I’ve heard it all.
“Girl, I could never do that.”
“My kids would drive me nuts!”
“I’ll never get a break from them.”
Okay, so I can definitely see why homeschooling, for some, is as scary as bungee jumping off of the Eiffel Tower. At first glance, it can come off a bit intimidating. And it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. But before I begin to highlight all of the ridiculously awesome benefits of homeschooling, let me break the ice with some cold hard facts that aren’t so awesome.
Homeschooling is a commitment. It’s an extension of the relationship that you already have with your children, times 10. Before, you helped them with homework, attended parent-teacher conferences, chaperoned field trips and raised money for the Christmas bake sale. Now, you are the teacher and it has become an obligation, not a volunteer opportunity, for you to spearhead and oversee all academic and extracurricular activities.
Homeschooling is time consuming. As I mentioned before, you are the teacher and the duties that come with that role are abundant. You have a hand in grading assignments, creating the curriculum and lesson plans, putting together field trips that are aligned with your current lesson, seeking out sports teams and social club opportunities (i.e. chess club, music club, or art club) and linking up with other homeschooling parents so that your children have the opportunity to develop relationships with kids aside from their siblings.
With all of these responsibilities, the homeschooling parent is left with little time to accomplish other tasks, be it personal commitments or general domestic duties. The homeschooling parent must be an excellent organizer and time manager to juggle both the role of teacher and parent.
Now, enough with the heavy and on with the good stuff.
I have two children and I’ve home-schooled them on and off their entire lives. And to my surprise, they actually enjoy it. I would even venture to say that, if they could choose, homeschooling would probably be their preferred format of education.
Homeschooling is what you make it, and if your kids prefer that over traditional schooling, then you’re doing something right! The home-school experience doesn’t have to be a dreaded one for the child, nor for the parent. The more preparation, effort and time put into it, the more enjoyable the experience will be for everyone.
So, why am I such an advocate for homeschooling? Why does homeschooling rock? Here’s why.
Homeschooling is not hard; it’s fun! You’d be surprised at how enjoyable homeschooling your kids can be. Erase the image of your child sitting at a desk completing ditto sheets.
In my experience as a homeschooling parent, I incorporated different platforms of technology (i.e. iPad, iPhone, and laptop) to help pique my children’s interest and make their learning experience more engaging. We’ve also had a lot of fun including supplemental material through YouTube and other educational websites such as abcmouse.com and starfall.com.
I’ve even taken our classroom outdoors. We’ve gone to parks and walked in neighborhoods to complete a number of assignments. These real life examples helped solidify the lesson and give it more meaning. Let’s not forget the nice break you have as the parent to get out and enjoy some sun and fresh air. It’s a win-win for everybody!
As a homeschooling parent, I yell a lot less. Homeschooling is not only beneficial for the child but also for the parent. In my case, I’ve noticed that my yelling and short tempered responses throughout the day have significantly decreased.
Let’s get real—you cannot make a child complete an assignment by yelling at them to do so. Meaning, you have to get creative. I find that being patient and talking them through the assignment using references to things they already enjoy, such as Lego Ninjago or Pokemon, yields tremendous results almost every time! There’s such a contrast in my children’s reactions, and general demeanor toward school, when I am patient with them versus when I am agitated. This positive change in my behavior has even transferred over to who I am as a mom outside of homeschooling. It’s not something that I turn off once school has ended. In their eyes, I want to be continuously viewed as the mom and teacher, who’s understanding, loving and patient.
The children and I learn together. Like a lot of kids, my children are incredibly curious. They are constantly asking me, “Why this?” and “How is that?” And I must admit that I don’t always have the answers to their questions. I find myself constantly researching the information needed to provide them with the most accurate answer possible. In doing that, I’m not only teaching but also learning. I know it may come as a shock to them to find out that mommy doesn’t know it all! But it’s such a wonderful experience when the children and I are on the hunt for answers to the questions we’re all curious about.
Homeschooling makes for a more flexible lifestyle. As we know in traditional schools, the students are only allotted so many absences before it becomes truancy. However in homeschooling, the parent makes the school calendar, and this calendar lends to a more flexible household schedule.
For example, the family and I went out of town during a week that most traditional schools were in. Generally speaking, taking your children out of school for several days at a time is not a good idea. But instead of canceling our trip, we were able to do homeschooling on the road. The children had a blast and they learned a lot and completed their lessons all the same. I actually like to think that the trip impacted their studies and left a lasting impression on what they learned.
Now can you see why homeschooling rocks? And I’ve only scraped the surface with the few examples I provided.
I didn’t even mention the academic benefits. But many studies have established the academic excellence of homeschooled children. For example, in a study entitled, “Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America,” the homeschoolers, on average, outperformed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. And in another study conducted by Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner, director of the ERIC Clearing House on Assessment and Evaluation, children who had been homeschooled all of their school aged years had the highest academic achievement.
Now, tell me this isn’t impressive!
Again, homeschooling is challenging but also equally rewarding. And with every challenge comes a creative strategy to overcome it.
For example, for homeschooling to work, one parent must be home. Therefore, the family has to operate on a single income. And you’re probably wondering, “We can’t afford to cut our income in half.” And I totally understand that, but let’s get creative. Perhaps you can offer your homeschooling services to other families in your neighborhood. This way, you too can generate income. And who knows, if the parents love your home school, word may catch on, and more families may enroll their children. This would bring in even more income for you and your family.
Another concern for parents is that teaching multiple grade levels can be challenging. And yes, having several students at varying levels can be difficult. So, let’s get creative. Throw out the traditional school desks and section your classroom off into centers. Use different areas in your room to create a center for math, science, writing, english/language arts and reading. These are the centers I usually choose, but of course they can be whatever you want.
Depending on your classroom schedule, you will assign each child a center. At these centers, they will have lessons tailored to their current level of understanding of that subject. And in these centers, you are giving each child individualized attention. You will then be able to adequately assess their strengths and weaknesses and work with them accordingly.
Having the children sectioned off this way gives them the ability to work independently and not feel intimidated in a large group setting. Also, this particular classroom setup doesn’t leave the parent feeling overwhelmed. In my experience, I’ve had way more control over my class while it was in centers than any other way. Nevertheless, for subjects like art, music and gym, the children can come back together as a whole.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are some drawbacks to homeschooling, but in my experience, the pros most definitely outweighed the cons. If you’re curious about homeschooling and want to get a feel for it, try it out on the weekends and during your children’s school breaks. Set up a schedule and stick to it.
You don’t have to change much about your daily life in order for homeschooling to be successful. All you need is a little imagination, time and willingness to think outside of the box. Keep everything fresh and interesting because if you’re bored and unhappy, chances are your child is too. And always remember to have fun with it!
Author: Erica Siddeeq
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own