According to homeschool research, there are about 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States. An estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (grades K-12) were home educated during the spring of 2010. The research indicates the homeschool population continues to grow at an estimated rate of 2% to 8% per year (over the last few years.) (Ray, 2011) 1
Homeschool families are a demographically wide variety of people. People of different religions, nationalities, and with various degrees of education fall into this diverse group of people. Just as each family is different, each has their own story as to how they came to homeschool For some, it was an easy and clear cut decision. For others, it was a challenging and complicated choice. Most families have their specific reasons as why they chose homeschooling as the best choice of education for their children. The following are our family’s reasons:
1.) SCHEDULE– Flexibility! A pastor’s schedule can be crazy and unpredictable. When other families are enjoying weekend time off, our family is at work in the church. If my children went to public school, our family time would be extremely limited. My husband and I were not willing to cut-away time spent together. Homeschooling has provided the flexibility needed to schedule family time and vacations when it works best for us. We also appreciate that our homeschool schedule allows time for other ministry opportunities (like serving as a MOPS Coach and Coordinator for me) and serving in the church as a whole family unit.
2.) TIME– Time is precious and valuable. Our children are growing up faster than we care to admit. Homeschooling allows us the maximum amount of daily time spent with our children. There are plenty of opportunities during the day to strengthen and build family relationships and practice social interactions with peers and adults. I recognize that homeschooling is a calling of selflessness and servitude but for our family it is a sacrifice worth making.
3.) CURRICULUM– I am a curriculum fanatic! I love the freedom to choose my own curriculum as I see best fit for the individual needs and differences in each of our children.The ability to teach my children about life, social issues, history and science with a Biblical worldview is very important to us. I love that Bible time, study, and prayer are included in our school day. I also appreciate that my children do not have to take part in state testing. I believe very strongly that progress and growth should be evaluated but I like that there are options in the way it can be done. Last year, we chose to do a portfolio evaluation which was much less stressful experience than a standardized test would have been. Along with curriculum and testing choices, I have been overwhelmed with the educational opportunities that are available for homeschoolers. Museums, nature reserves, art and drama classes, music lessons are available to accommodate homeschoolers’s needs and interests.
4.) MORE TIME FOR LEARNING- When I taught in the public schools, I was constantly spending time redirecting behavior or transitioning students from one place to another. As much as I tried to keep “time on task” to a maximum, the distractions and general “noise” in the classroom made for a less than optimal environment to learn. At home, distractions can be kept to a minimum. The ability to teach in a small group instruction fosters quicker mastery of academic skills. And lessons can be based on individual needs and learning styles. On top of that, challenges and problems can be identified and remediation can occur quickly. And all of that equals to more time on task and the ability to accomplish more learning than in another school setting.
5.) SOCIALIZATION- The very reason why some people think they should not homeschool is one of the very reasons why my husband and I think we should. According to the The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, SOCIALIZATION is defined as “the learning of customs, attitudes, and values of a social group, community, or culture. Socialization is essential for the development of individuals who can participate and function within their societies, as well as for ensuring that a society’s cultural features will be carried on through new generations. Socialization is most strongly enforced by family, school, and peer groups and continues throughout an individual’s lifetime.”
My husband and I both believe that the public school is not the best place for our children’s socialization. We do not want our children to learn and develop the customs and attitudes of the world and culture rather develop attitudes and values based on a life of faith.We do not want to send our children into a place of unknowns before they are developmentally ready to deal with difficult people and situations on their own. We are not trying to shelter them or keep them in a bubble. We believe that there are other avenues of POSITIVE socialization and our job as parents is to equip our children with the skills they will need to be a part of those environment. We believe that homeschool is the best place to build our children’s self-esteem and confidence and practice social skills as necessary that they might need to deal with bullies and peer pressure. My children still have plenty of opportunities to socialize with adults and peers their age at church, dance class, Audubon Society classes, and Museum art classes. Research on homeschool socialization says the following: 2
According to Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, “Home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with–and feel close to–all sorts of people.”
He continues, “Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this. For, with their children’s long-term social development in mind, they actively encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society.”
As I mentioned earlier, each family is unique in their decisions and reasoning. Homeschooling might not be for you and your family and that is okay. This is not a post trying to persuade you that homeschooling is the best way and only way to educate your children. It is only a post about my family’s reasoning of why we do. This year, what ever way you decide to school, I hope that your children will grow and flourish in their education, self-esteem, and in their self confidence.
I would love to hear from you. If you do homeschool, what are the reasons you do?