Homeschooling is great! It provides a safe and familiar environment for a child to learn, and a wonderful opportunity for a parent to connect with their child in a special and unique way.
However, homeschooling is not without its dangers!
The Obvious Dangers of Homeschooling
The idea that kids can stay home and learn is not a new one. Parents have been keeping children home for their schooling if they are on a remote property, or if the child struggles with social anxiety or bullying. And to be honest, homeschool can be a tremendous asset in the life of a child, and in their education.
So when we talk about dangers, what are we referring to?
The first big danger is that the child lacks social interaction with their peers. In fairness, most homeschooling mums or dads are onto this, providing social connection between their child and other homeschooling kids. If they are involved in organised sport, or church, this danger is greatly lessened, and as I mentioned, most parents of homeschoolers are onto this already.
Other dangers also exist, particularly if the parents are less than organised. I have seen some children thrive in the homeschool environment, while others have been disorganised, and floundered into academic problems because the parents were unable to direct and discipline their child adequately.
The Hidden Danger of Homeschooling Revealed!
From a Behavioural Optometry point of view, there are some clear and present dangers with homeschooling. As I said before, I see many very positive aspects to children learning at home, but from a visual perspective, you can cause some big issues in your child’s development.
According to the WHO, myopia (shortsighted) is one of the fastest-growing conditions in the world. It has reached epidemic proportions, especially in Asian countries, but all over the world, the number of myopic or shortsighted people has jumped dramatically in the last 10 years.
Some so-called experts attribute this rise in shortsightedness to children not going outside enough. In my opinion, this misses the point. What has been introduced in the last 10 years that has dramatically increased the amount of time kids focus on near objects without a break? That’s right, technology, including Ipads, tablets, and, of course, smartphones.
I believe that the increase in shortsightedness among our young people is due to the massive increase in the time they spend looking at near objects, especially screens. And herein lies the hidden danger for homeschooling.
Homeschoolers focus on books, computers, tablets, and phones often without breaks for long, extended periods of time. Unlike in a regular classroom, where children look down at the books then up at the teacher, homeschool by its very nature involves just looking down, mainly at screens.
My concern is that homeschoolers are more prone towards going shortsighted than their face-to-face school peers. I have certainly seen this phenomenon in my practice, but this does not mean we should abandon homeschool at all!
Protection for Homeschoolers
With the right protection and support, which is the correct lenses that relax the focusing muscles, prolonged exposure to near activities can safely be done during homeschool. We often design lenses that allow children to concentrate and focus for hours during homeschooling without driving them into myopia. We can even incorporate blue light protection to minimise eyestrain, maximise concentration and reduce sleep disruption.
So the adverse effects of prolonged concentration on books and screens can be mitigated to a large degree by the right advice, the right reading and technology glasses and by taking appropriate breaks, of around 5 minutes every half hour.
If you are homeschooling, don’t stop and don’t get discouraged. Just get the right advice from your Optometrist and make sure that while your children are studying, you are protecting them from the risks associated with shortsightedness.
If you want to know more, come and talk to Darin today. Call us for a Bulk Billed consultation, which costs zero out of your pocket, on 5457 3333.