Because I was homeschooled as a child, I always planned to homeschool my own children. As that time approached, my husband and I spent a lot of time talking about which education options were best for our girls. Sunshine ended up attending a local Catholic school for Kindergarten. That year, and our first year of homeschooling the next, helped me clarify my reasons to homeschool.
Faith is a very important part of our lives and a big reason why I don’t want to send my girls to school, either public or private. Even the Catholic school we sent Sunshine to for Kindergarten had several non-Catholic elements we didn’t appreciate. As homeschoolers, we’ve found several solid Catholic programs to use that integrate our faith into everything the girls study.
For phonics, they read stories about a boy losing his rosary or a neighbour joining the church. In science, they learn about God’s handiwork. Our study of history started with creation and will include discussion of Biblical figures like Abraham and Jesus as well as the cultures around them. I love the way that our faith is part of everything we do, instead of just a class by itself—or not mentioned at all.
I want us to have a close family. I want the girls to regard their sisters as their best friends. When Sunshine was in Kindergarten, she’d come home from a day of classes tired and grumpy. She and Lily often bickered and fought after school. In our first year of homeschooling, I noticed a huge improvement in their relationship with each other. I love watching them playing together and including Jade in their activities too.
We aren’t bound to either the school year or the daily schedule of a school. This can mean things like start school at home a week before most other schools in BC did. We took this week off because my mom was visiting. It also means we can do extra work to catch up on the days that we missed or that we can take a day off for a field trip or a play date.
4. No bullies or peer pressure
Last spring, it seemed like a lot of my friends were posting stories on Facebook about their children being bullied at school. While I know that schools do what they can to prevent bullying, I think the reality of sticking kids together in a classroom is that it’s gonna happen. I was grateful to my parents for homeschooling me so that I didn’t have to face peer pressure or bullies. Sunshine and Lily have experienced some bullying, but so far it’s been isolated incidents that we can talk about and then forget.
5. Practical life skills
This will matter more as the girls get a bit older, but homeschooling offers more opportunities for them to learn basic life skills like cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping.
One of my friends told me, when she moved out on her own after university, that she thought I was the most prepared out of any of her friends to move out on my own. She enjoyed cooking so she’d learned how to do that, but she ended up teaching a friend of hers how to cook Kraft Dinner—something I’d been cooking since about age ten. And because both her parents worked and hired a cleaning service, she only learned how to clean a toilet when she was in her mid-twenties—something else I’d been doing since about age ten.
6. The child’s pace
Homeschooling allows children to study at their own pace. This can mean letting a child go slower, if necessary, as my mom did when my brother was a reluctant reader, or letting a child move faster, if they have already grasped the concepts and need something more challenging to study.
For example, last year Sunshine finished her Grade 1 math curriculum by the end of April, so we started Grade 2. Lily started Grade 1 a year early. I know many other homeschool kids who are following their interests and working above grade level.
7. Self-discipline and motivation
As a homeschooler, I was responsible for getting my work done each day, either by 2 pm so I could play with my friends or by 5 pm so I could eat supper with my family. Learning to plan like this helped me in university; I never “pulled an all-nighter” either to study for an exam or write a paper. Sunshine and Lily still need me to tell them when to pull out their books, but as they get older, I expect that they’ll also start to do more work independently and have to manage their own time to get it all done.
Yes, I’m listing this as a benefit of homeschooling. Kids in school learn to socialize only with their peers, while homeschoolers socialize with a wider group of people.
I remember one afternoon that my brothers and I spent at a beach, playing with a boy who was a good ten years younger than us; when we had to leave, his mom came up to thank us for playing with her son, because most kids our age wouldn’t have played with a kid his age.
I’ve also seen this in our babysitters; of the four babysitters we’ve hired regularly, two have been homeschoolers and two have gone to public school. I’ve noticed that the homeschoolers share much more with me about what happened while we were out and are also more likely to start conversations and interact outside of “babysitting” topics.
9. No commute
When I was in Kindergarten, I rode the bus for over half an hour to get to a school that was only ten-minute’s drive away. When Sunshine was in Kindergarten, I spent two hours a day dropping her off and picking her up. When she started Grade 1 at home, we spent those two hours doing schoolwork instead.
Living in Vancouver, where traffic is often bad, has made me more aware of where we travel. Now, I try to plan our activities close to home or to group activities so that if we’re out, we can make one trip for multiple reasons. We save a lot of time by not driving as much.
If you’re considering homeschooling, what are your reasons to homeschool? If you are a homeschool mom, what were your reasons for deciding to start?