Any informed parent knows there are shortcomings with our public education system. All too often we use that list of grievances to justify homeschooling our children, as if homeschooling were just a last resort, a choice made only begrudgingly, the sweeter of two poisons.
The fact is, homeschooling can be a very positive force in your family's life, regardless of what's going on in the public system. There are many advantages to homeschooling which don't get discussed often enough, but which make it a very strong option for your child's education. In that spirit, here are some positive reasons to homeschool:
1. We Have More Fun
When you homeschool your children, you get to learn and play with your kids. You go on all the field trips with them, you read the same books, and you get to do the same fun art projects. This degree of involvement is much more engaging for parents and children alike, and it really accelerates the learning process.
2. We're Closer as a Family
When you cultivate an environment of trust, encouragement, curiosity, and creativity in your home classroom, your children will be much less likely to become the stereotypical rebellious, angry teenagers that you hear about all the time. That angry rebellion is often the product of a repressive educational system which squashes creative thought and curiosity, and leaves children feeling frustrated and powerless. Many parents of homeschool teenagers report that their children grow to become independent and responsible young adults without that dark, reckless rebelliousness ever coming between them. As a result, their families enjoy close, loving, and supportive relationships.
3. You Learn As Much As Your Kids Do
They say the best way to learn is through teaching, and homeschooling certainly supports that claim. Most of us have some gaps from our time in school, especially if it's been quite a long time since we learned about a subject. Homeschooling is a great way to explore a subject together with your children. Rather than the typical rote learning approach, homeschooling gives you the opportunity to learn about the spirit of a subject, to discuss the most interesting aspects of it, and to explore the practical usefulness of it. This is much more effective education than memorizing and regurgitating dates and formulas, for you as well as your children.
4. Kids Enjoy It
Homeschooling gives children a good deal of freedom--freedom in scheduling, freedom to explore subjects which fascinate them, and freedom to learn and work in their own style. Not surprisingly, kids really enjoy this level of freedom, and most wouldn't trade it for a public school experience for any reason.
5. Children Learn to Behave as Responsible Individuals
Homeschooling teaches children how to behave like civil human beings, especially with adults. For children in public schools, the only interaction they have with adults is taking endless orders from authority figures. This often results in either excessive shyness or excessive acting out. Homeschoolers who go out into the community have a very different perspective of adults, and are able to learn how to behave like reasonable people in public. It's a valuable form of socialization, one which your kids' public school counterparts don't receive until much later in life.
6. Childrens' Unique Passions and Interests are Encouraged
Children have very unique and vibrant personalities, and they often have a specific area or subject which really interests and motivates them. Your child may be fascinated with surrealist art, for instance, or video game design, or comic books. In a public school setting, those interests would be largely discouraged by teachers, and set aside in favor of core curriculum. In a homeschool setting, however, you have the freedom to encourage their passions, and to use those passions to teach a host of other subjects. Children learn and grow incredibly well when their individual strengths are acknowledged and encouraged.
7. We Get to Meet a Lot of Interesting and Inspiring People
A big part of homeschooling is going into the community and learning from local professionals and teachers of various subjects. This is a really positive thing to do, because it introduces your kids to successful adults who are working in their field because they want to. Remember, in a public school setting your child would typically only interact with his or her teacher, who may very well be overburdened and burnt out. Seeing successful members of the community gives homeschoolers a very different perspective of what adulthood is, and provides some very valuable education in the meantime.
8. We Have a Lot of Flexibility in Our Schedule
Homeschooling gives you and your family a lot of freedom to design your own schedule, and to adapt your children's learning to the other important parts of your lives, such as taking a family vacation. With homeschooling, there's no need to drag your kids out of bed while it's still dark just to make the bus on time, and you can arrange your year's schedule to accommodate that big family trip you've been dreaming about.
9. Homeschooling Pushes All of Us to Grow
Homeschooling teaches you as much as it does your kids. You'll be amazed at what you're able to do when you start teaching. Before long, you'll be guiding your kids through subjects like algebra and trigonometry, when at one point you wouldn't have thought you could possibly teach those subjects. By pushing yourself to new levels, you'll not only be helping your kids learn new subjects, you'll be teaching by example that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. What lesson could be more important?
10. We Strengthen Our Family Values As We Learn
Perhaps the most important reason to homeschool is knowing that your children are receiving an education in line with your ideals and values. This simply isn't possible in a public setting, where classrooms are filled with 30 or 40 children each with a different set of values. Homeschooling allows you the control to reinforce what you believe deserves to be reinforced, and in the way you believe it should be reinforced. This means a higher level of freedom, but it also means a higher level of accountability as well. In the end, though, the resulting quality of education is more than worth the responsibility.