People homeschool for all sorts of different reasons, but for people who are on the fence about homeschooling, knowing why you’re going to homeschool in specific, articulate terms is akin to having a mission statement for your business. It’s crucial. The “why” behind your homeschool is what’s going to get you through the days with tears, the wondering if you’re doing the right thing, the mornings that just aren’t going right, and the days where no one wants to do school. Your kids will probably, at some point, tell you that they hate you and wish they could go to school like all the other kids. That’s when you have to remember why you are doing what you’re doing.
It’s good to articulate why you’re homeschooling, but I also think it’s beneficial to know what other people’s why is, and sometimes that can help us define with specific clarity why we are homeschooling. And then that “why” will motivate us and help us push through during the best and worst of homeschooling times.
#1. The Best Education
I want my kids to get the best education possible, as we all do. I am trained in secondary English education, so I teach high school English and have no experience with teaching elementary. However, there are a few reasons why my teaching is better than what a public school can offer.
Worksheets are tough on my kids.
A lot of elementary classes have to rely on worksheets a lot. This is not to say that it’s their fault, but we have a school system that requires documented accountability every step of the way. I believe the best way to learn is by doing. Through my homeschool, I can minimize the “sitting down and doing worksheets” and emphasize the hands-on manipulatives.
Catering to one vs. catering to 20
In the school of education, they taught us that we need to cater to a wide variety of educational styles in order to maximize the engagement of all the students. You show a video, you give a lecture, you have them read something, and you have them take notes or fill out a worksheet. This is good for catering to 20 kids because, more than likely, each student learns best through one of those methods (those ideas are just examples). But if my kid doesn’t get anything out of videos, then why would I show them? I don’t have to cater to a wide variety of learning styles- just one. Or more depending on how many kids I have.
Smaller Classes Provide Better Learning Environments
Not a single person would say that kids learn better in a large classroom. When a kid is struggling with school, they get a tutor (would you pay $20/hour for a tutor that’s teaching 20 other kids at the same time? Of course, not). But with homeschooling, my children’s education will be completely done through tutoring, essentially. I can speed things up when they are understanding easily and slow things down when there’s a concept that’s more difficult for them to grasp. Having an education that is catered to their specific needs will make their education more efficient, more enjoyable, and more thorough.
I want their heart.
I care about the state of my children’s heart. I care about their character training, and I believe that to be more important than academic training. Through no fault of their own, teachers simply can’t pay attention to the minutiae behind all of the behavior in a classroom with 20 kids in it.
Case in point: I’ve got two kids. The Captain is a bit more aggressive by nature and will sometimes go over to my other kid, Cool Hand Luke, and take a toy from Luke’s hands. Cool Hand Luke is pretty chill, so he doesn’t always get angry when The Captain does this (particularly when they were younger than 3). A daycare worker has real fights to worry about, so they may not even see this or address it since an argument hasn’t broken out.
I’ll tell the Captain, though, “We don’t take toys from others’ hands. Give it back, please.”
The Captain will hand it toward Luke… and Luke is already playing with something else and doesn’t want it back. Of course. If the teacher made it this far, they would probably move on in that case- no one’s actually fighting, so why engage? There’s already a lot going on.
I, however, am not done. I still take that toy from the The Captain and tell them that that’s not how we treat our friends. And I ask how would they like it if somebody took a toy away from them. And keep bringing things back to their conscience, constantly. Constantly appeal to the conscience. And The Captain learns empathy. And they learn that they never get their way by stealing.
Obviously, I love my kids equally. They all have strengths and weaknesses. The Captain would probably become a bully if I wasn’t constantly on him. I love that kid so much, but they are naturally aggressive, cunning and smart, excellent problem-solving skills, and they care quite a bit about getting their way.
Now aggression in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. If I take those problem solving skills, those abilities to lead, those smarts and abstract thinking, and that unstoppable force that demands that the goal be met and that their cause is worth fighting for and I can point it toward something good, I have a recipe for a child that will change the world profoundly. And I don’t say that lightly.
But a public school wouldn’t be able to do that. A cunning child can easily take advantage of others and be sneaky about it. The Captain is good at being sneaky, and those attributes that are either peace-making or weaponize-able wouldn’t be properly cultivated.
Would a daycare teacher be able to consistently call out a kid, “Hey, Captain! I saw you take that toy just because you heard Cool Hand Luke ask for it. Where’s your heart?” That’s a lot to ask from someone watching so many kids with so much material they’re required to get through.
Kids Aren’t Built to Sit Still
My child, who does not like to still, shouldn’t have to for hours on end. American schools are seeing a decline in music education, physical education, and recess time, while seeing an uptick in homework at younger levels. Research shows that academic performance is better with more recess and more physical education.
My concern is that if I send this child, whom we’ll call Fonda, to a public school, Fonda would be a distraction to the class, a discipline problem for the teacher, and they would slap her with an ADHD label before the first week is out. They would ask me to medicate her, and a growing number of pediatricians are recognizing that ADHD is both overly diagnosed and overly medicated.
Frequently overactive movement isn’t actually a problem with behavior. Again, I really don’t mean to sound like I’m bashing public schools. I know that they really are doing their best. However, I know that they can’t have 20 kids running around like crazy. My Fonda would be a discipline problem for something that is not truly discipline- related.
I can do school in intervals. We usually do 20 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Then we’ll change subjects. I also can combine subjects and overlap them. I can make movement a huge part of our homeschool, like moving while we learn reading!
#2. Teaching Truth
I have a problem with some of the things that schools are teaching. This includes both cultural trends and some things that are theories that are being taught as fact.
When I teach about sensitive issues, I want it to be taught my way on my time, not on someone else’s timeline and in their way, particularly with things regarding sex education.
#3. I Emphasize the Importance of the Home
I want our emphasis to be on the home. I believe that family is one of the strongest units that exist on earth. A lot of cultural trends have been seeking to replace one or more features of the familial unit, and I don’t believe in that. I want to be around my kids. I want them to know that they always have a home. I want to have a relationship with my kids– a close one. I want my husband to be close to his kids. I simply don’t want an institution, teachers, or other kids having more influence over my children than me. No one loves my kids as much as I do. And I want that. The relationship and the influence.
#4. I Want Foreign Language Instruction
I really believe in foreign language instruction. It seems that everyone universally acknowledges that the younger you start teaching languages the better. However, it is also standard practice in our culture’s school to not begin teaching foreign language until high school. I can incorporate it regularly into our daily routine. Through our program, we can learn language that they will use regularly in home, rather than some arbitrary vocabulary list that they will probably never use (and not even learn it until high school).
#5. Avoiding Bullies
I got bullied a lot in school. And, though I know that this is not the norm and I am in no way claiming this as a universal fact, my first experience with bullying was being bullied by my first grade teacher. I did have other very supportive teachers, a few exceptional ones, but I remember being bullied by that teacher, and she was the first person in my life whom I let convince me that I was stupid.
Bullying got really bad in middle school, and I ended up switching schools twice in high school because of bullying. You really don’t know which kid is going to get picked on. I was athletic, played year-round sports, and was an A/B average student. I can’t prevent my kids from getting bullied. And I don’t want that. Not at this age.
Now I know some people believe that you can’t protect your kids forever. I agree, but there will come a day when someone tells my child that they are stupid. Someone will try to convince my kid that they’re not good enough. But that person won’t be someone who can speak into my little child’s heart at the age of six. Whenever someone does start telling them that, when the world tries to convince my child that no one cares about them or their feelings, I want it to be so established in their bones, in their soul, in their heart, that the idea seems preposterous.
I don’t want them to be able to get a foot in the door. Is there a place for saying that homeschool parents are over- protective? Perhaps. But you have to remember that we are home schooling them while they are still children. We’re not home schooling them until the are 45, we’re home schooling them until they’re 17 or 18. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing.
Also, if part of my job is to ensure their ability to function in the real world at the age of 18 (with regards to college), the statistics are showing that home schoolers do better in than their public-schooled counterparts. Colleges are starting to offer more scholarships to homeschool students.
Homeschool students can:
- manage their time effectively
- work independently
- teach themselves
- find resources that they need to help them complete things
- work without a manager telling them to do so
- finish projects
- maintain discipline
- stay committed.
- test better on things like the SAT and ACT, despite belonging to a school system that under-emphasizes testing. This is perhaps counter intuitive– one would think that public school students, who have been taking tests multiple weeks out of the year in order to satisfy the needs of ISTEP and such, would have more practice and would therefore be better at taking these tests. However, the results show that homeschoolers perform better on these exams. This of course, make them eligible for even more merit-based scholarships.
This is why I homeschool. I want the best truth-rooted education for my kids, encompassing both academics and their character, in a child-centered, non-combative way that is tailored to their specific needs.
Why do you homeschool?
Let me know in the comments below!