Inside: Why homeschool? If you’re wrestling with this question, you’ll appreciate these awesome, non-religious reasons to homeschool and tips on how to get started.
Homeschooling is becoming mainstream – it’s about time.
Thank goodness, it’s no longer just big, religious families with denim jumpers making up the homeschool ranks. That’s exactly what my husband pictured when I told him I wanted to homeschool, by the way.
But it’s come SO far in the past 10-15 years.
More and more parents just like you, religious and secular alike, see homeschooling as a viable educational option, but answering the question, “Why homeschool?” is critical if you’re going to homeschool for the long haul.
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I wasn’t originally planning to homeschool. My daughter was going to attend a private school that came highly recommend by several close friends.
I toured the school, applied. We even sent in the deposit!
But then, I hesitated. This little spark of a dream resurfaced.
It was probably resurrected by thoughts of hundreds of dollars exiting our bank account for said awesome private school (combined by needing to wake my strong-willed daughter up at an hour she has only seen once or twice in her life).
Oh, and the timely arrival of a homeschool curriculum catalogue in our mailbox that week could have had something to do with it.
I tentatively approached my husband with the idea, along with the question, “Do you really think I can homeschool?”
Bless his heart, despite visions of denim jumpers and extremely socially awkward kids dancing through his brain, he encouraged and supported my little dream.
I don’t think he had really good reasons to homeschool either. He just wanted to support my desire to homeschool.
(Side Note: now he wholeheartedly agrees that kids don’t need school. It took five years, but he said it.)
I swallowed, told the school my daughter was NOT going to be attending that year, and plunged into the homeschool world.
Little did I know at the time how complicated the homeschool world was going to be – filled with SO many unique perspectives – and super strong opinions.
Everyone had different reasons to homeschool and different ideas of what homeschooling should look like.
I didn’t have strong reasons to homeschool in the beginning, only a vague idea about not paying hundreds of dollars for private school and not having to drag four kids under the age of 7 out the door before 7 a.m. for drop-off.
But after reading a TON of books questioning compulsory, traditional schooling, I now have several strong non-religious reasons to homeschool.
These reasons are so strong that now I can’t ever see sending my kids back to school unless they are begging to go, which they haven’t.
So far, so good.
Why Homeschool: 4 Compelling Reasons
Homeschooling might be for you if…
1. You want your kids to love learning and be lifelong learners.
Why homeschool? Because children are born ready to learn.
Think about it. Babies learn how to roll, crawl, walk, and talk in just a couple of years and without much help from adults.
They try new things.
They figure it out.
I can attest that kids ask lots and lots of questions, according to what they’re doing at the moment and their interests – and all without formal school. That kind of curiosity feeds on freedom and lives in the moment: when there isn’t time or space to ask and answer questions, love of learning can easily be snuffed out.
Now, to be fair, there are some kids who attend traditional school who still love to learn. They just happen to love learning exactly what’s in the curriculum and served up to them day after day. They are content with teacher-directed learning and are happy as clams to lap up the information given to them.
Other kids? Not so much. They want to ask their own questions, and they want answers – NOW! They really don’t care whether it’s in the scope and sequence or is on the agenda for the day or not.
And when those questions don’t get answered? They choose from a few different paths.
- they get bored…and start causing trouble.
- they check out…and fall behind.
- they conform…and learn how to exchange their own curiosity for the school’s agenda.
If your kids are curious about something that’s not in the curriculum or on the agenda for that day, there is no guarantee that their curiosity will be satisfied.
Teachers have an average of 25 kids in their class. They can’t stop every time Sally, Nick, or Jane asks, “But what about this?”, especially when that question doesn’t align with the lessons for the day (or the year, for that matter).
The few instances when I didn’t have time to answer one of my kid’s questions right away, I regretted it later.
When I returned to the question hours later with an answer, he no longer had that special gleam of interest in his eyes. He listened, but you could tell he really wanted to return to his current interest.
I missed the window – the now moment of excitement and curiosity and interest – and I’ve vowed not to miss it again.
Bottom line: if you want to increase the likelihood that your child will love learning and be a lifelong learner, consider homeschooling.
2. You want to know your kids backwards and forwards – their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, what they truly love to do – and you want them to know themselves even better than you do.
Why homeschool? Because knowing your kids and your kids knowing themselves takes time, and the more time you have, the better.
I have a master’s degree in guidance counseling. What frustrated me the most about the education system was that after twelve years of school, students graduated absolutely clueless about what they loved to do. And the solutions I could come up with to help them figure that out were after-school programs or activities.
Only after some thought did I realize how ridiculous that was!
In addition to spending seven long hours a day at school, not including one or more hours of homework each day, I wanted to ask students to participate in another program outside of school to figure out what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives.
The best solution is two-fold: that the parents and the child know where their strengths and passions intersect. But this kind of knowledge takes a whole lot of time.
The child needs time and space to explore their interests. They need to try different activities until they either realize that they love it or that their passion for the subject has petered out.
The parent needs time with her child, and not focused conversations (more like interrogations) fit into an itty bitty time slot asking what she loves to do and what she thinks she’s good at.
No. The key to figuring out what your child loves to do and what they’re good at is to spend lots and lots of unstructured time with them and to give them the gift of unstructured playtime.
Play is critical for learning, and our society does not give kids nearly enough time to play for anywhere long enough. Kids grow up way too fast, and they miss crucial learning opportunities as a result.
Don’t believe me? Read Free to Learn by Peter Gray.
You want to be able to observe your child playing: what roles does he naturally fall into when he’s playing pretend with other children; what does he pretend to be most often?
You need to see your child live life every day in front of you. What is their natural personality type? What types of strengths and weaknesses does he already have and how can those be maximized and strengthened?
These types of questions are really hard to answer when your children are away from you the majority of the day, five days a week. It can be done, but I’d rather have all the time in the world to help them figure it out.
You could say that their future depends on it.
3. You want to set your own schedule and live life on your own terms.
Why homeschool? Because you don’t want to follow anyone else’s schedule but your own.
Raising a family is hard work: you have to juggle multiple schedules and preferences and innate tendencies. Enter school that wants you to conform everyone to its schedule.
I am a rule-follower by nature. It is extremely difficult for me to break rules, go against what I know an authority figure – i.e. the school – wants me to do (perfect attendance awards anyone?).
Now, some schools don’t bat an eye when you want to take your child out of school early or miss days for vacations. Others can make you feel like you are the worst parent in the world.
You just don’t know which kind of school you’re going to get.
To add to that stress, trying to get four kids out the door for anything with a set start time is extremely stressful, and when I get stressed, I become one harsh, angry mama. Could I learn how to do this graciously and with kindness and lots of preparation? Probably. But there are lots of other things I’d rather spend my limited energy on.
Finally, my oldest is a night owl. I have tried every trick in the book to push her bedtime back. Waking her up early? Ha! I’d like you to come over and try it. She is absolutely impossible when woken up early in the morning. The few times a year this needs to happen, there are some pretty sweet incentives thrown in.
Combine her inborn night owl tendencies with the fact that my youngest (remarkably like my oldest) does not sleep well at all. I love that I do not have to worry about getting my kids to bed at a set time according to a school schedule. Everyone gets more sleep, which is better for everyone
I also love slow, simple living during this season of life. The little years, delightful as they are, are also freaking hard.
I don’t want to spend these years waking kids up early from naps and rushing from activity to activity. I want to spend time at home, time outside, time together. There is quite enough rushing with the basics we do to keep life going – grocery store runs and Target runs and doctor visits.
Bonus? We can go to the beach during the off-season at a fraction of the cost.
4. Why homeschool? Because you want your child to know how to function in the real world (& school’s not the real world).
Why homeschool? Because traditional school teaches students how to do well in one environment, and one environment only: an academic one.
How do I know? I lived it.
When I graduated college, I was scared stiff. After sixteen years spent in school (kindergarten through college), I literally didn’t know how to function outside a school environment.
So what did I do? More school, of course!
I went on to get a master’s degree and eventually, I found my way, but with a lot of mistarts that could have been avoided.
Think about it: children spend a large portion of their childhood in school. They learn how to function in that school environment that is not at all like the real world.
Has anyone recently stuck you in a room with a bunch of people your same age for eight hours a day and you can only use the bathroom at set times?
Sound like prison much?
Some kids learn how to excel in this environment: they know exactly what their teachers want from them, and they learn how to give it to them (I was one of those kids).
A whole lot of school is spent learning how to follow rules really, really well. I was especially good at this!), to produce exactly what teachers want you to produce, and nothing different. Very little time is spent learning how to function in the real world.
I want my kids to know how to do things like pay bills, cook, do laundry, read for both knowledge and pleasure, resolve conflict, create a budget, figure out what they want to do for work, manage their time, determine what they really love to do. The list goes on and on.
Could they learn how to do these things while attending traditional school? Probably.
There would just be a whole lot less time to do it in, and personally, I’d rather teach that in the course of everyday life, not in limited hours after school and on weekends.
There are many other reasons to homeschool, and some of my other reasons are faith-based.
I love that I have lots of time for big, juicy conversations about many subjects, including faith in the context of everyday life.
I love that my kids will have strong relationships with their siblings and know how to interact well with kids younger and older than themselves.
I love that I have time to give my kids a Christian worldview without stressing about when I’m going to fit that around school hours.
Finally, I’m not gonna lie – I love that my kids are not exposed to a lot of the crap that is in schools today.
Kids are using curse words and sexual terms in kindergarten, ok? I so do NOT want to go there in kindergarten. Give me a few more years.
The Best Way to Start Homeschooling
Ok, you’re convinced. But where do you start?
Unfortunately, many of the parents who start homeschooling today are products of traditional schooling. In other words, they have no stinking clue how to do school other than how traditional schools do it. That was me 100%!
And if that’s how you choose to homeschool, I strongly believe that you’re going to miss out on the all the amazing benefits homeschooling has to offer your family.
I started out thinking about homeschooling like traditional school, if spending less time than school usually takes. I had lots of worksheets and a kitchen table and a strict schedule to keep up with. Now, there is a time and a place for worksheets and tablework, but that was what our everyday looked like.
We hated it.
It didn’t take long for me to throw that [very expensive] boxed curriculum out the window and hunt for a different way to homeschool. I read books, and I read blogs, and I read more books. I listened to podcasts, and very gradually, a year later, I finally felt like I discovered the best homeschool approach for our family.
You can do what I did. You can DIY your homeschool.
But I’m telling you now, it could be a long, painful process, and it could take you a whole lot longer than a year to find your footing in the homeschool world.
What makes me really sad is when I heard about families who quit homeschooling because I wonder if they ever figured out that homeschooling is so different than regular school. Even in the most regulated states, there is so much freedom!
That’s why I was thrilled to hear that fellow homeschool blogger Chantel Klassen created Homeschooling as a Lifestyle – it’s now FREE.
I had the opportunity to go through the course myself, and it is exactly what you need to start homeschooling the right way.
Homeschooling as a Lifestyle
Chantel Klassen is a former teacher who is now homeschooling her two children in Canada. She writes about homeschooling at Intentional Homeschooling and about living intentionally in every aspect of your life at An Intentional Life. In Homeschooling as a Lifestyle, she covers:
- What Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Is
- Why Your Family Should Ditch Curriculum & Homeschool as a Lifestyle
- Who Can Educate Their Child This Way
- Her Family’s Favorite Resources and Tools
- Why They Still Have Workbooks
- How They Structure Their Homeschool
- What Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Looks Like in Their Home
- How to Get Started
This course will help you get the traditional school model out of your head. It will help you break out of the 9-3 school mentality and embrace homeschooling for its full potential.
After all, why homeschool if you’re just doing traditional school at home? You’ll miss out on so many of the homeschool benefits I mentioned earlier!
If You’re Wondering Why Homeschool, Why Not Just Try It?
And if you feel constantly drawn to homeschooling, just TRY it! The worst that can happen if you discover it’s not for you.
Well, I mean, your kids might hate it and not love that you pulled them out of school. But it’s a year. A year is nothing.
You can always put your kids back in school.
What’s worse then trying to homeschool and discovering it’s not for you is living with regret, and always wondering what would happen if you had pulled that lever and done it already.
So jump in. Try it.
What do you have to lose?