I’ve been homeschooling for over ten years, and now that I have some hindsight, it may be a good time to tell you what I love about homeschooling. Keep in mind that this is my experience; it may be different for other families. I may follow this up with a post about what I don’t love about homeschooling, but I’ll have to think about that.
So here are the top five reasons why I love homeschooling:
- Flexibility. Whether it’s curriculum, taking time off, or giving my kids the time they need to master a subject, I would say that flexibility has been the best part of homeschooling. We are not on anyone else’s calendar. We can sleep in, if we need it. When Life gets hectic, we can take some time off. If I end up disliking the curriculum I bought, I can toss it and try another one. My boys can take their music lessons with their teachers during the school day, so we can get a good time for that, and we can go to the park or zoo when it’s not crowded. Since my husband’s time off from his work does not correlate with the public school calendar, that is a big bonus too. This doesn’t mean we aren’t busy. It means my family gets to decide how we use our time.
- Out of the Box Learning. Although I try to match the traditional course of study as much as possible, I have a lot of flexibility in how I teach it, and if I can tell it’s not working for my kids, I can put it off or skip it. (If they hate it, they are not learning it.) We can learn so much in an informal way, such as through the documentaries we watch, visiting museums or conversations with knowledgeable people. My kids also like looking up the answers to their questions on the Internet, though they learn in many other ways too, such as through video games, T.V. shows, and, yes, books. Sometimes they surprise me with knowledge I didn’t even know they had. It’s amazing how good kids’ memories are when they are interested in something.
- Going at their pace. I have nudged, and I have challenged, but I don’t force learning, and that makes a big difference. Take, for example, how my boys learned how to read. I started them off around the age of four or five with 15~20 minute reading lessons, and depending on how well they did, I either kept going or I took long breaks from teaching it. I took a full year off from teaching reading to my eldest son when I could tell he wasn’t ready for it, and when we went back to it, I spent 20~30 minutes a day teaching him how to read. I remember getting a little anxious and stressed about it. Would they ever learn? But I knew going at their pace was better than pushing it. Around seven-years-old, they started to get it, and then at age eight, they began reading perfectly. At nine-years-old, they started reading books without being told to read. I never made them read anything outside our short lessons, and I also let them read whatever they wanted. They both started with comic books and graphic novels. Now they are avid readers, and they read long novels or non-fiction on their own time. In fact, we can’t keep enough library books on hand for my younger son! I love this, and I hate to think how different it may have turned out, if they were in public school and forced to meet certain milestones in reading before they were ready.
- Discovering interests unencumbered. If homeschooling parents give kids enough freedom, they have time and energy to discover what they’re interested in. Then they can begin to gain valuable skills. (If you’re lucky, this will prevent them from floundering for years as a young adult like I did.) I don’t think you have to be an unschooler to do this. I don’t unschool, but I have used project-based homeschooling techniques (PBH), which helped me see how I could give my kids the time and tools to create and explore while also teaching them subjects I thought were important. Some kids don’t want to explore or create. They may prefer reading or gaming. Others will keep trying new things and not settle on any one thing. That’s okay! Let them do that. You never know where it might go. Other kids may find something and wham! You can see that they’ve found their vocation. That happened for my eldest son, the pianist. The flexibility of homeschooling gives my son time to practice the piano, do his lessons, and just be a kid too. If you’d like to learn more about PBH, I am offering a class on it.
- Close family ties. This is a byproduct I never thought about before I started homeschooling. I love how close we are as a family, and I love that my boys are best friends. They rarely squabble, and when they do, it’s amusing to watch. Since my boys are three years apart, I think things would have been very different, if they attended school. I’m grateful I have been there for every special moment and milestone, and I know my husband is too. (However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need space from each other. When we need space, we have places to retreat to in the house.) This is an unexpected part of homeschooling that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
What do you love about homeschooling? If you are considering homeschooling, what is holding you back?
5 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Homeschooling”
I love this so much. One of the greatest gifts you’ve given both kids (imo) is (successfully) teaching them how to read and write at their own paces! Plus giving them the time and space to discover who they are. If I can do these things, and help my child to grow into an open-minded, tolerant and civic-minded member of society, I don’t think there is any greater purpose! I would love to read more about the challenges too. My biggest two are: finding ourselves with A LOT of time in the day and figuring out how best to use that wisely – balancing free-play with learning opportunities. If there aren’t the social opportunities I was hoping for during the day, you start to think about what they could be missing out on. You start thinking about whether a move to somewhere with more opportunities for HE kids might be better. Although at this early age, I think we’d be fine until he’s nearer 7). Also, showing up as a parent first and teacher second and what happens when your child is oppositional to any learning that doesn’t come from him! I haven’t done explicit reading instruction at almost 4 and have kept “academics” to sound games (based on interest in letters and numbers) and maths games and counting with things in nature or with counting bears. He’ll throw pieces and gives up as soon as he struggles or gets something wrong. I would love to start doing 10/15 mins a day with a LA curriculum in the new year as I know he would be very capable and has strong phonological awareness, but am not sure how to approach it – as in, “we’re doing school!” or not even mention the word! We have a spare room and I’ve called it his “school room” (but now wondering if that was a good idea!) with a desk and more bookshelves, but I’m in two minds. I like the idea of getting into a good rhythm in a dedicated room (to separate academic learning from play) but keeping things relaxed at the dining room table also sounds good in theory, but he is more inclined to want to play and get down from the table! I’m also a bit scared of sounding too teacher-y! Did you call it “school” at age 4, when you were doing the short bursts of literacy instruction? Would love to know how you approached this (I should add that I try and challenge and offer but never force learning too) My son knows that children go to school to learn and says he’d like to stay home with us! xo
I’m sending you an email!