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Pros and Cons of Homeschooling a Child with Behavioral Concerns

So many of my conversations have revolved around homeschooling lately. Even this morning, I was at a garage sale (yeah, discounts!) and heard two women talking about homeschooling. Maybe it’s because it’s summer break, maybe it’s because my own family has been talking about it lately my ears are in-tune with the conversations, but something is definitely in the water lately with homeschooling.

Many families homeschool their children to spend more time with them, teach them religious beliefs, or shelter them from the uncertainties of public schooling. However, a percentage of families choose to homeschool their children due to behavioral problems in school.

These are the kids that *try* typical schooling, but they have a hard time adjusting socially, academically, or behaviorally. They have an even harder time than most, which lands them on the “clip down” list every day or in the principal’s office.

And, believe it or not, having a hard time academically OFTEN leads to behavior problems in children.

Think about how frustrated you get when you don’t understand something but it’s expected of you, anyway. That would get really old really quickly!

So for anyone who is thinking about homeschooling their child(ren) because of behavioral problems at school, here’s a list of pros and cons I’ve created:

1. Pro: You can take a step back, as a family, and figure out what the real issue is.

Sometimes when a child has behavioral problems at school, it looks like the root of the problem is one thing, but you find out later that it was something completely different. For example, maybe it looks like your child is defiant, but he really just feels attacked by his teacher.

Or maybe it looks like your daughter is a space cadet, but really she’s just uninterested in what’s being taught.

Or maybe your son looks like he refuses to write, but he really just has a hard time getting words from his brain to his paper.

Maybe a classmate is annoying your child.

Maybe your child has sensory overload in a regular classroom.

Maybe your child isn’t getting enough sleep by having to wake up at 6am.

Maybe he’s hungry.

There are so many reasons why a child could be exhibiting negative behaviors at school, but if you’re homeschooling, you’re bound to find out what they really are.

2. Con: You might be even more exhausted than your child’s teacher was.

When a child has “behaviors” at school, it wears a teacher out. Even veteran teachers get worn down from addressing the same problems with the same student, over and over and over again.

If you’re going from spending your days at a typical job or being at home to care for your house/other children, your day is about to change VERY MUCH. If your child’s teacher was tired from having to address their behaviors frequently, you’re going to be tired, too.

And if you’re also managing younger siblings or work-from-home responsibilities, you might just be even more tired than the teacher was, who had resources and helpers near them.

3. Pro: Getting more quality time in with your child might cause their behavior concerns to diminish.

Sometimes, parents get busy (out of necessity) and kids feel the effects of it. Often, kids who are acting out are really just missing attention that they need from their parents, but they don’t know how to express it.

And many times, parents can’t tell that this is the problem. It’s happened with my own kids before.

Just this month, my youngest daughter had a huge spike in negative behavior and it took me several weeks to realize that she just needed more time where I was looking in her eyes and holding her.

Homeschooling would provide more opportunities for you to emotionally invest in your child, which might lower their rate of behavior, just by doing that.

4. Con: Spending more time with your child might NOT cause their behavior concerns to diminish.J

HOWEVER, spending this extra time with your child might not help. For some kids, time with mom/dad isn’t what’s missing at all. And for other kids, having more time with mom/dad might set them off to have even more behaviors.

This can happen when a parent is stressful to the child (maybe the parent has a demanding way of speaking that causes stress in the child), or maybe the child just doesn’t like change and will struggle for a while with learning from mom or dad.

If you decide to homeschool, don’t count on that extra time changing everything you wish would change.

5. Pro: If your child struggles with learning in a certain way, you can tailor your program to accommodate how his/her brain functions.

One drawback about “typical” schooling is that teachers cannot accommodate every single learning style in their rooms. They can accommodate several different learning styles, and they can do their best to meet each student where he/she is at academically, however, there are always a few kids who fall through the cracks.

For example, if a child is a hands-on learning (as in, they can only learn by touching/feeling/doing), then they might struggle in school. Teachers aren’t always able to make assignments hands-on because it requires more time, planning, materials, energy, and classroom management.

Hands-on work is messy.

But for some kids, that’s the only way they can learn so 90% of their classroom time just doesn’t reach them. If you homeschooled, you could teach nearly every lesson they need to know in a hands-on way. It would take some research, but it’s definitely doable.

Imagine your child’s learning being boosted by 90%!

6. Con: You may find that you aren’t equipped to homeschool (and that’s okay).

Not everyone is cut out to homeschool, and THAT IS OKAY.

It’s hard, time-consuming, and requires the patience of a god. Not everyone can do that, whether it be financially, emotionally, or physically.

If you get into homeschooling, you may find that either you or your child is just not meant to do it.

7. Pro: You understand your child better than any teacher ever will.

This goes without saying. Your teacher only knows their own interpretation of your child.

You know the real feelings/emotions/thoughts behind the behaviors of that child.

You KNOW them, and that is invaluable when it comes to education.

8. Con: If your child has a behavior disorder (such as ADHD, ODD, or RAD), you might be losing out on valuable resources that state-governed schools can offer.

Public schools have access to Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that are created and monitored by special education professionals. They’re reviewed on a yearly basis and updated whenever necessary to fit your child’s needs, specifically.

A student with special needs (even behavior disorders) at public schools have an entire team of people who are accommodating their needs.

If you homeschool, you might lose out on a lot of those resources.

*Note: Those resources are only helpful and useful if your child has actually been diagnosed and is receiving services.

9. Pro: If your child has a hard time sitting still, homeschooling requires MUCH LESS of that.

Everyone has to learn to sit still at some point in their lives, but that skill does not need to be learned by 5 or 6 years old. Kids in public school are required to sit down for about 6.5 hours of their 8-hour day.

If your child has an attention deficit or LOTS of energy, this environment wouldn’t be conducive to his/her needs.

If you homeschool, you could allow your child to stand up and work, or you could allow learning in a real-life way, such as in “unschooling.”

10. Con: Your child may butt heads with you more than they butted heads with their teacher.

If your child was obstinate when it came to learning from their teacher, you may find that they struggle with learning from you just as much. It may be a problem with accepting feedback/information from adults, such as with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

Kids with ODD have biological differences in the size, shape, and chemicals in their brains, which causes them to rebuff against any input from adults.

If your child’s teacher experienced that with them, you’re going to experience it, too. And as the parent, you might get the strongest dose of it, yet.

11. Pro: You can choose which behavioral influences your child has in his/her life.

If your child is exhibiting negative behaviors at school that they’re learning from peers, you could avoid that by keeping them at home during the day. Then you could choose which social situations to put them in and have a say in who they socialize with.

This is beneficial when you know your child is interacting with other kids who believe the same things your family believes or who have similar family “rules.”

12. Con: Giving your child much-needed social interaction will require more work on your part.

Social interaction is important and NECESSARY to a child’s development. There’s a temptation in homeschooling to spend all of your days at home, allowing your children to only interact with one another because it requires less effort.

They can play with each other, you can get the dishes done, and everybody wins.

But that’s not really how it works. They don’t win in the end.

Homeschooled children need interaction with other children their age several times a week, in order to socially develop at a healthy rate. To accomplish this, you’re going to have to take them to sports, co-ops, parks, music classes, public libraries, or wherever else you can think of.

It doesn’t have to be every day and it doesn’t have to be all day, but it does have to happen.

That amount of effort is TIME-CONSUMING. Be prepared for more work on that front.

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There’s my list!! Let me know what you think, and share any other ideas with us that you may have.

Have you tried homeschooling your child who has behavioral concerns? How did it go?

Are you still doing it? Do you regret it?

Share an update with us!

Happy parenting, friends.

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling a Child with Behavioral Concerns

W. R. Cummings


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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2018). Pros and Cons of Homeschooling a Child with Behavioral Concerns. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-behavioral/2018/07/pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling-a-child-with-behavioral-concerns/

 

Last updated: 14 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jul 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.