By Lori Hatcher
Thirty years ago, when homeschooling first reappeared on the educational radar screen, it was limited primarily to families who seemed, shall I say, unusual. One family achieved national recognition when they left their suburban lifestyle and moved to a goat farm in Upstate New York to rear and educate their sons. The boys did quite well academically and ultimately secured full tuition scholarships to prestigious Ivy League colleges.
Thankfully, homeschooling’s increasing popularity and success have made it a viable educational option for many families (without having to move to a goat farm). In an article titled, “How Today’s Homeschoolers are doing on the SAT,” Home School Legal Defense Association’s Andrew Mullins reports, “The total number of homeschoolers has risen from 1.1 million in 2003 to somewhere between 1.8 and 2.1 million students today.”
If you’re thinking about homeschooling, here are 10 reasons to consider it.
The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), in the online article, “Facts on Homeschooling,” reports that regardless of a parent’s education level, “the home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public school students on standardized academic achievement tests.”
With the world as your classroom, you can read Babar the Elephant, then go visit one at the zoo. Is your child interested in frogs, horses, or fish? Capitalize on that interest instead of waiting for the subject to come up six months later in a unit study. When he struggles with phonics, you can slow down. When she races through subtraction, you can skip ahead. When he’s still not reading, you have time to persevere.
A Rich Family Life
The nature of homeschooling lends itself to activities families can do together. Instead of being segregated by age and grade, all members of the family can explore an area of science, history, culture, or the arts together. In addition to excellent educational opportunities, our family had the opportunity to build relationships as we made fun and lasting memories.
Freedom to Pursue Interests
Because homeschooling is time efficient, our children had more time to pursue their areas of interest once they completed the academic portion of their school day. The political process fascinated one daughter. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed her to spend a week in Florida working on a grass roots presidential campaign with a group of 100 other homeschooled students. Another daughter loved children and swimming. Our schedule allowed her to volunteer with a college grant project helping children with intellectual disabilities feel comfortable in the water.
Freedom to Be Children
When other children would ask my girls if they had homework, they’d reply, “All our work is homework!” It was a funny way to comment on the fact that their homework was built into their school day. Because I could work one-on-one with them in challenging subject areas, extra remedial work and practice was not necessary after they had completed their assignments. This allowed them time to play outside with friends, read for fun, daydream, and simply be children.
Opportunities for Discipleship
We could begin our school days with prayer and Bible reading, stop to address an area of sin or disobedience, or deal with an area of character development. We had time to cook a meal for a sick friend, visit a neighbor in the hospital, and serve our church. Our daughters saw us living out our faith day in and day out because they were with us. We discovered that while the quality of time we spent with them was important, the quantity of time afforded by the homeschooling lifestyle gave us many more opportunities to live out our faith together.
Life at a Slower Pace
One friend shared that her family was so busy with school, homework, and extracurricular and church activities that she didn’t even have time to bathe her children during the week. Our lifestyle, while still busy, allowed time for home-cooked meals with friends, sleeping in after a late night, and read-aloud stories after dinner.
Because my children were educated in an environment that regularly reached beyond a classroom, they’ve always been able to communicate and interact well with people of all ages, not just their peers. The world is not age-segregated, so our children need to be able to relate to people in every age and stage of life. Homeschooling provides this opportunity.
When my husband was working crazy hours, we adjusted our school day so we could still have family time together. When the opportunity came to visit Mexico, or D.C., or the beach, we went. The world was our classroom, and everything was a learning experience. Many traditional schools are limiting or eliminating field trips because of cost and the liability. Homeschoolers can still visit the zoo, museum, or the goat farm. When a child wants to volunteer at a nursing home or an animal shelter, they won’t be limited to a few hours after school or on weekends.
The NHERI article mentioned above states, “Taxpayers spend an average of $11,732 per pupil in public schools, plus capital expenditures. . . . homeschool families spend an average of $600 per student for their education.”
Our family tapped into the resources of our public library, shopped at used curriculum sales and online, and bartered for music lessons. We saved on food and clothing costs because we were home the majority of the time.
Homeschooling’s primary goal is spiritual training. Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs parents to “talk about them (God’s commands) when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” God’s plan for spiritual training is for parents to incorporate faith into the daily fabric of living.
This is accomplished most effectively when parents and children spend large amounts of time together. The flexibility of the homeschool day and the freedom to incorporate Bible reading, character training, and instruction in Christian worldview allows you to build a rich spiritual legacy into your children.
Homeschooling isn’t for every family, but was right for us. It may be right for you. If you’re considering it, I encourage you to evaluate your current situation, pray with your spouse, and ask God to show you what is best for your family. Do your research, talk with other homeschooling families, and claim the promise of James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
May God richly bless you as you seek his will for your children.
Lori Hatcher is a 17-year homeschooling veteran and the author of Joy in the Journey—Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms and the blog Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time (www.LoriHatcher.com).
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