It’s not easy being a parent. Raise your hand if you believe this is the understatement of the year . . . There are so many decisions to be made and follow through is the toughest part. For some of us, things get even more interesting when we decide to educate our children at home. Rarely is it just one issue that causes parents to consider homeschooling. Often it is a combination of reasons. Schooling at home (or anywhere for that matter) is an extremely personal choice and the reasons for doing so are wide and varied.
In an effort to build a bridge of understanding between members of our Mom community, I decided to ask homeschool parents to share their reasons for homeschooling. Here is the compilation of those reasons.
* Ability to Set the Family’s Own Schedule. Whether a parent likes to take things day by day, moment by moment or year by year, homeschooling affords the flexibility desired. If a family has a couple of sleepy heads that aren’t tip top at 7:30am, school can start at 9am or even 2pm. I know of a family who chooses to school at night – as in overnight — while the father is at work. The entire family sleeps when he comes home in the morning. When they all get up, they do activities that include dad. Another friend’s family chooses to school year round with a week (sometimes two weeks) off every couple of months. They believe that smaller breaks (as opposed to an entire summer) help their child to retain more from one grade level to the next. Want to vacation in September? How about January? A homeschool family can do just that. For many this is a perk they don’t want to do without. Military families often find homeschooling as a great way to stay connected to their military parent, taking time off when the parent is home on leave. From the day to day activities to the entire school year, the parents choose their schedule as to when school is best for their family.
*Flexibility in Choosing Curriculum. Perhaps a student is interested in the inner workings of airplane engines or she wants to design skateboards. A parent can tailor school subjects (or the child herself can choose) without the restrictions placed on public and private school children. Sure, they will need to know certain basic things like writing, reading and math, but their parent can choose curriculum that is best to help them in their pursuits. Another perk is connecting several learning concepts and subjects with one activity or multiple related activities. Heading to the grocery store to teach the life skill of finding the best prices, helps with math skills, certainly, but that activity can branch off into a lesson on economics and a teachable moment (or two) about advertising and product placement. It can all be incorporated together seamlessly and in an interesting manner.
*Teaching to Individual Learning Styles. Not everyone can read a textbook or listen to a lecture and get the most out of it. Some children learn best by doing. Perhaps a child needs to stand and wiggle around while learning multiplication facts. Maybe a child needs absolute quiet to concentrate. A classroom affords neither of those options. It’s my understanding that teachers don’t usually have a say in the type of curriculum they are given to teach. Nor do they often have an opportunity to individualize each lesson for each child. So, if a child is gifted, is special needs, or just needs to squeeze a stress ball while she concentrates, and the school cannot accommodate those needs for whatever reason or it proves a distraction to other students, parents will often choose to homeschool.
Now, please allow me to put an important reminder here: I do believe that teachers, by and large, have our children’s best interest at heart and they take into consideration different learning styles. They pour into their students daily. Teachers are an amazing asset to our community. They are needed and loved.
*Allowing Children to Learn at Their Own Pace. This goes hand in hand with learning styles, but it is worth mentioning the flexibility a parent has in allowing their child to take two years to learn Algebra II if he needs it. Perhaps your child is a math whiz and only needs three months to master what would be taught in an entire school year. A child does not have to wait on other students in order to move forward with their own learning. With individualized attention, boredom can be warded off, and feelings of inadequacy (for not keeping up with others) can be kept at a minimum.
*Reducing Stress and Anxiety. Some parents have cited that their children’s stress and anxiety were greatly reduced once they began homeschooling. Homeschooling can provide a far more relaxed atmosphere. Bullying, while a huge issue for many public and private school kids, is less of an issue for homeschoolers.
*Life Changes and Other Familial Issues. Major life changes, like moving, can play a role in a parent’s decision to homeschool. For me, my divorce caused me to want to gather my children closer and spend as much time with them as possible while we were all healing. Sending them off everyday to cope with a fractured family life for a new year in a brand new school was unthinkable. I knew we needed that time of intensive togetherness. Schooling outside the home would have hindered the healing process for us.
*Integrating Faith and Personal Values. It would be a mistake to assume that all homeschoolers do so just because of religious reasons. But there is a large community of parents that make it a priority to incorporate their faith with educating their children. Though it would be safe to say that instilling family values is important to all parents, learning and growing together instead of separate classrooms, is a way to do just that.
If you are a homeschool mom, please share in the comments your reasons for homeschooling, especially if they differ from the ones mentioned above. If you are a parent who is interested in learning more, leave your questions and comments so that we can all gain a better understanding.