Why We Decided To Homeschool

Why We Decided To Homeschool

The reasons parents decide to homeschool are as diverse as the children they are teaching. From curriculum to religious beliefs, and from flexibility to problems with public school, the reasons seem to outnumber the methods available for your homeschool. As former public school teachers, we had several reasons for choosing to teach our children at home. 


When I was teaching, the word rigor was the one I heard most. We had to add "rigor, rigor, rigor". Somehow rigorous problems and tests designed to trick students were miraculously going to bring the scores up for kids who were lacking basic skills. Too many concepts and too few days meant you moved on whether your students understood the idea or not. There are always small groups and times to pull during the classes the students enjoy in order to get them caught up.
With homeschooling, if my kids don't "get" something, we have the ability to pause and work on that skill until they fully understand it. And we are able to teach it in the way it works best for each child. Not learning four different ways to divide but finding the one way that works for them. Reading books they enjoy so they want to practice. Using candy as manipulatives to make adding more exciting.


One of the best parts of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. It really is what makes our homeschool successful. Kids don't get yesterday's concept? Change your plans and work on it again today. You all need a break? Pick up and take your lessons on an adventure. Kids are sick? There is no make-up work, emailing teachers, or worrying about what they may miss. School in your jammies if it's just the yuckies or take a day or two off if it is something worse.
You can always catch up later.
Time is another factor. Since we don't have transitions, potty breaks, behavior disruptions, and because the kids can work at their own pace and move on, school doesn't take all day. My kids are still young, but we usually finish our work for the day in to or three hours. This gives them plenty of time for free play, outdoor time, or extending their learning with fun projects or activities.
Another benefit is that you get to choose your breaks. It is hot during the summer in Texas. Really, really, hot. We don't like going outside much because of the humidity (and mosquitos!) and everywhere is crowded because the other kids are out of school. We take advantage of this by homeschooling year-round so we have an excuse to stay in the AC when it's triple digits outside. We take breaks when we want throughout the year, but this leaves us more time for breaks and adventures during cool weather when places are less crowded.  We are also free to vacation whenever we want during the year.

Increasing their learning experiences

This was a big personal reason for deciding to homeschool. The summer before my oldest started 4th grade I wanted to homeschool him. This is the year we study Texas History here and we took some trips to Sam Houston's home and the book depository where they have the JFK museum. The thought of teaching him through trips to museums and zoos and taking him to the actual places he would be learning about was extremely appealing. We ended up not homeschooling him for reasons out of my control, but it was one of my biggest motivations when it came to deciding how to educate the younger two when the time came. 
Museums aren’t the only way to extend learning. Cooking, projects around the house, trips to the grocery store, and documentaries are all ways we connect our daily life and make their learning more relevant.
Are we the best at implementing this? No. Do we extend every lesson? No. Does my reality meet my expectations? Absolutely not. But it does give us the opportunity to show our children why the topic they are learning is relevant and make it a bit more fun. 

Studying what is important to them

My kids love choosing the units we study. We have our yearly topics (oceans, space, insects, etc.) but they also get to choose some of the topics based on what interests them. We are all more willing to put in more effort if it is something we enjoy. There were some books I was supposed to read in high school that I could just not get past the first chapter. But I read Jurassic Park in a little over a week in 8th grade. Why? Because I was interested in it. Although I pick many of the topics we study, I regularly include the kids in my planning and ask them what they want to learn about. It may be something we’ve studied before that they look forward to every year. Or something new based on what is going on in their life at that moment. We got a cat last month so that is what they suggested for an upcoming unit. We raise chickens so that is one of their yearly favorites. (We always time that unit to correspond with getting or hatching new chicks!) I love that it takes pressure off me to come up with every topic, but also that they are guiding their own learning experience.


This is often the number one topic homeschoolers are questioned on. "How on Earth will your kids learn to socialize if they aren't in public school?!?!" I went to public school and as a shy introvert it definitely did not help my social skills. Teasing and bullying were bad enough then. I cringe when I hear the stories my friends with kids in public school have experienced lately. 
My own kids started out (and sometimes still are) just as shy as I was. But they have several friends in the neighborhood that they play with. (Some even homeschool!) They are in Scouts, have been involved in dance and gymnastics,  and they have outings with other homeschoolers. We plan to join 4H next year. Because our school days our shorter, it provides more time to focus on social activities that meet and grow their interests.
Another bonus is that my children get the chance to socialize with people of all ages. They aren't stuck in a classroom full of peers their own age, but have the opportunity to interact with people of different ages throughout the day, which mimics real life quite a bit more than what most consider "normal socialization".

Teaching your children in the way that works best for them

One kid needs step by step with manipulatives? Okay. One kid can do multi-step problems in their head? Okay, show me you can do one on paper and you can do the rest on your own however it works best for you. 
"Developmentally appropriate" was another buzzword when earning my teaching degree. You know what's not developmentally appropriate? Expecting every kid to read at age 5. We have a friend who was reading at age 3. Her brother is just learning at 5. My 6 year old is also just learning. He is definitely taking longer than his sister who was reading a bit more at 6. She hit 7 years old and went straight to small chapter books and hasn't looked back. Not every child is ready to read by age 5 and it really is okay. Some kids are better at math and some are better at science. And that is perfectly fine. The most beautiful thing about homeschooling is that it is customized for each child by the person (or people) who knows them best.

Whatever your reasons for deciding to homeschool, they are valid. They are important. And you will be amazing at it. 
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