Not long ago homeschooling was closely, and primarily, tied to religion. In other words, the majority of people homeschooling their children did so because they wanted their children only exposed to their closely held beliefs, and not the mindset of a secular educational system.
As parents we have the responsibility and the right to shape our children’s exposure to the world. We monitor what they have access to through the various forms of media. We chaperone their friendships and social activities. So, too, we guide their education—the thing and place they spend most of their waking hours.
Statistics and research presented by different agencies show that homeschooling for mostly religious purposes is no longer the case, though. The US Census Bureau, the Department of Education, and the CDC (among others) indicate a considerable rise in the number of homeschooled children over the last five years. The majority of the increase has occurred since the onset of the pandemic—to the tune of a nearly 300% increase.
In all likelihood the numbers will decrease and level off now that most schools are meeting in person again. But not every student will be returning to a traditional classroom. The Federation For Children (www.federationforchildren.org) conducted a broad survey in the early summer of 2021 that indicates 40% of newly homeschooling parents will continue to do so instead of sending their students back to the classroom.
Stats like these are great ammunition for writing informative articles and making a case for homeschooling among parents who question its value. But like you, I want to know why parents are making this choice.
The best people to answer this are the parents who are choosing to homeschool instead of traditional classrooms. When asked, parents resoundingly say they didn’t expect all the benefits they and their children derived from schooling at home. Here are some of their experiences!
“We discovered that [in the homeschooling community] it was easier for our kids to find and make friends with kids who liked the same things they do.”Callie
“Homeschooling is hard work, but I’m glad we were forced to go that route because otherwise I would never have considered it. The opportunities to learn more and to learn better are amazing. For example, my eighth grader wants to be a nurse. Another family in our group has connections to a senior assisted living facility. So, two afternoons a week my daughter volunteers there as an assistant to the social worker and the cafeteria staff. She helps with activities, wheels or assists residents to the dining room, and things like that. She’s getting some experience in what it means to care for people. We would never have made this connection otherwise. She also wouldn’t have had the freedom in her schedule to be able to volunteer in the afternoons if she was still going to public school.”Kim
“My son has struggled in math since day one, but when we started homeschooling, I was able to teach him using methods that make sense to him. He’s the kind of kid that needs something tangible or real to put with the numbers. Cooking, hiking, building things, composting with the 4-H club, board games with the coop we are involved in, and even grocery shopping have been the key to teaching him [subjects] like measuring, fractions, percentages, probability, time sequences, money skills, basic geometry, estimating, and the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a way he ‘gets it’. He would have never gotten that kind of help and attention anyplace else.” – Tammy
“Sports has been a big surprise and blessing to us. We had no idea until school sports were no longer an option, that homeschool coops had intramural sports teams. They even have tournaments—statewide and regional. Our kids wanted to play their sports but thought it would be (in their words) ‘lame’. They were so wrong… My kids are thriving in their extra-curricular activities as well as academically. I still work part-time, so we share teaching responsibilities with two other families. I do less teaching since they are both home full time, but I make up for it by getting their grocery pickups and grading papers.” – Sarah
Other unexpected benefits of homeschooling most often voiced by parents included:
· More flexibility with scheduling. Military families are especially grateful for this because it allows them to make extended visits back home during a mom or dad’s deployment.
· The ability to teach based on their child’s learning style, which in turn, boosts the child’s confidence and their grades.
· Getting more use out of gym or rec center memberships. They use them for PE class and self-care.
· The kids were less frustrated with things like reading and history or science projects because they were allowed to choose what was of interest to them.
· The anxiety and stress due to bullying and social pressures among peers is gone.
Yes, our children are going to have to face the world sooner or later. No, hovering, smothering, and being an overprotective parent doesn’t do our children any favors. But the responsibility to prioritize what is best for each family individually is never poor parenting.
So, if your family is enjoying the many, even countless benefits of homeschooling, GO FOR IT! And let us know how it’s changed your life!