By Richard Fluit, Deputy Head of School, Renaissance International School HCMC.
Many parents try to find the best possible education for their child by comparing learning in a home-schooling setting or at a private international school. It is important to be well informed about what the best option is for your child. Below I will outline the pros and cons of home-schooling and of private schools.
Home-schooling will provide your child with individual attention, a curriculum suited to the child’s interests and the pace of learning adjusted to your child’s need. Parents can focus the education on their beliefs, their values and their vision of academic success for their child. The child will feel the specialised attention he/she gets from his/her parents and family. Likely your child will become much more independent as he/she will have to learn to be self-directed. It can be very cost effective. Lastly, learning at home avoids the traveling to and from a school.
However, as a contrast, home-schooling makes it more difficult to build friendships with peers; there is less opportunity for social connections outside the family. Parents need knowledge and skills to research and deliver the best schooling for their child. They need the time to invest in their child’s education, taking time away from their own potential academic and career progression. As home-schooling is done by one or two parents, the child is not exposed to a range of different teaching styles, learning styles and skilled teachers in different subject areas. Schools have libraries, science labs, computer rooms, sports fields that home-schooling cannot provide. Schools also have a variety of after school programmes and clubs that will be difficult to duplicate at home. Some children might find it smothering to be with family 24 hours a day and they may feel they are missing out on experiences that others have. Lastly, tertiary education providers might have limited understanding of the curriculum and type of learning experienced by home-schooled applicants.
International private schools offer curriculums such as the IB, IGCSE, A-level and AP; they provide choice in the programmes parents want their children to receive. These programmes are well recognised by most universities and colleges all over the world. Often, international schools have small class sizes with highly qualified and experienced teachers. The schools welcome parent input and involvement. Many schools offer values education through profiles, philosophy, the type of discipline they offer and special programmes like Round Square. Schools can provide huge variety in the resources, facilities, subject choices and expertise of the staff employed. International private schools have options in their subjects, especially at Secondary level, providing a more individual type of education. They also provide services for students who need more time, for very fast learners, for gifted and talented students and for students with learning challenges. International schools provide global citizenship opportunities and social interaction with people from other nationalities and cultures. Learning interactions with peers may enable your child to develop socially, make academic connections and reach conceptual understanding better than through home-schooled explanations.
However, as a contrast, private education is expensive. Often the fees are not the end of the costs either; field trips, residentials, exams, resources like laptops and graphical calculators will need to be paid for as well. Private schools seek parent involvement and communication between parents – teacher – students. This is time that many parents do not have. Every school has rules and regulations that your child will have to adhere to, even if you do not agree to one or more of those. Academic learning might not be as fast as home-schooling as lessons are pitched at mid-learning level with differentiation for more advanced learners. Lastly, your child will have to learn subjects he or she might not have any interest in.
As an educator in an International School, I believe that it is important for children to be with their peers. Parents can ‘buy’ excellent education at an international school, that will provide an outstanding curriculum with highly qualified teachers, the resources needed, individual attention, values education and a variety of choices in and outside the written curriculum. This avoids the huge investment parents would need to make in time, expertise, attention and organisation in a home-schooling situation.
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