What, Me Homeschool? Here’s Why You Should Consider Homeschooling Your Children

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by Linnea Johnson

Should you consider homeschooling?

Have you ever asked yourself what might possess someone to homeschool instead of getting a free education in the public schools?  Have you, friends, or family members had less than desirable experiences in schools, whether public or private?  Have you known children who were different, perhaps had learning differences, or were bullied by other children or in my personal experience, even by the teacher, and did not thrive in a classroom situation?

Here are some things to think about.

Does the classroom actually prepare kids for real life?

We spend the rest of our lives after we complete our schooling interacting with people of all ages, ethnicities, worldviews, abilities, and income levels.  Why would we expect children, who are kept almost all their days in classrooms of children and teens the same age, probably a similar income level, and with similar curriculum to be able to function effectively and happily in a world of such diversity?

Related: A Homeschooling Guide for Public Schoolers

Children are still figuring out who they are, what they believe about the world, and whom they can trust.  If a child is in the majority of a group, they will probably do just fine, but if they are different in some way, perhaps a more critical or deeper thinker, or one who needs more hands-on learning, or one who looks different, or one who comes from a different culture, or one who has different abilities, they will suffer cognitive dissonance at a young age and will be expected to respond as the majority responds.

Is cognitive dissonance bad?  Not always. That’s how we learn new things, but sometimes kids need support to help them bridge the two ideas or to decide if the new idea is one they can accept.

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values. (Source)

Children are quick to “fix” other children who are different, calling them stupid, or ugly, or “not cool”, or clumsy, or _______… you fill in the blank.  You’re likely to harken back to your own experiences of this example of socialization, or more aptly, ensuring everyone thinks, looks, talks, and even believes the same way.

Is this what we want from a society that desperately needs creative thinking and different solutions to solve the complex problems we face?  Shouldn’t there be some freedom to think differently without being beaten down?

What are your beliefs?

Whether you believe freedom of thought is important or whether you believe your child’s natural abilities and gifts should be encouraged and nurtured, or whether you believe that the worldview of the majority is inconsistent with what you want your child to learn, there are a plethora of reasons to consider homeschooling.  In our family, we had a number of reasons.

One son had some learning differences and experienced bullying, another needed more hands-on learning than could be reasonably provided in a large classroom.  We ran the gamut between public, private, and homeschool, and experienced the pros and cons of each.  Heck, I even went on to get a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and started a PhD, became a licensed secondary education teacher, and in the course of my work experience taught everything from preschool music to English as a 2nd language, to high school technology, business, and personal finance to adult education.

To be sure, there is a best learning environment for everyone; it’s just a challenge to find it sometimes.  I wanted to be the kind of parent who helped my kids find out who they really were and to discover their natural abilities, and interests, without unduly sheltering them from others.  I wanted them to love to learn and to do it for the rest of their lives.  They took music lessons, played on teams, attended church and youth groups, did community service, and didn’t miss out on that time with their peers, but did have time to explore what really interested them and develop those talents.

Need More Reasons to Consider Homeschooling?

 Homeschooled kids score higher on standardized tests and are better adapted socially according to research. Lots of famous people have homeschooled and with good results.  Some post-secondary schools now prefer homeschooled students:

Away from the standardized tests and rigid schedules in public education, kids can let their creative sides flourish, learn about the world they live in, and, when it’s time, earn acceptance into the best colleges in the world.

“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” education expert Dr. Susan Berry recently told Alpha Omega.

“Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers,” Berry said.

However, it’s not that being schooled at home advances an application.

The real value lies in what the added freedom of homeschooling allows students to do with their time.

Tell me the truth…this isn’t all fun and games

Were there challenges on the homeschool path?  Sure.  You still pay your taxes that support the public schools and buy curriculum and lessons on top of that.  Parents need to find a way to teach and care for their children through co-ops or splitting the work between themselves and others and work to provide an income.  It’s not a choice for the faint-hearted, but it can be done, and there are some significant rewards including building a relationship with your children beyond dinner, homework, and bedtime.   Your children will learn to work together, work with you, and learn from you.  You can take outings or vacations, and not just on holiday weekends.

Related: The Great American Unschooling Tour

Your children can learn what you do and help you with it, thereby adding another skill.  When they were little our kids made magnets with my husband’s business cards on them, helped with jobs when they were teenagers, learned his business, and now run that business.  They went on to get degrees in business and mechanical engineering.  They practice blacksmithing, design and 3D print useful things, do engine repair, do reloading and target practice at the gun range, garden, and raise farm animals.  They dirt bike, fish, hunt, backpack, snowboard, and ski, and they do all of this with a group of friends who are not just like them.  They are not anti-social or boring by any means.    Each child’s path is different, and that difference and contribution makes us stronger individually and as a society.

What’s Next?

This series of articles will answer many questions you may have about homeschooling.  What are the requirements?  What are alternative methods of homeschooling?  How do I make an income and school my children?  I have a child with special needs, can I homeschool?  How do I gauge the level of my child’s abilities in subject areas and choose the appropriate curriculum?  I’m terrible at math or science, can I homeschool my child? How do I not lose myself and keep my sanity?  How do I find support groups and resources?

These are good questions that deserve discussion.  I hope that you will share your ideas in the comments.

About Linnea

Linnea Johnson has her MA in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught preschool students through adults on topics including music, English as a 2nd language, technology, business and personal finance.  She now works in technical business development with universities.  She and her husband homeschooled their two active sons, who went on to careers in mechanical engineering and entrepreneurship. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family, cultivating a little urban farm, and travelling with her husband of 31 years.

 

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8 Responses

  1. Very strongly leaning toward homeschooling our 8 year old, but having a tough time narrowing down the massive amount of curriculums out there. I would be very open to combining several and would love recommendations if anyone has them.

    1. I have homeschooled for 12 years and my son will graduate next year. What kind of curriculum are you looking for? Alot depends on if you want the information spelled out for you to teach or if you have the ability to spend alot of time teaching…also depends on where your 8 year old is at in various subjects, if you want a unit study or go eclectic or a boxed set where everything is there for you, if your child has any special needs etc.

      It’s not an easy road to homeschool, but the long term benefits are seen down the road.

    2. We use Oak Meadow curriculum. It’s a little pricey (we buy it during their sale in May).

    3. We used a variety of curriculums. Kris’s point is well-taken to decide what you have you have the time and energy to do. Oak Meadow is a well-prepared curriculum, and gives you everything you’ll need. The first year we homeschooled, I used Sonlight (a Christian curriculum that was not just US centered), but as I got more confident, I started picking and choosing. You can’t go wrong reading to you child, and at this stage, learning to read well as well as manipulate numbers are the keys to learning. I’d ask, what does your child like? What does h/she like to do? What are his/her natural curiosities? I’d start there.

  2. “…Heck, I even went on to get a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and started a PhD, became a licensed secondary education teacher, and in the course of my work experience taught everything from preschool music to English as a 2nd language, to high school technology, business, and personal finance to adult education. ”

    I find this comment cognitive dissonance to the idea of home schooling, you saying that you can’t teach until you have learned form the same broken system that “certifies” you to be able to teach???
    The education system in a Cog factory. Don’t let you kids become cogs in the wheel of mercantilsm.

  3. From a public school teacher. YES, if you can at all afford it with the time and money for the tools you need, by all means, home school your child (ren). My district has an online curriculum k-12. You might be able to hook up with one in your district or in your state. Ask around at church. Search for home school blogs. Beware that the “powers that be” could go after you. Just make sure you log your school time in a spiral notebook and have some sort of curriculum you follow. Most states have their standards or benchmarks on the state website. This should at least let you know what you should expect your child to know by the end of a “school year”. I totally agree with the author. You can teach your child so much more than what they would learn in a regular classroom AND you have the power WHAT they learn. You can gear your child’s learning to YOUR family beliefs, culture, and language. You must be diligent and have a schedule but you get to set up what works for you and yours best. Keep in mind your teacher hat will be different than your mommy hat. Your child is smarter than they let on.

  4. I am a retired public school teacher with over 30 years experience (including 4 as a principal). For over ten years I have administered the nationally normed test to Christian homeschooled high school students. Those students are bright, polite, well-adjusted, and articulate.

    I unequivocally proclaim that there is no hope for America as long as Christians and conservatives allow our children to be indoctrinated in the pagan (a.k.a. “public”) schools. We must rescue our children! See specifics at http://www.insectman.us/exodus-mandate-wv/index.htm. I am not raising funds. My goal is to rescue children.

  5. We are a homeschooling family. The recent closure of schools triggered many of my friends to consider homeschooling, too. Since I get a lot of questions from them, I wanted to share information with this community as well. Our three kids have experienced at different times, public school, private school, Christian school, on-line school, and then homeschool. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. I used to work full time at one of corporate America’s, so it was hard to homeschool. The advantage naturally is that a public school can be a “daycare” since they provide many after school care services. Indoctrination can be really challenging, though some teachers individually can be nice people.

    One of the first things, I recommend families considering homeschooling is to visit Homeschool Legal Defence Association’s website. Check the regulatory requirements of your state. We all have rights as parents to choose how to educate our children, but the reality is that some states heavily regulate homeschooling. You can find your state’s information from this page: https://hslda.org/legal
    I highly recommend becoming a member of HLDA if you live in a state with high regulation. The site helps us arm with the right information and what our rights are. It will be also good to find if there are any HLDA homeschool study groups in your area.

    There are a ton of homeschooling curriculums out there, and we have tried many of them. They are typically very expensive. If you can afford, “full curriculum” program might be a good start. However, if you managed to graduate high school, most of these curriculums have too many unnecessary instructions that you do not actually use. You might like to start small steps, try a few items, and see what works best for you and your child/ren. Freedom of customization and flexibility is the key to home education.
    If it is any help to anyone, appended below are some of our favorite material sources: (I am not promoting any of them, just like their products.) They can be good supplemental resources for public schoolers as well.
    Teacher File Box (printables – preschool to 8th grade – loads of printables $12 monthly membership)
    Critical Thinking (They have a wide range of critical thinking workbooks, and they are fun)
    Painting with Bob Ross (my ten years old learned how to oil paint by watching his DVD’s.)
    Science 4 Kids (one of the best science programs out there, teaches in a fun and practical way)
    Didax (Math manipulatives, instructions, workbooks)
    Bluprint (Photography, drawing, craft instructional videos. Subscription gives access to all programs)
    Great Courses (Variety of topics for kids middle school age and up)
    Liberty First University (By KrisAnn Hall – Online constitutional courses)
    Liberty Class Room (By Tom Woods – Online American history and economics courses)

    We do not plan to send our children to colleges. The colleges today are indoctrination machine. One can go in as a good conservative Christian and comes out as a liberal. Professors like Bill Ayer are everywhere. Of course, some profession requires a degree, and some will thrive in the environment and come out fine. But, many do not. (I say this because I studied hard to earn a degree plus MBA. It is the fact, in my time, my certs helped me to land on a good job, but big companies are depopulation enthusiasts and pursue only their agenda. It took me a long time to realize I was contributing to their agenda….) So, we are unti-college, and not preparing our kids “academically” to get into “good” colleges, but focused on being able to be a critical thinker, generate money, contribute to the community, be self-sustainable, etc.

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