Why should I homeschool?

I am not one of those homeschoolers who thinks everyone should homeschool or that homeschooling is somehow better than public or private schools.  Quite the contrary.  I think brick and mortar schools are the best option for many children.  I think other children benefit most from online schools and I think yet other children do best homeschooling.  Every kid is different and every family is different.  We all deserve the education that works best for our circumstance and lifestyle.  That being said many parents are asking about the advantages of homeschooling.  They know the ins and outs of sending their kids to school.  They have lived the nightmare of pandemic induced distance learning.  For most parents, however, there are a lot of unknowns about homeschooling so I would like to take about some of the advantages. 

  1. Individualized Curriculum
  2. Personalized Learning Environment
  3. Extra Time
  4. Intergenerational Socialization
  5. Self-Reliance and Independence. 
  6. Healthy Lifestyle

Individualized Curriculum

The biggest advantage to homeschooling is that the entire curriculum is designed with the student in mind.  Every child learns differently.  I am of the frame of mind that every child is, in their own way, a genius.  Maybe not in the traditional sense, but every child does in fact have gifts to give the world—an intelligence of their own unique sort.  (Read the book Multiple Intelligence Theory by Howard Gardener to look more into this concept) The role of the teacher or parent is unleash this genius and tap into these gifts.  This is SO much easier in a homeschool.

You can tweak the program to your child’s learning style and interests. Most homeschoolers use a hodge podge of book learning, online classes, co-op classes, project based lessons, notebooking and other methods to teach a variety of subjects.  We can pick and choose what is best for each child in each subject and if it’s not working we can switch it up.  If a child is struggling you can go more slowly and if they excel you can move ahead.  There isn’t a textbook committee or curriculum board.  While we do need to comply with state regulations for the most part we can create a curriculum based around a child and their learning style and pace. 

Indvidualized Learning Environment

Beyond the actual curriculum the environment of a homeschool allows for rules and norms to be built around individuals and not groups.   If your child is a kinestetic learner you can let them jump around while review math facts.  You can focus on nature study or more active experimentation for science so they are moving around and not sitting at a desk.  If you child is easily distracted by noise you can help them find a quiet work space.  Alternatively if your child does better with music in the background you can play it without concern for disrupting others.  One of my sons is incredibly artistic and he used to turn all his numbers into little animals.  His papers were covered in doodles that would make it impossible for a classroom teacher to understand his answers.  As his mother though I could walk through it with him and be sure that in addition to the work of art he did his math work and understood.  I am confident that those doodles helped him process the algorithms he was learning.   

Schools have so many rules that are absolutely necessary when you have so many children in one place.  The homeschool also has rules, but these rules are built around a family with similar values all bound in love.  This means your child’s learning environment will be designed around his/her own needs within the context of your particular family. 

The Gift of Time

The next biggest advantage of homeschooling is the gift of time.  Since the curriculum is geared towards the individual student schoolwork is often done much more quickly than in a group setting.  You also don’t have to deal with all the classroom management issues that classroom teachers face every day.  Just the time it takes a class of kindergarteners to line up at the door to go to lunch takes twenty precious minutes during which you could probably do an entire math lesson. 

This gift of time allows kids the opportunity to pursue their own interests in addition to the required learning.  My eldest son studied Russian and is now fluent.  My second son immersed himself in raising puppies for the Seeing Eye.  My eldest daughter studied ballet in a preprofessional program and performed all over the world.  My youngest daughter wrote a full length novel.  None of these things were part of my homeschool plan.  They developed gradually as a result of boredom.  I tell parents all the time to focus on the most important aspects of academics and let children have the opportunity to explore and discover their own interests. 

This gift of time also allows for more exploration, travel and field trips. Taking advantage of off season travel, for example, allowed our family to travel extensively and integrate that travel into our education plan. Travelschooling is only possible with the gift of time.

Intergenerational Socialization

Socialization is one of the number one things people express as a concern for homeschooling.  And, honestly, from the bottom of my heart I find it perplexing.  Simply put would you rather your child learn the basics of living in a civil society from a bunch of kids their own age or might it be better that kids are socialized by people of all ages?  Homeschool students have much more interaction with adults and the elderly than their traditional schooled peers.  They tend to spend more time with grandparents who can pass on vital wisdom and values.  They also interact far more often with younger siblings and kids outside their own age group..  This yields a much more natural form of socialization and a sense of community.  For most of human history kids were never solely grouped with people their exact age.  And really, beyond school there is no other point in our lifetime other than perhaps a retirement home where we are grouped by age to such an extent. 

Self-Reliance and Independence

After the question of socialization the most common question people as about homeschooling is, “How do you have time to homeschool?”  The answer to this lies in one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling: children become self-reliant and independent learners.  They have to be.  Just because you start homeschooling doesn’t mean all of your other obligations will instantly disappear.  In order to have a peaceful home and a successful homeschool parents and kids need to work together to get not only the school work done, but also the cooking, cleaning, shopping, doctor visiting, gardening,  pet care etc.  In many cases homeschooling parents also work outside the home.  Kids learn how to get their work done with minimal intervention from their parents and they also learn to contribute to all these aspects of running a household.  By high school my kids know how to cook, clean, budget, shop and manage their days to get their assignments done.  I really only need to check in with my homeschool high schoolers once or twice a week as far as school goes.  They are well trained to be independent and self-reliant so when they get to college they can take care of themselves and get their work done. 

Keep in mind this type of independence will not happen overnight especially if you just pulled your child from traditional school.  With patience and commitment though it will develop over time. 

Healthy Living

On a final note homeschool kids on the whole have much more control over their daily schedule.  There are many advantages to homeschooling when it comes to health. Teenagers who often need extra sleep can get it.  Young children who have difficulty sitting still all day can jump around.  There are many more opportunities for fresh air and exercise in a homeschooler’s day than there are for children sitting in a traditional school all day.  Instead of processed meat sandwiches or preservative laden cafeteria food homeschool kids can take the time to eat well balance fresh food three meals a day.   I really believe healthy living is paramount to a positive learning environment.  Kids who eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest are better able to focus and learn than they would be if they were hungry and tired. 

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it does offer many advantages that can maximize the learning potential  and future happiness of children.  Beyond academics homeschooling teaches children  how to care for themselves and live in community with their families.  It’s a healthy lifestyle that allows them to pursue their interests and grow into self-reliant and independent people. The advantages of homeschooling cannot be ignored when deciding how best to educate your child.

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

1 Comment

  1. Lindsay on September 26, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Love the addition of inter generational benefits! So true and so important! Love this!

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