Preview: There are many benefits of homeschooling. In this article, we’ll explore three of those benefits and discuss how you can decide if you should homeschool.
Are you on the fence about homeschooling?
Are you afraid you’ll make the wrong decision?
Deciding whether you should homeschool is a big decision.
Before making a big decision, I like to know the facts. In this article, you’ll learn what you need to know about homeschooling and how to use that information to decide if it would be a good fit for your family.
- Facts About Homeschooling
- Homeschooling benefits children of all academic abilities.
- Homeschooling provides many social benefits.
- Homeschooling provides flexibility in what, when, where, and how your children learn.
- How can you decide if you should homeschool?
Facts About Homeschooling
Before we dive into the benefits of homeschooling, let’s take a look at some facts about homeschooling.
- Homeschooling is legal in all 50 United States. (You can learn about the requirements for your state at HSLDA.org.)
- Roughly 3% to 4% of school-age children in America are homeschooled. The number of homeschooled students is growing at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years. (You can find more statistics and facts about homeschooling at the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).)
- The homeschool population is quite diverse. Families of all nationalities, races, religions, economic levels, and educational levels homeschool.
- Families homeschool for many reasons.
- Homeschooled students typically perform higher on standardized achievement tests than their public school peers regardless of their parents’ level of education or household income.
Because homeschooling allows parents to provide a customized, one-on-one mentoring experience, no two homeschools are the same. Even siblings within the same family have different experiences since parents can provide just what a child needs. We’ll explore how homeschooling can look different in the upcoming sections.
Homeschooling benefits children of all academic abilities.
Traditional classroom settings meet the needs of the average student. Struggling learners and gifted learned often struggle in a conventional classroom.
Children on both ends of the learning spectrum often flourish in a homeschool environment because parents can provide an education tailored to their child’s needs.
Homeschooling allows you to provide the individualized attention a struggling learner needs to be successful.
For example, if your child struggles to read, you can read his lesson to him or provide an audiobook. If your child struggles with math, you can work with him to ensure he understands the concept before moving on.
You also have the flexibility to present lessons in his preferred learning style and incorporate games and hands-on activities to make learning fun and engaging.
Homeschooling allows you to provide gifted learners with a stimulating learning environment.
A gifted learner can learn faster and move through his material quickly in a homeschool setting. Or, he can dig deeper into a subject that particularly interests him.
Most children excel in some subjects and struggle in others.
Homeschooling provides the flexibility to design an educational program that meets your child’s specific needs. You can allow him to move faster in some subjects while providing additional time and instruction for others.
Homeschooling prepares children for college, vocational careers, and life beyond formal learning.
Many parents wonder if their children will be adequately prepared for college or a vocational career if they are homeschooled. Research indicates that homeschool students consistently score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. Many colleges actively recruit homeschooled students.
Homeschooling provides many social benefits.
Initially, many parents worry that their children will not have sufficient opportunities to socialize and will be “one of those weird homeschoolers.”
I need to be honest. Other people probably will consider your family a little weird if you choose to homeschool. After all, you’ll be doing something different than 90% of families with school-aged children.
Your children will have ample opportunities to socialize with others if you choose to homeschool. However, it will look different than if they attend a public or private school.
Looking beyond the “socialization question,” there are many social benefits to homeschooling. Here’s a look at four.
Homeschooled children have many opportunities to socialize.
Most parents initially wonder if their children will be well socialized if they homeschool. My husband and I asked this very question of other homeschool parents when we were researching homeschooling.
To be socialized means interacting with people of different ages and backgrounds while observing social customs.
According to this definition, my children have had ample opportunities to socialize and are comfortable in many different settings.
Homeschooling provides an opportunity to improve your child’s character.
In addition to academics, you will be able to invest a significant amount of time on habit training and character development activities. You can help your children develop habits that will make your homeschool day run smoother such as obedience, observation, and attention.
As he spends his days closely interacting with you and his siblings, you can help him learn to respect and serve others. He can also learn how to manage his time and assume responsibility for himself.
Homeschooling provides an opportunity to develop meaningful family relationships.
Many families discover that when they begin homeschooling, they have more time to spend together.
They no longer need to help their children complete homework in the evening when everyone is tired, cranky, and hungry. Instead, they finish school lessons in the morning when everyone is fresh and at their best.
They can then read a book, play a board game, take a walk, or have a rousing game of balloon volleyball in the evening. These memories will last a lifetime and strengthen family relationships.
In episode 12 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, my mother-in-law and I talked about how grandparents can be involved in their grandchildren’s homeschool education, even if they live out-of-state and ways grandparents can support their homeschooling children and grandchildren. This episode is refreshing for homeschool parents and encouraging for grandparents who want to be more involved in their grandchildren’s homeschool education.
Homeschooling provides an opportunity to serve others.
Because you spend a significant amount of time together at home, your children will have many opportunities to serve others, including
- Assisting with chores and household tasks.
- Helping a younger sibling with an assignment.
- Being kind to one another.
- Preparing meals for friends and neighbors in need.
- Volunteering with service projects at church or a community organization.
Homeschooling provides flexibility in what, when, where, and how your children learn.
Teachers in a traditional classroom setting have a limited ability to customize students’ educational experiences. They are constrained by the guidelines set by the local school district.
Even though homeschool parents need to abide by their state’s homeschool regulations, they have much flexibility to provide a personalized educational experience for their children.
Homeschooling allows you to provide a customized education for your children.
You can provide a customized education for our children that will not look like anyone else’s. Dana Wilson shares how she has been able to provide her children with what they need through their home education journey. She also shares advice she has learned along the way that has made a life long impression on her children.
Highlights from the interview
- All children are different. No two children are the same. You should not try to teach them the same or expect the same from them. Respect their individual needs and personalities.
- Life and school can be the same thing. You don’t have to replicate school at home.
- The value of time invested in habit training. When you spend time in the early years investing in habit training instead of formal instruction, you are laying the foundation for future studies.
- School lessons, a clean house, and dinner on the table? She learned she couldn’t do it all and had to settle for two out of three.
- The surprising power of the “Redemption Box.” How she encouraged her children to help keep the house tidy without nagging or yelling.
- Why she loves the buffet approach to ideas and education. And how she applies that to her own reading.
- The one idea she learned from her mentor that has molded her home education journey. She implemented this one simple strategy of reading one book per month to train herself and develop her philosophy of education.
- What advice would you give to a new homeschool mom?
- Where there are tears, tempers flare, or the tone is less than gentle, you might need a little “Puppy Therapy.” Give them some physical affection, a healthy snack, and get outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
- The cure for inattention is actually to stop the lesson and get up and move.
You can choose the homeschool philosophy that best meets your family’s needs.
There are many approaches to homeschooling you could employ.
- Virtual/Distance Learning
- Charlotte Mason
- Unit studies
The level of flexibility varies by which approach you choose to employ. Most have at least some flexibility in what subjects you teach your children and what resources you use.
Each approach, or homeschool philosophy, has advantages and drawbacks. There is not a right or wrong choice. Click here to learn more about homeschool philosophies, how to choose the one that best meets your family’s needs, and curriculum options for each philosophy.
You can determine your school calendar when you homeschool.
Except for virtual/distance learning, you determine your homeschool calendar to meet your family’s needs. Most homeschool families employ one of the following types of homeschool calendars.
- Traditional School Calendar
- Sabbath School Calendar
- Year-Round School Calendar
The right homeschool calendar is the one that helps you live out your homeschool mission statement and meet your homeschool goals.
Also, regardless of whether your children are early risers or night owls, you can choose when during the day they complete lessons. Many homeschooled children appreciate the ability to sleep a little later than they would if they were in a traditional classroom setting.
The world is your classroom when you homeschool.
One of the perks of homeschooling is being able to learn anywhere. You don’t need a dedicated school room to homeschool. Many families start their homeschool journey with desks for each child and illusions of replicating the school setting at home.
But the reality is that learning happens all the time. Desks work well for some children, but we quickly discovered that they were a place for papers and stuff to collect.
Depending on the day, my children may be learning at any of the following locations.
- kitchen table
- window seat
- hammock in the yard
- library or coffee shop
- grandparent’s house
- camper on a trip
Learning happens beyond the pages of a textbook. Some of my children’s best memories and educational experiences have happened on trips. They get to see science, geography, and history in real life. These hands-on learning experiences enhance all other learning happening at home. Learn more about homeschooling while traveling.
To make it easier to transport our school books to wherever we planned to learn for the day, I kept a repurposed scrapbook tote stocked with our school supplies so we could wheel it along with us. In this video, I show you what I kept in our tote.
Homeschooling allows you to teach your child in the way he learns best.
Every child has a primary learning modality. He could be a
- Visual learner
- Auditory learner
- Kinesthetic learner
Most children benefit from using all three types of learning but gravitate to one primary learning style.
When you homeschool, you can present information to your child in his preferred learning modality while improving his ability to learn using the other modalities.
How can you decide if you should homeschool?
Deciding whether or not to homeschool is a big decision! Some families begin homeschooling out of necessity. Some decide to homeschool before their children even reach school age. Many families ponder the decision for several years before finally deciding to give homeschooling a try.
There is not a right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should homeschool. It is right for some families and not others.
Here are a few more answers to questions parents often have when trying to make this important decision.
Do you need patience to homeschool?
Have you said, “I don’t have the patience to homeschool!”? I did too!
Listen to this episode of All in a Homeschool Day to learn more about what happened when I said that and how you can develop the patience and mindset to successfully homeschool your children.
Highlights from the show
- Pray and ask God to help you develop patience.
- Examine why you do not have patience. Getting to the root cause of your beliefs can help you begin to align your beliefs with the truth so you can begin to develop patience.
- Learn to become a thermostat instead of a thermometer so you can help control the atmosphere of your home and reduce the amount of patience you need.
- Revise your schedule so you have more margin and are less rushed and busy.
- Plan how you will get a respite. Having a plan in place to allow you to take a break from the demands of parenting and homeschooling is essential!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
And really, let’s be honest…we all need more patience. Having more patience will help us not only be a better home educator but a better parent as well. And even if we have been working on developing patience, we can always use a reminder to be more intentional.
Is homeschooling hard?
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Some of the challenges of homeschooling include
- Being with your children 24/7.
- Training your children to obey and respect you as their parent and teacher.
- Dealing with character issues while teaching your child.
- Developing your patience and self-control.
But these are also benefits of homeschooling.
- You have an opportunity to develop a deep relationship with your children.
- You can invest time and effort in developing you and your children’s character.
Many parents wonder,
“Will I still like my children at the end of the day?”
The truth? Some days you will, and some days you will want to escape to a quiet room with a bar of chocolate, a good book, and earplugs. But really, can’t we say the same thing about parenting?
It’s okay to love your children, want to homeschool them, and still want a break from them! Homeschooling is a demanding, 24/7 job. It was especially difficult when my children were young because I felt like was always on duty. I would often feel guilty when I made comments about wanting a break.
I came to realize that I needed time away so I could rest and recharge in order to be a better mom and teacher. In this episode of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, I share strategies and tips to help you find time to recharge as well as encouragement to let go of the guilt.
So what’s homeschooling really like?
Here’s a look at what my daughters and I think about homeschooling. It’s unscripted, so you’ll hear about what they love and what frustrates them about homeschooling.
Wonder what grandparents think about homeschooling?
Obviously, some will approve and some won’t. In episode 13 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, my mother-in-law shares her perspective on homeschooling. This episode is a refreshing reminder that you won’t always see the results of your efforts right away, but hang in there because what you are doing is worth it and beneficial.
Is homeschooling better than a public or private school?
Homeschooling might be better for some students, but in general, it is not better than a public or private school. It is a different educational experience. Whether homeschooling is better than public school depends on the goals you want to achieve and your children and your family’s needs.
Why should you consider homeschooling?
There are many reasons to consider homeschooling, including that you can
- Invest time to improve your child’s character.
- Develop meaningful relationships.
- Teach your child in the way he learns best.
- Customize your child’s education to take advantage of his interests and passions.
- Provide religious instruction.
Who shouldn’t homeschool?
Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family. There are three situations for which homeschooling might not be a good option.
- Both parents do not want to homeschool.
- There is currently a significant conflict between family members, either between spouses or between the parents and a child.
- If choosing to homeschool would cause severe financial strain because you eliminate one income.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, this may not be the right season for you to begin homeschooling. You should consider doing more research and putting plans in place to mitigate the circumstances.
Can you homeschool while working?
Yes, you can! Jen Mackinnon is a working homeschool mom of two teens. In episode 18 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, she shares insights on learning to integrate working and homeschooling and how it’s not about learning to balance it all but redefine our definition of balance.
Whether you work outside the home, work in the home, or work to get dinner on the table, you can apply so much of what Jen shared with us to help your homeschool run smoother and teach your children important life skills.
Highlights from the episode
What we talked about:
- How it is important to embrace homeschooling the kids you have instead of trying to compare your homeschool with everyone else’s. What works for other families may not work for yours, and it is important to find what helps your children be successful.
- How checklists and schedules can provide boundaries and guidelines to help your week run smoothly.
- How she schedules time each week for her children to pursue individual interests. This has helped her children learn how to learn, thus accomplishing one of her goals in homeschooling her children.
- Why we need to redefine our definition of balance. You cannot do everything. You need to ask for help, delegate tasks to your children, and establish systems.
Connect with Jen at Practical by Default
Should you homeschool?
“Should I homeschool?” is a question many parents struggle to answer.
There’s no one right answer, but these 10 questions will help you decide if homeschooling would be a good fit for your family.
Not everyone should homeschool. If you don’t want to teach your child at home, your lack of desire may negatively impact your child’s homeschool experience.
Do you have questions about homeschooling?
Watch the FREE Homeschool 101 Workshop. It’s an on-demand workshop you can watch at your convenience.
Ready to start homeschooling but not sure how?
Check out the Homeschool Roadmap. It walks you through establishing your homeschool with confidence and joy, one step at a time.