When parents who were considering homeschooling ask me, “Should I homeschool,” I don’t offer an immediate yes or no answer. It’s a difficult question to answer because homeschooling is a personal choice and a serious commitment.
I don’t necessarily think everyone should homeschool – but I do think everyone should consider it as a viable educational option. Rather than tell you whether I believe that you should or shouldn’t homeschool, I’ll tell you why we decided to give it a try and why, over a decade later, I’m glad we did.
My oldest, now a homeschool grad, went to public school for kindergarten and 1st grade. We soon discovered that my beautiful, curious, intelligent, book-loving little girl wasn’t a traditional-learner type. She is the artistic, big-picture, out-of the-box type who, as it turns out, has dyslexia.
After two rather miserable years, during which her love of books and reading was squashed by the daily assault to teach her how to read (with undiagnosed dyslexia), we decided to give homeschooling a trial run.
By Christmas break, it was clear that homeschooling, with its ability to offer tailored education and one-on-one teaching, was the perfect fit for our non-traditional learner. We never looked back, adding her younger siblings into the mix as they reached school age.
One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customize my kids’ education to their specific needs. My oldest quickly caught on to reading with Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, so I thought I was ready for the next two.
Guess what? Sing, Spell, Read, and Write didn’t work for them. For my boy, none of the many reading programs we tried had more than minimal success until we discovered Lexercise. He was officially diagnosed with dyslexia and learned, through at-home therapy sessions, to work around it.
I have always loved a hands-on, eclectic, unit-study-inspired approach to learning. That’s exactly what we did up until the year I discovered, to my horror (I’m kidding – mostly), that my teens prefer workbooks.
Guess what? They used workbooks for a couple of years before moving on to a more eclectic mix of resources.
Homeschooling means that I don’t have to force a particular program or homeschool style on my kids. They can learn using the materials and approach that best suits them, adjusting as their needs change.
I have two children with dyslexia and one, possibly two, with ADHD. In school, they would have been labeled, medicated, and made to feel stupid (even if unintentionally) because they don’t learn well in a traditional setting with conventional methods.
That does not mean that they are not intelligent. It does mean that our children are not cookie-cutter replicas of one another. It doesn’t make sense that we expect the same teaching methods to be effective for everyone.
Because we homeschool, my kids have never been made to feel less-than. I can naturally and easily make accommodations so that their areas of struggle don’t have to hinder them from reaching their full potential.
Homeschooling allows my kids time to explore their gifts and talents. My oldest – the one-time struggling reader – loves books, including Shakespeare, which many find difficult to follow. She knits beautiful blankets, hats, scarves, and baby booties. She loves drawing and creating cosplay costumes.
My boy is an incredibly talented musician who can tell you more than you ever thought there was to know about guitars and quite a bit about muscle cars. He’s built half a dozen computers.
My youngest loves writing stories, painting, and singing. She has an eye for photography and image composition.
Homeschooling means that my kids are known for their strengths, not their weaknesses.
Input on education
Another enormous benefit of homeschooling is that I can choose our curriculum and have an impact on what my kids are learning. I am not a fan of Common Core or politically-correct history, and as a Christian family, it is vital to me that our day includes prayer and Bible study.
My teens and I can discuss what they’re learning and how that meshes with our worldview. That doesn’t mean that we shy away from controversial topics or views that are contrary to ours. It does mean that I know what they’re learning and that we can discuss issues in light of our beliefs.
We can focus on things that are important to us based on my kids’ interests and future and current plans. For example, Josh has incorporated music instruction and theory, along with computer literacy in his education because those are where his interests and career goals lie.
Megan loves photography and took a photography course in 9th grade. She’s making plans to prepare for dual-enrollment courses to get a head-start on college credit because she’s considering becoming a counselor.
Homeschooling means that I have a direct impact on my kids’ educations.
If you’re considering homeschooling, I can’t tell you what is right for your family – what you should do – but I can encourage you to explore your options and consider giving it a try. After our trial year that turned into a lifestyle, I often told would-be homeschooling parents: Give homeschooling a try. You can’t ruin your kids in a year.
You won’t know if homeschooling is a good fit for your family until you do it.
What advice would you give to a family considering homeschooling?
updated from an article originally published July 20, 2015
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.