When I decided to stay home with my first child, I figured I would head back to the traditional classroom, but God had a different plan. I ended up teaching for a homeschool co-op. This experience changed my preconceived notion of homeschooling and showed me what homeschool was really like. I realized there was so much more to homeschooling than what you see on reality television. Yes, dare I say, I found homeschool families normal and fun. My husband and I decided to try out homeschooling for just kindergarten, several years later we’ve never looked back. Here are few of the biggest benefits I have witnessed:
Tailored learning. I had to change my mindset from checkboxes and adhering strictly to specific curriculum and standards, to leaning into my children’s learning styles and interests. Sure, I did some of this as a classroom teacher, but the reality is you can only lean in so much when you have twenty-five plus children in a classroom. There’s an everchanging supply of curriculum to choose from for homeschool families, allowing families to find one that fits their unique teaching and learning style. As a family, we complete unit studies on topics of interests and dive deep. For instance, this year my children started a business, and we studied economics, in a practical hands-on way, along with books and a curriculum. I have also been able to implement programs specifically designed to reach my child with dyslexia. This leads to huge strides academically. Learning shouldn’t just be grades and test scores, it’s about meaningful academic progress and building confidence.
Homeschoolers are socialized. I honestly had no idea the opportunities for homeschoolers when I was a classroom teacher and I cannot even begin to count how many times I (and every other teacher) would say, “we aren’t here to socialize, we are here to learn.” Yes, in a public-school setting a child learns with peers of about the same age, but the actual free time to explore, create, and socialize is minimal. There just isn’t time with the sheer number of students and those checkboxes waiting. While homeschooling we’ve had the opportunity to take a la carte classes, such as art, novel studies, and robotics. We also participate in co-ops, play sports (during the school day and evening), as well as enjoy meeting at parks and friends’ homes. My children get their work done and then have hours to socialize with each other and friends of all ages.
Mixed ages are a huge benefit. I saw this briefly as a classroom teacher when I would pair my fifth graders up with third grade buddies to read or help with a skill. Those third graders made great strides by having an older role model. Homeschooling brings this to the next level. We are able to “do school” with children in age ranges, rather than grades. This allows for opportunities for them to lead and be role models to youngers, as well as have peers through high school who set a good example and offer encouragement. I love to see how my boys interact with friends who have little ones, as we do not have babies in this house. It will set them up to be good fathers one day, just another perk of homeschooling as families.
Movement all day long. When I was a teacher, I worked diligently to ensure my students moved throughout the day, but I only had so many options. I was restricted by crowded playgrounds, lack of outdoor spaces, and a packed classroom. At home we can begin our day with movement, and I can work in physical breaks as needed. We go on walks, visit the playground, have jumping breaks on the trampoline, and play sports like tennis and basketball during the school day. It is recommended by the CDC that children get a minimum of an hour of moderate to vigorous movement a day, but recess at school is limited twenty to thirty minutes and many times indoors. The fresh air alone is a game changer. It resets us all. Vitamin D is essential to regulating moods and we are able to get plenty, with our flexible schedule.
Quality time and relationships. This is a benefit I didn’t truly appreciate or realize when I began homeschooling. Yes, obviously knew I would spend more time with my children, but the deep relationship we have I couldn’t have dreamed up. This isn’t to say we don’t have hiccups and I don’t need breaks, but there is a trust and understanding we would not have if I was sending them to a traditional classroom. My boys’ relationship with each other has also deepened. I am frequently told by others they are amazed by how much our boys enjoy being together and how well they get along. I owe that to homeschooling. They are learning to lean on each other, support and encourage each other, and how to work things out when problems arise because my husband and I are there to guide them. We also get quality time as a family, which is especially important with my husband’s travel schedule. It allows us to have random family adventure days, trips offseason (also a huge money saver), and my husband can be more involved in their education due to a flexible schedule (year-round school for the win).
Create and innovate. When I was a classroom teacher, so many children lacked imagination by the time they came to me in fifth grade. Children were meant to explore and create. Homeschooling allows the time for them to be “bored” and unstructured. In my home, this has allowed my kids to create a business, develop hobbies, and the flexibility to be creative. My children can entertain themselves and use their imagination, and just be kids. Boredom and freedom teach children how to manage their emotions, time, and problem-solve.
Homeschooling is not only an educational choice, but also a lifestyle choice and we couldn’t be happier with the positive impact it’s had on our family.
Jenna Myers is a former public-school teacher and technology specialist. She holds a master’s in education. She currently homeschools her three boys and runs an educational consulting business, The Sophisticated Teacher. She also is a regular volunteer for Home Educators of Association of Virginia and sits on the Loudoun Christian Home Educators Leadership team. She has a passion for encouraging other homeschool moms.