I was home schooled, so I speak only to my own experience and what I know of my siblings' experience.
Also, let me apologize if I rehash things already said in previous comments - I try to avoid getting to deep into the weeds in the
/. comment section.
: Maybe. My eperience with this was mixed. In the humanities, the strength of the curriculum covered a lot of gaps in my mother's education (said gaps were why she was responsible for teaching the humanities). Unfortunately, the weaknesses in the curriculum created gaps, too - she'd selected a hyper traditional curriculum from a catholic organization, and she tended to insert her own politics into interpretations of history and literature. My father's a research geologist, so he covered math and the physical sciences. The sciences worked out ok, except that he often lacked patience communicating the foundational math concepts - if you got it on his first or second explanation, you were golden; but if you were still stuck you'd probably stay that way. This hampered my younger brother quite a bit.
: Here's the part that's polarizing. There are definite issues with socialization. It's not that you only interact with family members - there are tons of opportunites to cavort with other kids: playing around your neighborhood (which we did back in the 90s - I gather unsupervised outdoor play is more of a rarity, these days), organized sports, organized clubs (cub/brownie/boy/girl scouts), the local YMCA swimming pool, etc, etc. The problem is most of that play is highly supervised and in small, intimate groups. You don't get any experience navigating the daunting social currents within a larger pool of people that includes a big chunk of relative strangers. The affects of this aren't always obvious, immediately. I started to show it earlier than my little brother - I became pretty withdrawn around kids I didn't know as early as 8 years old. My brother experienced more social awkardness than the norm when he hit about 11. We all stopped home schooling the same year, so my younger sister got out of it at the youngest age (about 5) and she is by far the best socially adapted of the three of us.
Most of the homeschooling families back had some sort of motivation beyond merely "I want my kid to have the best education" - education was always what was talked about first; but a lengthy conversation would make it pretty clear that they were really most concerned about other things: sometimes it was behaviour problems resulting from peer pressure (everything from "too much flirting" to "drugs"), sometimes religion, and (manytimes) more to do with problems the parents have than anything else: including in my mother's case.
These parental problem didn't result in undereducated kids in my family (although we had gaps we had to back fill later), but everyone I saw whose home schooling was motivated by parental issues went through seriuous struggles before they settled into their adult lives. I've kept in touch or reconnected with 3 of the home schooled friends I used to have since then and they all went through a similar trajectory.
- 1. If you're going to home school, start off with a firm cut-off age pre-agreed to. I'd advise stopping at the end of the second grade (8-9 years old). The biggest benefits tend to come before then (early reading advances, primarily) and the biggest drawbacks really get a head of steam after then.
- 2. don't exclusively homeschool even when you're doing it. Arrange for an hour or four a week in a traditional classroom environment - with a traditionally certified teacher and a full class of unrelated students, ideally including at least some who don't homescool.