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My husband often laments the fact that I never want to do things the way everyone else does them. One of my “off the beaten path” dreams for our family was to homeschool the kids—despite the fact that we live in an excellent school district.
We are well into our second year of homeschooling, and I think it’s a great fit for our family. Time and again, when I tell people that we homeschool, the response is “I could never do that!” The implication is often that the family would be miserable. Homeschooling, though, improves our lives in lots of ways, and I think your family might just love homeschooling, too.
10 Reasons You Might Love Homeschooling:
1. Your mornings can be as relaxed as you like.
My older son and I are morning people. I am writing this blog post at 6:00 a.m. I know that in a few minutes, the 7-year-old will be heading down the hall to knock on my door. His younger brother is a night owl. Most mornings, he likes to be up to play with his brother, but sometimes he sleeps late. Big brother and I have a leisurely breakfast—sometimes cooking muffins together since he’s convinced he want to be a chef. We’ll then snuggle on the couch in our pajamas to read some history or watch a science video before heading to the kitchen table (still in our pajamas) to do some math, copywork, or an art project. I don’t have to wake anyone up before he’s ready, rush to make myself presentable to wait for the school bus, or hurry to get teeth brushed, lunches packed, and backpacks on. It’s awesome.
2. You can honor the way your child learns best and choose resources/make lesson plans accordingly.
My 7-year-old refused to write on paper when we first started school. We were nearly finished with kindergarten before he put pen to paper for the first time. He preferred to write in ways that could be quickly erased if he made a mistake. As a result, we practiced writing our letters in a salt tray, on a dry erase board, or using dry erase markers on our big sliding glass doors. He gained confidence and now happily writes on paper with no problems. I can’t imagine that a kindergarten teacher with 25 other kids to handle could have managed this quirk very easily. All of my curriculum materials have been chosen with my kids in mind. My older son, who has loved to listen to me read aloud since he was a baby, learns much of his material via living books. Both boys love to watch videos, so we will consult YouTube for neat science videos, video tours of ancient ruins, or recordings of great musical performances. My Star Wars obsessed 4-year-old, who loves to sit at the table with us to ‘do school’, just got a Star Wars workbook to practice his shapes and numbers.
3. Your family will have lots of time together.
Moms who don’t homeschool will often cite this as one of the reasons they could never educate their kids at home. I’m not going to lie and say our house is always sunshine and rainbows. I do sometimes wish that I had seven hours or so of uninterrupted time to work on things I needed to do. I’d love to not be negotiating disputes all day between two young boys. I know my house would be cleaner if I didn’t have young people dropping crumbs at lunchtime, peeing on the toilet seat, or leaving toys everywhere. I love, though, that my boys get to play together for several hours every day. I love that we can chat over lunch. I love that ‘school’ includes things like going on a nature walk on a beautiful day or doing a yoga video together on a rainy one. Most of all, I love that our time together doesn’t have to be crammed into evenings, weekends, and holidays.
4. You’ll get an intimate look at what your child’s passions are and have the opportunity to be present for their “Eureka” moments.
As I mentioned earlier, my older son is very interested in cooking. He also loves reading and loves to sing. My younger son loves science—especially studying animals—and has an aptitude for anything involving movement. Certainly, parents who send their kids outside of the home for school know this kind of information about their kids, too. However, with all of the extra togetherness and flexibility in their schedules, parents of homeschooled kids can really dig into and encourage their children’s individual talents. You’ll have the added benefit of watching how they’re assimilating and applying all the things they’re learning. I got to be there when my older child wrote his first sentence, when he understood what an even number was, and when he heard about the Big Bang. I love watching his face light up when he understands a new concept. With both boys, I love going down rabbit holes that spark their interest.
5. You’ll get to relearn a lot of the stuff that you missed in school or forgot you knew.
I loved school growing up and attended school long enough to earn a master’s degree. Nearly every day homeschooling my kids, though, I learn something new or relearn something I forgot. Old snippets from the dusty corners of my brain such as Hammurabi’s code, pterosaurs, and concrete poetry can be fleshed out and brought to life again. History I learned in a bit of a “whitewashed” way thirty years ago can be relearned from a perspective that honors all the people involved. My handwriting has even improved since I’m now making copywork examples for my son and want him to write things correctly.
6. You’ll get to be as involved as you’d like to be in your child’s peer groups.
I can say with confidence that I know every kid my son hangs out with. I know at least one of each kid’s parents. I usually know each kid’s siblings. I don’t get involved in their little squabbles. I don’t get to eavesdrop much on their conversations or their play, but I know a lot about what goes on among the kids. I don’t worry much about things like bullying because I and the other parents are close by to nip that kind of behavior in the bud. If something comes up with another kid, I can note it right away and talk about it in the moment. As part of our regular homeschool meetups, I can see how my sons handle conflict with other kids and how they manage interactions with kids who are both older than and younger than they are. I see how they interact with the adults they come into contact with, and I can be there to remind them of the ways they should ideally treat other people. While I’m on the subject of peers, I will reassure you that there are likely loads of opportunities in your area for your homeschooler to socialize with other people—not just kids his own age, but those younger and older (including other adults).
7. You won’t have to worry in the same way about your child’s safety.
Friends with kids in public and private school share stories of active shooter drills, fights on the playground, and school bus drivers revealed to be child predators. While the world my family lives in is no safer or less safe than the one these families inhabit, I’m grateful that I can keep a little closer eye on my kids, especially when they’re small.
8. Your child will have time to relax and be a kid.
When I attended a pre-Kindergarten parent’s meeting at the school my son would have attended, the principal was very proud of the fact that “Kindergarten is the new first grade”. Rigid schedules and strategies for gaining early reading skills were proudly discussed. By contrast, much of my sons’ days are spent building with Legos, playing pretend, and walking in nature. I spend an hour or two of focused time each day on formal lessons. The rest of the day, we use math by playing a board game. We use science while cooking in the kitchen. My older son practices reading by narrating a Star Wars book to his little brother. We practice musical skills singing and dancing along to the radio. We do many of these things in our pajamas.
9. You can enjoy child-friendly destinations in your town without hordes of people present.
Playgrounds and museums are a joy to visit on the weekdays when you aren’t trying to fight the crowd. My family loved having a pass to the National Aquarium in Baltimore last year. Visiting on a Wednesday morning, we could be sure we’d be able to pet a stingray or touch a jellyfish. We could leave and come back another day when we started to feel tired. Washington DC’s wonderful Smithsonian museums, too, are so much nicer when you aren’t fighting a crowd. We even enjoy our local playgrounds a lot more when we aren’t waiting to use the swings or avoiding people trying to use the slide in the opposite direction.
10. Your family will have the freedom to spend your days as you please and fit in school when it works best for you.
I teach private music lessons out of my home and am usually teaching for a few hours a day. We like to do school in the early mornings before my students arrive. We also almost always do school on the weekends. Literature that we’re reading for school sometimes becomes our bedtime story. Schooling is year-round so that we can take breaks to play outside on beautiful fall/spring days, visit Grandma for a week whenever we want, or take advantage of off-season pricing to do affordable family travel anytime of the year. Once you start to think outside the box of a traditional school schedule, you might be amazed at all the time you can find to fit school in, and addicted to all the freedom that creating your own schedule gives you.
Although the idea seemed a little daunting at first, homeschooling has been a terrific experience for our family.
Have I talked you into it?
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