Parents may wonder if short-term (temporary) homeschooling is a good idea. Whether facing a long-distance move, caring for a family member, dealing with a certain trauma, or just wanting a change of pace, will up-ending a child’s education jeopardize their entire future?
These are legitimate worries, especially when decisions must be made rather quickly. Most commonly, parents wonder if there are any real benefits to homeschooling anyway, especially if only for short time. They worry it may be risky, or just plain selfish, to keep a child home when others are somehow managing in the same situation. They wonder if they’re too “soft”, overly protective, or should trust their own instincts when making such a weighty decision on their child’s behalf.
Justifiably, parent concerns include how today’s decision might impact their students in the long term, especially when students are involved in activities, accelerated programs, or nearing graduation. We’ll look at all these issues today, and more. I hope to give a perspective to anyone facing a difficult school choice at this moment, or who wants to share this article with a friend who is grappling with this decision right now.
While my professional advice won’t apply to exactly everyone, in most cases, I want you to know that temporary homeschooling can be overwhelmingly beneficial for students, and usually also for their families, too. Not only are the advantages of homeschooling enormous, but the benefits start accumulating on the very first day. Thus, even when only for a short time, say, a few weeks or a few months, the positive effects of short-term homeschooling can potentially impact students for a lifetime. There are very few reasons I can think of for postponing what can be a very positive experience for all involved.
Positive Impacts of Temporary Homeschooling
Reconnecting as a unit
During periods of change, there is nothing greater than being surrounded by those you love and who matter the most. The solidarity of a family unit combined with the practical aspects of having everyone in the same place can be invaluable during a crisis, or any time the need for support and understanding is higher than normal. Family and friends often come together to circle its vulnerable members for protection. Tested over centuries, this is especially valuable for children, and should be considered any time a child’s well-being is at stake.
Getting to know your children as students
Too often, often through no fault of their own, parents become disconnected from their child’s experiences outside the home. By working with children not just as kids, but also as learners, parents glean valuable information about what has (and hasn’t) been successful in traditional school settings. Even when issues cannot be addressed at home, they can be brought to a school’s attention at a later date. In either case, children win by receiving needed services, remediation, or a change of environment altogether.
Opportunities to teach life skills
When life gets busy and chaotic during the school year, it leaves little time to teach the practical skills kids really need for their futures. In only short periods of time at home, kids can be taught simple things like cooking, laundry and minor household repairs. And, without a whole lot of effort (comes mainly via modeling and participation) children who spend time with their families gradually learn such valuable life skills as personal finance, health and wellness, team work, child care, and so much more.
Sparking (or fueling) new interests
Homeschooling comes with more flexibility, which usually equates to less rushing to and from meaningless activities. And when time resources are increased, children benefit by finding time to do the things they love to do. Whether it’s discovering a book series or starting a new hobby, time means igniting new passions or practicing existing skills. Extra time also gives parents an opportunity to facilitate a child’s efforts, by providing supplies or just offering praise and support. With minimal supervision, children’s lives are expanded and enhanced with the gift of time, something not always afforded during a traditional “school year”.
Filling in gaps of all kinds
It usually isn’t until we’ve spent a lot of time with someone that we notice what they’re truly like. This is exceptionally true in families who never spend more than a few hours together per week. When students are home — even for a short while – parents tend to observe what they didn’t realize was there. Mending emotional hurts, correcting simple misunderstandings, even noticing educational holes means these can be addressed before sending children off the next year. The simplest of things sometimes make the greatest impact. There is no better use of time than focusing on small problems before they snowball into larger issues later on.
Positive experiences and outlook
I’d be remiss by not listing all the other benefits of short-term homeschooling that are impossible to measure, or even define. While homeschooling doesn’t work for everyone, those who do it tend to look back with much fondness. Pointing to benefits in lots of different areas — from health and well-being, to greater access to resources, to flexibility of lifestyle, to overall contentment – homeschoolers tend to really enjoy the experience, even when it didn’t last forever.
What About The Future?
In all the examples you’ve just read, it’s easy to see how the benefits earned by homeschooling temporarily should never be lost, even when children go back to traditional school. Any possible inconveniences or schedule disruptions are usually more than outweighed by the lasting impacts of being home, even if just for a little bit. Knowing how successful homeschool graduates tend to be, there is no need to worry about doing it for a short length of time. If anything, it should be a boon to both student and family.
Regarding concerns over educational outcomes, it’s important to remember that educational content is recycled and revisited many times before students ever graduate from public schools. What that means is, there’s very little chance students won’t get to make up “lost” material before they’re through. And older students, especially those nearing graduation, are very well-practiced and capable of producing work in short periods of time, not to mention exceptionally resilient over many years of functioning within the same system under fluctuating circumstances. It’s highly unlikely a brief period in which students missed classroom lessons will make any difference at all.
Yet, time spent with a family, whether it’s shoring up relationships or mending wounds, can’t ever be replaced. All that said, if temporary homeschooling is what your family needs at this time, you have permission to do so without guilt, and without excess worry about the future.
Are there ways that homeschooling has positively impacted your family — even if you only did so temporarily? Please share a COMMENT to encourage more of my readers. And, thank you, for all you do for your children and family, no matter what form of education you choose.
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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA/Tampa, H.E.R.I., HECOA, Start Homeschooling Summit, Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT, Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.