The number of reasons parents choose to homeschool are infinite. Ours stemmed simply from a fear of our daughter’s severe food allergies (and after reading about the mean girls in Pennsylvania who tried to poison a classmate using her food allergy, it may not have been such a paranoid fear). But, homeschooling is intimidating – I’m not going to lie – especially if you’re a first-generation homeschooler, like we are.
Going into it, literally everything I knew about teaching came from my experiences in public school, good and bad. Luckily, I found several homeschool boards through Facebook and a wonderful tribe of homeschooling families in our area whom we joined in a weekly co-op. With their help and support, we bumbled our way through our first year (doubting ourselves the whole way), but were optimistic heading into our second.
Everyone’s lifestyle is different. For some, public school is the best route, for others, maybe not. You definitely have to rearrange your life (not to mention have a flexible work schedule) to figure out how to do it, but in most cases, it’s totally possible. If you’re thinking about homeschooling, but aren’t quite sure how it may benefit you, here are a few reasons you should consider it.
1.) Scheduling. One of the best things we’ve found about homeschooling is how much we can do whenever we have the time. We’re pretty loosey-goosey about curriculum. Sometimes we do workbooks, sometimes we make up our own stuff. This means that a single project may span months before it’s completed, or it may be a one-time lesson. The thing is, if we miss lessons in the morning due to appointments (or sleeping in), we can do them later. If Tuesday’s a bad day, we always have Saturday and Sunday. We sometimes take the opportunity to do special thematic lessons on holidays. And summertime? One of the best times to do hands-on lessons or take a break from the heat of midday to enjoy the AC while we learn. At times it feels like we don’t get a lot accomplished, others we spend hours working for weeks on end and don’t even realize it. As homeschoolers, we get to make up our own schedules, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
2.) Opportunities. Before we started homeschooling with a co-op, we didn’t realize what opportunities we were missing. You can choose from secular or religious co-ops, start your own, keep it casual with organized play dates. It’s really up to you. But, if you choose to homeschool, I highly recommend networking with other homeschoolers. Just joining Facebook groups opens up doors. Here’s the thing with homeschoolers: we love to share opportunities. We share flyers and information about upcoming events. In fact, we seek out the chance to help others. Sometimes, we even coordinate field trips to museums, zoos, science centers, etc. Group discounts and tours are even available to large enough groups, which is not only amazing, but something a lot of people don’t know about. Homeschooling groups are treated just like public school groups in a lot of places.
And since we tend to have a fairly open schedule, we are able to take advantage of those benefits during low seasons and on days of the week where parks aren’t congested by the general public.
3.) You’re already qualified. You may not know it, but you’re already a homeschooler. You taught your child to speak an entire language, to take care of his hygiene, to tie her shoes. You answer questions and you offer encouragement. That’s homeschooling! On a more official note, in our state, the only requirement is a high school diploma/GED (or higher) in order to homeschool. Maybe you don’t feel so qualified. So what? I mean, maybe you don’t remember the subtle nuances of English grammar. That’s ok. Resources abound and the internet is a great tool for finding them. Not only that, but don’t forget your network of homeschooling families who not only love to share opportunities, but are totally there to give suggestions and advice about subject-specific resources. If you can answer your child’s questions and show him or her how to find answers when he/she doesn’t know them, you are qualified to homeschool.
4.) Customization. Everyone knows that children develop and learn differently. Whether we’re talking about boys versus girls, visual versus auditory versus reading/writing versus kinesthetic, or even just that children of the same age grow at different rates (think height and weight differences and then cognitive function). Being able to spend one-on-one time with your children helps you tune into their different abilities and preferences in learning styles. This helps you tweak your lesson plans to give each individual child his or her most personalized education. And if your kiddo just isn’t grasping a concept, you can take as much time as you need to help. You don’t have to rush on to the next lesson. There are no deadlines.
5.) Life Skills. I think people tend to overlook this element of homeschooling the most, but it is so incredibly important and practical. We consider things like cleaning, cooking, and basic hygiene as one of the most essential skills we teach our kids. After all, once they’ve graduated high school and left the nest (I’m getting teary just thinking about it), they’ll need to know how to take care of themselves. They’ll need to know how to properly launder their cloths, wash their dishes by hand and using a dishwasher, run a vacuum cleaner, clean up different types of messes, prepare and store meals, keep up on vehicle maintenance; the list could go on and on.
(For instance: What type of sandpaper best removes blue spray paint from our deck railing.)
If you find yourself at a loss for what to do with your kiddos, put them to work. Whether they thank you for it later or not, you can thank yourself for preparing them (and maybe even get your house clean in the process!). The benefit of teaching life skills to your kids is not only the extra help you receive and that they prepare for their futures, but also in that it is simple; not all homeschooling has to be complicated.
6.) Community. Earlier I mentioned my homeschooling tribe, and really there’s no better word for it. One of the most fulfilling benefits for us in homeschooling was the opportunity to find a great co-op with like-minded – as well as different-minded – families to get together with once a week and help teach our kids together. We treat each other’s kids as our own and all the kids feel comfortable with not only their “classmates,” but the parents as well. The kids – who range in age from a few months old to 18 years old – all work together well and help each other with tasks and problems. It is literally like one giant extended family. We support each other, not only with teaching, but also dealing with parenting issues, health issues, work issues, and domestic issues. If you’re thinking about homeschooling, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the co-op option. It may take awhile to find one you really fit into, but once you do, you’ll know it; they’re welcome you with hugs and smile when they see you (and you’ll likely find yourself smiling back).
7.) Quality Time. Let’s face it, everybody’s busy these days. Work, school, extra curriculars, appointments, meetings. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no time at all to spend with your littles. Homeschooling lets you spend quality time with your kids, exploring new things, discovering what excites them, getting to know their personalities as they grow. Even if you don’t homeschool, you can spend a half an hour or so in the evenings or on weekends doing this (I’m sure you do already!). With homeschooling, we just have more of a daily opportunity to do so.
8.) Every moment is a teaching moment. Literally ever interaction is an opportunity to teach your child when you homeschool. From letting them explore and play on their own to looking up things on the internet together to discussions in the car. Interactions between other children and even adults can be a chance to teach them respect, empathy, and social skills. As a homeschooling mom, I have noticed that over the years I take less and less for granted in terms of opportunities to help my kiddos learn. And if you decide to start homeschooling, you will start to see the benefit of this as well.
There are LOTS of other benefits to homeschooling that I’m sure I’m forgetting, but these were the eight that popped into my mind right away. So, whether you find yourself in a position to take advantage of these all the time, or you’d just like to spend more time with your kids, think about setting aside time to try homeschooling (even if your kiddos attend public school).
Please comment below and let me know of some other benefits you’ve found from homeschooling, or feel free to ask me to elaborate on my experiences. You can check out my other Homeschooling posts here. There’s lots more for you to read on Fully and Well. Comment, Pin, Share, and don’t forget to subscribe via e-mail to get updates!