Our family just finished our third year of homeschooling. My oldest son will be going into 2nd grade in the fall, and I have homeschooled him through pre-school, Kindergarten, and 1st grade. This last year I also homeschooled my middle daughter for Transitional Kindergarten.
Our homeschool journey began with my son in pre-school, because at the time he was ready to start learning, but I wasn’t ready to send him off to school, nor did we really have any extra room in our budget to pay for him to attend pre-school out of the home. So I started researching different curriculums, settled on one, and we started off.
At first, it was just going to be temporary. I was sure that by the next year I would be enrolling him in Kindergarten. But as the months went by, homeschooling really started to grow on me. I enjoyed learning alongside my son, and we were having a lot of fun. My husband and I started entertaining the idea of homeschooling all our children, at least for a few more years, and started looking into the different options and laws in our state.
I know I am not a seasoned homeschooler by any means, but I can definitely say that each person in our family has benefited from our children’s home education in just these few short years. Here is my short list of the 5 benefits of homeschooling:
1) Flexibility in our Schedule- Most days, we follow a pretty set routine. After we get up, we eat breakfast, get dressed, do some morning chores, then get started on our homeschooling. We take a snack break mid-morning, then school until lunch. After lunch we either play outside or watch an educational video, then it’s quiet time. Because my kids are still so young, we are usually done with all our subjects by lunch and have the rest of the afternoon to do whatever we want.
But I love the flexibility! If we have an appointment in the morning, we can hit the books in the afternoon or early evening. If we have something going on that will keep us away from the house most of the day, we can either double up on some subjects during other days of the week, or even do an hour or two of school on Saturday. This flexibility definitely came in handy when I had my baby the first week of December. We just took our Christmas break early.
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that it works around your schedule. I know of families that start earlier than the normal first day of school so that they can end earlier. A friend of mine was doing all her school in the afternoon this year because her husband was home in the mornings and she didn’t want to cut into family time. There are also many families that homeschool year round, so that they can take longer breaks during the year. Your homeschool schedule can look like whatever it needs to look like to best fit your current situation.
2) Flexibility in the Subjects we learn- This is a huge one! There are definitely subjects you need to cover–math, language arts, reading, history, science–but how you cover them is completely up to you. For our family, math and language arts are non-negotiable’s. Meaning we do them everyday and stick to the curriculum. Still, we do have a choice of which curriculum works best for each child, and if something isn’t working, we have the ability to change it. This point really gets fun when you get to history and science, though.
This past year we didn’t stick to a curriculum for either history or science. For history, we read a lot of books about the Pilgrim and Colonial American time periods, took field trips, and watched movies. We also did quite a few Native American crafts. For science, we watched documentaries, did experiments, read books, and did a lot of outdoor exploration and observation. My son is very into anything having to do with animals, so much of our year was spent studying the habits of whichever animal was of interest to him at the moment. Homeschooling gives you the ability to dig deep into a topic that is fascinating to your child, or just skim over the main points of something that isn’t. You can also cater your curriculum to each child’s interests and learning styles.
And, if you have done any research into public schools lately, you know that many are cutting out art, foreign languages, and music. If those are important to your family, you can easily add them into your week. We did art and Spanish off and on throughout this last year, and next year we are adding in music lessons and composer studies.
3) More Family Time- I am a big believer in quantity time as well as quality time. Sure, time spent together should be quality for a good portion, but I truly do feel it is important for our family to be around each other as much as possible. Often that means I am working on the computer or cleaning while the kids are playing, but we are all still together. We get to know each other so much more fully this way. And my children have built in best friends. They play outside together, play board games together, and use their creativity together. They fight, like all siblings. But they also have a special bond as siblings and friends.
Not only do they play together, but they look out for each other. One of the older ones will often help the 3-year-old find her shoes or get a drink of water without me having to ask. When one of them gets hurt, the others will help them up and dust them off.
4) Learning Life Skills- We often do chores as a family. My 3-and 5-year-old girls can fold laundry almost as well as me, and they can put away their own laundry (even though their drawers are still a mess most of the time!) They help me cook, sweep, wash the windows and walls, and pick up the floor. And they are so helpful with the new baby, especially my 7-year-old son. If she is crying in the other room, he will go and calm her down until I can get there. I really have never seen another boy his age so sweet with a baby. He loves to hold her and read to her, and her eyes light up as soon as he enters a room. They have such a special bond that I doubt would be there if he were away for 8 hours a day.
5) Reduced Peer Pressure- I want my children to be comfortable being who God made them. I don’t want them to ever feel like they need to change who they are to fit in with the crowd. I realize that there will always be peer pressure, and that my children will still have to deal with it at church and in sports, and later on in life, but I would rather not have them thrown out to the wolves 5 days a week. Especially when they are still trying to figure out who they are.
I know that the things my children like and are interested in are truly coming from them and not just the latest thing everyone is talking about. I also really do believe that if they are allowed to fully blossom here at home, they will be more equipped to deal with the dangerous form of peer pressure later in life. If they are just going with the flow to fit in at school, they will create that pattern in their lives of conformity, even when it is to their detriment. (Ask me how I know…or rather, just check my About page) Once my children are confident in their own skin, they will be better prepared to face the world.
I realize homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and that some families who would love to just aren’t able to for whatever reasons. But if you are considering trying to homeschool your children, I hope that this list gave you some insight into some of the more beneficial aspects. I would also love to hear from any of you other homeschooling moms (or dad’s) out there: Is there anything you would add to this list? Anything you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.
Check out the next post in this series: The Challenges of Homeschooling.
I’d love for you to subscribe to my weekly newsletter: