I get a lot of funny looks when I say I homeschool my son. However, those facial expressions change quickly to surprise when I mention I am a former elementary school teacher. So many people ask me “why I would want to homeschool my kids rather than send them to public school” among other questions. Normally, I give a quick run down of some brief reasons then go on my merry way. But as I sat down to think about it more, I was able to flesh out 5 things I LOVE about homeschooling that I (or my son) would never be able to get in a public school setting.
#1 – Flexibility (Time and Curriculum)
I LOVE the flexibility I have with my school time and my choice of curriculum! As a homeschooler, you have so many choices when it comes to your homeschool day, time, and year. Want to teach in the afternoon rather than the morning? No problem. Want to do year round school versus the traditional nine months? No problem. Want to teach four days a week rather than five? Go for it! The possibilities are endless and you can tailor your homeschool to your family life.
Currently our school day is only about an hour (my son is 5 years old) because I’ve been mostly focusing on Reading and Math. I also value the importance of play and much of my son’s day involves playing with his younger brother and friends. As he gets older, I will begin to extend our school day as I include more subjects. In addition to the amount of time spent homeschooling, I enjoy the freedom to teach during different times of the day as well as different days of the week. This allows for more flexibility when it comes to errands, playdates, co-op, and other “non-school” activities. For much of this year I was teaching my oldest during the afternoon while my youngest was down for a nap. It allowed us both to focus on the learning at hand. As this year has progressed we have moved our school time to the morning and began involving my youngest with sensory learning activities.
And let’s not forget about the flexibility homeschoolers have when choosing curriculum. I cannot stress enough how happy I am to have a choice in what curriculum my son is using. As a former teacher, we were given curriculums that we had to use and make adaptations for different learning styles on our own. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy adapting lessons to fit a child’s specific way of learning, but try doing that with a class of twenty-five to thirty students with varying learning styles and you are not going to have a lot of time left in your day for other teacher duties. The fact that I can tailor a curriculum to my son and his learning style excites me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are so many curriculums to choose from and it can be overwhelming for a homeschooler. However, I found that if I narrowed my requirements down to a few key components, it made it easier to find a curriculum that fit our homeschool family. Learn more about how I did this by checking out my post on choosing the right curriculum.
#2 – One on One Time with Students
Let’s face it, how much one-on-one time does your child really get in a public school? When teaching, I tried my best to meet with each child in a small group of four to five students each day. During that time I would get one-on-one time with each student for about 10 minutes while the others worked on an assignment after a group mini-lesson. I would do this for main subjects like math, reading and writing. By the end of the week I would have met with each student once for 30 minutes total!
As a homeschooler, you basically multiply that time by 100! You are your child’s main teacher and you have no other students except your own. You give them your full attention and are able to provide quality one-on-one time that they could never receive in a public school. During that time with each child, you are able to pick up on misconceptions they may be having about a topic they are learning and you can help fix it immediately. Not only can you have that one-on-one time with your children, but you can also monitor their progress while they are not meeting with you and help teach them to stay focused when work needs to be finished. Those types of life skills are so important and are hard to teach in a classroom when the teacher has many students pulling at his or her attention. Having this one-on-one time with my son is enjoyable and life giving because I am the one seeing his progress first hand, rather than hearing about it in a parent-teacher conference.
#3 – Field Trip Opportunities
I love taking my son on field trips. Living in the DC metro area allows for some wonderful historical learning opportunities that I have the freedom to take part in. In my public school county, grade levels have a limited number of field trips they are allowed to take. As a homeschooler, I have no limits! If I want to make one weekday a field trip day, I can! If I want to take twenty field trips, I can! I enjoy learning opportunities that present themselves outside the classroom for different subject areas. Maybe we visit an art museum one day, a historical home the next. We can visit a local nature reserve and do scientific observations that pair with our science curriculum. Learning is so much more than book work! Learning comes alive when you can take your child to a place where they can witness what they’ve learned during the school day in real life. It solidifies the knowledge they have gained with actual life experience which makes a stronger impact in their learning.
Visiting a farm to learn about animals
#4 – Life Skills
Life Skills. A skill that is necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. (Oxford Living Dictionary). Public schools are being pushed to have more responsibility for teaching life skills. In my honest opinion, I feel that homeschooling can allow for a better environment to become proficient in these areas. Skills like tying your shoe, cleaning up after yourself, cooking, and helping with other family tasks are important to learn.
Making a cake for Daddy’s birthday
However, I know you are probably wondering “what about public speaking, organization, study skills, and others skills they learn in school?”. Those can all be taught in a homeschool setting too. Many parents get these life skill lessons fulfilled when they are part of a co-op. For example, my Classical Conversations community met once a week (Wednesdays), and during that time, my child learned memory work, explored science experiments, participated in art activities, and gave oral presentations. Other co-ops offer different opportunities from cooking classes to sewing to debate. Even if you are not close to a co-op, you can teach these life skills at home with a little imagination. Involve your neighbors, extended family, or members of your church or community. Have your child prepare a paper about the importance of first responders, then have them present it to firefights at a fire house or police officers at a police station. The possibilities are endless if you put your mind to it.
#5 – Faith
Last but definitely not my least is the influence of faith. Our family believes in Jesus and we wish to instill that same belief, love, and devotion in our children. As a homeschooler, you have so much influence over your child’s life that you can incorporate bible time, prayer time, and weekday church activities with less stress. Even if you find time to do that with your child in public school, you are unable to properly monitor how they are applying what they have learned while they are away most of the day. When homeschooling, you can help guide your child to make right decisions with God in mind. You can also teach your children about God’s love through giving by taking opportunities to help others in your community. My public school would do a food drive and clothing drive once a year which is very commendable. But as a homeschooler, you can take these initiatives to the next level and serve in a soup kitchen with your children by your side or volunteer to sort clothes and canned goods that have been donated. These hands-on experiences and the interaction with the people who show a need are more powerful than any drive in a public school.
I could probably list more things I love about homeschooling v.s. Public schooling, but then I’d probably have to write a book. Flexibility, One-on-one time, field trips, life skills, and faith are all so important to our family and how my husband and I raise our children. Homeschooling offers so much opportunity and flexibility that I truly couldn’t see myself having it any other way. I hope this article encourages you to take a look at the reasons why you homeschool and gives you a little more appreciation for the wonderful opportunities that homeschooling has to offer. Take it from a former teacher, it’s worth it!
CHIME IN: What are some reasons you choose to homeschool your children? Share in the comments below!
Hi, I’m Amber! I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. My intention with this blog is to share my experiences (successes and failures), homeschool methods, and teaching strategies from my professional career. I believe we all have valuable insight. I offer my site as a resource and medium to share/explore new ideas and facilitate discussion. I hope to encourage and challenge new and existing homeschoolers, so that together, we may forge everlasting and strong foundations.