There are probably as many different reasons to homeschool as there are homeschoolers.
Some parents (ourselves included) deliberately choose to homeschool from a sense of conviction — they view it as the best alternative for passing their values on to their children, or for tailoring an academic program to an individual child’s abilities and interests, or for protecting their offspring from potentially harmful influences.
Some parents turn to homeschooling as a last resort—all other educational models they’ve tried have failed, and they’re hoping to get better results by taking charge of their child’s schooling themselves.
Some parents opt to educate their children at home for convenience — their kids are involved in competitive gymnastics or have roles on a television series, and homeschooling frees up time for these other pursuits.
Some parents are forced into homeschooling by circumstances — military duties or missionary assignments necessitate frequent moves, and teaching their children at home lends consistency to their academic training.
Whatever the reasons that lead them to consider homeschooling in the first place, many families are finding it to be a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow together. While I can’t speak for all homeschoolers, I can share some of the factors that contributed to our own decision to homeschool. These include:
What’s the first thing we do when a student struggles to learn in a traditional classroom? When he fails to keep up with his class? We pull him out and give him a tutor or an individualized course of instruction. Homeschooling just cuts to the chase. It skips a step and goes straight to the one-on-one tutorial method that has for centuries shown itself to be the most effective and efficient means of imparting knowledge. By homeschooling, a mother can make sure her child masters the material before he moves on. Or she can advance him early if he grasps it quickly. There is no need to hold one child back until the rest of the class is ready to proceed, nor to rush him ahead before he is able. Students are not required to stay lock-step with peers in every subject.
One of the questions home schoolers are frequently asked is, “What about socialization?” Critics are convinced that students who do not spend eight hours a day in an age-segregated classroom will not learn how to relate to others. Nothing could be further from the truth. The objection they raise touches on what we consider another wonderful advantage of homeschooling: not only does homeschooling help protect children against the negative effects of peer pressure, but it allows parents greater influence over their children’s choice of friends. Like most home schoolers, our children regularly spend time in the company of others. They socialize with neighbors, church friends, team mates, etc, and are comfortable interacting with both young and old, not just their age-mates. They participate in church fellowships, group sports, co-op classes, and community service projects. However, none of their extra-curricular activities are allowed to dominate the family schedule or rob siblings of the opportunity to become one another’s best friends.
In homeschooling, there is no need for “busy” work. Since material can be covered one-on-one in a fraction of the time it takes to teach an entire classroom, students have time to delve more deeply into those subjects that pique their interest. Many of us school year-round, thus avoiding the need to do so much review and relearning each fall. This leaves even more room for hands-on learning, field trips, and enrichment projects.Homeschoolers enjoy tremendous flexibility. They are able to travel off-season, participate in mission opportunities, volunteer in the community, take part in grassroots political campaigns — the field is wide open. In high school, students can maximize their school experience by taking CLEP exams over what they’ve learned at home or by enrolling in dual-credit courses at the local junior college, thus racking up college credit before they even graduate.
There is no such thing as a neutral or unbiased education. Every teacher in every classroom in every school on this planet holds to certain pre-suppositions, and those pre-suppositions will dictate how all those teachers will cover every subject they teach. As Christians, we look to the Bible as our absolute authority. Our faith provides the foundation upon which the rest of our knowledge rests, and we examine every idea we encounter in the light of Scripture.The responsibility for a child’s spiritual education rests squarely on the parents’ shoulders. Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs us to diligently teach our children and to discuss with them our values and beliefs throughout the day. Although I’ve known parents who’ve managed to fulfill this injunction despite the fact their children spend the majority of their time in a conventional classroom, schooling at home certainly makes it more convenient to speak of these things “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”Growing up, I was blessed to have had several teachers who were also strong Christians. I am grateful that these men and women allowed their faith to inform their teaching and am thankful for the effect they had upon my life. I know there are still many dedicated Christian teachers today who have an overwhelmingly positive impact on their students, even within the public school system, but the system itself is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. Textbooks are rife with revisionist history and atheistic humanism, and it takes deliberate effort on the part of a parent to counter it. If we must invest that much time and energy in monitoring what our children are learning anyway, it seems more practical to us to just teach them ourselves in the first place.
These are the reasons my husband and I started homeschooling, but the results are what keep us homeschooling. By results, I don’t mean high test scores and college scholarships (although, by God’s grace, our children have been blessed with both). By results, I mean the relationship we enjoy with each child, as well as those they enjoy with one another. I mean the character we’ve seen God build into our own lives and the lives of our kids. I mean the compassion, the responsibility, the willingness to serve others, the devotion to God.
We keep home schooling because we love our kids, we love spending time with them, and we love the opportunity we’ve been given to know them on a level that might not have been possible if they spent the majority of their time out of our care.
All these things, taken together, are the reason we believe homeschooling is the best choice for our family. If you give homeschooling a try, you might discover it’s the best choice for yours, as well.