Homeschooling is a great education alternative that has been growing in popularity for years. The recent surge in remote learning within public education has more parents seriously considering it. However, how does homeschooling impact a child’s mental health? Can it cause depression?
There is no direct evidence linking homeschooling and depression. Depression is a complex mental health issue, and there are no studies suggesting that homeschooling alone impacts mental health, either positively or negatively. However, any learning situation should address social- and mental wellness and help children learn how to recognize, address and communicate their emotions.
Let’s dive deeper into the relationship between homeschooling and depression. We’ll explore the overall notion of how homeschooling impacts the student’s mental health and what you can do to help.
Does Homeschooling Cause Depression?
There is no direct link between homeschooling and depression. There are many different factors that go into causing depression in children and teens, such as:
- Brain chemistry. The naturally occurring neurotransmitters that carry signals throughout the body may be abnormal or impaired, which can lead to depression.
- Any change in the body’s hormonal balance can cause depression
- Inherited traits. Like many other mental illnesses, depression may be inherited from a blood relative, like a grandparent or parent.
- Trauma . Any traumatic childhood event, such as abuse or loss of a parent, may result in being more susceptible to depression
- Learned patterns of negative thinking. Depression is often linked to learning to feel helpless and not capable of finding solutions to many of the problems in life.
Depression is complex and not likely caused simply because a child is being homeschooled. If you are concerned that your son or daughter is depressed, you should consult a professional counselor to help your son or daughter learn how to communicate their feelings and struggles. Battling depression in a healthy and productive way is essential.
Can Homeschooling Help to Heal a Child’s Depression?
Homeschooling specifically is not likely a way to treat a child’s depression. If your son or daughter is suffering from depression or any other mental health issue, you should consult a professional counselor to help them sort through their emotions. Learning how to express themselves and identify the root of their depression is more effective than withdrawing a them from public school solely as a way to treat depression or any other form of anxiety.
What Do Psychologists Say About Homeschooling?
Psychologists base what they say about any topic on studies and research. Many of the studies conducted on homeschooling have found that homeschooled children are functioning perfectly well when it comes to social skills.
Benefits of Homeschooling Cited by Mental Health Professionals
Psychologists appreciate the benefits that homeschooling offers children, such as:
- Strong family environment . Homeschooling allows for children to be around their loved ones at all times. Depending on the situation at home, this can be great for building strong family bonds. In fact, excessive focus on peers at school can undermine a parent’s authority and hold back a child’s psychological development.
- Less social and competitive pressure . One substantial benefit of homeschooling that psychologists appreciate is the ability to study without intense pressure. Public school can be quite competitive. While some children thrive in these environments, other children can fall into the trap of feeling like they can’t live up to expectations.
- Nurtures individual motivation . Perhaps one of the best benefits of homeschooling that one psychologist cites is the ability for children to express themselves, both through motivation and creativity. Public school typically forces children to study, while homeschooling encourages them to be motivated to study. It can also aid in developing creativity.
Interestingly, the same study linked above indicates that complete strangers have more doubts about social interaction than the parents of homeschooled children do. Strangers worry that homeschooled children won’t have the appropriate social skills, while parents do not. Parents certainly care about their children’s social skills but do not have the same level of worry.
Do Homeschoolers Lack Social Skills?
There have been many studies that examine whether the homeschooler lacks social skills . Most of these studies have found no negative correlation.
Being a homeschooled child does not impact the development of social skills .
Actually, some of the research suggests that homeschooled students score higher than public school students on measurements of socialization and a lack of social anxiety.
There are some issues with these studies, however. They often rely on self-reporting of the homeschool parent who is doing the schooling. Additionally, the studies tend not to take into account students who are enrolled in co-ops or attend traditional schooling part-time.
Ultimately, psychologists have grown to agree that most of a child’s social skills are learned from their parents , not from other kids at school.
As long as your son or daughter is given opportunities to practice social skills, such as a co-op or other community functions, he/she will be learn socialization skills without issue.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Homeschooling?
Homeschooling has many benefits and drawbacks. If you’re deciding if you should homeschool your son or daughter or enroll them in public school, there are many pros and cons to consider.
Advantages of Homeschooling
Some of the main benefits of homeschooling are:
- It creates a strong bond between parents and children.
- Parents ability to directly teach children that education is fun and not a mundane task.
- Parents can adjust teaching methods based on how the child learns best.
- Ability to create a flexible education schedule that is impossible with traditional schooling methods.
- Protects children from some of the negative behaviors that can often be learned from other children at public school
- Parents can discreetly discuss controversial topics with children.
- Ability to take the child on vacation during times when public school is in session without missing school work.
Potential Drawbacks of Homeschooling
While all of the above benefits might persuade you into thinking home education is the way to go, there are also some disadvantages to consider:
- Being around children all day, every day can be difficult when children misbehave.
- There is a significant out-of-pocket expense for books and other types of learning materials.
- Parents must know how to adapt their teaching methods to best guide the student(s).
- Parents must remain patient if the child is struggling to grasp a topic that might seem simple
- Time and effort must be spent intentionally finding co-ops or other organizations that help the child make friends and practice social schools.
- It’s challenging to keep a child motivated to keep learning, even when they want a day off.
- A lot of time and effort goes into reviewing different curriculum programs to make sure that they are up to the parent’s standards and will effectively educate the child.
Parents who have homeschooled their children typically say that homeschooling can be stressful but even more rewarding. Homeschooling is also not for everyone; only parents dedicated to becoming effective teachers should homeschool.
Can Children Thrive Emotionally with Homeschooling?
Children can absolutely thrive emotionally with homeschooling. In fact, they may thrive more than students in public school (although there are no studies to support this). Simply being able to keep learning new information in a fun and engaging way can do wonders for the emotional well-being of a child. It also sets them up to keep learning throughout their lives.
Incorporating Wellness and Mental Health into Homeschooling
While homeschooling isn’t any less mentally healthy for a child than public or private school, any curriculum should include social-emotional awareness and wellness. In public schools, this curriculum is called Social and Emotional Learning .
Teaching children how to express their emotions and providing them with a safe space to do so, is the best way to incorporate mental health and wellness into homeschooling .
There are specialized materials made explicitly to cover these important topics and lots of great resources to help guide parents, such as this one . You may want to enlist the help of a counselor to help teach your child the best ways for them to express their emotions.
Homeschooling does not cause depression and has many great benefits for children. Whether becoming a homeschooling parent it is right for you and your child will depend on many things you’ll consider but worrying that it will negatively impact mental wellness certainly doesn’t have to be one of them.
Keeping mental and emotional health as part of the curriculum and conversation in the classroom is important, no matter what the learning environment. It is an essential part of human development, and young learners will apply the information and experiences learned for a lifetime – both in developing healthy relationships and in establishing a healthy and positive self-identity.