Until I actually dove into homeschooling myself, there were some things that I didn’t fully understand. Don’t homeschool kids become hermit crabs and unsociable from being home all day? Aren’t there certain “requirements” for the kids to be able to “keep up” with the kids in public school? Would I really be able to homeschool my hyper son?
About 5 or 6 years ago when my oldest son was in kindergarten or first grade, I started playing with the idea of homeschooling. There were many reasons for my interest in homeschooling, but I also had my reservations. Ernie wasn’t so crazy about the idea at first, and his main reason was his concern for me and my well-being with the added stress of having to take on schoolwork all day.
With each year that went by, that idea tugged at my heart stronger and stronger. As you all may know from my Newsletter email last week, we’ve dealt with ADHD + ADD symptoms with my oldest son, and I can’t say that the schools were of any help with the situation. I’m not here to bash the public school system, and I don’t blame them at all, but they certainly didn’t make matters any better. If any of you have dealt with this, I don’t have to explain much further. I wanted to get to the bottom of the situation and do everything we could to help him.
Why was he acting this way? What is going on at school? What may be causing this? You know, questions like that. It was something I didn’t understand because I always did well in school. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve said, “Sit down in your desk, pay attention to the teacher, and do your work for goodness sake! It’s not that hard!” Well that’s easy to say when your temperament is naturally calm.
His Kindergarten teacher, who I respected very much (as she was older in age and seemed to be very wise), bluntly told me during a phone conversation as I was asking her for her advice with things that I could do with him to get him to do better in class, “Well, he is a little spoiled…”
As many parents may have been appalled by that, I appreciated it more than she’ll ever know! She told me the truth, and many times, that’s just what we need to hear. So, we started with that. It was time to crack down on discipline, and we did.
Over the next few years and after reading quite a few books, his behavior seemed to improve at home, but he continued to struggle at school. By the way, I highly recommend The New Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson, and also by far my favorite and most effective parenting book I’ve read yet, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. Now, I’m keeping this story very short because I want to get to my point. I’ll just say this – it was, and still is extremely hard work on our end as parents. Parenting has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And we still have many more years to go!
My younger son was doing really great in school, as he seemed to be quite the opposite. But we knew that if we kept our oldest son home, our youngest son would be devastated. They’re stuck like glue, and I just couldn’t bear the hurt that it would bring on him, especially since I knew he wouldn’t even understand. But at the same time, many of the same reasons we wanted to homeschool our oldest would benefit our youngest as well.
By the time our oldest son reached fourth grade, Ernie and I were beyond frustrated for many reasons. Even though the new school he was attending after we moved was an EXCELLENT school, we still needed to do something extra for him to succeed. We knew his potential and knew that I could help him get better with more one-on-one time with him. After praying about this for a while and gaining counsel from a few of my homeschooling friends, we decided to take the leap.
I had done enough reading about homeschooling to know that I wanted to do it, and I had a good understanding of it. On the contrary, I had NO idea what I was doing when it came to curriculum and how to actually put all that together and follow a plan. With help from another homeschooling friend, I finally understood how it all worked! I was super excited to start the new school year.
The kids were excited, too. This was a long-time coming, but this decision didn’t come with some kickback from well-meaning family and friends. I had to remember my “why.” Why were we doing this? As a parent, we are equipped with everything we need in order to make sound decisions for our kids – it’s called instinct. Listen to it. What’s best for them isn’t always very convenient for us, but we must be willing to put in the effort. And since we wanted to avoid the medicated route, I had to step up and do what I knew my child needed.
Now that I’ve homeschooled my kids and will continue to do so, I’ve come to realize many things that just aren’t true. I didn’t know any better. Like many things, unless you’ve done it yourself, you really don’t understand it.
If you know someone who homeschools their kids, or if you’ve been considering homeschooling, the following is a list of things that I’ve said myself or things that I once believed myself. Maybe you’ve believed them, too. I hope this brings a clearer understanding to those who wonder, or are considering…
Just a little side note: My thoughts and opinions about school can only speak for my experience with public school. My kids have never attended private school.
1. I want my child to have a social life. They don’t get that with homeschooling.
This is one of the most uneducated thoughts I’ve had about homeschooling. Think about it. All day long, they are conversing with an adult – you, the parent. If they have siblings, they will also be with them all day and learning how to interact with them. If they are in extra-curricular activities, they will be interacting with more of a variety of kids. I know a homeschool family who has their son in competitive baseball and a piano class that performs at concerts. I bring my kids to several activities during the year, and we are part of a homeschool group that schedules field trips. We visit the library on a regular basis, and they are involved in sports and church.
They will also have to deal with different personalities on a daily basis, even at home. No two people are exactly the same, and we all come with our own personalities and challenges.
Ray cites a July 2000 study by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute in which counselors watched videotapes of homeschooled and schooled children playing. The counselors, who did not know which children were from each category, noted that the homeschool students demonstrated fewer behavioral problems than their peers—a result that Ray attributes, in part, to homeschoolers’ main role models: “Public school children have, as their main role models, peers, while homeschool students have as their role models, adults,” he explains.
~from a PBS Parents article
What kind of social life are you wanting them to have? Really? Answer that.
Think about the social life you had in school. I didn’t think about it then, but I can say now that my peers weren’t always the best influence on me. Yes, I’m alive and well today, but by God’s grace and mercy I didn’t end up in really bad shape, or worse, dead.
So, who am I wanting to influence my kids? This is a hard pill to swallow. No, we can’t shield our kids from everything in life, but whoever is spending the most time with the child is more than likely the one who is their biggest influence.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Who is doing the training? Who are they spending the most time with? Our job as parents is so very important. No matter where your child attends school, we must make sure that we are their biggest influence.
If your child is a social butterfly, they will continue to be that way even if they’re homeschooled. If they are shy, they will be shy. Didn’t you encounter the same variety of kids at your school? I did. Whatever their personality, that’s what it will be even if they are home. Being at school doesn’t change who they are. We have a relative that was homeschooled, and she was the most popular kid at their local school. Many of the kids who went to the local high school wanted to be friends with her, and she was homeschooled! She was just that social butterfly.
2. Formal schooling in a public classroom prepares them for real life.
Let’s really think about this. When my kids move out to be on their own, it has been my responsibility all these years to make sure they can survive on their own. Of course from time to time, they may need some guidance even as adults. Ultimately, our goal is to create self-sufficient citizens who are confident navigating through life and going after their goals. I don’t think we ever intend to raise kids to sit around all day waiting for someone else to do life for them.
This is why it’s so vital for us to be intentional about raising our kids now while they’re fully under our care, or our kids may soon be adults who have no idea how to manage their life successfully. This is a whole subject on its own, so I won’t go into detail about that.
What more real life can you get than being at home learning how to prepare and grow your own food, shop for your own food, do your own chores, and do your own schoolwork? Most homeschool families I know must incorporate some strict training in this area because basically, one parent can’t do it all anyways. Yes, you can still teach all of these principles if your child attends school all day, but for us, there really wasn’t enough time to incorporate all of these real-life skills on a daily basis. We were too busy doing homework after school.
I can now see the difference of more responsibility in my oldest since he’s been homeschooled. We’ve been able to put more real-life responsibility on him, while he is also still able to enjoy the freedoms of just “being a kid.” Since we’re done with school work by lunch time, he’s been able to use his extra free time for extra learning. This is a huge benefit, especially for athletes who want to do extra training. They have more time for extra studies or extra training if they desire.
I’ve also learned that since I can tailor the education to fit each child’s special capabilities, they can grow exponentially in their strengths while I’m able to spend more time working with them on their weaknesses. My oldest is interested in Chiropractic studies, therefore, he can start studying now if he wants.
Having to take care of yourself by working and experiencing daily life at home is a great way to experience real life, provided that you have a good example to follow.
What about college preparation? Nothing prepares your child better for college than having to work on his own and learn on his own. I loved college. I thought the work was so easy compared to high-school. This may be because I’ve always been a self-taught kind of person. You are required to turn in assignments and work on your own time to have those assignments done. The same goes for homeschool. More than not, as they get older, they are required to learn on their own. Have no fear about college preparation. You, the parent, can prepare them any which way you’d like. As for scholarships, contrary to popular belief, scholarships are still available if you choose to continue homeschooling throughout high-school.
Some homeschooling families express concern about their ability to meet the growing educational and socialization transitions required for their college-bound children. Put your worries behind you. Homeschooling students can, and do, thrive at college. According to one study cited by U.S. News and World Report, homeschool students graduate from college, “at a higher rate than their peers – 66.7% compared to 57.5%.
They’re also better socialized than most high school students, says Joe Kelly, an author and parenting expert who home-schooled his twin daughters.
“I know that sounds counterintuitive because they’re not around dozens or hundreds of other kids every day, but I would argue that’s why they’re better socialized,” Kelly says. “Many home-schoolers play on athletic teams, but they’re also interactive with students of different ages.” ~US News
3. People homeschool their kids because they want to shield them from the perils of public school.
This very well may be some people’s reason, but I’ve never met a family whose main reason for homeschooling was to avoid all the bad things about public school. If you take the time to ask them their reason, they will tell you. Don’t just assume their reason. A family’s reason is probably not what you think, since we each have our own personal circumstance.
I’ll tell you our reasons. We want them to be able to grow in their own abilities without restrictions, and we want them to know the Bible in the most in-depth way and have their education based upon the Bible. We cannot afford private school, but even if we could, we want to make sure our Biblical beliefs also line up with what they are being taught. Whether they are in public or private, there will be many things they are taught that do not line up with our personal standards or beliefs at home, and many things we don’t even know about because we aren’t in class with them. Sure, they’re allowed to have their own beliefs, but while in our household under our care, it’s our responsibility to make sure our gifts from the Lord (Ps 127:3) are trained to the best of our ability.
This may not be the same exact reason for another family, and that’s okay.
When my kids were in public school, they came home with hours of homework between the two of them. My oldest, who struggles with concentration, would require most of my time after school going over his work and getting him to do his assignments – all while I’m trying to finish dinner and also help my youngest son with his homework, with my toddler somewhere in the mix. By the time that was done, it was time to eat dinner, take baths, and go to bed. We did not have time, nor did we make time, to study our Bibles together as a family. We made several attempts at it, but never were we ever able to stick to it consistently. If that’s true for us, I know that must be true for other families as well. We’ve always been part of a church, but it’s our responsibility to make sure we study to show ourselves approved as individuals (2 Time 2:15). And what more responsibility do we have than to pass that on to our children?
With homeschooling, we are able to incorporate our Bible studies into our everyday schedule as a part of school. My kids know more about the Bible from one year of homeschooling than I EVER knew by the time I was a teenager. This, more than anything, makes me very proud 🙂
4. I could never do that because I want my free time.
So basically, I had kids so that I could send them off to someone else all day and have my “free time?”
I get it. I do. I’ve dealt with this attitude myself, and still do from time to time. The last time I checked, my kids aren’t with me forever, so I better lose this bad attitude before they leave the house. Not only does this attitude leak into my parenting, but kids pick up on that.
It’s not always easy to have three kids at home with me at all times, but I often remind myself why I’m doing this. Now that I’ve experienced homeschooling, I wouldn’t trade this time with my kids for more “free time.” It has caused me to better myself as an individual, a wife, and a mother.
Honestly, when I first had the idea of homeschooling, this was my biggest reservation. I was looking forward to the kids being in school while I got to focus more on growing my business. Some people do that, and that’s great. I’m glad they can do that and their kids are able to still do well in school. I also liked being able to run errands by myself and getting more done during the day. So, I had to learn how to do that while toting around extra little humans.
Then I had to go back to my “why.” This is about them and their future. My “why” is much more important. I will still get my free time when needed, but there is no more important job right now than being the best parent I can be. At the same time, I’ve taken the extra initiative to figure out ways to be able to homeschool and build a business. Many people do it, and I’m learning from them.
It’s so important to find some free time DAILY. Whether or not you work away from home, you may need to go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier to get that alone time, or vise versa. For me, my alone time is soaking in the bathtub at night after the kids are in bed, and also reading almost every morning before they wake up. Without this, and without the encouragement I get from reading God’s word and listening to encouraging podcasts, I may have ended up in a counselor’s office, or maybe even in a psych ward!
Here are some great tips at The Homeschool Mom.
5. I want my child to have a structure, and I’m not so sure I could do that. That’s just not for everyone. Not everyone can homeschool.
This statement is actually true and false. It’s false only if you want it to be.
Do you get them to brush their teeth in the morning? Do you get them to do their chores? Okay, okay. Maybe you have a hard time getting them to do their chores. But didn’t you potty train them? Point is, if you can get them to do those things, you can get them to follow a schedule during the day. It’s the same concept. As a matter of fact, homeschooling has allowed more time for our kids to be able to do more of those things.
If your child is not “listening” to you, that is not a homeschool problem, that is a discipline problem. Believe me, that is a problem I can vouch for. It’s called life with kids!
I’ve also been asked if the parent must get special training in order to homeschool – you know, to keep up with all of the advancements. The only training you need is to be able to discipline them. Again, did you potty train them? Therefore, you have everything you need to teach them. The curriculum you are using comes with all the instructions. You would be amazed at how easy it is to follow, although I was overwhelmed at first. I found out later that I was overwhelmed for nothing.
We have set up a daily schedule that we follow that begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 12:00-12:30 p.m. Then, they pretty much have the rest of the day to play outside! Yes, go outside! Well, after their chores are done as well. As recess in public schools have been reduced so much, I’m so happy that our kids get to play outside and burn up some of that energy. This is such a benefit for my boys, since they’re, well… boys.
Sometimes our schedule may get interrupted by an unexpected event or emergency, but it’s okay. That’s the beauty of homeschool. Even if everything doesn’t go as planned (what really does?), you can pick up where you left off. As long as you’re not using a digital program where you have to check in everyday and have so many hours logged, like K-12.
Yes, it is true that not everyone can homeschool. I don’t mean physically, I mean financially. Maybe you’re a single parent. Someone has to go to work right? Although, I’ve seen single parents who are able to work and homeschool. More power to them!
Personally, we cannot afford, nor do we want to afford private school. Plus, it still doesn’t line up with our reasons for homeschooling. I could very well choose to go back to work full-time, put my 3 year old in a private school (since she’s too young for public), and send my oldest two back to public school. We would have an extra income, but our reasons for homeschooling are far greater than our “want” for more money. I’m grateful that we can make this choice, as I do understand that not everyone has that choice.
Aside from financially, I personally believe that if you really want to homeschool, you can. I think my kids have taught me more about myself than what I’ve taught them. They’ve taught me ways in which I need to be more patient and kind, and also ways that I could improve on my parenting. It has made me a better person altogether.
I could have very easily said, “This isn’t working out for me because I’m just too impatient, and I don’t want to become more patient. It’s ruining my relationship with my kids.” I’m basically saying that I’d rather give him medication (since most schools won’t deal with a hyper child without it), send them back to school and let someone else deal with them, rather than actually make changes to my life so that my child can succeed to the best of his ability. If it’s ruining the relationship with my child, the “homeschooling” isn’t the problem. My approach is the problem. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and see where improvements can be made. Again, what is my “why?” Why am I doing this?
Here is a great post about lack of patience when homeschooling. I’m not sure if y’all think I’m this super-patient mom, but I lose my temper too, just like anyone else. Like I said, I’m learning to be a better person altogether.
Many things did NOT work out last year. We are changing many things with our curriculum, and going at it with a very different approach. Thanks to a good friend and teacher who is helping me with this, I was able to specifically tailor our curriculum to fit each child and our family life. I absolutely love it. She doesn’t know it, but she’s a genius when it comes to homeschooling, and you can find her blog here.
I hope I was able to enlighten you about many things concerning homeschooling. I want to break the stereotypes and get the word out there that homeschooling is a great option if you are considering it. I’m thankful to live in a country where this is still legal, and we have the right to our own family’s education. I’m so glad that we took the leap. It’s not always easy – as with anything in life – but the reward is far greater.
Anything worth fighting for is worth the fight.