People who aren’t familiar with the homeschooling lifestyle often ask questions. Sometimes they are questions of pure curiosity, and other times they are less amicable with some sort of misguided agenda they want to promote… but often both of these groups of people start with the question of whether or not homeschool kids are really getting a good education. “After all,” they think, “homeschooled kids rarely leave the house! What kind of an education can the same four walls day after day give them?”
Wow. Now if that were really the case, I’d agree with them. Kids stuck inside one building for 8 hours a day. That’d be tough. (Ok, ok, Chickadee promised to not get political, so stopping here. But you get my point!)
Homeschooling is not for everyone. Not everyone can handle being around their kids 24/7. Just read the posts of rejoicing every time “back to school” rolls around again. But on the other hand, there are those strange Moms like me who actually LIKE spending all that time with their kids.
Homeschooling is a journey. It’s not something we have figured out from day one. (I most certainly didn’t! For some background on how we started out, here’s Part One of this series: “The Great Curriculum Hunt”.) Kids, even those in the same family, are all different. They each have differing personalities and learning preferences. Great curriculum we use with one kiddo will not necessarily work with the next. Homeschooling requires flexibility.
At the same time though, I believe that it also provides the most options. Homeschoolers get to sit under a wide variety of the best teachers. Not just Mom or Dad. Did you know that MIT has a program where you can take some of their classes online FOR FREE? Non-credit granting, of course, but there are many other universities that offer such opportunities as well. Internships and apprenticeships abound with experts in their fields leading the learning. During regular work hours too. We homeschoolers routinely tap into all kinds of excellent video curricula featuring lecturers, experts, from around the world. A couple weeks ago, OtterGirl had the chance to take a two-hour live-streamed course on Marine Biology (one of her dearest interests!) and something not normally offered to kids of her age. (And even harder to find here in the midwest!) Last night, Rocketboy gave a lecture of his own on Black Holes to a group of adults in our local Astronomy Club. Great opportunities outside of the home are not hard to find.
In our smallish community, there are enough activities available for homeschoolers, that if I had wanted (or was crazy enough, either way!) we could have all three kids out of the house doing different educational activities with different teachers and coaches working with them EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WEEK. As it is, between 4-H on Mondays (monthly, then random other activities), our “co-op” (once a week), AWANA (once a week), Soccer (two practices, plus games a week), Robotics Team (twice a week), Piano lessons (once a week), and random library visits throughout the week, and the occasional field trip with homeschooling friends, we sure keep running! And this is a lighter year. Last year we were also doing Ninja classes as well (sometimes twice a week). It was really “Mom’s taxi, at your service!”
You see, “homeschooling” is a misnomer. The phrase “home-based education” is probably better: the home is merely the hub from where the education is controlled, records are kept, opportunities are researched, and some basic bookwork and reading as a family is done.
The benefits are countless. Not only are my kids closer to each other than they ever would’ve been had they been spending all day apart in school, but I see this in them: They are loving, compassionate and empathetic towards each other. (Most of the time, they are kids after all!) As homeschoolers, we have the flexibility in schedule to just drop everything if we wanted to. Beautiful warm and sunny day? We can ditch bookwork and take a picnic lunch to the park for a hike and some nature time. No education is ever wasted. Even with our busy “extracurricular” schedule, we have the freedom to drop it all and take an “educational vacation” when it suits ComputerGuy’s work schedule, and not have to worry about anyone else’s.
Most of all though, there’s the academic advantages. I won’t bore you with statistics here, but homeschoolers outscore and outperform even privately schooled counterparts on standardized tests. Obviously, our teacher-to-student ratio is minuscule compared to traditional schools. Homeschooled students’ educations have been custom tailored to their inherent interests and abilities. Colleges are now actively recruiting for kids who have been homeschooled for most of their educational careers.
I could keep writing and writing about the benefits of a homeschooling education. We appreciate all the many, many opportunities it has afforded us, and wouldn’t consider education any other way. But that’s our family. Are you considering homeschooling, or are you an old pro? How has homeschooling had an effect on your family?
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