20 reasons to homeschool (even for a working mom)

In a prior post, I listed the benefits of public school, many of which would also apply to private mass schooling. Here, I list my reasons to homeschool. Of course, I’ve always had a list of reasons to homeschool. I did it for three years before considering public school. However, the handful of weeks using public school solidified my thoughts on public school vs. homeschooling. I think I will be much more resolute in my decision to homeschool going forwards. It also showed me how I can improve as a homeschool administrator.

Now, let’s look at my reasons to homeschool.

1. Kids can be involved in the farm

When they’re gone from sun up to nearly sun down and tired by the time they get home, there’s no time or energy left for the valuable work of helping on the farm. Part of the reason we built our homestead is to give our kids a solid grounding in duty, responsibility, and connection to their food—things that school doesn’t necessarily provide. They need to participate to reap those benefits. Realistically, it’s also harder to keep up with farm chores without the kids’ minimal help. Even 20 minutes from each of them can save me an hour or more a day.

2. Kids have more time to read

In order to get my kids to school on time, they have to get up no later than 6:30am. Working backwards, that means they need to be asleep by 8:30pm to get the recommended 10 hours or more of sleep for early elementary school kids. Back that up up even further and their bedtime routine needs to start around 7-7:30pm. Then dinner needs to start by 6pm. The kids just got off the bus a bit after 4pm. So they have less than two hours each night to do anything else, including personal care like showering and prepping for the next day. Who has time for hobbies or the 20 minutes of reading that the teacher requires? This time restriction, as you’ll see, is one of the reasons to homeschool that keeps coming back.

3. I can let my kids sleep

My kids are not early risers. Consequently, 6:30 am usually doesn’t exist for them. If 7:00 am exists, they are groggy and not at all suited to the morning rush out the door.

4. We waste less food eating at home

I have to pack them a lunch and two snacks. They get maybe 5-10 minutes for their snack and 15-20 minute for lunch. Whatever I pack had better be quick to eat or they’re not eating it. Often they’d run out of time, not hunger. I was throwing away a bunch of food every day. The alternative would be hot lunch, but that would run us $90 per week just for lunches. And I’d still have to pack snacks.

5. I can teach my kids at their levels

Despite their best efforts, a classroom teacher with 15-20 students (conservatively) cannot provide the customization that I can for my kids. I know them better and I can give them each individually what they need. I will also notice more quickly if they’re not understanding something and I can sit with them one-on-one to remedy the problem. Classroom teachers simply can’t do that the way a homeschool parent can.

6. My kids, and I, waste less time

Line up! Line up some more! Wait for everyone to catch up. Walk to this, that, or the other class. Spend 60-90 minutes on the bus trying to avoid the bully from the next grade up.

Mass schooling wastes a lot of time just managing the crowd and moving kid around. It’s not their fault. That’s just how it works with large groups, especially large groups of young kids. I also wasted a lot of time getting the kids and all of their luggage ready and out the door, and then corralling it again at the end of the day.

7. My kids have more freedom to move and be active

See point 2: more time to read. It’s the same with time to be active and find a healthy balance of nutrition and activity. School requires a lot of sedentary work. Homeschooling doesn’t have to.

8. My kids have more freedom to follow interests

Again, see point 2. Kids with more free time can follow their interest once their required studies are done. The enterprising homeschool parent (with more time and fewer kids than I have) can even tailor their child’s school to fit their interests. The kid likes horses? Lets look at the anatomy of horses, history of horses, statistics of horse shows or horse races, stories about horses—unit studies really provide an opportunity to capture a child’s interest and expand it into a full spread of traditional academic subjects. Beautiful Feet Books even has a history study on horses that’s almost open-and-go (pro tip: get the guide and look for the books at the library or used). Companies and other homeschool parents have created tons of resources!

9. I can teach higher quality academics (in my opinion)

I have strong opinions on the way certain subjects should be taught. The school does not use these methods. This might not be a problem for all parents, but it is for me. I don’t want to suck the life out of history or make writing formulaic, for example. This is one of my husband’s biggest reasons to homeschool our kids.

10. My kids have more variety in their diets

Only so many foods are portable and durable enough for a school lunch box. Cooking at home, or even just having a variety of fresh fruits at home that would be destroyed in a lunch box, provides the kids much better and more varied nutrition than a box lunch can.

Hot lunch, you say? Not happening at $90 per week for six kids. If we used it every day, it would amount to $3240 for the school year.

11. Our family is not bound to someone else’s schedule and plans

I’m not great at sticking to an outside schedule. I’m not even good at it. I want to make my own schedule that fits my family. Waking up at 6:30am does not fit it. Trying to shove our entire evening into two hours doesn’t work for me. I don’t care to fill out those infernal reading records. My kids read plenty, especially when they’re not stuck in a classroom most of the day.

12. My kids are less tired for evening activities and less rushed

See point 2, yet again. They have two hours max to do anything besides school and getting ready for the next day. If dance takes over an hour of that, all of us are rushed and snippy at each other. My kids need free time to unwind. It makes giving up all activities outside of school extremely appealing, which I’m sure is not in my kids’ best interests.

13. It’s easier to fit in music lessons

We have a music teacher who comes to our house during the day and teaches each of my kids their instruments one at a time. She’s here for three hours (six 30-minute lessons). When the kid were in school, they had to give up lessons completely because we couldn’t fit the drive and lesson time into our schedule for six kids. That was a great loss that I found rather upsetting. For some reason, I hadn’t considered that I’d have to cancel music lessons when I registered my kids for school.

14. We know what our kids are learning

I had some idea of what the kid are learning in school based on the piles of worksheets that came home (most of which did not impress me), but I have no idea what they did for most of the day or what else they learned at school that wasn’t contained in a worksheet. What morals are they learning? What habits are they practicing? I won’t get into specifics, but I wasn’t a fan of some of the self-esteem building that implied that competence was less important than feeling good about yourself. To be clear, I’m not willing to sacrifice either competence or self esteem.

15. We don’t get all of the illnesses going around schools

My kids were sick the entire time they were in school. Consequently, the entire family was sick. When kid take turns being sick, all of my paid time off goes away very quickly. That’s what happened last time I was a working mom when I had two or four kids.

16. Our family, or at least my kids have more freedom to travel/visit family

School leaves very little time to visit family. The kid are gone all day, and once again, see point 2. Homestead work and church fill much of our weekends, too. Gramma June visited during the day a couple of times a month while the kids were homeschooled. Obviously public school is incompatible with weekday, daytime visits.

17. My kids avoid bullies (except each other :-P)

At least some of my kids encountered bullying, even in their short time at school. My daughter sustained a minor hip injury from a bully on the bus. Not cool at all, and I can’t do much to stop it before it happens because I have no control over the environment. On the bus, in particular, there is very little supervision.

18. Jeff and I know the kids’ social group

I like knowing the families of my kids’ friends, preferably before my kids develop an attachment to the other child. Unfortunately, we did have to cut off a friendship with a sweet little girl whose mother acted deceptively with me and my husband. I’d rather my kids see a healthy family with good relationship so they know what they should expect in their personal relationships. My kids are young, so they have plenty of time to learn how to identify and handle dishonest people. Now is not the time.

19. I can make history interesting (unlike my experience in public school)

This deserves its own point, separate from point 9. I like stories, but I hated history in school. If I like stories, I should not hate history. History is the story of the past, but it’s rarely handled that way in schools. My husband, on the other hand, loves history and has read extensively about various events and periods. I haven’t because I thought I hated history.

20. I can teach my kids to write well

This also deserve its own point. Writing a paragraph with a topic sentence, three supporting details, and a concluding sentence is formulaic and easy to teach. So is blindly adding adjectives to make a story more “descriptive and interesting.” Is well-regarded writing constructed that way? No. I will introduce these ideas as tools to use under certain circumstances, but I will not belabor them. We will instead look at truly well-written texts and work from there.

Obviously I thought homeschooling won since I pulled my kids after barely a month in the local public school (through no fault of the school itself—the staff were very friendly and supportive). Sure, I have 20 reasons to homeschool versus 10 reasons to use public school, but this isn’t just a numbers decision. I think the reasons in the homeschool list are so much more valuable than those in the public school list!

If you’re considering starting homeschooling for the first time, managing your child’s education will seem much more daunting than it does to me. With three years of homeschooling under my belt, managing my kids’ education is my normal. If you are at the beginning of your homeschool journey, check out my 10 tips for bootstrapping your homeschool and 5 tips for a successful homeschool day.

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