If you are reading this, then it’s likely that the idea of homeschooling has crossed your mind at some point.
After all, our kids are only kids once. The idea that we, as parents could spend more time with them while they are young and personally invest in their education is a notion that is alluring to a lot of parents.
In fact, it’s appealing to more people than you might realize.
But homeschooling can also seem a little bit intimidating, or (to some) maybe just too weird. People have a lot of funny misconceptions about those who homeschool.
You may have stereotype- based images in your head of a family that is totally unsocialized and never leaves the house. Or maybe you think homeschooling would be wonderful, but you have no idea how to start. Maybe you’re worried your family will think you are nuts, that you can’t swing homeschooling financially, etc. etc. etc….
None of those concerns mean that you can’t or shouldn’t homeschool. In fact, more and more families are finding reasons to take the leap and make homeschooling work for them.
While homeschooling is still considered to be a counter-culture choice, it is a lot less unusual than it was twenty years ago. The fact is, homeschooling is becoming increasingly common in the United States. This research data shows that, since 1999, the number of homeschooled students in the U.S. has almost doubled (going from around 850,000 to 1, 690,000)
Honestly, homeschooling isn’t for everybody. However, many of the reasons that more people are choosing to embrace the homeschool life have a universal appeal. Some of them might surprise you (and some of them might even convert you.)
Here are the 5 top reasons to homeschool your child!
1. Homeschooling Provides a Tailored Academic Experience
One of the reasons that private schooling is so expensive and sought-after is because the smaller class sizes allow teachers to tailor the educational experience. With homeschooling, you get that same advantage to a greater extent.
Because the class size is small (and because parents know their own children better than anyone), the homeschooling approach allows for an extremely personalized educational experience. The advantage of tailoring your child’s academic experience is a great reason to homeschool! Here are just a few of the the things you can consider when personalizing your childs homeschool education.
I wrote a little bit about learning styles in this blog post. Essentially, there are several ways that different people process and learn information. Some people are more visual learners and need to see pictures, charts or videos whearas others have to listen to an explanation (auditory). Some people need to physically touch things and complete tasks with their own two hands to really understand it (kinesthetic.) The list of the seven main learning styles are below, and you can also read more about them here.
- Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can tweak learning to make it more accessible for your child and his/her learning style. Got a visual learner? You know that drawing on a board or using a lot of pictures or Youtube videos is an effective way to teach them about something that happened in history. Got a kinesetic learner? You can assign as many hands-on activities as you can think of. This definitely gives children a personalized advantage that they couldn’t get at public (or even private) school.
As a former homeschooler, one thing that I really appreciated about it was the extra time I got to spend on Algebra. This isn’t because I loved Algebra (kind of the opposite). History, English and foreign languages came naturally to me…but Algebra? Nope.
I needed a bit of time and extra practice before my mind would wrap around it. Once I got it, I was good, but it didn’t click immediately for me.
There were many days when I was able to go through my lessons for other subjects quickly, so that I could more time understanding higher math concepts. Ultimately, I did well in Algebra (and even enjoyed it–sort of). However, I’m pretty sure that this is only because I was able to spend that extra time learning it.
Most children are going to have some academic areas that are more challenging for them than others, and the great thing about homeschooling is that it allows parents to help their children with those trouble spots.
And if it means spending more time on a particular area? No big deal.
In homeschooling, no one is going to know, judge or care that one subject took your child more time than another. All anyone is going to know at the end of the day is that your child learned it.
This is the other side of the same coin. Another reason to choose homeschooling is so you can nurture your child’s strengths in a personal way that helps them shine.
Just like children may need extra attention in academic trouble areas, they may also need to be challenged and encouraged in an area that comes naturally to them.
There’s nothing to turn someone off of learning like boredom.
Unfortunately, many bright students find themselves bored in public school classrooms when they are ready to move ahead while the majority of the group is not.
If you feel that your child is ready to move ahead in a particular area, then nothing is stopping you from doing that in your homeschool!
Now I know what you might be thinking: This won’t work for me because my child and I do not have the same academic skills.
This happens to most homeschooling parents at some point. It’s no big deal. There are several ways you can still help your student thrive in his/her skillset, even if you feel underqualified.
- Do a little research and purchase a fantastic curriculum with grading keys. Can you can stay a little bit ahead, give assignments, and have a positive attitude? If so, you’re doing great. Chances are your child will never know you doubted yourself.
- Find supportive extracurriculars in your area. If your student is a science whiz, see if you can enroll him/her in a homeschool co-op chemistry course or a community robotics club…or both!
- Take advantage of the internet. Many Websites, such as Sparketh, offer professionally developed courses with expert teachers! Why not take advantage of the some of the fantastic resources online?
With homeschooling, there are so many kinds of different opportunities to recognize and encourage your child’s natural talents!
2. Homeschooling Prioritizes Family Time
Another reason to homeschool is to give your family more quality time together. I’ve talked to many homeschool parents who cite this as their top reason for homeschooling.
Your kids are only young once. Many people choose to teach their children at home so that both parents can play an active role their children’s lives during those formative years.
Homeschooling makes it easier to plan your school around your family life, instead of being forced to plan your family life around a school schedule.
If creating more family time is a priority to you, homeschooling can be a powerful tool to help you find your ideal life/work/school balance.
The family time that homeschooling provides goes far beyond “school hours,” too. Here are just a few specific ways that homeschool families get more quality time together.
Both parents get to be part of family life.
This is an especially big one for families wherein one parent works evenings/weekends. With homeschooling, children are able to spend time with the parent who works late nights because everyone is home during the day.
Family vacations are not limited to summer.
Vacations can happen any time of year! Many homeschool families don’t take a traditional “summer break” (some do). Instead, they make take more trips throughout the year as the opportunities arise.
You can educate WHILE you vacate.
There’s no reason you can’t travel and homeschool at the same time, which makes it that much easier to go and do fun things. My homeschooling mom-in-law would load up all four of her children and go on epic cross country trips, and their lessons didn’t miss a beat! To this day, my husband and his siblings talk about the adventures they had during those times, seeing different states (and at one point living on their grandparents’ boat!) They kept up with their academics, but they also learned so much from the experiences they had.
Homeschooling makes it possible to have adventures in the midst of learning, and to learn from those adventures. This homeschooling Website even has a section just for travel, so that homeschooling families can find interesting things to see (and learn from) on their travels!
3. Homeschooling is a Great Means for Self-Discovery
My husband (homeschooled) flew a plane before he drove a car. I (homeschooled) founded an eclectic writer’s group when I was 14. One of my friends (homeschooled) was both a blacksmith and a ballet dancer. I had another friend (also homeschooled) who made stock market investments (via his guardian) as a minor. I’ve known homeschooled actors, musicians, dancers and artists who were exceptionally talented, passionate and invested in their craft. I’ve known homeschoolers who lived in several different countries before they were 18.
Homeschoolers do some amazing, awesome, weird things, and their varied interests help them learn more about who they are.
Here are some reasons that I think that homeschooling naturally encourages a child’s interests and fosters self-discovery:
The Learn-From-Life Mentality
Homeschooling naturally lends itself to an integrated view of learning. With this mindset, a child’s passions are worth exploring. Unique activities are encouraged and extracurricular activities are sought out to provide children with social time as well as experiences they can learn from.
This one keeps coming up, right? Homeschooling does (usually) have some structure. However, it allows you to prioritize a bit, too. If you want to support your child’s love of the theatre, then you can work rehearsals into the schedule (and find a way to incorporate academics into that love of theatre, too!) If you want to implement their love of art into their academic day, you can sign them up for professionally-taught online art courses that they can take, anytime. Homeschooling is very open to embracing your child’s interests into the melting pot of learning.
Less Peer-Pressure = More Freedom to Be Yourself
Homeschoolers simply don’t experience peer pressure in the same way as their public school peers. This often means that homeschoolers don’t really mind making friends with someone much older (or younger) than them, don’t tend to always know “what grade” they are in, and don’t really care if you think their favorite hobby is trendy.
Often, homeschoolers know what they like and they feel a real freedom to get excited about those things. Check out this study/book, which indicates that homeschooled girls develop a stronger sense of self and self-esteem.)
One of my very favorite reasons to homeschool is that the flexible schedule and learn-from-life mentality creates the perfect environment for homeschoolers to pursue their passions and get to know who they are (and of course you, the homeschooling parent, get to have an active role in that journey.)
4. Homeschooling Allows You To Teach Beyond Academics.
This is a big one…maybe the most popular reason to homeschool your child. This survey recorded some of the top reasons that parents chose to homeschool in 2016. Here are a few of them.
- 80% had a concern about public schools.
- 67% expressed a desire to incorporate moral instruction.
- 51% wanted to incorporate religious instruction.
- 39% had a desire to incorporate a non-traditional approach.
But all of the above reasons have something in common.
They all reflect the parents’ desire to teach children in a way that incorporates a “whole person,” view of the child: intellectual, emotional, moral, spiritual. Again, homeschooling is all about an integrated view of learning. For example, you don’t have to separate teaching values and morals from academics (literature, history and science all offer opportunites to discuss questions of “right” and “wrong.”)
If you have a strong desire to incorporate values, practical skills, religious instruction, or emotional development into your child’s daily education, then homeschooling could be for you!
5. Homeschooling Prepares Your Children for Adulthood.
If you currently homeschool, or are thinking about it, you may have had some well-meaning friend or relative say:
“If you don’t send them to public school, how are they going to be prepared for real life?”
However, I’d strongly strongly argue the opposite. Here are a few ways that homeschoolers are uniquely prepared for adulthood. (For even more reasons, check out this article).
Homeschoolers are used to managing their time.
Especially as they get older, homeschoolers tend to take on a more independent approach to learning. This is something that a lot of other students don’t learn until they get to college.
One of my college professors once told me that it was good to plan at least 2 hours of study time for every hour of lecture time. This definitely requires the ability to be independently motivated and manage one’s study time wisely, which is something that a lot of college freshman are unprepared for.
Homeschoolers, who have already had experience with both of these things, are in a great position to adapt to college academics. They are also likely to know how they learn best and how to adapt and prioritize when a subject is more difficult (or less difficult) for them. These skills are obviously useful in the workforce, as well!
Homeschoolers are used to making real world connections.
I’ve talked a lot about how homeschooling is all about integration of “real life” and school, and that’s because homeschooling is really all about finding learning, everywhere! Most homeschooled families are not hiding out in isolation somewhere. Most of them are out having experiences and learning from them.
Homeschooled children get to learn from exposure to different cultures, from travel, extracurricular interests… and even from daily activities at home! Many homeschool families teach their children how to bake (science), or how to do taxes (math) or incorporate chores (home ec/time management) into schoolwork. This means that homeschoolers are able mindfully learn about to relate to the world and “how to adult,” in a way that their public school might not be able to.
Homeschoolers Already Know Who They Are.
We all continue to grow and change as we reach adulthood. However, homeschooling can give your child a really strong sense of his/her passions, dislikes, values and beliefs before the crazy scramble of the 20-something years (when everyone else is figuring it out). This can also mean that homeschoolers are quick to find causes to support and ways to help those around them.
Research shows that homeschoolers are more likely have internalized strong values, and to be involved in their community, as adults. You are doing okay if you can enter adulthood with a strong sense of identity and a willingness to help others!
Did you identify with any (or all) of these reasons for homeschooling? If so, maybe it’s time to think seriously about getting started on your own homeschool journey!