BIG Disclaimer: Some of our closest friends and family members attend public school. They are finding success and happiness there. Each family is unique and must decide on what is best for them. Students can thrive in all sorts of educational environments.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers and former public school teachers are all keeping a small secret; many are choosing to homeschool their children. I fall into the last category - I'm a former public school teacher. Honestly, I was timid to let my community know I chose home education, as it was outside the norm. I was purposely excluding my children from the very profession I belonged to. So, I worried about hurt feelings on their part or judgments cast my way. But, as I have come to learn, us homeschoolers are just about mainstream.
The most recent statistics provided are outdated (2010). However, it does demonstrate the increasing trend of teaching at home. If I were to guess, I would say the movement is growing faster than any other educational choice in the United States.
Families will provide varying reasons for their decision to homeschool. Here are some of the benefits our family has experienced:
1. Connection with my kids. Investing time and effort into my kids' education has provided the best side benefit - my bond with them has grown exponentially. I am able to witness first-hand not just their educational growth, but who they are as people. By merely being together, we learn to support, problem-solve, brainstorm, and create a loving family environment. It's easy for me to say they are my favorite students and it's a privilege to watch them develop.
2. One on one teaching. It takes a fraction of the amount of time to teach a concept at home as it did in the public school setting. I worked in a crowded school district and it was common for me to have 35 students in my elementary classroom. Logistically, it was impossible to meet the educational needs of each one of my students. Now, I am able to cater to my kids' talents and areas to improve upon, and still have time extra time left in the day.
3. Strong community bond. When I say we homeschool, it's a bit of a misnomer. We are only home for a portion of the time. We participate in a local homeschool cooperative; a wonderful group of families that meet each week to teach academic and enrichment classes from preschool to high school levels. Additionally, we belong to a homeschool PE group and participate on sports teams. We enjoy friendships and support from fellow homeschooling families.
4. Sleep. This made my top 5 list?! Yes, it did. Sleep deprivation in kids and teens is the real deal. Consider this concerning finding:
Since we are not rushing out the door each morning, my kids are able to sleep until their bodies wake them up naturally. The difference in their overall happiness, not to mention their ability to concentrate, is astounding when they've slept well the night before.
5. Better educational and emotional outcomes. Not that I am a fan of standardized tests, but homeschoolers consistently outperform their public school peers. At the collegiate level, homeschooled students graduate faster with a higher GPA. Finally, they score higher in emotional measurements, such as socialization, maturity and communication. (Sources: Homeschool Legal Defense Organization and Journal of College Admission)
Each family's educational experience is different, as it should be. Deciding whether or not to homeschool is personal. If your family is considering homeschooling as an option, just know that there are millions of families out there that have found success in doing so.
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