Could homeschooling be the right choice for your family?
According the the National Center for Education Statistics, children who are homeschooled have seen a 50% rise between the years 2003-2012, and it makes up 3.4% of children between the ages of five and seventeen in the United States. The Center believes that it could be higher if it weren’t for the stereotypes associated with homeschooling.
Laura Vanderkam from Fastcompany.com explains, ““Plenty of families would like to try it … [h]owever, many are held back by the assumption that one parent (likely Mom) would have to stop working, but talk to homeschooling parents and you find that a number are attempting the ultimate ‘second shift’: building a career while running a small school operation at the same time.”
An increase in parents are discovering that they can earn a good income while personally educating their children.
Vanderkam points out several factors:
Vanderkam states that parents who balance career and homeschooling embrace several concepts. She says they acknowledge that working parents must have some sort of childcare in place, as do parents who choose to work from home. Traditional schools offer this function to some families, but Vanderkam states that they can be “unblundled”. Parents can work full time (40 hours) at home, homeschool for 20 hours, get a full night’s rest, and have plenty of time for other activities.
Vanderkam also dispels the myth that homeschooling takes up the entire day leaving little time for work. In a regular school day, the 9:00-3:30 time slot includes lunch breaks, transitions to classrooms, classroom management/participation, recess, etc. She claims that individual attention is more efficient. Twenty hours a week matches the school’s schedule, and most schools operate nine (or ten, depending on where you are) months of the year.
She says that most homeschooling families teach their children between 7:30am until noon or 1:00pm. This includes reading time.
“Homeschooling parents can share the load — [t]wo parents can divvy up subjects and instructional time,” she added. “Many hire tutors for individual subjects. Carrie Beam, an engineer who works in an office Monday through Thursday, told me that her daughter goes to tutoring for a few hours per day. On Fridays, Beam teaches math to her daughter and several other homeschooling students. Many homeschooling families belong to such co-ops or programs that provide group learning or specialized instruction at least one day a week.”
Homeschooling has always carried the misconception that children are stuck at home all day behind stacks of books, however this is far from the truth. Many children are engaged in co-ops and other homeschool programs. Many of these children are engaged in sports, college classes, and trading teaching time with other homeschool parents are also commonplace. All of these opportunities allow parents to keep careers going.
Also, homeschooling can take place at any time during the day- it does not have to mimic traditional school hours or duration.
There are many parents who are passionate about their careers and providing their children the best education possible. Many of them decide to give it a try once they figure out what it could look like for them.
Our Two Cents:
Homeschooling may not be for everyone. Outside of the traditional rationale of why many parents choose not to homeschool, it does require that the parent have patience, the personality, and the aptitude to teach their children. Some people may have high expectations, and while it is not necessarily a bad thing, some may push their children too hard causing them to become frustrated and dislike the entire education process. It does take time for a child to learn, and patience to teach them.
Also, the parent needs to be able to teach and communicate effectively to their child. Some people may understand a concept, but may not be able to teach it effectively so that it is understood on the child’s level.
May be, admittedly, somewhat biased on the subject, as I homeschool my children. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home, and I have the luxury of directly teaching my boys.
I begin my day before my children are up- which is at 7:00, and I begin with spending time in scripture and with the Lord. God always comes first in our household, and we lead by example. After time with God, I begin my work day with answering email, planning out my day, and posts on the website. I will also communicate to other members of my team in their various areas ie. Let’s maybe book this interview, these are the features, we need these reviews covered, etc.
While I am working (and I choose to work first thing in the morning because the house is quiet), my children are busy with their chore chart. Each of them has specific chores they must complete before breakfast, and before we proceed with the day, all of their chores must pass “inspection” by either myself or my husband.
After breakfast, homeschool begins with my twins, and lasts for a few hours. They are taught core subjects such as Bible, Math, Language Arts, Science, and History/Geography. They have projects and reading to do as well, as we do monthly book reports. Then, I spend a couple of hours teaching my oldest. My twins have actual books to do, however, my oldest has his curriculum on the computer.
As he gets older, he is able to teach himself math, and answer some of the questions at the end of each lesson. This allows me to focus on his younger brothers. All of them will have the benefit of independent learning which will be an asset as they grow older, and they are independent thinkers. We want our children to understand what they read, and why we believe what we believe. We are raising them up to understand their faith, and be able to defend it. We have discussions on various subjects, and they are required to give everything taught thought: why do you believe what you believe, what are both sides of the discussion, and what is your conclusion? I don’t want my children to repeat what I say, because they will never learn to think for themselves, nor will they be able to come to their own conclusions. They need to be discipled, and equipped.
Our homeschool only lasts for 3-4 hours per day. From 2:00-5:30, I am back in my office working. The children are required to spend 1/2 hour reading, 1/2 outdoors when the weather is not too extreme, and they must finish their homework which consists of spelling and/or project reports.
We also have our children enrolled in extracurricular activities with allow for socialization, and physical activity. Anyone who knows our children can see they are very well-adjusted, articulate, and social. They are not shy or withdrawn, and they have a very strong work-ethic.
I have seen first-hand the benefits of homeschooling my boys, however, I recognize that it’s not for everyone. We made this decision because we felt that it was in our children’s best interest. It isn’t always easy, but for our family it is the right thing to do.
If you want to homeschool, but have reservations, this article may assist you in your decision. However, the decision to homeschool is ultimately an individual one, and depends on what is best for each family as there are many variables involved. While it is not for everyone, those who choose this method will discover there are many rewards to it.