Pros and cons of homeschooling

If you’re homeschool-curious, here’s what 100 families have to say about the biggest advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.

Prisma staff
• 
June 10, 2022

With homeschooling more popular than ever, parents have dozens of approaches to consider, from the highly structured “curriculum-in-a-box” to the free-form “unschooling” to the highly customized “flex-schooling.” To find the benefits of homeschooling -- and potential limitations, we conducted extensive interviews with a diverse group of over 100 families. Here’s what we learned about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.

Advantages of Homeschooling

1. School wherever, whenever

Wide-spread remote schooling during the pandemic brought on so many challenges, but among them, one benefit of this lifestyle change surfaced: families of school-age kids were freed from the geographical limits of their school district. Now with in-person school back in session, many families still crave this increased mobility that allows them to spend time with relatives, set off on an extended study abroad, or take a field trip coast to coast.

A flexible schedule isn‘t just about choosing where you learn but when. Whether your kid is an early riser or works best in the afternoon after a leisurely morning, you can choose the school hours that play to their strengths. With fewer high schoolers than ever getting enough sleep to support their developmental changes, ditching the alarm clock is a homeschool benefit that should top any parents’ list.

2. Increased efficiency

Over the course of the six-hour school day, so much instructional time in public school gets frittered away on transitions, as students shuffle between classes, wait for classmates to get on the same page, and deal with random interruptions.

Homeschooled students simply don’t have to deal with those inefficiencies. With targeted learning, they can cover the expected, grade level core curriculum in a fraction of the regular school day. (Most families we interviewed estimated it took less than ninety minutes per day to complete a homeschool curriculum.) That leaves plenty of time for kids to take a deep dive into their passions, hobbies and curiosities.

3. Family time, front and center

A full-time school day can feel like an endurance sport, with a daily race to get out of the house in the morning and sprint to extracurriculars after classes. Homework, dinner and checking in with friends saps any remaining bandwidth, elbowing out free time for meaningful family connections. Instead, when you homeschool, it’s easy to integrate family time, whether it’s a low-key daily ritual like a snack break or a collaborative project.

4. Curated socialization

Friends are the number one influence on children, after their parents. But in a traditional school environment, there’s no telling whether that peer pressure will be a positive or a negative. For parents who want to be more intentional about fostering the friendships they think will be really positive for their child’s self-esteem and overall development, homeschooling offers the perfect opportunity.

5. Personalized learning

A traditional public or private school setting forces kids to adapt to artificial constructs like “grade levels” and to fit their learning in between regularly scheduled bells that risk interrupting an “ah-ha!” moment. Homeschooling allows for customization of every element: If your child loves math, they’re free to tear through multiple grade levels in one year; or they can go at their own pace, without the frantic feeling of being left behind. You’ll also be able to play to their strengths, by using teaching methods that take into consideration their learning style, especially if they have special needs or learning differences, like ADHD.

Homeschooled children also get to take advantage of personalized interdisciplinary projects: if your kids are excited about outer space, fashion or a foreign country, make it the center of your curriculum. When they work on a core skill like reading, writing or math, they’ll be more invested if it’s rooted in their passion.

Along with these pros of homeschooling (and countless others), the families we interviewed opened up about the challenges that can make for a less satisfying experience. Here’s what they shared – along with some insights about how to overcome these potential obstacles.

Drawbacks of Traditional Homeschool Setups

6. There’s no formal record of your child’s work

For homeschooling to be truly flexible, families need to be able to integrate it into a diverse educational journey that may also include traditional school. So how do you capture a child’s achievements and skills for an admissions officer or placement coordinator, without an accredited transcript?

Even if you don’t think traditional school is in the cards, you’ll want to keep records of what your child is doing, ideally helping them to create a portfolio that showcases their development. Then, when it comes time, you can engage the services of a counselor specialized in translating homeschoolers’ achievements into recognizable courses. (While we don’t endorse any specific service, a Google search for “homeschool college counseling” will get you started.)

Integrating this process into its curriculum, Prisma collaborates with families to create a transcript reflective of each child’s learning. Learners maintain a cumulative portfolio of writing, projects and feedback that they can include as part of an admissions’ package, telling a richer story than a GPA ever could.

7. It takes work to find fun

Upending the stereotype of the homeschool loner, studies show that homeschooled kids can be perfectly well socialized and, in some respects, even better socialized because they're comfortable interacting with kids of all ages and adults.

However, in the shift to a home environment, students lose easy access to their peers. That means parents have to be proactive about finding – and maintaining – opportunities for social interaction. There are countless ways to assemble a lively, diverse cohort: homeschool co-ops, local park meetups, and extracurricular activities. But all these options take time and effort, especially for younger kids who need adult supervision.

Anyone choosing to homeschool will have to do the legwork to ensure their child has opportunities for in-person socialization, a crucial part of child development. That said, Prisma provides an online cohort with significant opportunities for socializing built into the daily schedule, as kids engage in team challenges, collaborate on projects, run clubs, and support one another in an online forum.

8. Limited peer-to-peer learning

In a classroom, students don’t just receive knowledge from their teacher; education experts have long endorsed the concept of peer learning, where students reciprocally teach one another through collaboration, debate and feedback. Homeschoolers also have limited occasions to share their work. It’s a bit anticlimactic to demonstrate the fruits of your labor to an audience of two.

Although most areas of the country offer homeschool hangouts like park or museum days, peer learning opportunities can be harder to find. But families can take the initiative to start their own homeschool learning group, such as a book club, writing workshop, or a full-scale co-op. Online, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities for interaction: Platforms such as outschool.com bring kids together with courses as diverse as caring for axolotls, managing big emotions and investing for beginners.

If you’re looking for a more cohesive community than a one-off course can offer, Prisma is structured around live, virtual workshops that encourage kids to invest in one another’s learning. Regular Expo days allow students to celebrate their achievements with the broader Prisma community of kids, parents and coaches.

9. Parents aren’t always the best teacher

One of the most common worries of prospective homeschool parents is how they can be an authority in all the fields they need to cover. Few parents have the time to become overnight experts on osmosis, World War II, and the five paragraph essay. That problem only ratchets up as kids progress to advanced material. Most people feel okay about covering elementary math; fewer will raise their hands to tackle calculus.

But it’s not just fear of equations that might trip up a parent; it’s knowing how to teach your child. Toggling between teacher and parent can be a tough needle to thread, especially when they bump up against an uncomfortable challenge. Sometimes, you need an independent, third-party professional to navigate obstacles and help a child realize their potential.

To fill in the gaps of a parent’s knowledge – and to provide outside, adult mentorship – there are plenty of online and in-person options. Sites like wyzant.com offer a wealth of tutors for every possible age group, while local community college or university extension programs allow advanced highschoolers to enroll in single courses.

10. A heavy lift for parents

There’s no soft-shoeing this one: Homeschooling takes a lot of time for parents who have to be all hands on deck with their child‘s education. It can take hours to come up with the curriculum, give feedback on their child’s work, organize – and supervise – their day. It can help to outsource the content to subject experts, but there’s still the task of curating and scheduling. Without a strong support network, healthy boundaries and a well defined plan, the stresses of homeschooling can lead to caregiver burnout.

A local homeschool co-op can be a great option for parents looking to lighten their load; so, too, can an out-of-the-box curriculum, where you get a fully structured program that covers all the core lessons (but limits your ability to create a fully customized, experiential curriculum).

By providing an educational framework, dynamic community and an expert coach, Prisma helps parents give their child a flexible home-based learning experience with a minimal time commitment (less than one hour a day, according to most families).

The pros and cons of homeschooling will be unique to every family, but these themes that constantly surfaced in our conversations should help you start to make an informed decision about this significant lifestyle change. If the scales are starting to tip in favor of this unique educational experience and you want to learn more, check out our guide on How to Get Started with Homeschooling, for a three-step approach that moves from big picture planning to nitty gritty details.

More from our blog

‘Learning styles’ are a myth — but all students can benefit from the characteristics of a visual learner.

Although no studies link these popular labels to academic achievement, here’s how visual learning helps everyone.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 24, 2022

Is Discord Safe for Kids?

Here’s what parents need to know about the free, popular chat app.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 22, 2022

Reading is the Gateway to Learning: Here’s how to get your child interested in reading.

Incorporate these reading tips into your routine, and you’ll be on your way to fostering a love of reading in your child.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 18, 2022

Holiday, winter and Christmas art projects for kids

Ready to Deck the Halls? Here are projects to engage kids of all ages—and tackle your seasonal shopping with DIY keepsakes.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 16, 2022

What is the Socratic Method for Kids?

More than just asking questions in the classroom, the Socratic Method helps learners test their own ideas in a real-life context.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 10, 2022

What is the best homeschool curriculum?

Here are some guidelines to help sift through the infinite options.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 8, 2022

What is self-directed learning — and what are the benefits?

When students set the conditions of their learning experience, they show more creativity, passion and sticktuitiveness.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 3, 2022

How is Minecraft Educational?

With built-in lesson plans, educational tools, and endless problem-solving opportunities, Minecraft: Education Edition can help motivate kids in coding, science, language arts, and more.

Prisma Staff
• 
November 1, 2022

Stuffed with stuffing? Step away from the casserole and try these Thanksgiving art projects for kids of all ages.

Get into the spirit of gratitude with these easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 27, 2022

Gratitude is one of the prime ingredients of happiness. Here’s how to teach kids to be grateful.

Teach children gratitude and they’ll experience better mental health, well being and social connection.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 25, 2022

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can make reading comprehension a struggle. Here’s how to help a child with ADHD learn to read.

8 tips to ensure learning disabilities don’t get in the way of building reading skills.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 20, 2022

Bored Students Don’t Thrive. Here’s How to Get Your Child Interested in School.

Why does your child dread Mondays? Once you know, take these steps to help them (re)discover their spark.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 18, 2022

Here’s how to prevent bullying in school - and what to do if it happens.

To stop bullying behavior, educate yourselves and your children.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 13, 2022

Why do kids get bullied at school — and why do kids bully others?

Bullying is about a power dynamic between peers. To interrupt it, first understand why it happens.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 11, 2022

How to build confidence in kids

Children’s Mental Health is in Crisis. Here’s How to Help Develop Your Child’s Self-Esteem.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 6, 2022

What is twice exceptional - and how can homeschooling help?

To reach their high potential, twice-exceptional children benefit from a flexible learning environment.

Prisma Staff
• 
October 4, 2022

Halloween art projects for kids

The holiday season is the time to get your hands dirty with these Halloween craft ideas - candy corn optional.

Prisma Staff
• 
September 29, 2022

How to help a child with dyslexia at home

Dyslexic kids often lose their love of learning. Here’s how parents can help them rediscover it.

Prisma Staff
• 
September 27, 2022

How to support your LGBTQ child

The challenges of adolescence can be magnified for LGBTQ kids. Here’s how to help them thrive.

Prisma Staff
• 
September 22, 2022

What challenges do LGBTQ students face?

From bullying to finding a safe bathroom, LGBTQ students navigate a tough landscape at school.

Prisma Staff
• 
September 20, 2022

How to Make Learning Fun

What we know about the relationship between ‘hard fun’ and learning. (Hint: It’s not about playing games in between worksheets.)

Prisma Staff
• 
September 15, 2022

Want to raise successful kids?

Here’s what we mean by ‘success’ at Prisma - and how we use it to help kids thrive.

Prisma Staff
• 
September 13, 2022

Homeschooling Socialization Guide

What parents need to know about socialization in—and out of—the classroom to help your homeschooler thrive.

Prisma Staff
• 
August 16, 2022

How to start your own business as a kid

Child entrepreneurship is trending. Here are three steps to developing an innovative business that stands out from the crowd.

Prisma staff
• 
August 4, 2022

What is project based learning?

A hands-on approach to develop real-world skills, resiliency and a love of learning — here’s how we practice it at Prisma.

Prisma Staff
• 
August 2, 2022

Writer + Programmer = Calliope Ghostwriting

A Shared Name and Diverse Strengths Led Two Bens to Build an AI Writing Business.

Prisma staff
• 
July 7, 2022

Alternatives to School

When traditional public school isn’t the best option, consider these alternatives.

Prisma Staff
• 
July 1, 2022

How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Kids

Five ways parents can help their kids see themselves as a work in progress.

• 
June 22, 2022

Top 7 tips how to recover from gifted kid burnout

Gifted kids face unique challenges when it comes to burnout. Here’s how parents can help.

Prisma staff
• 
June 21, 2022

What is worldschooling?

For travel-hungry families dreaming of school vacation, there’s much to celebrate about shifts in the way we live, work and educate our children.

Prisma staff
• 
June 16, 2022

How to start homeschooling

To create a customized education for your child takes more than a checklist. This three-stage framework can help you get started.

• 
June 14, 2022

How does Homeschooling Work in the Modern Era?

With homeschooling, the sky’s the limit – and there’s a lot on your plate. Learn about how to make this growing trend work for your family.

Prisma Staff
• 
June 9, 2022

Building Healthy Screen Time Habits: What Prisma Kids Say

Learning how to use the internet safely, smartly, and creatively is one of the most essential skills for success in our hyper-connected world. Prisma learners just wrapped up their Cyber Citizens learning

• 
April 2, 2021

Introducing Prisma LIVE

A live learning platform purpose-built for kids. It's a new, fun and engaging way for kids to learn and collaborate together virtually.

• 
March 19, 2021

Connected learning for a connected age

Technology has completely revolutionized how we shop, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even how we work, but no such revolution has happened in education.

• 
March 5, 2021

Prisma: a first retrospective

We’ve officially wrapped up our first ever fall session at Prisma and are excited to share our learnings and observations with you.

Victoria Ransom
• 
December 17, 2020

Meet Claire Cummings

Claire Cummings is one of our new Learning Coaches joining us for Winter Session starting in January 2021. Claire is based in Detroit, Michigan!

• 
December 7, 2020

Meet Leena Williams

In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma.Next up is Leena Williams, the Founding Learning Coach for Prisma based in Tampa, Florida.

• 
July 28, 2020

Join Prisma from anywhere in the USA this fall

Starting today, families can apply to join Prisma from anywhere in the USA. Here’s how it will work. You can still apply to any of our five founding cohort hubs (Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or Tampa) if you live nearby.

• 
July 27, 2020

Meet Emily Veno

In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Emily Veno, one of two founding learning experience designers for Prisma.

• 
July 23, 2020

A Stress-free switch to learning from home this fall

Over the past week, as millions of parents have realized that traditional in-person schooling may not be safe or available come September, a new twist on an old phenomenon has emerged.

• 
July 22, 2020

Meet Kristen Shroff

We're kicking off a "Meet the team" blog series. First up is Kristen Shroff, one of two Founding Learning Experience Designers at Prisma. As a Learning Experience Designer, Kristen has been working on dreaming up the Prisma calendar and schedule, developing the curriculum for Knowledge and Worldview Badges, and hiring our first group of learning coaches.

• 
July 22, 2020

Be a founding family!

We're excited to announce the rollout of Prisma cohorts in 5 US cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Salt Lake City.

• 
July 17, 2020

Introducing Prisma

We’re Prisma, and today we’re announcing the world’s first Connected Learning Network, a whole new category in education. We’re not a school in the conventional sense; we’re a locally-rooted, globally connected at-home learning network that gives kids the tools to live their optimal life, starting today.

Victoria Ransom & Alain Chuard
• 
June 24, 2020

Prismarian Asher Nelson Rhymes His Way to Victory

First-time Poet Wins “Games for Change Student Challenge” with “Poem of PvZ”.

•