The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Advantages
This Ultimate Guide is meant to give you a clear and concise view of many of the amazing things that homeschooling can help you and your child to accomplish. We will break down some of the most common advantages, and include a few that you may not have even thought about.
Understanding the advantages to homeschooling also has benefits of its own. For instance, when you encounter a naysayer, you’ll be well-versed in all the information necessary to counter their negativity with encouraging, positive points against anything they might try to bring up to the contrary. It can be empowering to know - and be able to prove - that you are truly doing what is in the best interest of your child.
Your Child Is Less Likely To Fall Behind
It’s a common thing to hear that if you homeschool your child, you’re likely to see them fall behind, at least in math and science. In the public-school sector, the government response to children falling behind in academics was to enact the “No Child Left Behind Act”. There are many facets to this particular piece of legislature, including rigorous testing in both math and science, and the determination that teachers must be “highly qualified” to teach core subjects. There are many critics of the legislation and the way it’s been carried out, including those who call it a “one size fits all” response that does not provide enough funding for success.
The fact is, even with this law in place, there are many children who fall behind every day, slipping through the cracks for various reasons. Many tutors, some of whom are volunteers, often find themselves tutoring upper middle school students who cannot even read one and two-syllable words.
One of the best things about homeschooling your child is that you already know exactly where they are, academically. Some homeschooling parents even begin their child’s education before they ever reach compulsory age with activities that are both fun and stimulating. The preschool years are an excellent time to begin play-learning, which can help them to learn their colors, letters, and prewriting skills, just to name a few. For your child, it’s fun. But you are actually laying a wonderful foundation on which they will continue to build in the coming years.
As your child gets closer to first grade, you have a huge advantage. You know what they are capable of, where they need to improve, and you probably already have a plan in place to introduce ways of accomplishing those goals. This time of learning doesn’t have to be stressful, as you’ll have many ways of implementing your teaching strategies. After all, it’s hard to tell, when a child is fifteen or sixteen years old, whether they fully grasped reading at age four or age eight. In fact, by that age, and sometimes even earlier, it doesn’t even matter whether they learned to read early or late. The thing that truly matters is that they learned.
If parents beat themselves up over the fact that their child “isn’t where they should be,” it only means they’ve fallen prey to comparing their child with public-school children. If we focus, rather, on exactly where our child IS and where they need to be, it reduces stress for both parent and child, making learning a wonderful endeavor to be savored rather than dreaded. Each child has their own learning speed and learning style, and that is what we need to cater to. Not what “they” say about reaching academic milestones.
Understanding your child’s learning style can have a monumental effect on the outcome of their education. With this understanding and knowledge of your child, you can best decide which method and materials will help them better to grasp the material they need to know, when they need to know it. For a bit more information about specific learning styles and how it can benefit your child that you know them, CLICK HERE.
Your Child Will Learn to Love Learning
For some children, learning simply isn’t FUN. It’s a concept that has been rung out of the equation through stressful teaching practices, neglecting the child’s need for physical activity, and pandering to government-mandated levels for specific age groups. On the contrary, when you homeschool your child, you have the opportunity to create a learning environment that your child will look forward to each day. It’s amazing what a child can accomplish when they are not forced to adhere to strict protocols or humiliated in front of classmates for not knowing specific bits of information. In fact, your homeschooling environment doesn’t have to be stressful in any way.
You can make learning fun in a wide variety of ways by utilizing all the optimal resources you’ll come to learn about. Choose an engaging curriculum, perhaps one that the child has had a hand in choosing, and include lots of activities or play that can also double as a learning experience. Especially in the early years, keeping your child’s curiosity peaked is a great way to allow their love of learning to blossom. Include games, take frequent breaks if necessary, and never be afraid to have recess first. Some children are naturally very active and playful. If you give them an outlet for those energies, it’s much easier to gain their attention and focus later, making learning more profitable, even if you start a little later than you had planned. Thus, it is both fun and more profitable.
Other children love a more relaxed atmosphere and might learn best on the porch or on a park bench at your local playground. You can add other resources as well, such as educational television, videos, games, and more. There are lots of ways to learn, and they don’t all have to take place at a desk with a concrete lesson plan.
A truly genius way to foster an early dedication to learning is to “be the model” that it’s a fun activity. Show your child that the both of you, or even the whole family, can enjoy learning together. For instance, don’t just give them a reading assignment. Set a specific time during the day or evening to read with your child. Instead of telling them to go and play, go play with them. Children often parrot the behavior of those they look up to, especially parents, and are often quick to do everything they see you doing. What better virtue to model than a true love for learning?
Here are a few great ideas that will really get your children excited about their school day:
- Have a picnic at your local park. When the weather allows, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to get some fresh air and sunshine. A picnic is fun and you can knock out PE class while you’re there, letting them run and play until they’ve truly had their fill. You can opt to play with them, quietly read or have prayer time, or even use the time for a photo op with your child.
- A zoo field trip can be an exciting and engaging opportunity to learn about a variety of animals, their habitats, what they eat, and where they live. Check with your local zoo to find out about their education programs and any discounts they offer.
- Go on a nature walk, especially if you live in a rural area where there is an abundance of places to explore. This can double as an information outing through which you can gather experience and stories for your Nature Notebook.
- Arrange for music lessons, which can take place in your home or at a nearby music studio. There are many benefits to music lessons, most of which will be extremely advantageous to your child, especially if they are continued for a few years or more.
- Gardening can provide multiple benefits. Not only does it offer physical activity, but it can also help your child to learn about many scientific topics as well. An added bonus is that they will be learning an important life skill that can later turn into learning how to preserve food by canning, freezing, or dehydrating.
Your Child Will Have Better Self-Esteem
At public school, a child’s self-esteem can be marred in ways that we can hardly fathom. Bullying is at an all-time high, peer pressure is a huge problem, and if your child has a hard time picking up certain concepts, they can even fall prey to humiliation from teachers and others in positions of authority. The younger the child, the harder it is for them to explain what’s going on, which can then turn into issues with behavior or authority. The next natural step in the public-school setting is “behavior problems”, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, or even a “defiant” label. The truth is, for many children, their only educational “crime” is not understanding how to speak out against the abuse.
As a result of these situations, your child may wind up with horrible self-esteem issues. Even if it’s actually discovered, it can be years before the damage is neutralized. But many times, it’s never discovered in the first place.
The benefit of homeschooling can also greatly impact your child’s self-esteem but in the opposite direction. Through paced learning, working at their own speed, and in accordance with their specific learning style, they can hold their head high, knowing that their hard work is paying off. In turn, relationships with family members can also help to build self-confidence. When free to embrace learning simply as a facet of everyday life, there’s no need to worry about being bullied or letting down a favorite teacher. Instead, they’ll discover their strengths, talents, and abilities that can help them to achieve their wildest dreams. When a child feels good about themselves, they can do anything!
Scheduling Freedom Makes for Homeschooling Easier
There are many situations in life that can force us to change our schedules. With a child in public school, that’s all but impossible in many situations. Perhaps it’s a work schedule due to seasonal changes, or personal issues that come up with aging parents or sick family members. Sometimes it can be as simple as wanting to visit great vacation spots in the off-season when it’s cheaper. The good thing is, homeschooling allows you to schedule all of these things, and more, and never once lose a moment of learning opportunity.
Another scheduling freedom comes in the form of allowing your children to sleep according to their natural internal clock. One child might naturally be up with the chickens, while another might burn the midnight oil. If we try to force our children to get up in the morning in a way that matches the public-school model, we may actually be robbing them of part of their ability to learn. In fact, studies have shown that, in public school, simply changing the start time by an hour or so had massive implications. Students were more awake during their first class, there were fewer instances of depressed feelings, fewer disciplinary problems, and even parents agreed, their children were “easier to live with.”
It’s true that it’s important to teach our children to adhere to a schedule. However, it could be that just a slight change in the morning routine could create a much more effective learning environment for your child.
Other scheduling changes can be made to allow more time for lunch, recess, breaks, or whatever else you deem worthy of a few extra minutes. Instead of wolfing down their meals in fifteen or twenty minutes, your child will not only have more time to eat and enjoy the process, but you can make the extra time count for something too. For instance, use the time just prior to lunch for teaching cooking skills, which can include math (through measuring cups and spoons), and so much more. Extended lunchtimes can also give way to excellent discussions, which can also be counted as schoolwork, as well as opportunities to enhance social skills, life skills, and time management.
On the other hand, such scheduling changes don’t have to do with just freeing up time and taking assorted breaks. You might have a child you can barely tear away from their favorite subject. A child that loves science may want to read science books at their leisure, and it’s perfectly fine to let them read until their curiosity is sated. You can add that time to their overall coursework, give quizzes on what they learned, and count it all as progress in the subject. These patterns are especially beneficial in the early, most formative years when any knowledge soaked up is often retained for longer periods of time.
If any particular daily schedule seems like it’s going to be so packed you won’t even be able to teach, don’t worry. You can sometimes get as much accomplished “on the go” as you ever could sitting at home, at a desk, or at the computer screen. With just a bit of a creative touch, and a determination to see the learning opportunities all around us, you can have an entire school day wherever you’re headed. If the trip is going to have ample time, you can offer your child books to read, educational videos to watch, or you can make a game out of the things you see along the way. If you’re studying a particular subject, try to see how many items you come across that relate to that subject.
Holidays are another opportunity to learn on the go, especially if you travel long distances to be with family. These outings can offer excellent opportunities to further homeschooling in so many areas, including socialization, geography, science, and any other subject matter you might run into along the way. Since you’re homeschooling, you have a much freer schedule, as well, so you don’t have to rush through the holidays to get back at a specific time. Enjoy the days you have, allow your child to learn in the environment in which they find themselves, and have a great time.
Your Child Will Become an Independent Learner
All of the things we’ve talked about so far will work together to help make your child a truly independent learner. That means that they are more likely, on their own, to take up opportunities to learn and grow in areas they find interesting, fun, or challenging. Since you’ve worked hard to create the love of learning, and allowed your child all the opportunity they need to explore subjects at their discretion, you’ve taught them that learning is as natural as breathing. Having come to see the opportunity in a variety of situations, they won’t be at all afraid to step out of their comfort zone to learn something new, especially if they see the need for it. Instead of needing to be prompted at every turn, they can take on any new subject with confidence and curiosity.
For younger children, independent learning most often happens during times of play. Even the simplest games and the simplest toys can give way to some very big ideas. Always be prepared to answer your child’s questions and lead them to further their knowledge by showing them different ways to approach the topic. For instance, if they are interested in a specific animal, be sure to answer all their questions, and don’t be afraid to ask a few of your own. Helping them learn the deeper facts about animals, such as where they live, what they eat, and which animals are their natural friends and enemies, you could create a whole new level of understanding. But more than that, you’ve taught them that learning is accepted, fun, and profitable.
Hobbies are another way to allow moments for independent learning. Those things your child truly loves, whether it’s art, music, electronics, or writing, can always offer many learning opportunities. You can take it a step further and help them to find co-ops, groups, or clubs that might center around their hobby of choice, giving them plenty of opportunities not only to showcase their passion but also to make new friends and explore new territory in what they truly enjoy doing. Some parents scoff at hobbies and consider them a waste of time when more “academic” undertakings could be accomplished. The truth is, however, that sometimes hobbies give way to occupations. If allowed to examine hobbies, interests, and things they truly enjoy, a child might stumble across the very thing they want to do as their life’s work. And we should never deny them that opportunity.
Advantages in Homeschool Curriculum
The advantages you’ll find in being able to select your child’s specific curriculum are abundant. One of the most important advantages, and one that offers the most peace of mind for you, is being able to tailor the curriculum to your child’s specific interests. Of course, there are some core elements of learning that will need to be taught, regardless of a pointed interest from the child, but interest in many subjects can play a vital part of the process. You can also give your child a vote in the curriculum as well, based on what they like and don’t like about it. It can seem foreign to some to give your child a part in the choosing, but it can help to create a better homeschool year when they feel as if they’ve been a part of a major decision-making process.
One way to enlist their help without too much stress is to have a “brainstorming meeting”. Make a list of things that are important to you, and let them make a list of things that are important to them. If they list things that do not fit into the expected subject matter, or that make no sense, use the moment as a learning experience! Talk with your child about why it isn’t a good idea and what can be put in its place, if anything, or whether it needs to be done away with altogether. Give him or her a chance to lead the discussion, talking about what they are really passionate about, what they want to learn, and how that fits in to their overall plan for the year. Again, if they begin to run off track, you can bring them back around with a little guidance, teaching another great life-lesson in the meantime.
Yet another amazing advantage is being able to tailor your chosen curriculum to your child’s specific learning style. You can check out this blog post - Understanding Learning Styles...And Homeschooling Accordingly - to find out about learning styles in greater detail. The fact is, not all children learn in the same way, in spite of the direction taken by most public schools. Some children are visual learners, some auditory learners, some kinesthetic, and still others learn in a very social way. Catering to that specific learning style via an appropriate homeschool curriculum means that you’ll be equipping your child to learn more, and learn more deeply as well. Not only will you meet them at their strongest point, but you will also enable them to be more focused, happier, and far better prepared for lessons as soon as they start. Any homeschooling parent will tell you that an uninterested child is almost impossible to teach. However, when you play to their own learning style, the results can be amazing.
A tailored homeschool curriculum gives you ample opportunity for flexibility. The advantage here is that you are not locked into a specific lesson plan that must be completed exactly as it’s written out. Instead, you can be flexible with your plan, working at the child’s best pace, even inviting feedback from them. Let them tell you how they feel about the pace, the content, your teaching style, and more, if you are comfortable doing so. You might be surprised to find out what they’re really thinking or how they really feel. Flexibility will also allow you to make room for things like sick days, family vacations, holiday travel, and more. Some curriculum choices will be easy to cover “on the go” and therefore a better option for the frequent traveler.
Flexibility also extends to any part of the curriculum that’s not working. For instance, if you purchased a curriculum as a set, and the math program simply is not working for your child, don’t be afraid to drop it! And you don’t have to wait until the next school year to choose another curriculum option. In fact, if, after the very first day, you see that it just isn’t going to work, drop it immediately. Yes, there’s a chance that you might be out that much money (although you can no doubt sell the curriculum on many of the homeschool sales sites online), but you will have avoided forcing your child through a program that does more harm than good. More than that, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress in wondering how you’re ever going to manage to work through a homeschool curriculum that your child hates.
Your Child Will Be Safer
More and more parents are citing “safety” as a reason to pull their children out of public school or never to let them get started there in the first place. Now, more than ever before, we find the age of suicide victims falling lower and lower. There are more instances of self-harm and self-mutilation as well, thanks to peer pressure, bullying, and morals that do not match our own. Many times, those inclinations give way to homicidal tendencies in which huge numbers of public-school children and teachers are in grave danger. Bullying is behind a lot of the problems in schools today, and that problem has yet to be dealt with. You cannot legislate right behavior. The problem is spiritual and simply layering law after law will never produce real change. With all the government attempts at “making things better”, we constantly see steep declines in many areas, day after day. Some geographic locations are worse off than others are, but it’s a trend that’s on the rise.
The safety issues extend much further though, especially when you have certain ideas about what’s best for your child. If the public school your child attends does not believe the same way you do, you can face all kinds of problems, up to and including social service involvement when your manner of parenting comes under scrutiny. One great example of this is parents who choose not to drug their children into submission for the good of the worn-out teachers and the overcrowded classrooms they find themselves in. The same school that touts the legitimacy and good deeds of programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) have no problem sending off reports to social services for “medical negligence” in cases where you have not effectively drugged your children to their satisfaction.
You might have a child in a school where signing a permission slip for OTC medications is mandatory. The same school then turns around to assist your child in procuring birth control and even abortions, all without parental consent. Below, you can find the list of states, according to the Planned Parenthood website, where children under the age of 18 can get an abortion without the need for parental consent (as of June 2018):
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
Through homeschooling, you get the benefit of helping your child take part in positive interactions with both adults and young people as opposed to the peer pressure and torment they sometimes must face in public school. It’s very important that your child learn the vast differences in people through this variety of interactions. This not only helps them to understand the differences in character and attitude, but it can also help them to become more stable adults themselves.
Everyone knows - or use to know - that during the middle school age group, the mind and body both go through an immense number of changes, even without any type of outside stressor or conduit. Just trying to make sense of all those changes can create a variety of emotions and struggles for any child. Being able to homeschool during this time means being able to allow for these natural occurrences in a variety of ways. It’s good to give them more time for hobbies, independent study, music, or even the simple act of playing during this time. These simple acts can create a tranquility that, when added to your loving support, patience, and guidance, can make it so much easier to get through this stressful time.
Anytime increased physical activity is allowed and encouraged, the body and mind are safer. Safer from becoming stagnant, safer from becoming overweight, and even safer from becoming depressed. Just a bit of added physical activity can be enormously beneficial. You might find that a simple pre-lunch basketball game can erase the weight of the day that came before it while making the remainder of the day much more peaceful. Teens and preteens often struggle with body image, including weight and skin issues, so be sure to encourage great habits. For instance, not allowing them to skip lunch, as many children in this age group are apt to do in public school, can be a big part of their routine. Regular, healthy meals not only help keep the body running and functioning properly, but it also helps create a calmer mind too.
Safety is a “whole-child” approach, and should never be overlooked. It’s worth your while to look carefully at your child’s day and find any areas where this might be an issue, even in the area of sleep. Making sure children get the proper amount of rest, especially in the early years, can be tough, but it’s doable, even if you have to adjust your schedule a bit. It’s just as hard for teens, sometimes, who often stay up later in the evenings to have time with their devices. If you have a child who seems to be overly attached to their electronic devices, you may have to take some action yourself. Be sure to read this blog post from Great Homeschool Conventions titled, Beware of Electronic Devices When Homeschooling for some excellent insight into the issue.
Homeschooled children are certainly safer in a homeschooling environment if they are Christians. While every other religion is tolerated, and sometimes even celebrated, Christians often face persecution, ridicule, and so much more, even from authority figures such as teachers and principals. Whether they mean to or not, they are setting a standard that any religion is better than the Christian religion. This can lead to a great deal of confusion for the child, trust issues with authority figures, and problems with strengthening their faith. Instead, through homeschooling, we have the ability to help strengthen our child’s faith and teach according to our own belief system that often helps create a much more stable young adult as a result.
Special Needs Homeschooling Can Be Better for Your Child
Anyone who has a special-needs child knows that public-school can create many problems. The first of these is “fighting” for a diagnosis. The biggest problem is that only certain diagnoses qualify for special needs services in the public-school system. And when you introduce your child in some districts, they want that diagnosis as QUICKLY as possible. Whether that is because they want the best for your child or no loss of federal financial aid, we might never know, but it’s always a race for an “answer”.
The truth is, when you homeschool your special needs child, you already know what their strengths and weaknesses are. You know what they struggle with, the help that they need, and everything else that goes with it. You don’t need to wait for a diagnosis and your child’s education is not dependent on how much federal aid is received that fiscal school year. You are free to meet your child’s needs, and often much more, all the while nurturing the very best in your child.
One-on-one instruction is one of the greatest assets of homeschooling your special needs child. While there’s no I.E.P. or F.B.A., you can still manage perfectly well, by simply being present and offering that kind of assistance. In the public-school setting, even if a child is promised one-on-one attention via those legal documents, there are sure to be times when they don’t get it. The aids and tutors might call in sick, overcrowded classrooms may prevent sufficient time with each child, or they might not have the “funds” for the extra help. Whatever the case, you won’t be held back by any of that in your homeschool.
No family needs flexibility as much as the family with a special-needs child. For some, the attention span doesn’t allow for longer class periods; others might be off-put by certain sensory dysfunctions. When there are “special needs” involved, no matter what they are, we have to be willing and ready to accommodate those needs in the best interest of the child. Learn when to stop lessons, take breaks, or change things up entirely. At the same time, that flexibility comes in handy in the midst of various medical and therapy appointments. For public-schooled children, this is just time lost, most often never to be made up. You, on the other hand, can continue as usual, either learning on the go or making it up when you feel you’re able to do so.
Thinking back to the issue of “safety,” homeschooling your special needs child can be of extreme importance in some cases. Some children have special conditions that require specialized equipment, they might have an allergy can be life-threatening, or they may be completely non-verbal. In all these situations, your child can be far more at risk than other children who don’t have these issues to contend with, which makes homeschooling a much safer option.
Your “Military Brat” Will Be Better Off
Military families know, all too well, what it’s like to change schools over and over. Since the geographic relocation can be hundreds of miles, the educational agendas may often be so far off, your children just aren’t sure where they are anymore. Homeschooling for military families offers so much freedom, but it also offers an excellent stability that many families take for granted. Instead of moving from one school that has low standards, to another school that has high standards, your own personal standard can remain constant. This releases your child from the worry that they’re going to be behind or ahead of the general population. Instead, they can simply pick up where they left off - if they even left off at all.
In addition to the phenomenal socialization that military families get, your child will benefit from getting a far more complete world view without having to study nearly as much. They’ll get to witness, firsthand, many of the topics they study, and on a far deeper level. Homeschooling for military families is always a win.
It’s Never Too Late
You might be thinking that since you didn’t start by homeschooling your child, then it’s too late. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Any time is a good time to begin homeschooling, even during the high school years. You’ll often find that you can make up for lost time, quickly and easily, especially if your child is on board with the change. There are a few things you’ll want to take the time to think about when choosing this path. You can learn more about that by reading this blog post entitled, Tips for Getting Started In Homeschooling, and another entitled, How To Get Started in Homeschooling. Remember, it’s always worth it to invest in your child’s future!