I loved this article, “50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled,” by Kris Bales who wrote, “I asked the folks on my Facebook page to ask their kids why they liked being homeschooled and let me know what they said. I asked mine, too, and compiled the answers for you. Some answers were heard a lot. Some were pretty unique. Some got my added commentary, and some stand alone. So, if you’ve ever wondered why homeschooled kids like being homeschooled, here are the results, in no particular order after the first two, of my really unscientific poll.”
Reading the list brought back lots of memories of the 16 years I spent schooling with my children so, after reading the list and nodding and smiling about various ones, I emailed both my kids with the link. I pointed out that my daughter would very much identify with #15: “Being able to do school with pets. Have you seen the recent studies that show that reading to dogs helps improve the proficiency of struggling readers?” Her kitty, Palmer, was often curled up beside her as she studied or read.
Number 32 reminded of my son in first grade (I took him out of school at the beginning of 2nd grade) who became extremely frustrated with “staple sheets,” the busy work used by a busy teacher with a classroom of 25 students: “No busywork.”
I also pointed out to both my kids that #43 applied to them: “Enjoying close relationships with siblings.” They have always been close, even now as adults. When they squabbled as children, I would look at them and say, “If a brother and sister can’t get along, how do you expect the rest of the world to get along?”
We agreed that #2 didn’t apply: “Doing school in their PJs.” We got dressed because it seemed to be better for our schooling day to be up, dressed, and ready to go. Maybe it was because when my kids were young we lived on a farm and, even though there was someone to take care of the cows, we were often busy with one thing or another.
And #1, “Sleeping in,” was not a sleep-until-noon type of thing. We were grateful to not have to be up before the sun or catching the bus in the dark so we slept later than public school students but our classroom was still getting under way around the same time as their friends’ class at school.
Looking over some of the others, specific memories came back that stay with me. For example:
# 3: It’s safe at home. I was in leadership with the local homeschool group when the tragic Columbine incident occurred in Colorado. My phone almost rang off the hook with moms calling to find out how what they needed to do to teach their children at home. There were a number of gun-school incidents throughout the years but that one stood out because of the sheer number of families who were scared and decided to pull their children out of public school.
#4: They can spend time following their interests. Ding ding ding. Remember those “staple sheets” from my son’s first grade? Instead of busy work, both my kids were able to doing the things they liked which makes for a student who is far more interested and engaged.
#6: The field trips are awesome. Whether we discovered new places on our own or participated with the homeschool group, field trips provided some precious memories.
#8: They don’t have to be confined to a classroom. It was fantastic to pack up the books and go somewhere to study or enjoy hands-on learning. In North Carolina on the farm, we studied in the yard, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and beside the pond. When we moved back home to Virginia, the books traveled everywhere — Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, Monterey, back yard, in the car. We took school to Nags Head and out West and to the Smokies and, basically, everywhere we traveled.
#10: They love having educational choices. When my children were older, they were part of choosing their curriculum according to subjects that they were most interested in pursuing. That included practical, everyday math as well as pursing computer comprehension and keyboarding skills.
#11: They like being able work at their own pace and at their own level. My kids consistently tested above their grade level all the way through school. When they reached middle and high school, the Calvert curriculum we used was designed to have more independent study so they were basically going at their pace. Calvert was preparing them for college when those skills would benefit them with professors who would not be readily available.
#16: Homeschooled kids enjoy being able to go places during the week without fighting crowds. Oh, yeah … Mom liked this one, too. It’s also good for family vacations — we always took off on our adventures while school was in so there were no crowds. I still like doing things in the “off-season” of everything.
#17: Kids and parents alike enjoy family read-aloud time. This is my other favorite thing about homeschooling: reading books out loud. It was special and we loved reading to see what would happen next. Some days we would read chapter after chapter while other days we only had time for a chapter or two but, either way, we zoomed through countless books during our 16 years. I’m sure the kids have their favorites but mine will always be the “Little House” books because of their historical background woven into the biographical stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. On a family trip out West, we stopped by several of Laura’s homes on the prairie and her last home in Arkansas, and it was like seeing the house of someone we knew.
#18: One-on-one teaching. Not only does this reinforce the subject matter, it also made our days go faster. With a few exceptions, our school day was usually finished by lunch time and I attributed that to the one-on-one attention to my children. I explained, and then they performed the work, coming back to me if there were questions. It’s amazing how well children learn that way.
#19: Flexible schedules. Absolutely the best! For me, too. A year after we moved back to Virginia, my aunt in Richmond became terminally ill with cancer. I was able to pack up school and the computer, and the children and I moved in with my parents for the four final weeks of my aunt’s life. I spent hours at the hospital sitting with her while my children were at my parents’ house doing school. If they had been in public school, I could never have spent those last days with my Aunt Ruth.
#20: Doing classes with friends. Oh, yes! Co-op classes were fun not only for the kids but for us moms, too, because it often included classroom instruction plus visiting time. History, biology, dissecting, geography, computer comprehension … these were just a few of the co-op classes we enjoyed. You’ll never look at your dining room table the same again after seeing frogs and worms and whatever else dissected on it — all with a layer of newspaper underneath, of course.
#21: No homework. Never. Ever. We were able to finish school work during school hours. I’m not a fan of loading kids down with homework so they have to spend hours in the evening on that after spending all day in a classroom.
#23: Being able to pray, read the Bible, and talk about God. And read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the 10 Commandments. And celebrate holidays.
#26: Spending time with family. I firmly believe we are a closer family because of homeschooling.
#30: Going on vacation during the off-season. Oops, I covered this in #16.
#31: Not having to catch the bus before the sun comes up! Yep, covered this one in #1.
#33: Getting to surf when the waves are good. This specific activity didn’t apply to us but it could be substituted with sledding, ice skating, swimming, and any number of additional activities.
#36: Stress-free mornings. This is far underrated. The frantic mornings searching for homework, shoes, clean shirts while gobbling down breakfast and flying out the door hoping to not miss the bus … um, no. None of that.
#38: No bad language from other kids. I’m a grown-up and don’t like bad language so it was nice that my kids didn’t have to deal with it.
#39: Having a later bedtime. We generally had a regular, early bedtime but when there was that special movie or we were out late to an event, it was nice to know the alarm clock wasn’t going to go off first thing in the morning.
#46: Not getting sick as often. Definitely! I noticed a big difference between my children and those of friends whose kids were still in the public school system. Even during my son’s 2.2 years in elementary school when I volunteered, it felt like being inside a petri dish.
#47: No mean teachers. Well, of course not! They had moi!
Lynn Mitchell educated her children at home for 16 years and was part of leadership in North Carolina’s Iredell County Home Educators (ICHE) and Virginia’s Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes (PEACH). Her son graduated from Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (JMU) in 2007 with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Her daughter graduated from Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College in 2012 with a BS in Sustainable Business and a minor in Marketing. Lynn and her husband live in Augusta County located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The story of how she began her homeschool journey can be found here (see Back in the homeschool classroom: Blazing new trails).
A few of the other titles in the “Back in the homeschool classroom” series by Lynn R. Mitchell:
– Grown son’s first home (April 2014)
– Support group vs Co-op (February 2014)
– Where it all began … blazing new trails (January 2013)
– Grown son’s first home (July 2013)
– Staying in touch with homeschool friends (July 2013)
– New Year’s Eve (December 2012)
– More sleep = homeschoolers happier, healthier than public school students? (April 2013)
– Using Shenandoah National Park as your classroom (March 2013)
– Autumn (October 2012)
– The rain rain rain came down down down (April 2012)
– Why we teach our own (April 2012)
– Casey (April 2012)
– The wedding … letting go (September 2012)
– The pain of grief (August 2012)
– When faced with a challenge … no whining (April 2012)
– The simple wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (August 2012)
– First day of school (September 2012)
– The rise of homeschooling (February 2012)
– Hot summer days (July 2011)
– Constitutional lessons and the Judicial branch of government (March 2012)
– Rainy days (May 2013)
– A chance encounter (June 2013)
– Mary Baldwin commencement 2012 … SWAC Daughter graduates with honors