The Benefits of Homeschooling: Reflections from a Parent
There’s no doubt about it; home education is a major endeavor that is not for the faint of heart! I remember the first time homeschooling was recommended to me due to my then-toddler’s severe allergies. I literally laughed at the thought of it! Why would anyone want to undertake something so difficult? Maybe it’s because of the numerous benefits homeschooling provides the student, the family, and society.
Benefits to Student
Homeschooling is generally more time-efficient than other educational options. Learning can be accomplished in less time in a one-on-one environment than in a traditional classroom and homework situation. Plus, the homeschooling commute is much shorter!
Homeschooling allows your student’s education to be adapted to meet her unique, individualized needs. You are able to follow your personal educational philosophy and choose the best resources for your child. Does your son love anything with wheels? Great! You can focus your history studies around transportation from different time periods. If you have a child that needs to move more slowly to master concepts, you have the flexibility to do that.
Because of the ability to individualize, homeschooled students are often afforded more voice in their education. This can result in better engagement and ownership of their learning, a benefit that often extends into adulthood. My daughter recently commented on how she feels she is better able to think and learn for herself as compared to many of her traditionally educated coworkers.
Home education frequently results in improved academic performance. Research indicates that home-educated students commonly score significantly higher than those from public schools on standardized achievement tests. (Source) This improved performance can provide increased opportunities for higher education and career.
A long-term benefit is that adults who were educated at home tend to be more content with life. Levels of happiness, excitement with life, job satisfaction, and satisfaction with financial situation are all higher for homeschool graduates than the general U.S. population. (Source)
Benefits to Family
It takes time to build any relationship, and homeschooling provides many more opportunities to spend time together. Not only does this help strengthen the family unit, but it also helps build individual relationships between a child and his parents, siblings, and possibly other family members.
Homeschooling provides a tremendous amount of flexibility. Homeschooling allowed our family of night owls to start our day later, and it allowed us to travel all over the Southeast with my daughter for softball. We were able to work on lessons in the middle of the day, waiting in a doctor’s office with an ailing grandparent. These things would have been difficult or impossible within the constraints of traditional brick-and-mortar schooling.
Not only does homeschooling afford parents a significant amount of ownership and control over their student’s education, but it also enables parents to influence their children in other important ways. Being with an adult, both in the home and as part of daily activities, increases a child’s exposure to appropriate adult behavior, as opposed to that of school-based peers. It allows the parent to model traits such as being patient, kind, and respectful and makes it more likely that these traits will be imitated by the child.
While homeschooling, many parents are surprised to find all that they learn, too. Topics that you had no interest in as a student may become fascinating to you as an adult. Seeing your enthusiasm about learning will help fuel your child’s desire to be a lifelong learner.
Benefits to Society
I’m often perplexed by the negative comments by the general public related to home education when it provides numerous benefits to society as a whole. Adults who were homeschooled are more active within their communities and civic affairs. According to HSLDA, “Seventy-one percent [of homeschool graduates] participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages.” (Source)
One way we are all active in society is by paying taxes. As Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” However, we want those taxes to be used effectively. Homeschooling results in lower education costs. “Taxpayers spend an average of $11,732 per pupil in public schools, plus capital expenditures. Taxpayers spend nothing on most homeschool students and homeschool families spend an average of $600 per student for their education.” (Source)
The individualization, flexibility, and personal ownership in their education that homeschoolers experience frequently results in adults who are independent thinkers. Accustomed to working outside an established system, they can become the innovators who find new and creative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.
The decision to home educate comes with great responsibility, but with it comes great power – the power to benefit your student, your family, and the society in which you live.