By Dyana Robbins, M.Ed.
As the new year approaches, more families will be considering homeschooling. Each January, an influx of new homeschoolers hits online forums, support groups and homeschooling resources looking for encouragement and help. If you are one of those families, making the leap into homeschooling might seem terrifying. I hope to dispel that fear by sharing the reasons our family chose to homeschool and how that decision has played out the last eleven years.
1. American culture is tough on childhood
Some areas are blessedly immune from the frantic pace characterizing the majority American culture, but I don’t live in one of them. Pressure to have children involved in lots of activities and perform at a high level erodes the quality of life for even our youngest children. As we pushed back against this trend, we found that a more relaxed lifestyle allowed our children to thrive. This led us to reconsider schooling options as they approached kindergarten. We wanted our family to have a rich, well-rounded life and to be well-rested and happy.
2. We wanted a strong family for our children
The pressures on families today mean that they spend little time together that is not rushed. We desired to model and teach our children life lessons through daily life and shared experiences. I’m so thankful we have been able to do that the last eleven years. We have traveled many places, made special family relationships, shared ministry experiences, and collected a lifetime’s worth of joyful memories. While our family is far from perfect, we laugh, cry, live, and love well together. I credit much of that to the lifestyle homeschooling has afforded us.
3. Our children do not learn well in typical classrooms
Our preschool experiences demonstrated that typical classroom learning failed to impart true learning to our boys. We had committed, skilled teachers, a great environment, and still they could not learn well. When our children were diagnosed with developmental and learning disabilities, we hoped they could thrive in a classroom with appropriate supports. That did not happen for us. This does not mean that all families in our situation should homeschool, but I do believe it means homeschooling must be an option for all families who need it.
Homeschooling has allowed our children to surpass every expectation therapists and doctors originally held out to us. With all the time, love, help, and attention we have been able to offer them, we have seen tremendous improvement. I am so thankful that we have had the ability and freedom to make this choice for our family when we needed it most.
4. Our Spiritual Convictions
Spiritual reasons are often cited for homeschooling, but I think our family has a twist on this qualifier. Yes, our beliefs were important to us and we wanted our curriculum to reflect those beliefs. However, we also wanted our children to gain exposure to opposing value systems and grapple with them. Homeschooling has allowed both in a way that provides the time and space for deeper discussion, interaction and reflection.
Also, we wanted our lifestyle to reflect a greater focus on others and service that flows from our convictions. Traditional schooling schedules make that very challenging. Homeschooling offers freedom to live our convictions more fully.
5. It’s an Adventure!
So, if you are standing on the edge of this decision, you might be experiencing fear or apprehension. You don’t know how this will turn out. Will your children thrive? Can you teach them well? How will you stay sane while living all day with your children? These are common questions almost every parent considering homeschooling asks. We had them too.
Can I suggest to you that those very questions might just be a reason that you should homeschool? No adventure comes without risk. That risk is the heart of all grand journeys. Following expected paths may seem comforting, but it will never challenge, stimulate, or incite growth in your family like launching into the unknown will. Our family has enjoyed many wonderful experiences and changed in ways we never could have if we had followed a wider path.
The learning, and self-awareness that comes with homeschooling is worth the leap. Even if you decide after a while that homeschooling is not the right decision for your family, you will make that choice with the confidence and knowledge gained from experience.
Eleven Years In
My oldest son is a ninth grader and decided he wanted to attend our local high school this year to graduate with a trade certificate and explore a world he doesn’t know. We grappled deeply with this decision and allowed him to attend school this year. We are still homeschooling our younger son.
Having a foot in both worlds reveals several things to me that I share in the hopes it might help you with your decisions.
- My son is only able to be successful in public school because of his years of homeschooling.
- The concerns we had about public schooling are valid, but his age and maturity are allowing him to navigate them well. The strong base of responsibility and family support that homeschooling has helped us cultivate is partly responsible for his success.
- Our family has a deeper appreciation for all that homeschooling has given us as a foundation for the children’s teenage years. I am immensely grateful that we have been able to pour so much love, instruction, and time into them.