighborhood and were sure they needed to experience it. They loved the idea of going to the cafeteria for lunch every day, even when they understood that they would still have to bring their own lunch… There are things like recess, yearbooks, and Valentine’s Day parties that they may get in homeschooling, but it isn’t the same. How? If they haven’t been to public school, they will never know but they might wonder.

5 Pros of Homeschooling in California

Many of these are basically the cons but with some slightly different framing. As parents have told generations, your views may change based on how you look at things.

1)Your children receive a personalized education.

Since you make all the educational choices you make the ones that work for your children. Is that math book not teaching your kid in a manner they understand? Then change it. Is that English book boring as dirt? Don’t finish it. Are they (or you) just not morning people? Then why start school at 8am? Yes, it is your job to figure out options, but you don’t have to research everything up front. Find the first thing that might work and try it. It will work or not work but you won’t know if you don’t try, you would just be guessing. Try schedules and find their most productive times. Warning, sometimes you may not all be the same and so some compromise may need to happen😉.

2)They are there all the time, so you have time to make the schedule you want!

I know, it sounds daunting but it is really an opportunity. An opportunity to help create well-rounded children that work in your life😉.  I am an introvert, no really. Which means I hit a wall and I need a break. So starting really young (well, birth) nap time then reading time then play time happened in the afternoons in order to give me a break. I think it helped them in a variety of ways but it started so I didn’t lose my bloody mind.

Then there are the chores! I know of many families that say with school, sports, and homework there just isn’t time to teach chore skills much less chores getting done. Since they are home, you have time for training and chores! We had family chore times. So, I would dump the laundry on the couch. The 3-year-old would get washcloths to fold, the 5-year-old would practice matching with socks, the 7-year-old would fold pj’s, and the 9-year-old would fold towels while I hung shirts and folded sheets. Then they would put their own clothes away while I hung up things and put linens away. They would each bring their dirty clothes to sort and I would walk them through it until they were usually right. Then came how to put stuff from the washer to the dryer. Then starting loads. With my teenagers now I almost never do laundry. This model can be taken into every area of chores! (If you want me to walk through teaching children chores please just comment and let me know)

3)Your time off schedule is your own.

Yes, it can be a challenge to make friends with the school kids in your neighborhoods but… One of the big benefits of homeschooling in California is there are no time curfews or mandatory “school” days. You can meet up with your homeschool friends at the park in the afternoon. You can also do zoo trips and other local fun while everyone else is in school!  You can even vacation while everyone else is in school. We used to go to Legoland every late September/early October and we would meet up with other homeschooling friends.  So, you may not be growing neighborhood relationships, but family and homeschooling friends are growing! At the same time, you are getting better hotel rates, fewer crowds, and sometimes better weather😉.

4)Your students can be involved in the community!

Do you know what looks better than an honor roll certificate? A volunteer appreciation certificate! I am serious. As a homeschooler, your students have the time availability to volunteer in organizations that mean something to them or your family. Do they love animals? Then they could volunteer in an animal shelter. Is it an election year and you want a real lesson in civics? Volunteer for a campaign. Some of our local libraries have teen councils where your kids can come plan activities for themselves and other kids in the community. That shows leadership in a way a class couldn’t. It doesn’t have to be onerous or hard. My kids and I volunteer putting the mailings together for a non-profit group once a month. These are all great skills to also go on a resume. Trust me a recommendation that comes from one of these organizations can hold a lot of weight in scholarships, college applications, and jobs. Who knows, maybe it will directly lead to a job?

5)Kids can follow their passions.

Yes, all students should have some basic survey knowledge of most subjects. But one of the great things about homeschooling in California is that you can tailor their school journey to follow their passions. These can be the passions of the moment or the passions of a lifetime. So, when they were little my kids all loved the cartoon called Liberty’s Kids so we stopped the history we were doing (Ancient history at the time) and totally changed directions to study the US Revolution. Do your kids love chow mein? Well, let’s learn the history of it which leads us to learn about the Chinese immigrants to San Francisco. Why did they leave China? Let’s find out.

As your children get older you can help them to find out if today’s passion might be a lifelong passion. Do they think they might want to be a CPA? Well, time to look into economics and do statistics for a math class. Do they think they want to be a mechanic? Let’s learn about cars. Let’s also learn about the cost of parts and what they would need to charge to make a living. Oh wait, did they account for their insurance? What kind of liability insurance does a mechanic need? Where do they get automotive certifications? What if they spend a year learning about being a mechanic and they find they hate it? Well, better to waste a year when you don’t have to pay rent.

But seriously, they have learned systems and plenty of science in the logistics of fixing a car. They also have learned a lot about business that they can take into any field. They also have learned the most important thing, how to learn about something they are interested in. That is a freedom they don’t always get in public school.

So, what do you think of my pros and cons of homeschooling? This is just a few and by no means exhaustive. There are differences in everything, and challenges are always unique but I think that homeschooling does, on the whole, win. What pros and cons do you see in homeschooling and how can I help you?

Homeschooling in California: 10 Pros and Cons of Homeschooling You Need to Know

This originally appeared on Homeschool Hangout (a NerdFamily site) on February 15, 2023.

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