At some point in their child’s education, every homeschooling parent has to answer this question, either to others or to themselves. It’s an accepted fact that parenting is rarely easy, so would choosing to educate your hormonal teenager at home really make things any better? In all honesty, for some families, it may not be the right decision. For others, however, it can truly be a blessing. It’s simply a matter of weighing out the pros and cons of homeschooling versus traditional school enrollment. As a former homeschooler myself, I figured I’d take the opportunity to share my own experiences so that you can see where I’m coming from.
Simply put, when I was growing up, I hated nearly everything about school, especially the rigorous, mundane (math) side of things. I did not do well at it, and this was extremely frustrating, both for me and my parents. I had been homeschooled since Pre-K, and overall wasn’t much more difficult than the average spirited child when it came to school. Going into my 8th-grade year, however, I had become practically impossible to motivate academically.
I had convinced myself that I was never going to measure up to the standard that had been set for me, and I was tired of putting in effort without seeing any results. This season was particularly hard on my mom. She was trying her best, but she eventually realized that she needed to reprioritize her way of thinking when it came to my education and wellbeing. Instead of giving up and enrolling me in school, we decided to spend some time focusing on the things that I enjoyed. Instead of regular schoolwork, I taught myself to play the guitar, practiced drawing, started babysitting, bought my first camera and learned photography, started volunteering at my church, and developed my friendships. This break from school enabled me to pursue who I was becoming as an individual, and discover a love for learning that I never knew that I had.
This is where things turned around.
Going into the 10th grade, I joined a homeschool program that consisted of going to classes once a week. For the remainder of the time, I had to manage my own schedule based off of the workload I was expected to complete by the next class. This taught me how to budget my time, and I learned to be responsible for myself. If I didn’t get something done, it wasn’t because I was incapable or slow, but because I hadn’t been wise with my time.
Through all this, I had finally developed confidence in my ability to learn and succeed. I also discovered an interest in literature, science, and creative writing, which I never thought would be possible. From that point on, I was motivated about schoolwork for the first time in my life, and that motivation carried me all the way to graduation.
Looking back, if not for my Mom’s active role in my life, I doubt that I would have been able to finish school. More importantly, I would not have found personal success in my character, talents, or passions. Being homeschooled shaped who I am as an individual, and cultivated my ability to manage myself, resolve conflict, learn on my own, and pursue my passions.
To conclude, here are some of the main benefits of homeschooling that I have experienced:
1. Children have the flexibility to arrange their schedules to focus time on personal interests and activities.
In a traditional school environment, teachers and bells run the day. Students are told where to be, what to do, and how to do it. Although this is also somewhat true in homeschooling, there is a greater amount of freedom outside of a standard classroom. In any given homeschool program, students must manage themselves and their time in order to finish assignments, while also completing any other task they are required to throughout the day. Teenage homeschoolers are able to get jobs that other students can’t, simply because of their more flexible schedule. Homeschoolers can easily work during school hours, and then complete assignments at different times. Homeschoolers have more time for extracurricular activities for this same reason. On a less serious note, homeschool families are also able to go on vacation whenever they desire, which means theme parks without having to wait in the typical summer or winter break lines!
2. Each child’s education can be tailored to his or her unique interests, pace, and learning style.
Parents are able to choose curriculums based off of their child’s own unique learning style and interests. There are endless styles of curriculums available and easily accessible, which nearly guarantees you will find something that fits with what your child needs. Whether your child is drawn to science, art, math, or sports, there are curriculums and platforms which cultivate and utilize those interests and talents.
3. Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional, and academic development.
This one I believe speaks for itself. When you are in charge of your child’s education, your beliefs and lifestyle are going to play a central part in what they are absorbing. You can choose the curriculum you use based on your beliefs, and teach them what they need to know in a way they can understand.
4. Parents assume the position of Primary Role Model.
Parents are given further opportunity to know and understand their children, simply due to the amount of time homeschooling requires. This allows them to be more influential in their children’s’ lives. By helping to maintain strong communication between parents and children, homeschooling suppresses, if not entirely negates, the effects of negative influences and pressures children and teens face from peers.
5. Homeschooling cultivates positive sibling relationships.
Now, this does not mean your children will always get along. Not in the least bit. However, when you’re stuck in the same house with someone every day, it’s hard to tolerate unresolved conflict. Learning in such a close environment with siblings means they are facing the same challenges together, which builds compassion and empathy for one another.
6. Homeschoolers enjoy unlimited educational resources; the world is our classroom, and resources abound in the community.
When you’re a homeschool student, everything is a learning opportunity. Home, play, vacation, and day trips with the family translate to class, recess, studying abroad, and field trips. Research shows that the two most important factors in overall educational success are a positive home influence and parental involvement; homeschooling provides both.