On The Fence About Homeschool?

Are you one the fence about homeschooling? I know, I’ve been there. Many children thrive in public or private schools but others really struggle. My daughter thrived so why would I even consider pulling her? Honestly, if my daughter was not doing well it would have been an easy decision for me, I think but it seemed crazy to pull her from an environment that really worked for her.

So why did I do it? Well it was simply because my new husband thought it was a good idea (he had previously homeschooled his other children) and I was intrigued by it. I didn’t really have the insight I have today but I did think that being with my children all day would be a good bonding experience. That was really all the thinking I did about it.

Now before you think that my lack of really thinking it through wasn’t fair to my daughter who loved school, she was onboard. We were moving to a new town where she was going to have to start at a new school so she was open to the idea of homeschooling. My younger daughter was newly adopted from out of the country so she didn’t have any knowledge of public school to understand what she might be missing.

But for most people, making the decision to transition from public school to homeschooling can be a difficult one. Here are some of the benefits that homeschooling has to offer that may help you in your decision. Knowing exactly what you and your family stand to gain by making this change will help you make an informed decision about which educational path is right for your family.

Flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is flexibility. You are no longer required to stick to a strict, time-driven schedule. This is pure freedom!!!! My kids sleep until their bodies wake them up which is usually mid-morning. And before you start protesting about how they have to learn to be on a schedule, neither has any problems getting up when work or other scheduled events require them to get up. Plus, who says they have to learn to be on a morning schedule? I worked third shift as a nurse and so no amount of getting up in the morning would have helped me with that job.

You can travel based on your own family schedule instead of when the school says you can. Not to mention traveling to places during the off-season makes traveling so much less stressful. We’ve been all over the country during times when almost no other people were there. And school didn’t stop during our travels. Some of it happened in the car and some happened naturally while visiting particular sites. Washington, DC, for example offered more learning opportunities than could have been covered in years of public school.

You can tailor your child’s learning to fit your values, desires, budget and schedule. Want to learn something they would never learn in public school? Great, go for it! One of my daughters has been taking Korean online for years. Other off-the-wall topics have included forensic psychology, baking/cooking classes, plumbing, interior design, chess, critical thinking, and how to start a small business. Yes, they are also doing many traditional classes but the majority of their learning is based on their own personal interests.

Homeschoolers also benefit from personalized education because they can create an individualized learning plan based on their kids strengths and weaknesses instead of having to adhere strictly to a pre-determined list of topics provided by a traditional school system. In addition, parents have greater control over what their children learn since they are not restricted by state-mandated curriculums or standardized testing requirements. This allows for greater flexibility when trying new methods and approaches without worrying about meeting set expectations from outside authorities. You, the parent, are completely in charge.

Your children can have so much more outside and nature time. Learning through exploration is a huge gift to your children. You can include so many outside activities as part of school: hiking, biking, bird-watching, astronomy, gardening, building projects. We also did a lot of book work outside at the picnic table just to be outside in the sun. When the kids are fidgety or bored, they go outside and shoot hoops or do photo shoots. When they were younger, we would go outside and race to help them focus. And no one was calling them in after 15 minutes. Outside play is learning and as important (and probably more important) as any book learning inside.

You can spend as much time as you want on any given subject. Your child is struggling with multiplication? No problem, just stick with it until they get it. As I said before, my younger daughter came from a third-world country with little education at the age of eight. We didn’t even start any math instruction until she was in 7th grade and have been taking as long as she needs. She’s caught up to her peers now but we never had any stress of standardized testing telling her she was ‘behind.’

Socialization Opportunities

Another common misconception about homeschooling is that it is isolating for children who are used to attending public school on a daily basis. I was worried about this at first. The truth is, there are plenty of ways for kids who are homeschooled to socialize with others. Most areas (even our rural area) have homeschool groups that meet for both classes and for fun. There are classes at local libraries or community centers available. Kids can participate in sports teams or clubs outside of school hours (and many homeschool groups have sports or clubs during school hours). You students can even engage in online conversations with other students from around the world. If you are near bigger cities, there are often homeschool days at science centers and zoos. The possibilities are endless!

Socialization is a hot-topic for those outside the homeschool world. Non-homeschoolers seem to think we lock our kids inside and never let them interact with the outside world. Obviously that isn’t true but what the main concern is that homeschooled kids are not interacting with their peers 8 hours a day and so many believe that is the only or best way to learn how to be normal members of society. I just don’t understand this thinking. Where are the peer-reviewed studies showing this is how kids must be socialized? Just because it is how much of society educates their kids doesn’t mean it is the only way or best way.

We just have not had any issues in this area. We live rurally so we have to make more of an effort to get out than if we lived in a city but it still has not been an issue. Our homeschool group has so many available activities that we have to sometimes not attend because we are gone too much. My athletic daughter played on multiple basketball teams including a homeschool team, a public school team and a club team.

Worries

Maybe you are on the fence because you honestly think you can’t do it. Trust me, you can. You were their teacher for their first years and did you worry then that you couldn’t teach them? Did you think you couldn’t potty-train them or teach them their ABCs. Of course not, you just did it as part of parenting. You probably did some reading on the subject and then you just taught them. Homeschool is no different.

Young children need to learn to read at some point. They learn to read by you reading to them and letting them read to you. There isn’t some big secret (assuming no learning disability) on learning to read. Some will learn at 5, some won’t be fully reading until 8 or 9 but they will all learn to read. You don’t have to worry about your 15 year old not being potty trained and you don’t have to worry about your 15 year old being able to read.

Older children learn algebra. You are thinking I was terrible at math in high school so how can I possibly teach my child algebra. Well good news! There are an infinite number of resources (free and paid) that will help your child learn algebra. Some may involve you learning along with your child and others let your child learn independently. But I guarantee that if your child needs to learn algebra, they will be able to learn it. There is no homeschool rule that says you, the parent, must teach 100% of every subject.

Can You Do It?

Yes, the answer is absolutely Yes. If you are a parent who loves their child and wants the best for them, I have no doubt that you can do this. I have no special qualifications to teach my children because none are required other than the desire to help your children learn.