When I was a young university graduate, I ‘knew everything’ and had idealistic views of what homeschooling my own children would look like. They included joyful obedience, academic prowess, willing and eager learners, voracious readers and a tidy, organised schoolroom. Now that I have been married for nearly 18 years and have been homeschooling our five children for nearly 11, my reality looks a lot different to my youthful optimism. In contrast, I am often dealing with tears and tantrums, struggling spellers, reticent readers, active boys who would rather be running outside, and a constantly chaotic and messy home.
So what motivates people to take on the challenging journey of homeschooling and to keep hanging on even when it becomes a little crazy?
When I was as young as 16, I decided that I would homeschool my children one day. I was blessed to meet a man whose mother homeschooled his younger brothers. Even though he himself went to a regular school, he had seen the benefits of homeschooling and believed it was the right thing for our family. In our early days of marriage, we believed strongly in homeschooling for a number of reasons.
- Being able to guide the moral and spiritual development of our children.
- Being able to allow our children to work at their own pace.
- Being able to be more in control of negative peer pressure.
We still agree with those reasons, but we have discovered other benefits. These are the ones that have become our motivating reasons to keep going, even when it gets hard.
- Quality time together as a family and the development of close family relationships.
- Freedom to travel and take holidays when it suits us.
- Freedom to plan our school day around dad’s schedule and other commitments.
I surveyed 30 of my homeschooling friends to find out the most common reasons they chose to homeschool. I have ordered these from most popular to least popular.
Christian, Bible-based worldview
Because homeschooling is a growing phenomenon both in the US and Australia, there are many Christian products that offer learning from a Biblical worldview.
Free from ungodly influence
No parent can ever protect their children from every negative influence, but homeschooling parents can have more control over what their children are exposed to.
Safety from bullying
Just by looking at social media, we can see that bullying has escalated. I love that homeschooling protects my children from this problem.
I would never say that a homeschooling education is ‘better’ than one from a regular school, but I can guarantee that my children will get a quality education, because I am able to walk beside them every step of the way. I know exactly which concepts they are struggling with. I even have to sit down and do their grade 10 maths with them at times! (This gives me a huge respect for high school maths teachers!)
Learning at their own pace
Homeschooling allows me to slow down with a child who is struggling. They won’t get left behind the rest of the class. They may be ‘behind’ compared to their peers, but they will get the chance to catch up when they have mastered the concepts. There is also the potential to be able to give children extra work in subjects that they enjoy and in which they are excelling.
Solution to learning difficulties
While I have no children who have been formally diagnosed with a learning difficulty, I have talked with many mothers who have struggled with this issue. One friend had a son who was told he would never read and would probably end up in jail before the end of his teens. Through his years of homeschooling, this boy has not only learnt to read, but now works as a manager for a company. I know that there are some wonderful teachers and educational programs in today’s schools for children with learning difficulties, but there are also many who fall between the cracks.
Having worked as a teacher myself, I often marvel at the mammoth task that teachers have to present their classes with the myriad of subjects that are required. I find that within a homeschooling environment, I can cover a lot of subjects, but can focus more fully on the ones that I know will be more beneficial to my children for their futures.
Opportunity for travel
Our family is heavily involved in a sport that has taken us all over Australia and the world. It is a lot easier to keep up with schoolwork when we can take it along with us, or schedule our holidays when we need to travel. It is also wonderful to be able to study a city or country in geography that we are actually able to visit on one of our trips!
Good family relationships
What a wonderful training ground for character development parenting is! This is especially the case for homeschooling mothers who are often with their children 24/7. While I am developing close relationships with my children and while they are developing a close relationship with each other, we are all developing a stronger character!
More relaxed learning environment
I often have parents of school children drool over the idea of our relaxed mornings, free from the hustle and bustle of school preparation. While I know that learning to be organised in the mornings is a vital life skill, it is also nice to be able to savour peaceful mornings while my children are still of a school age.
I once read a quote that said, “Homeschooling is a conviction, not a preference.” As parents, we all have different callings and passions. We are all convicted in different areas. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but, to those who may feel convicted to give this a try, there are so many remarkable benefits.
A few links if you’re interested in exploring home schooling
We are enrolled with Faith Christian School of Distance Education. Their website is: www.faithcsde.com
The following links are for Queensland but you will be able to find similar resources in your own state.
The Brisbane School of Distance Education is a good one for those who prefer a curriculum that more closely mirrors regular school (We are planning to use them when are children reach their senior years). Their website is: https://brisbanesde.eq.edu.au
The Home Education Unit is also popular. A lot of families choose to register with them, then have the freedom to put together their own curriculum resources that need to be approved by the HEU. Their website is: http://education.qld.gov.au/parents/home-education/home-ed-unit.html
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