5 reasons I'm glad I was coerced into homeschooling
I was the loudest homeschooling opponent ever. And then the unthinkable happened: I had to home-school my kids. Now, as I look back at the years I spent raising my children, homeschooling stands out as one of the best choices we ever made.
I was certain it was the most extreme form of parental over-control possible. Images filled my mind of pale children tethered to the kitchen table staring longingly out the window at their would-be friends merrily toting lunch boxes onto cheerful yellow busses.
And then the unthinkable happened. We moved into a small town the summer before my son would start 2nd grade, and the local school told me that 2nd grade was full.
I'm sorry… what? This is a public school we're talking about. Public schools are not allowed to be full.
Or so I thought.
School officials told me my 7-year-old would need to take the early morning bus to the high school, transfer to a city bus, take it into the nearby city, transfer again, and get off at a distant elementary school where there was room for a new 2nd grader.
When I pulled my jaw off the floor, I told them I'd look into other options. It turned out that there was only one: homeschool.
Over the next few years, we moved two more times and my kids schooling situations kept combining against me, backing me into a corner, leaving me no way out other than the dreaded "H" word.
Except… it wasn't quite so dreaded anymore. By the time my son was in 5th grade I was homeschooling all six of my kids full time, and we were absolutely loving it.
My youngest just turned 18, and although he is a senior in high school, due to life circumstances, I am no longer homeschooling. But as I look back at the many years I spent raising my children, homeschooling stands out as one of the best choices we ever made. Here are a few of my reasons why:
1. My kids know how to interact with a wide variety of people
The stereotyped image of homeschoolers is what I'd envisioned: kids shackled to the kitchen table as mother stands over them, a math book in one hand, a stern expression on her makeup-free face stemming from fear that her little ones might encounter anyone or anything different from those she approves. (Gasp!)
However, our version of homeschooling included tons of out-of-the-home activities involving people of all ages. The kids worked with adults, preschoolers, and teens. They avoided the mindset that 14 year olds should never be friends with 10 year olds, or that adults are not friends.
They learned in the real world and are comfortable interacting with people of all races and ages.
2. They work quickly
In homeschooling, when your work is done, you can do whatever you want to do! Without strict schedules and bells telling them when to switch subjects, my kids were free to finish their schoolwork as quickly as they wanted.
They learned to dive in, work hard, and reward themselves with fun projects of all kinds. Now as young adults, their employers often comment that they are the fastest workers around.
3. They are creative
When you finish school by 11 am, there is a lot of time to be creative.
My kids had a creative bent already, and this free time allowed them to blossom. We made movies, created electronic mini-bots, wrote books, started bands, recorded music, rebuilt cars, and generally had so much fun doing awesome things, we hardly noticed all the stuff we were learning in the process! (They did more traditional learning as well.)
4. They learned our family values
I was involved in the things my kids were doing. We talked about the situations they encountered as they came up and discussed how they could respond with love and kindness. We took time to study scriptures as a family, to read books together, and discuss the characters and their values. Instilling family values was not something we tried to remember to fit in. It was what we lived in the real world.
5. My kids and I are friends
I was afraid we would be at each other's throats if we were together all day, every day. But I was wrong.
We spent lots of time apart as they took different classes and started different projects. And the time we spent together was fun! We learned, laughed, cried, and worked together. We forged bonds and got to know each other in ways we never could have done if the majority of their time had been spent elsewhere. As they move into young adulthood, we continue to be best friends.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. (Doesn't it sound like I should launch into a list of potentially life threatening side effects? "May cause messy houses, learning in pajamas, a lack of interest in mundane tasks, and extreme outside-the-box thinking. Use only as directed.") As my life circumstances changed, I went back to work, and my kids went back to public, private and charter schools.