I know. The year is just getting started. How could I even be thinking such a thing? Well maybe you haven’t experienced this yet, but there were many days (weeks? months?) in my 20-plus years of homeschooling that I cried, screamed, and pulled out my hair. But the truth is, I wouldn’t change a day.
Sure, if I had to do it over, there are some things I would do differently. I would laugh more, lighten-up A LOT, and (especially in the younger years) overall focus more on building good habits than on “doing school.” We would spend more time outdoors, visit the neighbors more often, catch fireflies at dusk, and play more games. I would spend more time cooking and cleaning alongside my children and create less chore charts. We would sing, dance, and look for opportunities to laugh more. We would be extremely grateful for hubby’s contribution to our family and homeschool, however big OR small. Because, the truth is, a joyful, smiling mama makes ALL the difference. Of course, we did many of these things, but if I got a do-over, I would do them with much more zest!
In spite of my many failings, all four of our kids all seem to be glad that they were homeschooled and (bonus!) plan to homeschool themselves. Does that mean they don’t remember the bad days? Of course not. But, thankfully, they do remember the persevering through the tough times.
So, to encourage you and arm you in preparation for the tough days, here is my list of ‘reasons to’ and ‘benefits of’ homeschooling:
○ Promotes family togetherness vs peer dependency. Life for a homeschool family revolves around the family’s needs and priorities rather than the demands of school. Kids tend to enjoy and value their siblings more.
○ Kids are socialized with their best interest in mind. Homeschooling minimizes the likelihood of stresses such as profanity, teasing, bullying, peer pressure, trying to be popular or dealing with labels, pressure to try sex or drugs, or other negative influences. Homeschooled kids have been proven to generally be more confident, self-assured, and comfortable in their own skin. Truth is, kids feel safe at home.
○ Provides personalized and individualized education. You know your child best. All children do not learn the same way or at the same pace, so you get to choose the method that works best for each child. One-on-one teaching allows us to explain things, multiple times and multiple ways, till the child gets it. This is so beneficial for different or struggling learners. We can accommodate their differences and possibly keep them off drugs. Children are allowed to mature at their own pace. We can also nurture their individual talents, gifts, and interests. This allows them the time to pursue their own interests and be a part of the educational choices which help prevent boredom.
○ Experience learning in all aspects of life. Everything can be a learning experience, especially the outdoors. Kids are natural learners – they just need to be given the opportunity. By keeping them at home, we can create a lifestyle of learning!
○ Offers tremendous flexibility and freedom to slow down, relax, and enjoy each other as well as to serve each other and our community. This flexibility allows the working parent(s) to have more opportunity to be involved in the kids’ lives. Homeschooling allows for more family experiences and field trips. Being able to travel or go on fieldtrips off-season and during typical school hours is a big bonus as it is usually less expensive and less crowded. And we have the flexibility to take a day off school to enjoy sledding in a new snowfall or one of the first warm days of spring.
○ Parents more influential in a child’s worldview. You have control over what your children are being taught. Parent/child relationships are often stronger, which results in the parents being more influential in their children’s lives as we help them develop their worldview, the lens through which they will see everything. Homeschooling provides more opportunities for passing on and teaching our family values and beliefs and character training. We are there to guide our children through personal or character struggles as well.
○ Encourages creativity and a love of learning. They get the benefit of learning for knowledge and not just for grades.
○ Creates independent thinkers. Students are better able to discern truth and are secure in their own convictions. Home is a safe environment where kids can discuss and wrestle with thoughts and ideas without fear of being laughed at or ignored.
○ Caters to special needs and health issues or allergies
○ Universities like homeschoolers. Face it, there are lots of kids that have good grades and test scores. Now college admissions are looking for passion, drive, and accomplishment outside of standardized learning. Smart doesn’t seem to matter so much —interesting is what counts. Homeschooling provides the opportunity to fill up that resume with service, work experiences, pursuit of passions, and non-traditional academic accomplishments.
I hope that sharing these benefits with you will make it a tad easier on those days when the house is a wreck, the baby’s sick, and the 4th grader is having daily math melt-downs. So take a deep breath and keep on loving-on and laughing-with your family. That is what will keep your battery charged and will give life and joy to your homeschool!
P.S. And in this modern day, filled with Facebook and blog posts that sometimes make everyone else’s homeschool and life look all rosy and perfect, we need to remember that those are just snippets of time, certainly not the whole picture of their family’s life and school.
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.