A Disadvantage to Homeschooling?

While homeschooling offers many opportunities and advantages for students and their families, every once in a while I come across a disadvantage. This week was one of those times.

There is something to be said for the accountability that a traditional classroom affords. While all homeschooling situations are different, with some stricter than others, ours tends to be on the less-strict side. I don’t always feel the need to administer tests if I know the children are learning the information; if the kids are a day or two late completing an assignment, I’d accept it from them just the same. It was helpful to us, then, when we joined a co-op last year; now, for some subjects, my children have someone else to be accountable to, someone who won’t let them “slide” by. It has helped encourage self-discipline and time-management skills.

But this week, I taught a class in which a student just didn’t want to participate. While the rest of the class was working on the assigned project, he just sat there. By the time the other students were finishing up, he had only completed half the project, and he left with it undone.

What’s a homeschooling parent to do? If the parents of this student force their child to attend class, he will be difficult to teach, and it will affect the other students. If they don’t make him go, they will be giving in to his disobedient and rebellious attitude.

Parents of students in a traditional classroom aren’t faced with this type of dilemma; a student must attend class and must do the work in order to make the grade. They may not like math or history, but they must pass those classes in order to make it through school.

Then it occurred to me: while parents with children in school don’t have those issues to contend with, the teachers still do. In one class they may have students who are eager and ready to learn right beside those who won’t do any work at all. Often, teachers can’t move ahead with the material because some students are continually (and intentionally) behind.

As both the parent and teacher, homeschoolers are forced to deal with all sides of the issue, no matter how difficult it might be. But then, isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

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