Home School

Home School

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are very heavily leaning toward home schooling our kids. We’ve grown increasingly discontented with both public and private school systems in the United States, and think that it would be better for our kids and for our family to take their education into our own hands.

We’d previously considered home schooling a few times, but had ruled it out because of two main concerns:

Number one, our kids would miss out on great social opportunities, learning to interact with other children, how to deal with diversity, teasing, structure, teamwork, authority, and more.

Number two, we don’t know if we could handle it! It seems overwhelming to prepare and teach so much material to your kids. And could we stand to be together that long? It would be so much easier to send them off for 5-7 hours a day and have a needed break ourselves!

However, after looking at some of the incredible advantages of home schooling, we’ve found our two concerns greatly diminishing. Now, I know that home schooling isn’t for everybody. But I share this list for those interested in how we came to our conclusion.

Advantages of homeschooling

(from our perspective, and in no particular order):

  • Allows a lot of flexibility with when and how much the children are taught. This gives us freedom to travel and live anywhere, without making kids’ education suffer (instead, it improves it). They also don’t have to sit through long hours of constant school, but can take more regular and refreshing breaks as needed, increasing retention and reducing emotional stress.
  • We can teach more in-depth about subjects that our children are interested in, or that we want to teach them, rather than having little or no control over what is taught.
  • We as their parents get to see them learn and grow and progress more, rather than missing out on those moments because they’re in school.
  • Teaching will be one on one, exactly at their level and at their pace. We like this much better than teaching a classful of students at different levels with different learning styles.
  • We’ll probably learn a lot of interesting things we forgot or never learned as we teach our children.
  • We can incorporate our personal values into their education.
  • We’re fulfilling our duty as parents to teach our children. Really, it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their kids, not the government’s or anyone else’s, although others can and do help.
  • We’ll get to spend more time with our kids, and hopefully strengthen our relationships and love for one another. We believe there’s no more important way we can be spending our time than with our children.
  • Home schooled children statistically outperform other children academically by large margins. (See http://www.homelifeacademy.com/homeschool_stats.php)

Things we don’t like about regular school, that we will be avoiding by doing homeschool:

  • Homework – it’s gotten crazy recently, with kids coming home with so much work, it just becomes busywork for the parents. Much of it doesn’t even teach anything useful. With home school, all the learning will be done “in class”.
  • Grades – Cramming for tests to get a grade, rather than actually learning the material. Measuring performance against someone else, or a standard that the school board set, rather than the student’s own improvement. I also don’t like the idea of testing on an individual basis – it’s not realistic to life. I think generally it’s more important that students know where to find an answer quickly, than that they have a fact memorized, as helpful as that can be. Obviously it’s good to know a lot, but you can’t know everything, nor is it practical to try.
  • Overload – learning 4-7 subjects at once, and having to balance them all at the same time – it’s just too much information to process and retain well. We will be able to control how much of what is taught when, as our kids receive it.
  • Bad influences – Swearing, inappropriate or crude books you’re required to read or movies you’re forced to watch, cruel treatment from others, and ideas that conflict with our values. We want our kids to be educated about these influences, but be able to see them with a healthy perspective, and not as if they are of  no consequence, which is the way they are often presented by peers or other influences. We can’t control this completely, as they will experience these influences anyway, but do they really need to be subjected to it all the time, especially while they’re so young and easily influenced?
  • Politics that can reduce education quality and take focus away from the students’ learning.

So, what about the concerns I mentioned earlier? How do we plan to overcome those? See below.

Solution to Concern #1: Social aspects

Kids need interaction with other children. My oldest daughter, Emily, is an especially social little girl. She loves making friends and has no fear when it comes to saying ‘hi’. We want to give her every opportunity to grow in this respect.

Fortunately, there are a lot of places other than school where kids get a chance to practice social skills. Besides playing with kids in the neighborhood and at church, we plan on giving our children opportunities to participate in musical theater, sports, dance, choirs, and other classes, where they’ll get to work with other kids not only their age, but of different ages. They also learn a lot of these skills playing with each other.

Solution to Concern #2: Handling it

It is a big responsibility to take on the job of educating your child. Fortunately, we both love to teach. Jen wanted to be an elementary school teacher at one time, but decided against it because she didn’t like the idea of teaching an entire classroom of kids. One on one is more her style. I have teaching in my blood, as both my dad and grandpa are/were teachers, and I taught piano lessons for several years. Teaching is something I’ve always enjoyed, as long as it’s a subject I know enough about.

But we also love to learn, and hope to be able to not only instill in our children this love of learning, but also to teach them how to learn on their own – how to find answers to their questions, and be proactive in their own education. If our kids can teach themselves, this will reduce our burden. We also plan on utilizing lots of outside resources, books, computer programs, and ideas from others. On occasion, we may even bring in experts on a particular subject, or take the kids to them, so they can learn something different, or experience a different teaching style. Emily is really showing an aptitude for art, so we may find her an art instructor, for example.

Jen and I will also continue taking regular dates and time away from the kids. We have really enjoyed the 3-hour dates we’ve had twice a week while the girls have been in preschool, and we’d like to keep up something similar. We’ve thought about getting a nanny to watch the girls for a few hours a week while we get some time away during the day.

Will it work?

Now, since we haven’t yet actually tried homeschooling, we really don’t know all that we’re up against. Fortunately, both our kids are excited to have Mommy and Daddy as their teacher. Emily is excited to become a better reader, and they both have such inquisitive minds right now, that it doesn’t seem like it will be too much of a challenge at this stage. One of the biggest challenges to begin with, I think, will be their short attention spans. But we can take breaks as needed, and their attention should grow with time. It may also take a while to get into a routine of school that we’re all comfortable with, but this will pass.

We’d like to have a room of our house specially designated as the “Learning Room”, where most of this schooling will take place. Obviously this room will include desks, books, arts and crafts, computers, musical equipment, toys, and more. We’d also like some playground equipment and a place for them to run around and play to get their energy out as well.

The more we think about homeschooling, and move in that direction, the better we feel about it. Maybe we’ll end up hating it, and change our minds down the road. But right now, it seems like the best thing for our family.

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About the Author

Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, traveler, homeschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in every moment.

Comments (17):

  1. I think home schooling is actually a very good idea, if the parents have the time and ambition. I have occasionally tossed the idea around in my mind of homeschooling Kennedy, but there’s no way I can in my current (working) situation. If we could afford private school, I’d stick her in there, since it’s a step above public schools, even if it’s a step below homeschooling.

    You and Jen are both great parents and seem like you’d be good teachers. And it definitely is in your blood, Brandon :) I think the girls would benefit greatly from being homeschooled. Good luck, if you end up doing it!

  2. I think I’d rather have a lobotomy that home school…. but that’s just me :)

    I wan’t one of those parents who cried where her kids went off to school – I CELEBRATED! I found I really needed that time away from motherhood to have adult conversation, personal development, etc…. not to mention the financial need of income. So homeschooling was something I never even considered.

    But I know for some it has been a great option. Kristin homeschooled Sam for awhile (but he got to a point where he NEEDED more advanced teachers than his parents… plus social integration). Jeston’s kids were all homeschooled to a degree. In Snohomish county, they have some great resources for homeschooled kids – satellite schools, etc. Lots more control and variety for the parents, without needing to do ALL of the teaching themselves. Not all school districts offer this unfortuantely.

    Maybe they’ll post here and give you their thoughts.

    I think if you really work to give your kids social opportunities, not shelter them too much from the rest of the world, it can be a great experience. But I have met some home-schooled kids in my day who were socially awkward or were so sheltered that they seemed ‘backward.’

    The success of homeschooling (in addition to the parents patience level/ability/commitment) may also be influenced by the child’s personality…. some may thrive more in a personalized, small setting, and others thrive in a more social, competetive situation. Will be interesting to see how education plays out in your family. The biggest benefit I see for you guys is the ability to travel whenever you want!

  3. I’m very excited about homeschooling now, which really surprises me, because I’ve been pretty apprehensive about it in the past, mainly for the reasons Brandon listed. However, because it is possible in our situation, and also because I realized that I find the most meaning and fulfillment in spending time with my children, teaching them, seeing their growth and progress, etc., I really am looking forward to it. I also feel that traveling is a wonderful education in itself, and home school will give us more of those opportunities as well. :)

  4. Brandon, I really hope this works out for you, and knowing how smart you are, I think it probably will. I have, unfortunately, never met a home-schooled person who received an appropriate education, and most have had to take the GED tests more than once just to get the equivalency.

    I think this can be remedied by making sure you don’t just focus on what the kids like to learn / what the parent likes to teach, and giving a truly complete academic syllabus.

    Good luck to you!
    See you soon.
    Bear

  5. Wow! You are obviously thinking this through very carefully. This is the most well thought out set of arguments I have ever seen on a blog.
    I am sure you can make a success of it – you sound adaptable and innovative enough to flow with it.
    Good luck with whatever you decide – the hardest part is making the decision.

  6. My sister just started home-schooling her little boy through a public school online program. It is actually run through the public education program. It has lessons that you do with your child and there is a teacher you send work to to have graded etc. It also incorporates field trips with other parents doing the program in the area. I’m not sure if it is available in Utah yet…my sister said she thought it was scheduled to come to Utah in the next year or so.
    Lisa

  7. I have lots of thoughts on this and only a little time at the moment. The comment I will make at this moment is just regarding Sam’s skill level.

    When I pulled Sam out of school part way through the 4th grade, he was doing 7th grade math. When I put him back in public school for 6th grade a year and a half later, he was doing 10th grade math. When you home school your kids, they can learn at their own pace. They are not held back, forced to go at the speed or reach only the level of the slower students in the class.

    Your kids are free to learn, to learn at their pace, and to find joy in it, when you school them at home. It just has to be consistent and well executed.

    Oh, I want to take the opportunity to brag about Sam now, for just a moment: He got his SAT scores back recently and he scored 740 in reading and 720 in math.

  8. We didn’t talk about it while you were here, but we homeschooled the two older girls. Rachel needed physical thereapy and speech therapy and a bit of her own friends, etc.

    Our oldest daughter Jen went half a day in 5th & 6th and in 7th we had a part time private school (Benjamin Franklin Academy) She then went back in 11th grade because she wanted all the extras of being in school. There were 21 in her graduating class in Missouri. she now has a master’s in marketing.

    Beth went to Benjamin Franklin for 2 years and decided to finish at home and get her GED. She gor training as a massage therapist.

    Both girls had gymnastics for about 3 years and piano for 7 + years. We were active in 4-H (from the time they were 6 & *) and I was a 4-H leader. Then of course there is Church.

    You can find a style of Homeschool that suits you and each child. I was very casual and tended to use a lot of things we were doing in 4-H as part of our program. There as many ways to do it as there are people :-)

    Computers and internet give you so many more options than I had 20 years ago. You don’t have to duplicate the way they do things in a formal setting. I would recommend books by Benjamin Moore. One of his titles is Better Late than Early. I think you will find this interesting. All this pressure on very early childhood education is popular right now, but there are other philosophies out there to explore!

  9. My youngest daughter Brandi homeschooled her oldest child Breanna for 2 years.

    Breanna had fallen way behind and was being passed up by her younger brothers academically. Brandi is also a licensed elementary teacher so she decided to “catch her up”

    After the 2 years Breanna felt the need to spend more time with her friends. When she was placed back in school she was way ahead academically of those kids that she had been unable to keep up with earlier. So far she had managed to stay ahead. However Brandi has to work a lot with her at night because she does have a tendancy to let things slide.

    a note of caution… Check with your local school districts and see what their policy for re-entering school is later on.. One of the reasons Brandi let Breanna go back is in Nevada they passed a law that if you wanted to re-enter school you had to re-enter at the same grade you withdrew which is ridiculous!!!

    Anyway observing as a grandmother if you can do it… Go for it.

  10. [...] with school and education I want to thank everyone for their comments on my post about homeschool. After reading them, I wanted to elaborate a little bit more on the subject. Well, not so much on [...]

  11. [...] didn’t expect was an increased desire to home school our children. I went over this a bit in another post, but I wanted to bring it up again here because it’s something we gained from our trip that [...]

  12. I have been homeschooling Ali for pre-school as a trial for kindergarten, it has been wonderful! I truly feel that kids learn best from experience not lectures, and we have had so much fun together.
    I guess you would call what we do unschooling, I have a great curriculum picked out for when he is later into kinder or 1st grade. I think you guys will really enjoy it, they key is to not think too far ahead, take it a few months to a school year at a time and keep reevaluating how it is working for everyone, Ali loves that I teach him, I think he feels bad for his friends who “have to go to school” :)
    My only problem now is a good friend of mine started a small charter school using the homeschooling curriculum I picked, it is going to be small with tons of parent involvement so I have Ali enrolled, but am really undecided if he will go, I have been planning on keeping him at home for so long now, I am just not sure about the school, but at least I am lucky that I have two really great options for him.

    What really helped us feel right about homeschooling was to read what so many of the prophets have said about teaching your children, I have a great site I will forward you. Many moms I have talked to say their kids have gone back and forth through the years as their needs have changed many going back to traditional school for a year here and there, but with a homeschooling mindset their kids get so much more out of their traditional school experiences.
    Good luck I am excited for you guys, here is my favorite Ensign quote about teaching children.

    “It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence. Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children’s needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character. Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness. How vital are mother’s influence and teaching in the home—and how apparent when neglected!” (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 104)

    http://ldshomeschoolinginca.org/index.html
    http://naturalmomstalkradio.com/blog/category/homeschool/
    http://k12.com (you can get this free of charge through distance learning charter schools in Utah)

  13. Great thoughts on education Brandon. I am a living contradiction… I am a public school teacher, but we home school our kids. :)

  14. Dear Brandon,

    It has been a while since you’ve decided to homeschool your kids. What can you say right now? Was it a good decision? How are you doing right now?

    • Wow, yes, this post was written over two years ago and I have to say that we are VERY happy with our decision to homeschool. The girls are learning great. Emily is a fantastic reader and is doing math above her typical grade level. Marie is beginning to read as well. Most of all, they enjoy the learning process, and are excited when they get to do some “homeschool” time.

      Since we’ve spent the past 14 month living in a small town in Costa Rica, our opportunities for socializing have been a bit different than they would be in an urban American city. But they have made friends, have become mostly conversant in Spanish, and have experienced a lot of different things most kids in a city wouldn’t get, from visiting ruins in South and Central America, to helping at animal rescue centers, and more. We feel very fortunate.

      We’ve also really enjoyed the time we’ve been able to spend together as a family, and being able to see them grow and be here for them to answer questions when they have them. I don’t regret the decision to homeschool at all.

      • Thank you, Brandon, very much! We are now deciding what to do with our boy. I don’t want him to go to school because of a lot reason (and the main reason is that the school can destroy him, teaching to smoke, drink and take a drugs, also make him violent, etc.)

        So, I was very glad to receive your answer! Thanks a lot!

  15. I haven’t finished reading the whole post yet but I just want to point out how much it helps that the first thing in the article is reasons why you weren’t going to homeschool your kids, not they reason you did.

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