- Individualized Education
After years of considering homeschool, what finally pushed us over the edge and helped us make the decision was the need to create an individualized education for our children. Some of their needs and learning styles were not being met in public school, and as a result, self-image, the desire to learn, and their feelings about school were being negatively impacted. We realized that we could fix those problems by providing an individualized education plan for each of our children at home. And while it’s an ongoing process of constantly trying new things, and tweaking our curriculum and our approach, we saw immediate improvements in both how much our children were learning, and also their feeling about education in general. We have been able to customize education and meet our children where they are instead of forcing a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, and the benefits have been HUGE!
Additional freedom and flexibility wasn’t the straw that broke my school-mom camel’s back, but it was the benefit that had long called out to me, and beckoned me to consider homeschooling. Jumping through school hoops, participating in fundraisers, dedicating our evenings to homework, and scheduling travel and family time around school vacations was always a thorn in my side. So having the flexibility to do it all on our own time-line, travel off-season without extensive homework packets or the threat of truancy repercussions, and reclaim family time every evening has been the biggest blessing! Just thinking about losing that freedom again makes me feel a little sick.
3. Family Unity
Increased family unity and sibling bonding has been one of those beautiful blessings that I didn’t really think about or expect. We’ve always tried to have a close family, and give our kids plenty of bonding experiences together, but there’s nothing like the TIME you get together as a homeschool family to really strengthen those bonds and create lasting memories. Shaping our family culture with intention has been a really wonderful way for my husband and I to work together, and nothing makes me happier than to see my children playing together, even conspiring together, and knowing that they truly are each other’s best friends.
4. Physical and Mental Health
The last year our kids were in public school, we dealt with a variety of health issues, from anxiety to chronic colds. There were many factors that contributed to this. Constant exposure to germs at school, high-pressure situations in the classroom, and being forced into a schedule that didn’t work for some of us. I have a child with ADHD who really struggles to fall asleep at night, despite our best efforts to maintain an appropriate bedtime. So early morning alarm clocks and the rush to get out the door did nothing for that child’s ability to learn and function in a healthy way. Sufficient sleep is so vital for children, and allowing our bodies to sleep until we are rested, and wake up naturally has made all of us healthier, happier, better learners. The anxiety that came from a variety of issues in the classroom has all but disappeared. And I’ve noticed that since most of our homeschool meet-ups and activities are outside, even when we’ve been around other kids, we haven’t been sick nearly as often. (Speaking of the activities we engaged in pre-COVID. Obviously those came to an abrupt halt in March, and thankfully we’ve continued to enjoy good health since then as well.)
5. Deeper Connections to Nature
A lot of time in public school is not spent on academics. I say that as a former-public school student and teacher. Whether or not that time is “wasted” is a matter of opinion, but when you cut out all that extra time, formal studies are so much more efficient, and leave ample time for doing what kids were made to do. Play outside. It’s made a huge difference for us to spend more time chasing lizards, and making fairy gardens, and hiking trails, and swimming in creeks and jumping in waves. I believe that it’s what childhood should be made of, and it’s thrilling to see it play out in the lives of my own children.
6. Ability to Incorporate our Faith into Our Kids’ Education
Although we have always studied scripture and topics of faith together as a family, being able to study history, science, art, music, literature and even math in the context of our beliefs has been a beautiful experience. Regardless of whether or not you are a family of faith, the freedom and time to share your own value system with your children instead of leaving it to teachers or schools is a huge benefit. We do our best to expose our children to multiple points of view, but at the end of the day when we can bring everything home in the context of our faith in a loving God, we know we are giving our kids a gift.