Over the past decade, homeschooling has been steadily on the rise, with roughly 2.5 million homeschooled students grades K-12 in the United States as of Spring 2019. Though it was long seen as an “alternative” option for children’s education, is increasingly becoming mainstream, with more and more parents choosing home education over public school. With parents and children across the globe finding more traditional public schooling oppressive and overly focused on test scores and curriculum standards, there is more reason than ever to look towards homeschooling as an option. Plus, as digital technologies continue to advance, parents have access to even more useful tools at their disposal.
However, as homeschooling becomes more reliant on digital technologies and the internet, it is essential that parents help protect their children while they are using these tools. The internet can be a dangerous place for children, from cyberbullying and exploitation to inappropriate content and spam. As they spend more time online, it is essential that you make sure that both of you are aware of the dangers and take steps to mitigate them.
Parents and education experts have been advocating for homeschooling for decades now, citing a wide variety of reasons. As changes to the modern American education system continues to place on emphasis on a core curriculum and high scores on standardized tests, many parents feel that public schools are dominated by a one-size-fits-all approach to education that might not be the best fit for their children’s short-term happiness or long-term success. There are a number of personal reasons for preferring homeschooling as well, especially among highly religious parents, as they would prefer to have greater control over their children’s curriculum and socialization.
Some of the most common reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children include:
Generally speaking, while the exact reasons for turning to homeschooling vary, they mostly build off of the idea that, while traditional education is good for some people, it simply doesn’t work for everyone. Any system that is designed to be all-encompassing and serve everybody will inevitably fail to meet some people’s needs. The same is true for public school: it is a system that works for a large number of children, but it won’t work for all of them. For those children who don’t do well in a traditional learning environment, homeschooling can be a good option.
Of course, since modern homeschooling will almost certainly involve the internet and various digital tools, parents need to be especially cautious of the time their children spend online. The dangers are apparent, but they can be greatly mitigated by doing your research, investing in online filtering software, and taking the time to educate your children on how to be safe online. Some parents might even be hesitant about this, as they think that their young “digital natives” are often more tech savvy than they are. But if anything, the fact that they are so adept online means that they are far more likely to be able to circumvent certain safety-oriented techniques, like moving off of the child-friendly YouTube Kids to the main website and it’s more adult content, or by handily changing the browser settings that might limit what content they can view. Also, while they might have the technical knowledge to navigate the internet, they still lack the common sense or the personal experience to avoid all the harmful content that’s available online.
All of this might seem like a good reason not to homeschool your children, but these concerns are no less of an issue if they are enrolled in public school. If anything, homeschooling can be the safer option, as teachers are often underprepared to teach kids about online safety. Plenty of schoolwork will wind up being done online, either by using computers at the school or devices that they have been assigned. These devices are often lacking in security options and cannot be properly monitored either. Also, teachers often lack the training or tools to keep kids safe online: according to recent research from Google, only 6 out of 10 teachers felt that they had the resources to teach their students online safety.
Whether you decide to homeschool your children or not, it is important that you take time out of your day to keep an eye on what they are doing online and making sure they are informed about the potential dangers of the internet. Whether are a source of entertainment or a powerful educational tool, the internet is an important part of our daily lives, but it requires a degree of awareness and knowledge to avoid all of the negativity that is online. Yet this is simply one more way that you can help your children by teaching them, and in doing so you better position them to succeed, whether they are learning at school or at home.
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