Should you homeschool your athlete?

When Russia/Soviet Union was a super power they created a model for successful elite amateur athletes—pull the child out of his home and train the athlete most of the day. This model became something of aspiration for parents in the United States wanting the super athlete—train and homeschool. The rationale was if you homeschooled your child he or she could do the school work in a fraction of the time a full day at a school would allow, and allow the child to spend more time training. While this may give your athlete more time training, what are the potential consequences not being considered? Let’s consider.

  1. Social learning theory. Social learning theory is a well researched topic professing that learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context. What this means is a child is learning in a social setting. Many homeschool parents network with other homeschooled kids to provide a social setting for this learning to happen. But the argument against this controlled social environment is the idea that choosing the social network be it other athletes at the gym or club, or other homeschooled children misses a piece of the social learning theory that happens when surrounded by “different” individuals. In a regular school setting children are negotiating “street smart” lessons by being surrounded by children of different backgrounds—social, political, racial and religious. A controlled social environment does not provide the tools to negotiate through a diverse society that includes people we do not necessarily like or agree with.
  2. College Academics. Many parents pursue athletic excellence for their child in the hopes they will become NCAA athletes. Most parents do not realize that very few full athletic scholarships are offered, and many of these partial scholarships are combined with academic scholarships. If the child is focused on athletics and not academics the “full ride” may not happen. In addition, if the child cannot handle the pressure of a full course load in conjunction with training, how will the child handle the college course load with training?
  3. Education Quality. There is a reason teachers are certified on top of taking a college education. There is a skill set needed to be a qualified teacher.
  4. Life Skills. Many child psychologists today argue the need for well-balanced children. They also argue against the stress levels that many children are under when carrying too many hours of training. Consider if your child is homeschooling for improving athletic pursuits, what are they missing in the total picture? What kind of stress are they under?
  5. Health and Wellbeing. When considering the hours a child spends in training versus school, think about the long term. Are you sacrificing school and the academics for a sport they may not do for the rest of their life? A sport with a limited lifespan, where learning should be for life? What kind of long term injuries are at stake? These are questions that are easily overlooked when the quest is to create a champion.

Here is a great link with more discussion on the topic, which goes beyond the athlete and just looks at the pros and cons of homeschooling