• Emily Hess

Five Reasons We Homeschool

As we prepare to enter our sixth year as a homeschooling family, I wanted to share publicly some of the reasons we homeschool. Over the years I have had several friends ask why we homeschool, what an average day looks like, and what curriculum we use.

The two years before our oldest daughter was ready for Kindergarten were years full of conversation regarding schooling. We continually vacillated between public school, private school, and home school. Like most people, Trent and I drew from our personal experiences to help aid in our decision making. I went to public school K-6, then Christian school 7-12, then public university. Trent was in Christian school K-12 and public university.

After looking into the cost of Christian schools and knowing we already had three children (at that time) close together and hoped for more, we quickly ruled out the feasibility of affording Christian school.

I'm a list-person so I wrote list after list of pros and cons of public school versus home school. I wracked my brain of all the negative things about public school, and all the positive things about it. I didn't have many friends that I knew of who had been home schooled and, to be frank, had a negative impression of what home school kids were like (you know, weird.). I also didn't have a single mom-friend (at that time) who home schooled her children, which was extremely intimidating.

In the end, Anne made the decision rather easy for us. She started reading a year before she was old enough to enter Kindergarten. By the following year she was reading at a 6th grade level. I couldn't see sending her to Kindergarten because I was sure she would be bored. Anne has been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with a very similar personality to my own. Knowing how we react to boredom (getting into trouble) home school quickly won the debate. We decided to take it a year at a time, not knowing how it would go and what it would look like.

A recent field trip/vacation combo to Virginia.

If I'm totally honest with myself, Anne's reading level was a cop-out. It was easier for me to explain that Anne is a gifted reader so we decided to home school than to tell people my deeper opinions on it. And many of these opinions and ideas have been shaped by the experience gained from living the home school life.

What I have to say next is in no way a reflection on the decisions of other families. All of us moms and dads are just trying to do the best we can, attempting to make the best choices for our children, and our families. I do not believe that homeschooling is the best choice for all families or even every child in the same family, but it is the best choice for my family at this time.

Five Reasons Why We Homeschool (in no particular order)

1. Flexibility

I have found that we can have as fluid or as rigid a class schedule as I desire. We often start school in August while most kids are still on vacation, to take our family vacation during times when the beaches are empty and rentals are cheaper. My girls can enjoy playing in the snow all morning, then still get their lessons done in the afternoon. We can sleep in as late as we need or want to in the mornings. Two school sessions ago the girls took a very short Christmas holiday because we knew we were going to be heading to China and wanted the school year to be finished before we left. We finished our 180 days in early May that year. Our family trips often count as field trip school days. I am not a morning person so I am thankful not to have to rush around getting papers signed, lunches made, backpacks prepared, trying to remember when gym day is for several little people, etc. I believe our home is a very peaceful (albeit messy) place to be.

2. Close Relationships

Looking back to the few people I know who were home schooled for some portion of their schooling, this may have been one of the things I found "weird". I saw pre-teens who had very close relationships with their parents and siblings. If this is a side effect of homeschool, I definitely see this as a positive thing. My daughters feel very comfortable coming to Trent or me with their problems. While the girls don't get along every moment of every day, at the end of the day, they are still friends. I often remind the girls that, while it's great for them to have friends who aren't their sisters, those friendships often come and go. Sisters are forever. I wish that I would have had closer friendships with my own sisters growing up. Homeschooling often allows us to feel a bit of the simplicity and closeness you garner when reading the Little House books. While Trent doesn't play a fiddle (yet) he sure tells great bedtime stories and is a fantastic Mad Dog and Tickle Man.

3. Inter-Age Comfort

I don't have a good title for this one. Basically, my girls are comfortable with all ages. Schools are so "grade focused" that it unwittingly pits older/stronger kids against smaller/weaker ones. Whether or not a child is ever bullied in a school (I was not), there was always a bit of fear toward the upper grades. Right now, the girls are 10, 9, almost 8, 4, and 3. They are just as happy to play with each other as they are visiting our neighbors daily who are 84, 68, 65, and 8. They can have meaningful conversations with people of all ages (or happily bounce a baby on their knee). I know when I was 9 years old there wasn't much chance of me wanting to have a conversation with a friend's parent. Yet our girls will happily interact with adults as easily as they do with children. (Also, this may make them seem weird.)

4. Love of Learning

I really wanted my girls to love learning and be life-long learners. I see many parents complain and vent about the amount of testing their children have to go through. It saddens me to see very young children with such heavy burdens of stress due to their (elementary!) education. My girls are well-read in a wide range of subjects. I find that I am learning right along with them. Admittedly there are some subjects (cough, cough, Science) that are not personal favorites, but this in no way hinders their Science Education. Two years ago, when Anne and Abbey were doing 3rd grade, they took on the majority of their own science education and continued to do so with great success for fourth grade. It was so beautiful to watch them not only take on the responsibility, but to do so independently and with consistency. I'll have a whole post dedicated to my curriculum choice at a later date. (Their love of books may make them seem weird.)

Science lovers!

5. Influence

While some may disagree or not like this one; I have found it to be one of the most important reasons why we home school.

I want to be the major influence in my child's life; not their peers, not their teachers, not the things they hear on the bus, not the misinformation they gather in school. Me.

I feel personally convicted to provide my children with a solid foundation of what we believe and why before sending them out on their own for 8-9 hours a day. Granted, this means my children get to see me fail. Every. Day. It means sometimes I lose my patience and raise my voice. But it also means I get to show them what repentance looks like. It means I get to show them, first hand, how to restore a relationship that was hurt by careless words. It means they get to help me to be a better mom, a better person. Together, we get to explore how Jesus lived. We get to see how He is still active in the world, and in our home. They have deep, first-hand knowledge of what it means to love people who are different from us. They have the opportunity to build the character traits of godly women who may someday be godly wives and mothers and home makers and whatever else they choose. I want them to have faith in their roots, and not be swayed by every passing trend. This also means that I am the one who explains about their bodies, how babies are made, why we do or don't wear certain clothing, why we wear deodorant, that it's rude to burp and fart at the table (with sometimes little success). But again, I'm so glad that I'm the one giving them accurate information that aligns with our spiritual beliefs.

Reading books outside whilst holding chicks.

While there are certainly more reasons and more stories I could share, I think these five pretty well sum up what I love about homeschooling.

I welcome your questions! I had lots of questions before I got started so I am happy to share what I have learned to help others on their way or to sate a curious mind.

*Originally posted by Mama Hess blog posted on 9/8/17, with some minor edits to represent current information and better formatting for this setting.*

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