Why I Homeschool

There are almost as many reasons to homeschool - and reasons not to homeschool - as there are students.  Let me begin by saying that I am not advocating homeschooling for everyone.  I am not out to convert people to my way of thinking, whether it be whether to homeschool or how to homeschool.  Homeschooling works well for us right now, and we are thankful to be able to do it.

But why did we choose homeschooling?  After all, we come from a family of schoolteachers, including my grandfather and my mother-in-law, and I have many teacher friends whom I greatly admire.  I myself wanted to be a schoolteacher; I passed the tests for elementary school licensure, though I never pursued my certificate.  Both my husband and I had good experiences in public schools.  Moreover, we live within walking distance of a nice elementary school (my alma mater), and there are some fantastic charter schools in our district.  Our oldest daughter loved her preschool experience, and she is the kind of kid who would thrive in a traditional school environment.  So it begs the question.

There were a couple of "a-ha" moments for me and my husband when we sat down to discuss the possibility of homeschooling.  One was that a teenaged relative of mine who had dropped out of school after middle school was able to make up all of his high school work in less than a year; we wondered why it took the schools four years to teach the subjects that someone could learn in one year?  Another moment was when we discovered that some public schools were being limited in what they could teach in science and history classes.  In part, we want to homeschool not because we want to shield our children from the facts, but because we want to expose them to more facts than a public school might be able to provide.

But if I were to use a single word to describe our reason behind the choice to homeschool, it would be: flexibility.  Our schedule and our curriculum are almost completely flexible at home.  Our kids can eat and nap and cuddle when they need to, they can help choose what to study, and best yet, we get our much-needed family time.  We can also incorporate daily life-lessons into what we do, and we can feel free to work hard one day and rest the next.

Another advantage is that homeschooling allows us to move ahead or behind when it comes to our children's academic readiness.  If there are concepts that our children don't understand, we can always take the time to review them and approach them in a different way.  Conversely, if our kids are ahead in certain subjects, we can skip ahead to what's most relevant for them.  We are noticing signs of giftedness in our oldest daughter, and we feel like putting her in a regular kindergarten class might do her a disservice at this point.  (She reads at a third-grade level, for example.)  Why do only "grade-level" work when it doesn't work for a particular child?

In homeschooling, we can prime the lessons according to each child's strengths, limitations, and interests.  For example, our oldest daughter seems to be more of a visual learner, and our toddler daughter is displaying signs of being more of a kinesthetic learner.  All of this seems minor until we realize that reading vs. holding vs. saying the alphabet could make all the difference.

As for the ever-present question of socialization, I assure everyone that our daughter is a very socialized 5-year-old.  For starters, she currently attends five outside classes taught by teachers who are not her parents.  She also participates in a weekly homeschool playgroup and attends several playdates a month with her former fellow preschoolers and her church friends.  She usually interacts with more people in a typical week than I do!

We are trying to remain open to the possibility that homeschooling might not work well for her someday, and she might want to go to school.  If that time ever comes, I don't want to talk her out of it for my own selfish reasons; I want what's best for my kids, no matter where it can be found. 

It's also hard, I must admit, to be a 24/7 parent and a 7/5 teacher.  It requires me to be more organized and disciplined, and that does not come to me naturally!  It's also been a challenge to meet the needs of our baby and our toddler while providing the best homeschooling experience to our kindergartener - especially on a limited budget.  However, homeschooling is a great creative outlet and bonding experience for us as a family, and we're really enjoying it, so far. 

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