Whether it was in anyone’s plans or not, every family in the United States that has school age children has now experienced a taste of homeschooling. However, to be fair, those of you who were forced into this situation were not able to experience what it is like to be a homeschooling family that has time to plan ahead, order the materials that best suits your students, organize field trips, or take part in the co-ops and enrichment programs that are offered to homeschooling students. Most of you experienced distance learning in a stressful environment. In many situations both mom and dad have been working from home and in between the Covid19 restrictions and sharing computers and WIFI (while arbitrating phone, t-v, and video game usage), the experience has been less than ideal. On the other hand, some of you have enjoyed the benefits of getting to know one another again. You’ve spent quality time together and that’s been great. You may have discovered how quickly your students can get their school work done without having to change classrooms, share a teacher with 20+ others, or wait for disruptions to be handled. There are more than a few families who have been paying quite a bit for private school and some of you are now realizing that if you invest that same amount of money in a creative academic plan (one that could easily include trips to places of interest as well as purchasing equipment to enhance learning) homeschooling might be a preferred choice!
What are the benefits of continuing to homeschool your students? Let me share a few primary reasons that many us homeschool our kiddos.
- Homeschooling encourages having a close knit family. I have nine children, all grown now, who are truly great friends. When my youngest daughter was in a near fatal wreck in Texas several years ago 7 of her 8 siblings were there with us within 24 hours (coming from TN, FL, TX and CO). Although they did experience their share of sibling rivalry and silly arguments while growing up, they have been there for each other in time of need as well as in time of celebration.
- Homeschooling allows for designing an educational program that best fits your student’s learning style, interests, and, in many cases, learning disabilities. You are in control of the materials ordered and used. There are many, many products available to help parents with this process. In addition to a wide variety of materials to purchase, there are also many educational websites, videos and more. So much is offered either for free or at very affordable prices, that almost every family can afford to homeschool.
- Homeschooling families have flexible schedules. You can begin when you want and end when you want. You can get up at a certain time and have everyone dressed and ready or you can stay in your PJs until you decide everyone needs to get dressed. Several of our sons participated in Civil Air Patrol and they often conducted search and rescues at all hours of the day and night. They appreciated having the homeschooled students in the unit because we were more likely to allow our students to take part in a search and rescue at any hour because we knew they could catch up on sleep or school work at another time. If you homeschool you will not be rushing out the door to get to the school (or to a bus stop) and you do not have to make sure your students are picked up (or brought home) each day, five days a week. No packing lunches (or providing lunch money). You want to take a vacation? Schedule it! If your parents are sick and in need of your help, you and your children can be there for them. Are there conferences and camps you would like to attend? Schedule it!
- Contrary to the age old concern, “What about socialization?” you will discover that one of your biggest challenges as a homeschooling family may be coordinating the schedule of events because you may find that your students will want to participate in athletic activities, music, theater, dance, speech and debate, STEM clubs, Lego clubs, co-ops, and more! Our family homeschooled co-op style and met once a week with several other families where children of various ages learned together. It was a preferred socialization experience when compared to having 20+ eight-year-olds all in the same room, all day. Homeschooled students, for the most part, adapt very easily to a variety of situations.
- How well do homeschooled students do in college and/or careers after high school? Glad you asked! The proof is in the pudding. Research shows that the average college exam scores and GPAs are higher for homeschooled students. So many colleges have experienced how well homeschooled students do on campus that they seek out homeschooled students. In fact, my position was created at Bryan College for this purpose! When parents are intentional about preparing their students to succeed after high school, and when students are equally invested, the results are often quite impressive.
- Outside of the siblings bickering, there is little peer pressure and no bullying when you homeschool. Your students will not be exposed to school shootings. They will thrive in a safe environment. Anxiety, stress, and depression are likely to be reduced.
- If you have a child with an amazing talent who needs hours on end of training, practice, competition or performance, then choosing to homeschool is definitely the best option. This is the exception, and not the rule, but it is another great reason to homeschool!
Because of our flexible schedule, homeschooling allowed my children to take part in many additional activities they would not have been able to experience had they been enrolled in traditional school. They have visited foreign countries, campaigned in several states, attended and worked at several different camps, helped the homeless, protested unfair laws, gone to many conferences and conventions, started businesses, volunteered to help with hurricane clean up, and so much more. When a new niece or nephew is born, they try to be there. When a brother or sister is in need, they show up. When grandparents needed help, they were there. Now that my husband and I are getting older, we are blessed by our children’s care for us (their help is usually needed when experiencing technology issues). Although we know that our children are not who they are solely because of our homeschooling experience, we do know that it has made a big difference in their lives. Should you decide to continue to homeschool, talk to your homeschooling friends to find out what programs are offered in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised at how rewarding this choice can be for you and your children!