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Homeschooling Pros and Cons: Part 2


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Every educational choice, no matter which, has both pros and cons. Last week, we looked at some of the homeschooling pros and cons, starting with the cons.This week it’s the fun part – the pros!

Homeschooling Pros and Cons
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1. Homeschooling allows for a personalized education.

There is such a plethora of homeschool curriculum out there these days that it so easy to personalize your children’s education. You don’t have to use what the rest of the county or the state are using. You don’t even have to use the same thing for each of your kids. You can use what works best for each of your kids’ interests and learning styles.

If one or more of your children is especially interested in something you’re studying, you can spend more time investigating the topic more thoroughly. If your kids are less interested, you don’t have to spend as long on a topic. You can add lots of hands-on learning for your kinesthetic learner or add great books for your avid reader.

2. Homeschooled kids get the benefit of one-on-one teaching.

Not only can you tailor your child’s education, but your children each get the benefit of one-on-one teaching. Even if you’re learning something as a family, the teacher:student ratio is much lower than a public, or even a private, school classroom.

When Josh finished his online dyslexia treatment, his clinician and I were discussing what I could be doing to continue to foster the progress he’s made. She commented that the one thing he needs most – besides just doing lots and lots of reading – is something that I can very easily give him in our homeschool setting – one-on-one teaching.

That’s been a great benefit to us with both Josh and Brianna’s dyslexia. Because I could read aloud, whether it be directions or a book above their independent reading level, other academic areas didn’t have to suffer because of their reading struggles. They could produce more complex written work because I could transcribe their dictation, so they weren’t hampered by spelling struggles or the mere act of getting the thoughts in their heads down on paper.

Even if you don’t have a child with a learning disability, you can get so much more accomplished in a shorter amount of time working one-on-one with a child. Being able to cover material at the pace best suited for your child means better retention, mastery instead of mere completion, and the ability to delve more thoroughly into topics or allow more time to explore non-academic gifts and interests, such as music, independent reading, hobbies, or sports.

3. Kids can avoid the social stigma of learning disabilities.

Continuing with the thought of being able to offer compensation for a learning disability is the fact that homeschooling allows a child to avoid much of the social stigma that often accompanies those disabilities. A child doesn’t have to feel stupid because he isn’t where his peers are academically or because he struggles in an area that comes more naturally to other kids.

Avoiding that stigma is not only much better for a kid’s self-esteem, but it also means that there doesn’t have to be all kinds of emotional baggage associated with the area of struggle. Reading doesn’t have to become drudgery. Even though reading may be an area of struggle for a child, books can still be an enjoyable part of school so that, when reading is mastered, it’s not so thoroughly associated with negativity that the kid would never dream of picking up a book.

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4. Your school schedule can be tailored to your family’s natural body rhythms.

Y’all know my family is not composed of morning people. I love that we’ve always been able to take that into account when planning our school schedule. I get the bulk of schoolwork with my younger two done in the early afternoon. That’s when we think best. My oldest thinks best late at night. Because she’s working independently, she’s started doing most of her work late at night – like after midnight – and sleeping in until noon or so.

She gets up, has lunch with us, and we all do Bible study together, then, she goes off to do whatever schoolwork she didn’t finish the night before or she rests or does her own thing. That may be unfathomable to some people, but why not take advantage of the flexibility of homeschooling to allow her to work when her mind functions best? The world needs third shift people.

Study after study has shown that teens and adolescents need more sleep than elementary-aged kids, yet traditional school schedules have them getting up before sunrise, not getting out of school until late afternoon, then, staying up late to complete homework. That makes much less sense to me than the fact that my kids don’t get up until 10:00 or 10:30 – or even noon – each day.

You may have morning people in your home. That’s great! That means that you can work according to your family’s natural body rhythms and have lots of afternoon free time for exploring interests, going on field trips, or whatever interests you. The key is to tune in to what works for your family and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

5. You’re with your kids 24/7.

See? Last week, when I listed this as a con, I told you it would make the pros list, too. Being with people all day long can be difficult for an introvert, but being with your family all the time is such a blessing. I love that I know who my kids are with and what they’re doing. I love that I’m close with my teenagers and we still enjoy being together. That doesn’t mean that we don’t butt heads and argue, but I know we talk more than we would if they were in school.

I’m not saying that parents with kids in a traditional school don’t talk to their kids or aren’t close with them. I know that’s not true for most families. However, I know for my family we have a closer bond than we would if they were in school – at least, I suspect we do. I guess I’ll never know for sure.

I love that I’ve been there for all my kids’ firsts and have seen that look of wonder and accomplishment cross their faces when they finally got that elusive concept. I love that they can come to me at any time to talk about the things that are on their minds. I love teaching them and learning alongside them.

Our kids are under our care for a short period of their lives. Homeschooling allows us to spend that time together. {tweet this}

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6. The teachable moments can take place in a controlled setting.

Homeschoolers are often accused of sheltering or overprotecting our kids. I don’t think that exactly what most of us do and I don’t think that what we are doing is a bad thing. What has happened with my kids is that I have kept them from a lot of things that they weren’t mature enough to handle at younger ages. I refuse to buy in to society’s view of what is and isn’t acceptable for a young child to be exposed to because I think young kids are being forced to deal with a lot of things that they shouldn’t have to.

Then, as my kids get older, we talk about those things within the context of our family’s moral and spiritual beliefs. I don’t try to avoid the things that don’t line up with our beliefs, but I love that we can discuss them in a more controlled setting – meaning that my kids get an adult take on things, not the often misguided, misinformed opinions of their peers.

This is true even when it’s not the big things that we’re accused of sheltering our kids from. Teachable moments in controlled settings can take place with preschoolers or elementary kids on a playground. To me, the concept means that you’re not sheltering your kids from real life, but that you’re looking for those moments to prepare them to handle life’s challenges, so that when they do have to make those decisions on their own, they’re more prepared to make the best choices.

7. You can explore learning outside the classroom.

Most days you’ll find my kids and I learning around our dining room table. (If we had a sun room like the place I visited last weekend, that’s where you’d find us!)

However, I love that homeschooling affords us more opportunities to learn outside the classroom than a more traditional school setting might. We have more freedom to pack up our backpack for a nature study outing. We can set up an archaeological dig in the backyard. We can do impromptu science experiments at the kitchen sink. And, I’m super-envious of those who can take their learning out on the road for extended periods of time, like those who are able to travel the country in an RV.

Even if it’s just taking our books outside or on the screened in porch when the weather is nice or interrupting our seatwork to identify a new bird spotted on the feeder, I love the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling allows.

8. Homeschooling can be flexible.

I’m a big believer in “failing to plan means planning to fail,” so I’m all about guarding against being so flexible that you never accomplish anything. However, the flexibility of homeschooling in general, not just with regards to academics, cannot be overlooked. It’s so nice to be able to take some time off when unexpected opportunities arise or when life happens.

For example, it’s nice for homeschooling families to be able to work ahead in the summer, in anticipation of taking some time off in the fall when a new baby arrives. It’s invaluable to be able to take some time off from school to be able to spend the last days with a dying relative.

Perhaps an unexpected opportunity to travel with Dad on his job comes along. My husband doesn’t travel much with his work, but I’ve had friends who’ve had opportunities to turn their husband’s business travel into an extended field trip for the kids. Mom and kids explore during the day and spend time with Dad at night. It’s such a blessing to be able to take advantage of those opportunities!

9. You get to learn alongside your kids.

I often say that I have learned as much, if not more, than my kids through homeschooling. Being able to learn alongside them has to be one of the most fun benefits of homeschooling! History was not my most favorite subject in school, but it has come alive through great biographies and historical fiction with my kids. Even algebra and the metric system make more sense (a little, anyway) the second time around.

The cool thing about learning alongside your kids is that enthusiasm – theirs or yours – for a subject or topic can be contagious, so you can all reap the benefits.

10. You can exercise your superpower – super-human patience.

Where would you ever get to exercise your super-human patience superpower if not for homeschooling. Well, maybe in Wal-Mart on a Friday night. Or in traffic.

What have you found to be the benefits – expected or unexpected – to homeschooling?

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

 

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21 Comments

  1. I completely agree about the family’s schedule – we are not morning people, either. We get school done from early afternoon until 10pm – working around my work schedule.

    I also liked what you said about not buying into society’s thinking about what’s appropriate. My daughter told me last week that she should be allowed to watch a program because it was rated TV-14. I explained to her that some arbitrary group doesn’t know our family’s values and ideas about things, so they can’t possibly say it’s okay for her to watch something when we don’t feel it’s appropriate! Thanks for backing me up! LOL!

  2. After two years of homeschooling we are finding our rythm, and it is wonderful.
    Thanks for the second part of the pro’s and con’s – both were an encouragement.

  3. Thank you, Kris, for your honesty on #4! As a community college professor, my husband teaches two nights each week. The children don’t want to go to bed without our regular family worship time with him, so they stay up. Add in to that Wednesday night church and Sunday night church, and I have no idea how our children would be able to get up at 6:30 every morning to get to public school!

    1. Yes, I love being able to work on the schedule that best fits us. To be honest, it would be preferable for my husband and I if my kids went to bed about an hour earlier than they currently do. It’s hard to change their habits, though, just because we’re getting old and need more sleep! πŸ™‚

  4. I am a total morning person whose 2 oldest kids are morphing into night owls. I am not entirely sure how to handle that. I totally agree that bio rythms are real but my issue is that we get a bunch of chores done in the morning and it doesn’t work great if they get up late (because other kids depend on the big girls getting their work done, etc.) Right now we have a compromise in place that they can sleep in until 8 a.m. or so, longer on weekends, which is certainly better than them getting up at 6:30. I know many teens are not getting enough sleep! I may need to get more flexible as they get older. So far, they show no desire to do academic work late. We do most of ours in the morning, all 6 of the school aged kids.

    I loveed your whole post, by the way, especially the part about age appropriate shielding and guiding. I wish so much I had had more guidance in dealing with the negative stuff in life when I was growing up. I just did the best I did, which often wasn’t very good.

    1. Allowing my oldest to work at night has been an adjustment for me. While it works well for her, it doesn’t allow me to go by the routine that I most prefer. Through some trial and error, though, we’ve found a way to make it work.

  5. ahhhh number six makes you a woman after my own heart. Hope that doesn’t offend you it’s just an utmost appreciation and relating to that one. That one, to me is absolutely invaluable and priceless. It strikes me where I “feel” the most. Thank you for pinning your experience on your blog!

  6. I have really enjoyed reading your homeschooling posts.

    And this time, when I got to Number 6, I found myself nodding like crazy, feeling a little like Rain Man. πŸ™‚

    I hear SO many people, not just parents, saying that kids are different today then when we were younger. Yes, they are. But that’s due to so many people allowing that to happen and allowing the kids to grow up WAY too fast. Whatever happened to being a kid while you’re still a kid?

    We talk to our kids, almost 10 and 7, about what they NEED to know about right now, at their ages. Some things that happen in this world are above their level. There will be plenty of time to talk with them about some things later, when they can handle it mentally.

    Thank you for your great posts. I have only been following you for a short time, but I do look forward to reading your posts.

  7. “Where would you ever get to exercise your super-human patience superpower if not for homeschooling. Well, maybe in Wal-Mart on a Friday night. Or in traffic.”

    I might also add all day Saturday at that same store, but it wouldn’t be worth it to JUST shop. This is a good way to intentionally live my life for Jesus in home schooling these kids that He’s given us. One advantage of homeschooling is using the employment benefit from my husband’s work to get on planes for field trips when there are seats available. Otherwise, I’d drive myself crazy sending kids to the classroom and abdicating my responsibilities to teach them.

  8. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog via pinterest! My 2 girls are only 10 months and 3.5yrs but so far I plan on homeschooling them. All of your pros and cons are things that I have thought about in looking at this decision. I was especially glad to see you talk about being an introvert and being with your kids all day. I am most definitely introverted and while I love being a SAHM, it can be very exhausting for me just being around noisy little people all day:) I love being with them, but I definitely crave solitude for a while when hubby gets home. I always feel guilty for feeling that way. I know this will be a big challenge for me in homeschooling, but I really feel that this is what God wants me to do. Your thoughts on homeschoolers “sheltering” their children took the words out of my mouth. I don’t want to shelter my kids, as in pretend certain things don’t exist, but I don’t want someone else determining what is ok for them to be exposed to or when, or explaining the important/difficult issues as they arise.

  9. Kris my son has cystic fibrosis and so I homeschool him because if he is in school he stays sick and the flexibility of home school works better for his schedule. I am finding my way with curriculum. I need a history program, I would love it to be online but I do not want the program to be revisionist history, where America is painted as the bad guy. His reading has improved considerably I think he gets much more done in a class that goes from 10am to 5pm. I love reading horizons and I have bought fast facts. Tell us about more good programs I had bought several which were duds and that gets expensive. I would love to find an online class where he could interact with other kids online, I think he misses that.

    1. Kim, you can find lots of reviews, including one for the history curriculum that we love, Trail Guide for Learning, under the reviews tab. Just a couple of weeks ago, I did a review of CurrClick’s online classes that you may want to check out. Hope that helps!

  10. I’m so glad I found this post and also Part 1. I homeschool my 7yr old 2nd grader but I also have a 4yr old and an 8 week old little one. Today was one of those super hard mothering/homeschooling days. One that actually made me google “private Christian schools in Knoxville” – like I was really serious about finding a school. That is until your post talked me down from the ledge. Sometimes I wonder if the homeschooling is really worth it. But I know that one day down the road I’ll be able to look back and KNOW that it absolutely was. Right now I just have to survive homeschooling with little people πŸ™‚

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