People regularly ask me why our family homeschools. I came up with a list of 10 reasons (there are more) along with a few negatives that sometimes make me question why we homeschool. My kids are currently in third grade, second grade and preschool (age four).
Credit Image: Bill Townsend Photography on Flickr
3. I enjoy going on field trips with my kids. When we're studying a particular topic, I look to see if there's anything in our area that we can visit to enhance our learning experience. Or if I know there will be a special exhibit at a museum I might move our curriculum around to align it with the timing of the exhibit. This makes our learning more fun.
4. It helps minimize bullying. I can't watch my kids 24/7 because they still do activities with other kids in the neighborhood and at various lessons, as well as summer camp. But at least there's a better chance of it not happening. When it does happen, it's easier for me to approach the kid and/or their parent personally or remove my child from the situation. My kids attended a camp last summer and one of them was being picked on. After I repeatedly discussed the issue with the camp counselor and got nowhere, I pulled my son from the camp and we didn’t go back.
This goes along with being better able to monitor their influences. Again, I can't be there all the time, and who knows how things will go when they're teenagers, but at least now I can more easily manage who their friends are.
5. We don't have to get up early, and we're not tied to a schedule. I recently put my four-year-old in preschool three days a week. Fortunately, school doesn’t start until 9:30 am. It’s two hours long. This gives me the time to I need to get school done with my older kids and leaves the rest of the day open for us to pursue other activities.
6. I have more control over what my kids learn. Illinois is pretty lenient in what they require of homeschoolers, so that isn't really an issue. The nice thing is that we can spend more time on particular subjects that they might not be able to cover in a traditional school. All my kids were adopted from China, so I like to spend a lot of time focused on China and the rest of the world in regard to geography, history and other cultures. Since they're not in school all day, we're able to devote more time to this.
I can also adjust the way I teach to better match their learning style. I have one child that could sit and listen to me read anything, maybe even a tax form, while my other son is bored listening to me read anything; he wants to be able to touch and experience it all. It makes it easier for my kids to learn when I set up the material to match their learning styles.
7. I like spending time with my kids. I like to watch them learn. I don't feel like I'm missing out on as much. Hold up, this can be a negative too. I'm with my kids all day and all night. Sometimes I need a break more often than I get.
8. We can take vacations in the off-season without fear of missing something at school. It saves a lot of money, and there are fewer crowds. We can also plan our curriculum around our vacation, so if we're planning to go to a particular city or state, we can study that area before going, in hopes that they'll have more interest in it when we get there.
9. I can spend more time teaching them life skills. They’re able to spend time doing various chores, yard work, sewing, volunteering, and other things to do with managing a home and improving their lives.
10. It costs less. This one my sister threw in. She doesn't homeschool. She said that after the school and book fees, clothes, lunches, etc., it's cheaper to homeschool. I don't really know about this. I do buy various curriculum and that does add up, but I know there are people who homeschool by just using their local library, so it can be done for next to nothing and be a quality education.
Of course there are negatives to homeschooling, too.
1. I get very little alone time, and I spend a great deal of my day breaking up fights and working on what we call "character development." I have a homeschooling friend who has a babysitter come in a number of hours a week to allow her some alone time. Since I put my four-year-old in preschool, this has improved a little.
2. It can be challenging to devote the necessary time to planning and/or teaching when you'd rather be doing something else, like sitting on Twitter or blogging -- although I still manage to find plenty of time to do both of these. You can buy curriculum where everything is planned for you, but I try to take a more hands-on approach.
3. I sometimes worry if I'm doing a good enough job. I'm constantly checking to make sure my kids are where other kids are at the same age. I was particularly worried about my then-eight-year-old not learning to read until he suddenly picked it up a few months ago. I was repeatedly told not to worry about it by other homeschoolers, but I still worried.
4. Sometimes you buy curriculum only to find out that it doesn't fit the way you want to teach or the way your child best learns. The money adds up and can be a complete waste. You can try to resell it, but you never get back what you paid for it.
5. Dealing with the homeschooling stigma and strangers' pointed questions. I'm just sitting at McDonald's watching my kids play -- I didn't know I was going to get the third degree about how my kids probably aren't being socialized enough. That can get annoying after the third time in a week.
Homeschooling has positives and negatives and depends on what fits best for each family. At this point in our lives, we find it works well for us. Will we be homeschooling in five years? I don’t know. We take it year-by-year and sometimes even day-by-day.
Kate Hall writes a humor blog at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine with My Morning Quiet Time? when she's not attempting jokes on Twitter
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