What does it take to make it in homeschooling? What’s necessary to make it work for the long haul? Homeschooling is an endeavor that is not for the faint of heart! In my opinion, to make it for any period of time longer than a year, you have to be confident and you have to firmly believe that what you are doing is a great option for your kids. I recently read an article from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association which validates these two premises. In this article, the author listed two crucial attitudes that are necessary in order for new homeschoolers to make it.
They need to believe
- “We really can pull this off!” and
2. “Homeschooling is good for our children.”
If you’d like to know more about the first necessary attitude, take a look at my last post “To the New Homeschool Moms Wondering, ‘Can I really Pull this Off?‘”
In this post, I’d like to share some of the reasons I believe homeschooling can be SO GOOD for kids.
Shorter School Day The chart below represents what I think is a useful measuring tool based on the needs of kids according to age. I’ve never timed exactly how long our kids do school, but I think this is roughly how it plays out for us. You can easily tell if you are doing too much. The child will be frustrated, constantly distracted, and discouraged. On the other hand, if your child has finished work and is walking around with nothing to do, bothering siblings, getting into trouble, he or she may need more work. Aside from this chart, how do you know if they are really doing enough? When kids have finished their work, they will naturally move on to their interests. For young kids, this is usually play. For older kids, it might be hobbies, exercise, or time with friends.
Interpersonal Skills Homeschoolers learn many interpersonal skills every day from people who have much more life experience than they have (their parents) -not their peers. Here are a few of them. Basic etiquette. Accepting compliments and constructive criticism. Listening well. Communicating effectively. Responding to emotions. Respecting others. Expressing an appropriate sense of humor. Self-discipline. Focusing on a task. These type of skills are often caught rather than taught.
Life skills In a home environment, the opportunity for life skills are everywhere. Even for homeschool parents who are not intentional about teaching life skills, homeschooled kids are just there when all these things are happening: cooking, car maintenance, running laundry, daily meal clean-up, paying bills, making phone calls, making a bed, home repairs, using kitchen appliances, managing time, and so much more.
Frequent Breaks Don’t underestimate the weight of this one. Do you fully realize how really GOOD this is for kids?! Even adults cannot sit and focus on something for long periods of time. To be able to complete a challenging lesson and then run around in the sunshine or shoot a bow and arrow or kick the soccer ball, it’s what kids need! After short, frequent breaks, they are able to come back, concentrate and may be even more curious about what is in front of them.
Close Connection to Nature What varieties of trees and flowers are in your yard, your neighborhood? Before our recent move to a new property, we lived in a small suburban neighborhood for 12 years. We went for a walk almost every day. We learned all the diverse kinds of trees and flowers in our neighborhood simply by seeing them every day, through every season, for many years. Every spring, we watched a Mulberry tree on the corner of Sunset Road for signs of ripe mulberries to collect. In autumn, we always looked for the bright yellow leaves of the Ginko tree down the street on Hunter Drive. Several families of cardinals in the hemlocks across the street entertained us in the quiet winter months. When we saw the streets littered with natural debris in spring, we knew the oaks were all flowering. We would never have noticed any of these beautiful displays right in our own backyard except that we observed them every day for several years.
Heroes Who are your kids’ heroes? Because of the flexibility in choosing educational resources, parents can challenge their kids to dream by reading to them or assigning them books to read about great people. Here are some of the heroes that have inspired our kids: David Livingstone, Ben Carson, Leonardo da Vinci, Anne Sullivan, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Cranmer, Frederick Douglass, William Tyndale, Isaac Newton, Abigail Adams, George Mueller… just to name a few! Give them heroes that inspire them!
Habits We all know the value of being able to maintain good habits. The older our kids get and the longer these habits have taken to form in myself and in them reminds me just how crucial it is for us to continue practicing them. Making a bed, personal hygiene, keeping a clean work space, morning devotions, completing a chore thoroughly, writing letters, journaling. To which habits do you aspire for your kids? Habits give a great advantage in life!
Less of the wrong kids of peer pressure. Are homeschoolers sheltered? By its very nature, homeschooling is somewhat sheltering. Maybe you have known a family that over shelters their kids in a way that is unhealthy and does little to prepare their kids to function in the real world. Here’s a question. Can there also be a kind of sheltering that is healthy? A kind of protection that encourages them to function appropriately in all surroundings while cushioning them from the barrage of negativity so common in the school system? I’d believe there is. Because they face negative peer pressure less frequently or at a later age than the norm for kids in school, many of them display a positive self-assurance that stands out from the crowd. I’ve noticed from many homeschoolers that they are unaware in group situations that they are supposed to be “too cool” to answer questions or speak up. They are confident with who they are because they are used to being in an environment, whether at home or in the community, where everyone is treated with respect.
Child comparing progress against themselves, not other kids in their grade. When kids are measured by their own progress instead of “what all the other fourth graders should be doing”, they challenge themselves. They gain confidence instead of losing it.
Transfer of Family Values Each family has their own flavor. Individual parents have certain values that they want to pass down to their kids. In our family, we have taught our kids to do things that we enjoy and value. Here are some things my husband and I love and hope to pass down to our kids. We both love playing music and singing. We love gardening, caring for animals on our farmette, growing and preserving our own food. My husband and I are also very different, in personality and hobbies. He enjoys making things with wood, using tools for any kind of mechanical work, and investing in his growing eBay business. I enjoy reading, knitting, and writing. What unique gifts and interests do you hope to pass on to your kids?
This list is by no means exhausted! But I hope it is enough to whet your appetite. Why do you think homeschooling can be SO GOOD for kids?