5 Reasons Why We Homeschool
As a classroom teacher in the past, I never imagined I would be homeschooling my children. I was not against the idea, but it just never part of my family plan. When the opportunity came for me to work from home for a homeschooling program, I was asked one day by one of the parents, “Do you homeschool your children, or plan to?” At the time, I only had one toddler, so I quickly shrugged away the question, “I don’t right now, but probably not. I don’t have time.” As my daughter grew older, and our family grew, I found my inner teacher self was implementing teaching strategies and using educational materials to teach and play with my children. I was not intentionally saying “I am homeschooling my children” at that point. However, I found that the more we did, the more enjoyable the process was, and I could see growth. While working with homeschooling families, I could see the successes and benefits. At the same time, I weighed the benefits and disadvantages of the brick and mortar schools.
When my eldest became a kindergartener, it was time to decide, and the concept of homeschooling became more of a real option in my mind.
Each family chooses to homeschool for reasons that work for them and are shaped by unique life experiences. Here are the five reasons why we decided to homeschool and why it works for our family:
Lessons can be customized for my children
Every single person learns differently. Some are more visual learners. Others learn best with kinesthetic methods. Some love writing, while others may prefer auditory methods. People have various interests and skill sets. No two learners are exactly alike. Knowing my children better than anyone else can help me to create lessons and approach each child with the techniques that will best pique their interest and hone in on their strengths. For example, one of my daughters is more musically inclined, so when it came time to memorizing certain concepts, we used songs to help. My other daughter loves theatrical performances, so when we talked about Christopher Columbus, we made a mini-play out of it. When teaching in the classroom, I knew the importance of applying various techniques to target the multiple intelligences of my students, but with a smaller teacher to student ratio as a homeschool parent, I knew that I could work with my own children with a more targeted focus, than in a classroom of 20-30 students.
Learning can happen any time of the day.
I love the flexibility of our days. For the most part, because we are people of habit and routine, I do try to keep as much consistency as possible. There are some days though where we do have to shift our timing and subjects. It can be due to the workload on my part, appointments, errands, illness, sibling quarrels. With a baby, that definitely can throw our schedule off. But it’s fine. In our house, we do not run by the exact minute. We follow routines and not a schedule. Meaning, we have general time frames of when we do tasks, but if something takes a little longer or if the baby’s nap is different, we just adapt. This system works for us because we are not tied down by a school bell. Who says we have to do Math at 9:00 in the morning? Sometimes we even do our Math lessons at snack time. When we talked about space, we did our lesson at night while looking at the night sky. If the baby is fussy or my preschooler is having a meltdown, and it is reading time, we can just take a break. Then continue when all has settled down. Learning can be incorporated throughout the day when we are all engaged and focused.
We can have school wherever we would like.
We have an extra room in our house that is my “office/classroom.” Most of our schooling is done in that room because that is where the kids’ desk, our learning resources, and school supplies are. When we need to move around or need specific types of lessons, especially messier ones, we do them in the kitchen, garage, or outside. Field trips are also
more accessible to us because we can go whenever we would like. We can go with our homeschool group or other organized homeschoolers. Or we can go take them as an individual family. Depending on what unit of study we are learning, we can easily plan a trip around the content.
More opportunities for social activities and play
There is a stereotype that homeschool students are unsocialized or socially awkward. That myth can be completely debunked. There is the assumption that because “home” is in the word “homeschool” that the students are withdrawn, sheltered, and cooped up in the house all day. In actuality, homeschool students have a wide array of vendors and extracurricular classes available. A few of the many examples include art, sports, culinary classes, writing, music, and theater. Because of such a flexible schedule, homeschool lessons and the electives can be rearranged to fit the needs of each family. There are organized homeschool groups that have social meet-ups and field trips. Asking the homeschool you are enrolled with can point out the leads who are in charge of social groups. They also exist in Facebook groups if you search for local homeschoolers, or you can organize one as well. Here are some other organizations to find local homeschool groups:
Additional time to play is another positive feature for homeschooling. Two ways playtime can be added are within the lesson itself, and also after lessons are complete. I believe in mastery-based learning. When planning lessons, we make sure to target expected standards and also teach what the kids are interested in. I try to incorporate “playing” within the lessons as well. For example, in Science, if the kids are learning about water, and conducting experiments with water, I can set up a water sensory table in addition to it for extra exploration time. Another example could be in Math. If we are using teddy bear manipulatives for adding and subtracting, I will give time for free-play with the manipulatives. It gives the kids a chance to freely discover ways to use them. The students are still working hard. Play does not equate to “easier.” It is another strategy for learning. The kids go through lessons that meet the expected standards, and they do so in whatever ways help them to master the skills and acquire the knowledge. Additional playtime can be incorporated in our day as well because once the kids have demonstrated mastery in their lessons, and have completed the daily requirements and chores, they have time to play. I do not give them additional homework just for busy work. Allowing the kids more time to play gives them opportunities to practice their creativity, imagination, social skills, and to pursue their interests. Sometimes brick and mortar schools assign too much homework that bog down the students’ (and parents’) daily schedule. They spend enough time at school learning, that additional work is taking up another chunk of their day when they can be spending more quality time with the family. Instead, the students and parents are using that time for homework checks and possible power struggles to complete their assignments. If a parent does not know how/what was taught in the classroom, it can be an additional stress. If a student does not finish their work in class because of lack of focus, then sure, it can go home with the student. But I do not believe homework should be assigned to fill up time or because of obligation.
It is a special time for our family.
Finally, having the kids with me is such a special time for us. They grow up so fast, and I am amazed at how much they have developed and learned. I feel so proud seeing them hit their milestones and watching them overcome challenges. And we did it together. I love being able to interact with my kids on an educational level, something I am passionate about. Is homeschooling hard? Certainly. Do we hit power struggles? Yes, we do at times. But, we learn as a unit, and we adapt. Even though there can be days where I wonder if this will work, with life, we can always tell ourselves, “Tomorrow is a new day.” What did not work for us today, we can start fresh tomorrow. This does not just apply to homeschool, but all families. I know life is short, and I do not regret being able to have the privilege to be a part of my children’s education.