Homeschooling isn't for everyone, especially if parents need to work, but if you've considered homeschooling as an option to help your child escape bullying at school or to provide a more open learning environment better suited to his abilities, these parents' stories may help you with your decision.
My homeschooling journey
My homeschooling journey started when my oldest daughter was 5. She is a twice exceptional child who can process information at lightning speed but has difficulty understanding social situations. As a result, she was bored in the classroom and became a target for bullies. Homeschooling turned out to he perfect for her, allowing her to blossom both academically and socially. She was able to learn at her own pace without having to worry about getting picked on. This allowed to her succeed in her intellectual pursuits and to become a productive, confident member of society. Now 17, she is a junior in college and a national honors student who has published her first work of fiction and plans on pursuing a master's degree in artificial intelligence. Homeschooling changed her life and has made her the person that she is today. I can't imagine what would have happened if she had to suffer through the torment of bullying and boredom on a daily basis in a traditional school environment.
Another mom, Julie Kieffer, decided to homeschool her child for similar reasons: "Our child was getting bullied, and the school wasn't doing enough to stop it. He was teased, kicked, slapped and hit in the head with balls in PE. We talked to the teachers and principal a dozen times. They suggested that our child was imagining it or was too sensitive. He was depressed, anxious and having outbursts at school or stayed home because he was so afraid and depressed. Homeschooling has lifted a huge weight off my son's shoulders. He can focus on learning and not be on guard 24/7. He's in an environment that fosters active participation and is getting love, support and encouragement. Before homeschooling, he was depressed and didn't want to live. Now, he is optimistic and talks about his future and is learning so much. He's like a sponge now that he is in the right environment."
What about socialization?
A lot of people worry about the social aspect of homeschooling, but the homeschool community has grown so large across the country that your children will never want for friends. From co-op classes to park days to field trips, the possibilities for positive social interaction are endless. One of my best friends has always joked that she wants her children to be civilized, not socialized. This little quip captures how teaching your children at home can help them learn how to conduct themselves in the world community, instead of in a classroom with children who are all the same age. For my oldest daughter, having her home allowed me to be there to guide her through individual social situations in a way that was just not possible in a school setting.
Angel Naivalu, a mother of five homeschooled children, says: "Because I homeschool, I have a family-centered life. It is so different than having an itinerary-centered life filled with appointments, to-do's and external expectations, etc. When a school is primarily responsible for the values, daily schedule, expectations and academics for a child, there is very little time left for families to impact a child, to impart valuable lessons of faith, family history, foster social-emotional nurturing and champion the child's individual passions. I am working to make the most of every minute of that time by facilitating opportunities that inspire my children to want to learn. I love the network and community of homeschooling families! They seemed to come out of the woodwork once I declared myself a "homeschooler," and I have found the best friends and mentors among other homeschooling moms. I see raising children in a completely different light because of the homeschooling culture."
The homeschool pace
Teaching your children at home enables them to work at their own pace. This means that if you have a gifted or advanced learner, they can move on to more challenging material as soon as they are ready. If you have a struggling student or a child with learning differences, they can spend as long as they need on certain topics. And they can learn at different levels in different subjects, so you can really structure your children's learning around their personal abilities and talents.
Stacey Craft, a mother of two homeschooled children, says: "Our fourth-grade son was academically advanced and liked to learn at his own pace. He did not fare well in public school, with class bells ringing every 55 minutes to signal each change of classroom instruction topics. He likes to spend hours writing on his own, reading deeply, researching intently. Homeschooling changed his life and made our whole family dynamic better. Our eighth-grade daughter hated all the emphasis that her teachers placed on learning subjects because they "would be on the test." Now, instead of scrambling to finish boring worksheet homework, we spend our evenings reading, discussing current events, playing Scrabble...we love all that quality family time."
The next steps
If you're considering homeschooling, check out these resources for curriculum and testing requirements:
- PBS Guide to Homeschooling lists ways to get started.
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides curriculum lists.
- Ambleside Online provides curriculum based on Charlotte Mason's teaching principles.
- Waldorf Homeschool Forum provides Waldorf curriculum resources.
- HSLDA High School transition to college lists every link you need for the big transition.
- HSLDA Resources is an overall resource for sports, curriculum, time management, etc.
- HSLDA Homeschooling Laws by State helps you navigate your state's laws and requirements.
To connect with the homeschooling community, check out these forums: