Families homeschool for a variety of reasons. Over the last 4 years we have experienced a number of reasons that make us consider it the best environment for our kids and family. Everyone’s situation is different, so we don’t feel that homeschooling is the only “right” way to raise a family. However, it works best for us at this stage of life. Initially, we chose it because I thought it would be fun and I didn’t like the idea of rushing to a school every morning early with several little ones. Selfish, I know! Once we discovered a mix of disabilities and challenges that we are adapting to, I knew we couldn’t go back. So here are our top nine reasons we choose homeschooling!
1. Creating a Family Culture:
Ultimately, homeschooling is about relationships. We get to build strong relationships with our kids and they get to do so with each other. By sharing stories and learning together, they build memories together that show up later in their play. Its our desire that our kids actually want to spend time together as they grow to be adults, so investing in the time spent intentionally together is part of making that happen.
2. Personal Learning Environments:
The default classroom presents challenges to a kid with ADHD or Sensory issues. A chaotic environment, florescent lights, lots of people or open spaces can all distract them from the real focus of learning. We have adjusted our physical space to be free of unnecessary distractions, and our small class size helps Cub focus better. He also doesn’t have to wait on others to finish a task or project before moving on to his next assignment. His first couple years of school Cub sat in my lap to do his work at the table, and the physical closeness helped him stay focused at the task at hand. Instead of feeling singled out for needing something to be different, it’s normal for our kid.
3. Family Centered Routine:
For kids on the Autism Spectrum or with Anxiety, routine can be a huge help. Homeschooling allows us to keep our routine year round for our family and let it ebb and flow when the family needs it. We can take Monday off after a hectic weekend or start an hour later so everyone can rest Our schedule is not interrupted by sudden breaks like Presidents Day or Teacher In-service. During our cross country move last summer we schooled year round for the first time because the routine let the kids hold on to something familiar when there was a lot around them changing.
4. Therapy is Built In:
When Cub was in Preschool Pencil Grip was a big deal. He worked on it twice a week with his private Occupational Therapist (OT). Now that he is writing daily we enforce the proper grip each time he picked up a pencil. When AJ saw a Speech therapist and had words to repeat, it became part of his school work to do them. It was incorporated into his checklist and routine. We concentrated on how he used his focus sounds in our talking each day. At Cub’s last evaluation, it was deemed unnecessary to return to the clinic because the therapist saw the progress we were making at home with the tweaks to our routine she had taught us.
5. Shortened School Day:
Right now we block out each day until noon for homeschool and most days we are done much sooner with the formal instruction. After lunch or time is filled with free play, errands and independent projects. We can move through material as soon as its mastered instead of repeating it for the sake of others. At different times we have been ahead of our planned curriculum because we don’t need to review every concept.
6. Moving While We Learn:
All kids like to move and squirm, and this is especially true for kids with ADHD. In our homeschool we are able to be flexible about how school happens. Our family learning usually happens cuddled on the couch, often with blanket. Hands are busy with a quiet toy or drawing. Lessons are very short as they move to different stations for different tasks. We use a visual timer to give them a break in the playroom between tasks when they get restless. Sometimes we trade answering reading comprehension questions for building the story in Minecraft. We can let them bounce on a yoga ball while reciting their spelling words to us.
7. Parents are Primary Influences:
Most everyone understands that a primary responsibility of parents is to help our kids grow to maturity.The flip side of that responsibility is that we should also be careful to introduce the world to them only to the extent that they’re mature enough to handle what they’re being exposed to. Sometimes children, being emotionally sensitive and taking things very literally, need our help to put the right context to big concepts that are thrown at them. One example from our lives is that two years ago, there was a major mass shooting in our town. It effected our daily routine and some of the places we frequent. We took time and had many conversations explaining why we couldn’t do our normal things that week, and answering why someone would commit such a crime.
8. Traveling in the off-season:
Having a flexible homeschool schedule allows us to travel when its convenient and during less busy times of the year. We can take advantage of off season and mid-week specials. The mild weather of Fall or Spring make it more enjoyable as well. With children who can be easily overwhelmed by crowds and chaos, visiting places at less busy times is a big deal. I have found on less busy days at parks that staff are more inclined to engage with my kids, providing extra insights and memories to the experience. Its can be much more fun (and cheaper) to add an adventure day to an already planned trip than take an additional trip to the same area later.
9. Instilling a Love of Learning:
I get the privilege to watch my kids ask questions and look for the answers. We have the flexibility to adjust what we are learning as a family to follow someone’s interest. Three weeks ago our 5 year old got fascinated with volcanoes. So we checked out several books out of the library that he is still reading. We do not have to be concerned about teaching to the test as many classroom teachers do. We are free to pursue rabbit trails that pique our kids’ interests, wherever those may lead.