When I tell people we have decided to homeschool, I get a lot of confused facial expressions, remarks that we are crazy, and questions as to why on earth we would want to do that. In true blogger fashion, I’ve decided to share with you a list of our top 10 reasons we chose to homeschool. This year we will start with our 5 year old, Kaiper, while our 3 year old goes to preschool part-time 3 days per week.
Making the decision of homeschool vs public school
Let me preface by saying, it hasn’t been an easy decision. We have gone back and forth, almost enrolling in public school, and then changing our mind again. I think every major parental decision is just hard. You want to make the best decision for your child, but the best decision isn’t always clear. All I feel we can do is make what feels like the best decision for each individual child in each separate situation.
I also want to make it clear that I don’t disapprove of public school. I am also open to enrolling my children in public school in the future if homeschool doesn’t end up being the right fit for us. For now, this is decision we feel is right. With anything, we gather the facts in an impartial manner, make the best decision we can, and then reserve the right to change our mind at any time, because that’s life. I choose to lead mine with an open mind.
Do I think you’re a bad parent if you put your children in public school? Not at all. I respect your circumstances and decisions as a parent just as I expect you to respect mine. We are all just trying to do the best we can as parents, and different doesn’t mean right or wrong. It’s just different.
My final disclaimer is that I am writing this before we actually begin homeschool, so I am as unexperienced as they come. I have also never had a child in public school, because our oldest is just starting Kindergarten, so all of my opinions are based on the research I’ve done about our options, the only thing any of us have to go one when making an initial decision.
THE TOP 10 REASONS WE CHOSE TO HOMESCHOOL
(in no particular order)
- One of the big things that stuck out to me when looking at public school options in our area was the lack of recess. Most schools in our area give our elementary students 15 minutes for recess. In my opinion, that is just not enough. Children need to move, run, play, “get the wiggles out”, and be outside. I find that when my kids play outside more, exercise more, and are able to move around more, they then do much better when it’s time to sit still and focus. Children learn by playing, and if we are sending our kids to school partially to learn “social skills”, recess is a big part of when they’ll have that opportunity to be social. Honestly, 15 minutes of recess for a 5 year old makes me sad.
- Now let’s talk lunch time. Most of the public schools in our area give the students 20 minutes for lunch. I have heard the arguments that 20 minutes is plenty of time to eat if the children aren’t “wasting time talking”. Again, I go back to the idea that lunch time is the time to talk to your friends and build social skills. Also, with all of the health problems and eating issues we have in the United States today, forcing our children to scarf down their food isn’t something I agree with.
- When I was growing up we moved overseas to Egypt while my dad was working as a bodyguard. During our time there my sisters and I were homeschooled. We barely had any other friends, especially friends who spoke English, yet it was by far the best part of my childhood.Looking back, I learned more during that short span of time (about a year and a half) that I actually use and apply to life today than I did in any public school (and I went to several different schools). I learned by doing, experiencing, and doing it my way. I also got to do “school” at my own pace, so I excelled and enjoyed it more.Ideally, we will get to build travel into our homeschool experience over the years, to show our children different cultures and ways of life. The overall point is though, I believe we learn better through living and doing than sitting behind a desk with paper work.
- I can’t speak for any individual teacher, but overall the message I am hearing and trend I am seeing is that teachers are unhappy, and rightfully so. They are under-paid and over-pressured. It’s nearly impossible for them to teach the way they are inspired to or the way that is best for each child, because everything has become so “standardized”. Frankly, I don’t want any of my children to be “standardized”. Teachers are dealing with increased class sizes, decreased pay, increased pressure, and decreased resources. I think teachers are amazing, and they are not treated fairly. It’s a heartbreaking shame.This plays into our decision heavily, because when we are hearing an overall message from teachers themselves that is negative, we have to take it seriously. They are the ones who would know best.
- Let’s talk “socializing”. It’s a big one. You should hear the comments I’ve received about how “anti-social” and “weird” my child will be if they aren’t in school “socializing”. You’ve already heard about the amount of time they have in school to actually “socialize”. Also, might I present every school shooter as evidence that simply attending public school doesn’t make you “social”.We are fortunate in our area to have a huge community of homeschoolers. There are several co-op options, which is basically a group of homeschool families who work together. All co-ops operate differently. The one that we have joined is one half day per week and focuses on art and science. This is great because we pool together for project supplies and teaching different aged classes. The children also get a recess together, and the same friends to spend class time with each week.We are also fortunate to have a physical education program in our area that focuses on a different sport every four weeks, so one half day per week Kaiper will be dropped off and focus on sports for a few hours. I’m especially excited about this! We make sure exercise is a part of our daily lives, but to specifically learn about different sports is different. Also, I wanted to be sure that Kai still had some things to attend where he is “dropped off” and separated from us for a while.Those are just a couple of the things Kaiper will be involved in, as well as soccer and martial arts, play dates and “field trips”.I’m sure it will take us some time to figure out a rhythm and schedule that works for us, but the goal is to balance social activities, book work, adventure and structure.There are so many programs, weekly workshops, co-ops and communities for homeschoolers in our local community. If it weren’t for that, it would have made the decision to homeschool harder.
- The world is changing. Let’s use math as just an example. I remember my teachers saying things like “You can’t use a calculator in class because when you grow up you won’t have a calculator in your pocket”. Well, eh, I actually do. They were doing their best at the time, but things have changed.Of course I want my children to learn math, science, history, all of it. And they will. However, I just have to be real with you when I say I never actually used any of those complicated word math problems, algebra or random equations. When I have been presented with a situation where I need to know something I don’t know, I Google it and teach myself what I need to know.Our children are practically born with a calculator in their pockets today, so instead of forcing them into a desk to learn how to solve a million different math problems that don’t even look like real math, I’d rather them learn their math by adding and subtracting seashells while they explore, or garlic cloves while they learn to cook.And as they get older if their interests lead them to dive deeper into any specific area, they will and they’ll do it passionately.I then think back to all of the things I didn’t learn that would have benefited me more as an adult. Financial responsibility, saving, taxes, starting a business, cooking, gardening, recycling, fixing things around the house, investing money wisely, traveling, self defense, how to find and follow a passion, the list goes on.We want to follow a more Montessori style approach to education, where they learn to be self-sufficient in all areas.
- The ever-elusive time. I have seen so many complaints about the amount of homework sent home with kids today, that is after they spend the majority of their day at school. When people ask me how I will have time to homeschool as a work-at-home mom, I realize that they’re thinking about how much time normal school takes.Homeschool actually takes far less time overall. It’s individualized and self-paced. I remember getting my “school work” done as a kid in Egypt in an hour or two max per day, and the rest of the day I spent being creative, learning through playing, and living. I will literally probably spend more time packing lunch and driving my younger child to preschool and back three days per week than I will doing sit-down school work for homeschool.We as a society tend to glorify busy too much. I’m guilty of it myself. I don’t want my kids’ schedule to be so full that they are stressed to the max. I believe children learn better when they’re happier and less pressured, just like employees are more productive when given more freedom. So they will sometimes sit and do book work, sometimes learn by doing and exploring, and they can take the karate class, do the sports, and yes have down time where they have to figure out how to entertain themselves in a creative way.
- So many people have told me that I can’t make this decision based on fear due to the countless school shootings and other scary events happening in schools. While I appreciate their opinions, I never actually said we were making this decision out of fear. I guess that means that is one of the first things that comes to their mind when they think of public school, and that is sad. However, I would be lying if I didn’t put it on my list.It would be one thing to sign my child up for something amazing, enriching, and undeniably positive that had a percentage of safety risk involved. Unfortunately, going anywhere and doing anything in this world today has a percentage of safety risk involved.It’s a different story though, for me to get excited about signing my child up for something that I don’t 100% believe in and do it with an ever-increasing risk of them being put in a life-threatening situation. I just cannot get excited about that.
- Our family schedule a bit untraditional compared to most of our friends. Every weekend I see that most of my friends are having “family time” while I am mostly alone with the kids. Chris works on the weekends and his 2 days off are during the “work week”. As a father who is super engaged and involved with his children, it was really hard for him when Kaiper started official preschool this past year and it was required to go 5 days per week. That meant there were zero “family days”.Chris is truly an amazing dad, and wants to be involved in homeschool as well. As Kaiper and Alana grow up we want them to have that quality family time that we spend together, not just evenings or a few minutes before bed when we are all together.If Kaiper starts public school this year, between school, homework, sports and all of the rest of the things on our schedule there would be little to no time for us all to actually be together even for a meal.There is so much wrong with the world today, and I truly believe change starts at home. For that reason, I prioritize family time above all else.
- I mentioned a couple times now our desire to travel with the kids as they get bigger. Whether they were going to public school or not, I would still want to do this. However, homeschool gives you complete flexibility. You don’t have to fix your travel plans around school breaks and then deal with massive crowds because everyone else is traveling at the same time you are.We have always tried to plan our trips during the times when the least amount of people will be at that destination, because quite frankly it’s just more enjoyable that way.You can also choose to school more in the summer when it’s unbearably hot here in Florida, and have more outdoor adventures in the winter when it’s gorgeous out. I don’t know if we will do that, but I love the flexibility.
Overall, homeschool feels like the right choice for our family. I am excited, and nervous, to see what this this brings! We have a lot of changes happening in our family at the same time, but that’s the beauty of life right?
If you are a homeschooler, I would love to connect with you! I plan to write more about our homeschooling journey as we go, so stay tuned to see how it’s going and what we learn along the way. As with anything, we will take it one day at a time and figure it out as we go!