Why do we homeschool?

@Homeschool_Forum I have been experiencing two weeks of: WHAT AM I DOING? I SHOULD JUST PUT THEM ON REGULAR SCHOOL!
So, I am putting the topic out there, hoping this thread can be a source of encouragement when we wonder why we are working so hard. Unlike many parents, we aren’t afraid of them being taught evolution!
The reasons we struggle could include a variety of things.
The reasons we do it–anyway–what are they?
(I really have had a hard time convincing myself to get going again, this year. I may be able to offer more choices or do things differently, but at the end of the day, does it matter? As long as they get a complete, well-rounded education why does it matter where it comes from? I could help out regularly at the school, become the teachers other right hand, and be available to notice if my kid is having a hard time with lessons or friends. Can anyone convince me that giving up kid-free-time to get on top of the list of to-do’s at home is worth this much work, hassle, or stress?)

I’m probably too new to the process to be much help in terms of the “why” of teaching (I may feel exactly the way you do in a few years and that’s okay!)… I think my biggest reason for homeschooling is because that’s how I was educated and so it just makes sense for now (though I’d like to think I’m less fear-based about it than my own education, which did very much involve fear of evolution, sex ed, “secularism,” peer influence, and many other things). I do love the flexibility and the ability to decide which books my children will learn from, rather than just having to go along with what someone else has decided.

But I can also tell you why I’m glad I was homeschooled. I think homeschooling gave me the freedom to pursue learning on my own, without time and curriculum constraints that may affect others. It helped me to see every moment as an opportunity to learn, rather than just something that’s done in the school building. Homeschooling helped encourage me to discipline myself, manage my time appropriately, and take my subjects seriously. Our homeschooling involved a literature-based approach to subjects like history, which really helped me to love history and see it come alive, rather than as a bunch of facts to remember just long enough to pass a test. (To be honest, there were certainly cons as well, as is true with any educational method, and I can’t adequately compare since homeschooling is all I know – maybe some of these things would be true simply because of who my parents were. I also would probably have benefited from public schooling for some high school things like algebra. But I definitely believe the love of learning has stayed with me, and it’s something I want to pass on to my children as I am able.)

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I was just thinking yesterday, “Oh, my goodness, thirty-two more weeks of this school year. I’m not going to make it.” And my oldest is seventh grade this year, which means I am only just halfway done (with one child). For us, there are no other realistic educational options if we want our kids to go to American college, so I am a homeschooler by necessity rather than vocation. Many times a year I wish I could send them off to someone else to do the hard and time-consuming work and free myself up to pursue different things.

But, counting the blessings, here is what I came up with:

  1. Homeschooling allows you to meet individual needs like no classroom can. My middle son is very good at math, so he can do algebra this year and not be bored with typical fifth grade math. My youngest was a reluctant reader, so we could take our time with her and let her go at her own pace without labeling her a slow kid. Now finally, in fourth grade she has really taken off and is doing well. I imagine in school she would have learned to hate reading or think she was dumb.

  2. Over the summer when we aren’t doing school, some days it seems like I barely talk to my children. When we are reading together and learning together, we get to spend time with each other and I know what is going on with them.

  3. I can plan to build certain skills or use certain materials over the course of several years, so there is a consistency and coherence to what we are learning and what the expectations are that you don’t always find in traditional school where each year can be a whole new ballgame.

  4. I’m not that interested in sheltering my kids from the world or indoctrinating them in my perfect worldview, but I am interested in sharing my values and motivations and my way of looking at the world. I like that they spend more time talking about the Bible, faith, social issues, politics, etc. with me than with a Sunday school teacher or classroom teacher. I think it is important that they listen to other voices, but I like being the first one, and the one who gets the most time. I like that as they are learning to think for themselves, they know what I think and respect my opinions on things.

But, getting back to the OP, there is nothing wrong with choosing something other than homeschooling if you have other options to consider. I think everyone should re-evaluate regularly and make sure that what they are doing is a good fit for each kid, for the family, for the gifts and talents of everyone involved. I don’t think anyone can decide for 100% certainty when their kid is five that homeschool is the only way to go, and they are 100% committed to it through high school. Situations change, you learn things about yourself and your kids along the way, and there isn’t always one right or best option. Your kids could have a great experience in traditional school.

I was homeschooled through fifth grade and then I went to public school through high school. My mom stayed very involved- she did PTA and booster clubs and read all the assigned novels so she could discuss them with us. I loved homeschool, for its flexibility and encouragement to pursue my individual interests and curiosity, but I loved public school too, for all the ways it was different - having a variety of teachers, being in clubs and on sports teams, the competition afforded by classmates and grades, the chance to take AP classes from really great teachers, really cool field trips and academic camps I could go to as part of their gifted program. So, I think homeschool is definitely not the only way to get a good education.


Thanks! Part of why I struggle is that I did attend regular school and did very well. Also there are things I enjoyed but I cannot replicate for my kids.
Elle, I value your perspective having been raised with homeschooling. I appreciate that you embraced and owned your education as a student; that is a goal I can set for my children. I also envision making it a goal for myself to paint that picture in their minds and then give them choices.

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I don’t think there is any substitute for a top-flight public or private school. People often move to my town primarily for the excellent public schools. But I recognize that some people do not have good schools available and that home schooling is sometimes the best option, especially in this age of sexting, bullying, shootings, etc. A Catholic school can often be a good option.

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I’ve been homeschooling my 16 year old daughter since day 1. I initially started because I thought I could do a better job that our local public school system, and our state is rated pretty low. However, reality set in and I realized that teaching is not my gift. I do worry sometimes about the things I can’t give her. However, my daughter likes homeschooling, and has never wanted to go to public school, so we soldier on.

I have seen some positives though. Her learning style is similar to mine, and I can compare that somewhat to my experience in public school. She is much more independent than I was at that age, much more creative, an out of the box thinker, and a self starter. She is also a better writer than me, even compared to my college days. And I didn’t even teach her any writing. There is a lot to be said for more time to read.

We joined a lot of homeschool groups, did field trips, and other projects. Currently, she is taking classes with other homeschoolers. A few homeschool moms decided to teach classes, two of them have science backgrounds. We’ve done lab sciences, speech, debate, government, composition, Latin, and World Religion. They had a Buddhist come in and speak to the World Religion Class, which I thought was pretty cool. The science was Apologia, but they were open to me substituting the evolution section with a secular science book. The classes are a mixture of secular and Christian homeschoolers. That’s one positive about living in the West, things are less restrictive and exclusive here.

So, even if you homeschool, there are a lot of outside resources if you live in the States. I have to admit though, we fell into a relaxed homeschooling, because I had a hard time getting her to do all the work. She might have a little bit more of a struggle switching to college, but I don’t see that it will hold her back long term.

Regarding which is best, one article I read put forth the idea that parent involvement makes the most difference. Of course, homeschooling would be the highest form of that, lol, but you can get really involved in public school. I think it depends a lot on your school choices and the personality of you and your child. In my situation, I’d say it’s overall positive on the homeschooling side, for the reasons that I myself didn’t develop much creative thinking from public school, and my daughter is an introvert, preferring smaller groups. I will say that high school is harder to homeschool without having some outside group for socialization.