Why Do Parents Choose to Homeschool?
The number of students between the ages of 5-17 who are homeschooled has risen by over 68% since 2003. (source) Even still, the percentage of homeschooled students in the U.S. is only around 3.5%.
The number of homeschooled children continues to grow, but since homeschooled students are still in the vast minority, it makes some people wonder why parents would chose this form of education for their children.
Of course, the reasons for homeschooling are numerous and I can only speak for my family, but among the most popular reasons are religion and quality of education. Read on to see our reasons for homeschooling our three children.
Why We Homeschool Our Children
I began to consider the idea of home schooling by the time my oldest was two. We moved to a house in a rural area that we chose simply because of the two acres of land on which it sat. We loved the idea of our children having plenty of outdoor space to play and needed a large fenced-in back yard for our dog. What we didn’t consider was that we were leaving one of the top public school districts in our state and moving to one that was less than stellar. Still, having a bigger home and a large yard well within our price range was worth it.
I continued to consider the idea of home schooling (although I couldn’t get my husband on board) until the birth of my third child when I realized that having three children in 4.5 years while completing my Bachelor’s degree was enough to have on my plate. (I later forgot this lesson and spent three years working on my Masters. What can I say? We love learning in this household!) So, off to Kindergarten went my oldest. He attended both Kindergarten and 1st grade at the local public school and had amazing teachers and did very well.
Around the end of his 1st grade year I was finishing my degree, my youngest was two and I felt balanced enough to take on home schooling. I wore my husband down convinced my husband that we’d give it a trial run and put him back in school if it didn’t work. Worked, it has. We’ve now been homeschooling successfully for 7 years.
So, why do we home school? There are many reasons.
We Homeschool Because of Special Needs
One of the reasons that we homeschool our children is because I realized early on that my middle son was . . . different. I instinctively knew that a classroom setting with other children would not be in his best interest.
As it turns out, he has Asperger’s and my intuition was spot-on. All of my children attended preschool and it was obvious to me by the time my middle son was in the four year old class that he did not handle the setting well. The preschool director and his teacher were incredible and worked with us to make it work for him.
Public school would have likely provided a wonderful Individualized Education Program (or IEP) but going in without a diagnosis would have delayed the process and likely caused my son to have to endure Asperger’s Criterion C (at least socially, if not also academically), whereas home schooling has helped him to avoid that while we teach him appropriate social skills and allow him to work at his own pace. Sometimes this approach requires a lot of unschooling in addition to the more structured schooling that we use.
My youngest child is a classic sensory seeker with speech delays. We decided to put our youngest in public school for Kindergarten and he did utilize an IEP. He did great and loved school. He began homeschooling (at his request) for 1st grade and continues to homeschool today.
We did utilize the speech pathology services at the local elementary school for a time and are thankful that they are available to all students living in our district. Although he attended preschool and did pretty well considering, I’m sure we’d eventually be encouraged to seek an ADHD diagnosis for him. While I don’t disagree with medication for ADHD in the least, I prefer more holistic methods (i.e, NOT requiring him to sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time.) for my own family. Homeschooling allows my son to move while he learns, which is has turned out to be very important.
We Homeschool for Religious Reasons
Religion. Ah, yes, the religious reasons. Contrary to what most home schoolers believe, there is a whole lot of God in schools. At least there is here in the Bible Belt. I don’t want my children embracing Evangelical Churchianity’s version of God and politics. I won’t go any further here, but suffice it to say, we’re not Evangelical Christians and I don’t want my children exposed to that on a daily basis so that I have to continuously unravel it at home.
We are able to teach our children our spiritual beliefs and values while explaining to them what other people believe and value so that they can one day decide for themselves which path is right for their individual souls.
We Homeschool for the Freedom it Provides
Homeschooling = Freedom. We go on vacation in October. We take random “field trips” on a Tuesday. School starts at 9:00 versus 7:30. School is usually done by lunch time. When we go places as a family during the week we usually get the place to ourselves.
My oldest is a serious athlete and homeschooling has provided him with plenty of time to train and rest over the years. He doesn’t have to worry about getting up early after a late game or doing homework on afternoons when he has practice.
The freedom aspect of homeschooling is huge to me as a parent. It’s up to me to decide when and where my child does school. Sick days and vacations don’t need an excuse. We avoid the morning and evening rush (at least as it relates to school!). We school all year around and at each child’s own pace.
I understand the need for schools to be strict about attendance and empathize with how difficult it is to teach a classroom full of children in the 7 or so hours they have each day. I don’t have a single suggestion for how to do it differently in that setting, but my children and I are not subjected to one-size-fits-all education because of our freedom to homeschool.
(Update: I’ve gone back to work full-time to accomplish some personal and family goals. That does cut into the freedom that homeschool has provided for us, but we know it’s not a permanent situation and look forward to the day when we have met our goals and can once again enjoy the full freedoms of homeschooling. Find out how we manage working full time and homeschool.)
We Homeschool Because We Enjoy Teaching Our Children
I love learning alongside my children. (I must have daydreamed my way through ancient history because I’m learning so much with our amazing history curriculum.) I love getting to see my children learn. I didn’t teach my oldest to read–his wonderful Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers did that and they did it well. Watching my middle and youngest sons learn to read–and following their child-led interest in reading instead of forcing it on them when they were five–has been the most incredible experience. Teaching my children is truly one of the top five things in my life that brings me incredible joy.
Homeschooling Simply Works for Our Family
As I’m typing this, I realize that I could go on and on about why we home school. There are so many reasons. As I post about home schooling in the future, I’m sure more of those reasons will come out. I’ll end this post for now with the reasons I’ve already listed. I look forward to talking more about our life as homeschoolers and this journey that brings us so much joy.