By Jennifer Lewis
Across America there are a growing number of worried parents who have chosen to homeschool their child as a direct result of the child being bullied at school. In almost all of the cases, the parents worked with the schools to attempt to take care of the bullying, but when this proved unsuccessful, homeschooling appeared to be the only option available to them. Homeschooling would certainly relieve the stress of bullying and will usually put an end to the crisis, but there are some down sides to this approach as well. All parents want the best for their child and when a bully is tearing their lives to pieces at school, homeschooling should only be sought after careful consideration of the huge impact it can have on their young life.
Drawbacks of homeschooling
In many cases, a parent has to sacrifice time they would normally spend at work to school their child at home. This can lead to a loss of income in some cases. The prolonged time spent between a child and a parent can also often lead to tensions in the relationship. Homeschooling is a massive commitment from the parent and becomes a full-time job. Many first-time homeschoolers are underprepared for this commitment.
The psychological impact of homeschooling
Many people oppose homeschooling due to bullying as the psychological impact on the child in question can be bigger than most anticipate. A few leading school psychologists are more in favour of teaching children social strategies that allow them to deal with bullies in real life and not simply take them out of a situation to protect them from abuse. They claim that homeschooling is a poor way to counter bullying as children will not learn anything about why they are experiencing a problem and how to solve it. Proponents of the head on approach of keeping the child in public school recommend that the child learns to deal with the bully on their own.
However, others have countered that opposition to homeschooling in the short term to eradicate problems with bullying understimates the severity of the bullying taking place. Violence is often a feature of the abuse at school and no parent wants to subject their child to that. Many social strategies place too much emphasis on the victim solving their own problems which they are not often in a position to do.
Homeschooling and the danger of social isolation
Homeschooling is often accused of being isolationist. It’s seen by many as a way for parents to shelter their children from dangers and challenges that they will face in the real world. Even if a child is being homeschooled, parents must be conscious of this fact and make an effort to ensure that their children are interacting with other children from a variety of backgrounds. If this is not done the it is likely that the child will not develop enough skills to handle difficult social situations that will continue right the way throughout their life.
There has been criticism, however, that the ‘socialization’ on show at public schools is not as natural as one might expect. Critics have accused schools of creating artificial social situations that are often unhealthy for certain children’s social development. At the end of the day, it’s up to the parents to decide when a bullying situation from school can be fixed with little interference, or when the school environment becomes physically and psychologically unsafe for the child to continue.
What about a change in school?
A change in school is another option that many parents choose to go down and it is often necessary if it is felt that returning the child to the same school after a period of homeschooling would just result in a return to the problem. However, if the problem is with the child, then bullying may continue in any social situation with certain age groups. If this is the case, homeschooling might be the best option.
Parents who are considering homeschooling their child should not take the decision lightly. There are a lot of professionals who are ready and willing to give you advice on this matter and you should listen to them all carefully before you make up your mind. Bullying can have a terrible effect on a child’s social development in their school years and action to make it stop should always be a priority. The potential long-term damage caused by continuing in school or withdrawing to homeschooling should be weighed up carefully on a case-by-case basis.