Why I Homeschool My Children

So. This is not exactly the first time I’ve posted about homeschooling.

But, it is just about the first time I’ve blogged about the topic on my own. Normally, I’m fielding concerned sorts of questions, like, “What will you do about college?”, “Will your children be able to relate to other people?”, “Are you worried they’re missing out?”, and “Aren’t you concerned that they won’t get a good education?”

Anyhoo.

I thought it might be fun for a change to talk about this in a positive way…instead of telling you that homeschooled graduates do too hold down jobs, get accepted into colleges, have families, hold intelligent conversations with people, and author successful blogs (hee), I want to tell you all the happy, sunshiny reasons I homeschool my kids.

Before I start, here are the things I usually say when I talk about homeschooling:

  • I don’t think it’s right for everyone.
  • It’s not the only way to be well-educated.
  • I think it’s the right choice for our family.

Ok. Ready?

(These are in no particular order. Except the order in which I thought of them. Which, I suppose, is an order of sorts. Also, this is not an exhaustive list.)

I homeschool because:

-I have a little love affair with making my own schedule.

Though I’m a born rule-follower, and I can be obedient with the best of them, I have a bit of an independent streak when it comes to scheduling my life. I really, really love being able to decide when we’ll take a day off, what hours we’ll do school, when our school year will start and stop, what days we’ll take off at Christmastime, and when we’ll go on field trips.

I would seriously chafe at following a school schedule set by someone else.

(I can follow someone else’s schedule…I did it in college, of course. It’s just not my first choice.)

-We can adjust our lives to accommodate Mr. FG’s work schedule.

In the 12+ years we’ve been parents, Mr. FG’s schedule has been all over the map. Homeschooling lets us adapt our lives to fit his schedule. For example, when he worked Saturdays and was off Mondays, we did school on Saturdays and not on Mondays. He now works second shift, so we do typical evening activities in the morning and tackle our schoolwork when he leaves for work.

This schooling flexibility gives us much more family time than we’d have otherwise (his current shift would block out all family time except for weekends if the kids were on a typical school schedule.)

-Things are not complicated.

As any teacher knows, the public school system is kind of a behemoth. Changing things isn’t very easy, and most things need to be planned in advance. It’s just the nature of things when you’re in a large organization.

Anyway, in that sense, things are simpler when you homeschool. I can move children between grades, take a day off when the weather is gorgeous and screams for a trip to the park,

take Spring Break whenever we want, decide to speed up or slow down a child in a particular subject, or take an impromptu field trip to a president’s home because my children are interested, all without having to submit forms, ask a committee, or have a meeting.

As long as we get our work done, the government leaves those decisions up to our school board, which consists of Mr. FG and me.

-I want my children to have free space/downtime in their lives.

I’ve written before about how homeschooling is very efficient, and that efficiency means that my children have a lot of free time to play. Since free time to play is actually very valuable for children, this is a huge benefit in my mind.

As they grow older, this time will give them opportunities to work and to pursue their interests (as a teenager, I spent a lot of my free time starting my piano teaching studio, practicing the piano, and cooking/baking.)

-My children like being homeschooled.

This isn’t a foundational reason, of course, since I make them do plenty of things they don’t like (eating vegetables, cleaning toilets, picking up after themselves), but it is something of a contributing factor. If they loathed homeschooling, I would take note and rethink things a bit. As it stands, though, all four of them have absolutely no desire to go to regular school…they like being homeschooled particularly because of the efficiency/downtime factor I just mentioned.

-There’s a correlation between my children’s efficiency and their free time.

When you’re in a traditional school setting, you pretty much have to be there for 6 hours no matter what. But when you’re homeschooled, hard work can result in more free time.

Obviously, rushing doesn’t pay because then you have to spend a bunch of time redoing the wrong work, but good, steady, faithful work pays dividends in the form of free time.

When I was a kid, I sometimes worked ahead so that I could take a Friday off, or if I wanted to go do something midweek, I did extra work so I could take a day off. Lisey, who is such a mini-me, often works ahead for the same reason.

Conversely, this system also applies natural consequences to children who don’t manage their time well, and I think that’s a valuable lesson.

-I want my kids to learn to figure things out for themselves.

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that homeschooling moms don’t teach every subject to their children every day (if we did, homeschooling multiple children would be crazy-insane!).

Homeschooled children do a lot of figure-it-out-by-reading-the-book kind of learning (with mom available when they get stuck). Because I was so used to teaching myself by using the book, when I got to college, I was surprised at how much my peers depended on the professor.

(Incidentally, this is mostly how Abraham Lincoln was educated…by reading books! He only had about a year total of formal schooling in his life.)

I suppose there are some homeschooling parents who don’t run things this way, but I definitely focus on helping my children find answers for themselves. I offer assistance when they need it, of course, but only after they’ve helped themselves by reading the directions, looking things up in the index, or looking back at previous lessons. And when I do help them, I generally do so by asking them questions intended to make them think through the problem.

If you know how to figure things out for yourself, you can learn pretty much anything you want your whole life long. The sky is the limit!

-I want my children to be well-educated and prepared for college.

At the very least, studies show that homeschoolers do as well in college as their traditionally-schooled peers, and this study showed that on average, they have a higher ACT score, earn more college credits, and maintain a higher GPA than their peers.

Of course, homeschooling is not the only way to turn out a well-educated child, but it is clearly one way.

-I want my children to be around people of a variety of ages.

Due to the nature of traditional schooling, children end up spending the majority of their day around children their own age. This isn’t necessarily bad, but I appreciate that homeschooling keeps my children around people of varying ages. Not only do they spend significant amounts of time with their older and younger siblings, they also go out and about with me and interact with adults, and when we get together with other homeschooling families, the age range there tends to be pretty wide.

-I want to choose their curriculum.

Not all curriculum is created equal, and I love being able to pick the best out of the bunch or even make my own, like I did with our United States study. I also like that I can skip things like pointless busy work.

(Interestingly, Zoe seems to really like busy work, so I give her more of that than I’d give a kid who hated it.)

-I can let each child work at the perfect grade level.

Often, children don’t fit neatly into a single grade level, and when you homeschool, you can move a child through each subject at a rate that is appropriate for them. For example, Zoe was already reading when she started kindergarten this year, and kindergarten math would have been way too easy for her. This means I have her doing a lot of first-grade level work. However, her handwriting was definitely at kindergarten level, so that’s where I started her. This way I can keep things challenging and interesting but not overwhelming.

-I can have a lot of say about who influences my children.

This is far more important to me in the early grades than it will be when my children are older, but I like that I can choose which children spend time with my children. Young children especially are very open to influence and I appreciate that I don’t have to deal with them picking up bad ideas/behaviors from children at school.

(for the record, I do think children need to learn to deal with bad influences, but I prefer that they learn this at an older age when they’re more equipped to filter and assess other people’s behavior.)

I also like that I can make sure that unkind behavior from other children doesn’t interfere with their ability to learn. Bullying is serious business, and sadly, sometimes schools don’t do a good job of dealing with it. At home, I can swiftly address anything of that sort (it helps to be the parent of all the children at school!)

-I can discipline/train my children all day.

This may not be a particularly fun aspect of homeschooling, but it is true that being home with my children all day gives me ample time to see faults/poor behavior patterns and also gives me time to address them. And because I’m the one addressing them, I can help them see what Jesus would want them to do, I can pray with and for them, and I can help them look to Jesus for the strength to do what they’re supposed to do.

I can also help them learn to resolve conflicts properly, because believe me, there are plenty of opportunities with four children in the same house all day!

-We can do things off-season or at off-times.

Admittedly, this would be pretty far down the list if I arranged these by priority, but it is awfully nice to be able to plan activities at times when everyone else is in school. Off-season beach vacations are a favorite of ours, and when I was a kid, my family always went skiing the week before Christmas because schools were still in session. Empty slopes? Oh, yes. My family went to Disney in the fall, and we visited the Statue of Liberty off season and skipped right through what seemed like miles of crowd corral.

We can visit museums and the zoo during the week, we can have park outings if a lovely day happens to fall in the middle of the week, and we can schedule dentist appointments and doctor appointments in the morning or early afternoon and avoid the busy after-school rush. It’s also simpler to schedule private lessons. For instance, music teachers often welcome the opportunity to teach students during school hours when most children are unavailable.

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Ok! That’s my not-exhaustive, imperfect list. You might feel exhausted after reading it (it’s long!), but I hope it helps you to understand a bit more about why we’ve chosen this educational method for our family.

Before I sign off, I want to add that from what I’ve read, it seems like the most important ingredient in educational success is parental involvement.

So if you want to homeschool but can’t, or if you want to send your child to private school but can’t, or if you wish your local public school was more like the one in that other neighborhood, take heart! By being an involved parent, you can do a whole lot to help your children get the education you want for them.

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Today’s 365 post: This is why I prefer walking at home over the gym.

Joshua’s 365 post: Expecto Patronum

Comments

  1. meghan says

    I have so much admiration for home schoolers. Can I ask the name of the toy in the last photo? I’ve never seen them before but it looks like something my daughter would love.

  2. ChristiS says

    As you know, I think I am the rare public school teacher who supports your decision and is a homeschooler at heart! I applaud you, because I know it isn’t an easy job to teach your own children….they don’t always listen to mom and dad best!! You are, and always have been, one awesome mama!!

    • priskill says

      And I’m the other public school teacher — I so admire and support this approach and your determination and discipline — completely caused a 180 in my thinking.
      Also, LOVE the Quesanaire (okay – no idea of spelling) rod designs! Has to be at least as educational and interesting as their intended use, which if I recall from 1st grade was to teach mathematical concepts and relationships in a very specific way. My memory is that a short rod over a long rod meant “Bridge,” a term we learned one day. Stephen, the smartest boy in the school, was absent that day so when he was told the next day to make a bridge, he made the most amazing creation using all the rods and colors in this coordinated way and it LOOKED like an actual bridge. I was awestruck — until the teacher came over and corrected him — a bridge is one boring block over another. Down came the amazing creation, replaced by boring rod-over-rod. Not to dump on my 1st grade teacher — or any teacher with too many kids, evaluations, tests, etc. — but this seems like a validation of your method — the time and freedom to nurture creativity off the grid, and to value non-conformity.

      Sorry — this was long! And I totally admire teachers — they often accomplish miracles are unjustly blamed for everything. But reading this makes me appreciate alternative methods.

      • Tom says

        I am a third public school teacher who supports your home schooling efforts. And I am married to a fourth. Maybe we’re not so rare after all.

  3. Patti says

    Kristen,

    How funny that you posted this today. I know someone who homeschools and I was telling her about the computer US geography sites that you used. She asked me to send the links to her. I was going to do a search on your site today and lo and behold your post today led me to what I needed! Thanks!

    I know several people who have homeschool in the past (way past!) and still today. Their children are very well rounded.

    Patti

  4. Jen says

    Thanks for this post! Our children (ages 19, 16, 14, and 12) attend private school, which God has graciously always provided for. I have never felt the call or desire to homeschool. But I so appreciate your openness in acknowledging that it’s not for everyone even though it’s the right choice for your family. This is my biggest pet peeve, when homeschoolers (or anyone else!) decide that THEIR way is the ONLY (best, godly, biblical, etc) way and then look down on others who choose differently.

    Your children seem to be lovely, well-adjusted, well-educated kids! Keep up the good work! :-)

  5. farhana says

    Thank you for sharing. I’m intrigued by those wooden stick figures, may I know where you got them from?

    Thank you.

    Farhana

  6. Beth Anne @ Thrifty Living says

    My sisters and I loved being homeschooled for some many of the reasons you mentioned. It gave us a great start in life educationally, spiritually, and relationally.

    We are “homeschooling” right now – preschool for our 3 year old and tot school for our 1 year old. You have inspired me to write out my reasons for homeschool because I often find myself feeling defensive when I’m asked why we aren’t going to send our kids out, even though preschool is optional.

  7. Shannon says

    My biggest concern with homeschooling is the ‘sameness’- the children are with their siblings and parents all day and are not exposed to children from different socio-economic and racial strata of life, which I believe is an important education in itself…

    • Kristen says

      I understand your concern, to be sure, but I’d simply offer up that public schooling is no guarantee of diversity, just as homeschooling is no guarantee of a lack of diversity. My husband was public-schooled his whole life but the experience was very…vanilla. Our homeschooled children happen to have a much more diverse pool of friends and acquaintances.

      For example, our small church has people from Japan, Germany, and Africa. Lisey’s neighborhood friend is public-schooled and has separated parents. Joshua plays with a private-schooled neighborhood friend all the time, and at church, he has a good public-schooled friend who has a single mom.

      Also, homeschoolers don’t just stay home all the time. ;) We do venture out into the world, and so we do see people outside of siblings/parents.

      So, I do think diversity is important, but I don’t think public school is the only way to expose children to diversity.

      • Red says

        I agree. I was also public schooled and I did not meet very many children who weren’t white middle class until I hit high school, when all of the middle schools fed into the same high schools. Saying this will be controversial, but, even when I got into high school and was in the advanced/ honors classes, I did not meet very many other students outside of my socio-economic strata. This was a high school with over three thousand students and provided service for my town, as well as two outlying farm towns, as well. There was a wide variety of people going to that school, but, I had little opportunity to interact with people who weren’t white and middle class.

        • EngineerMom says

          Red – That was my high school experience, too. I was in mostly honors/AP classes, and with a few Asian exceptions, we were pretty much white middle-class. There were something like 4 black kids in a school of 2000 students, and maybe 20-30 Asian students, mostly Vietnamese immigrants.

          It wasn’t until college that I even met someone who wasn’t Christian, and there I formed friendships with people from all over the world, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, athiest, from backgrounds ranging from a girl with two high-powered physicians who owned her own horse to a girl who’d been on food stamps most of her childhood and had experienced homelessness more than once.

          My high school experience didn’t really prepare me for that broad range of people. Meeting and interacting with my parents’ colleagues (my dad was the only white guy in the meeting at his engineering firm most of the time) was a much better way to prepare me for other cultures than sitting in class with two dozen other students who had all been raised in the same suburb, shopped at the same mall, had learned about the same basic principles of a religion that was carefully kept out of the school, and could go home to plenty of food and warm bed every night.

      • Shannon says

        Kristen, obviously you’re a great mom who loves her kids so please don’t see as an attack of any sort. I love your blog and visit it daily!

        That said your point about meeting people from your church isn’t what I was thinking of in terms of diversity – there is more to diversity than countries of origin – there is racial diversity, religious diversity (which obviously you wouldn’t find by meeting families who come to your church), economic diversity etc…

        For sure, many public schools are lacking in diversity, but in general you are far likelier to meet people unlike yourself in a public school compared to if you’re home-schooled. In the world our children will grow up, with globalization is will be incredibly important to be well-integrated and aware of other cultures, races, perspectives etc, much more so than in our generation and that is why I am not home-schooling my children.

        Like you mentioned though – to each his own and we all want what’s best for our children!

        • Kristen says

          No, no, I’m fine. No worries. What I was trying to say is that we do have some racial diversity at our church…a number of people from our church are direct immigrants from other countries. :)

          I don’t think my children would really be exposed to more economic diversity at our local school than they are simply by living and playing in our neighborhood, you know? The school children are composed of children that live in our area. In Mr. FG’s case, this meant that his schoolmates were pretty much all white and middle-class.

          I think one of the very key things, though, is the parental example in terms of relating to people who are different. Parents who are respectful of other people’s faiths and who value people the same regardless of their skin color, culture, or socio-economic status are likely going to raise children who do the same.

          • Lori says

            Kristen, that’s pretty much my feeling on it. My kids are exposed to diversity because we live in a diverse neighborhood.

            This is a bit of a tangent, but I just read this piece by somebody arguing how “progressive” parents shouldn’t homeschool because they’re failing in their civic duties by not putting their children in the local public schools. I’m a progressive parent. The problem is that none of the people I’ve ever seen making this argument have moved to my neighborhood in Detroit and put their kids in the public schools here. Instead, they’re moving to the suburb with the best schools they can find or, maybe, living in an urban area with good magnet schools and doing whatever it takes to get their kids into them.

            One wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it allows families like mine–who can’t afford pricey private school tuitions but don’t want to relocate–to remain living in economically and racially diverse urban areas where the public schools are, frankly, terrible. The way we see it, we’re not using the public schools, but we’re part of the tax base, we’re part of the community, and we’re here. The alternative, moving to a more affluent area where the schools are better, doesn’t seem, to me, like it’s more of a social good or going to better prepare my children to function in a diverse world.

        • namastemama says

          Shannon,
          I totally disagree with your comment. Where do your children go to school? If my children went to the local PS there would be so much “sameness”. Small town, white kids that all dress alike and study the same subjects. If you never move, all your siblings will have the same teachers and maybe even a teacher your parents had, then you would form your clique with kids like yourself. It is human nature!
          If you research why public schools were formed, it was to mass produce good workers for the industrial revolution and this education system has not changed since then ! In most states PS are zoned. Hence, most children are going to be from the same background just by their zipcode.
          In my small schoolzone, my homeschooled kids are exposed to much more diversity than if they were in a PS or local private school.

    • kim says

      Shannon, I think you have a reasonable concern. I do think, though, that home educating can provide more opportunities to experience different cultures than a smaller, rural setting can. I have taken our children into the city for museum trips far more than I ever was when I attended public school. My public school was mostly white, and I hardly ever interacted with different races. Sad. In our home school co-op, we have been able to invite people of different cultures to share in our “World Cultures” class. And, our large church has a great mix of many cultures. Again, like Kristin said, we parents can make a difference no matter how our children are educated.

    • Jane B says

      When we decided to homeschool our kids (started in private school then tried a year in public) we felt it very important to include service projects in our schooling. Once a month we serve a food bank that distributes donations to local food pantries. Every month we are working along side people from different socio- economic groups as well racial- strata. I also tutor once a week in the inner city and my kids always beg to come along and help out.
      These are opportunities they did not have in their private or public school that we can have because we homeschool. That is part of the beauty of homeschooling. If it is important to me or my kids we can find a way to do it.

      By the way, I am someone that said I would never homeschool my kids.

      • says

        I’m confused with your statement. Are you saying that if you send your kids to traditional school environment that they can’t serve in a soup kitchen or watch a parent tutoring. I’m glad homeschooling works for you but you seem to be making a general statement that kids in public or private school don’t have these opporunities. Mine do and go to public school. My oldest serves at a food bank (btw, you need to be 10 years old to serve at our food bank). Through her public school education she is required to get 100 hours of service hours but they just can’t be anything and it can’t be regilious. I’m glad home schooling works for your family but I don’t think your general statement is true.

  8. says

    One thing I really like about home-school (or possibly home-unschooling) is that it can blur the artificial boundaries between learning and life.

    With our two-year old, it’s obvious that he’s learning all the time, and it’s clear that the learning comes from interacting and being together with his dad and I. I hope that we can keep teaching him (and our nearly-here baby) in the context of his interests and what we feel is best for him. That’s not to say we always know what’s best for him, so we wouldn’t do it alone, but I feel empowered to try and see if he does well and continues to like learning with us.

  9. says

    Hi Kristen,
    Thanks for this informative and thoughtful post. I had great experiences in a traditional elementary school and in the alternative program I attended for middle and high school. I think the latter had some similar benefits to what you pointed out in terms of time management, efficiency being rewarded, and learning to work independently and teach myself. Your everyday updates (and 365 posts showing everyone at the park or on vacation on what many would consider a school day) have made me so curious about homeschooling! I’d love to have kids in my very, very distant future, and would love to learn more. I know you probably learned a lot from your mom and your homeschooling community, but are there any books or resources you’d recommend for someone interested in learning more?

    Thanks!

  10. kate says

    What a positive spin on something that can really polarize people. I am curious about one thing. What happens when your children get to more advanced subjects during teen years (calculus, typical 4th year foreign language, AP physics, etc)? Are you going to learn each subject in depth? Outsource to someone else?

    • Kristen says

      Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Our current plan is to start having our kids take some classes at the community college during their later years of high school. This will give them a gradual introduction to more traditional schooling, and the delightful thing is that our state counts those classes for high school credit while still giving the student the college credit. So, they can end high school with sufficient credits while also getting a bit of a head start on college.

      With a good book, though, it is possible to learn these sorts of things at home. For example, Abraham Lincoln passed his law exam without taking a single class…he studied all on his own.

      • Rebecca says

        I want to point out that with a good book, it’s possible for SOME people to learn those sorts of things at home.

        Not everybody can learn calculus or chemistry (or whatever) from a book, since obviously there are different types of learners. But that’s another great thing about homeschooling, since you are their mother and their teacher, you know your kids’ learning styles and will be better qualified to help them decide how they are going to learn harder subjects once they are old enough. None of my public school teachers knew me well enough to help me make choices like that. My high school counselor CERTAINLY didn’t, and coincidentally, she was the one in charge of “helping” me pick out classes.

        Taking community college classes is a great option for a lot of kids. I was never homeschooled, but did Running Start (mostly community college with some high school) my junior and senior year and it worked out really, really well for me. I remember there being homeschooled kids in some of those classes and as far as I know they did just fine too.

    • EngineerMom says

      Kate – I went to college with several home-school graduates. High school homeschoolers have two major options for learning advanced subjects outside the realm of their parents (personally, I would relish teaching my kids calculus and AP physics, chemistry, and biology!):

      1. Learn from a text book. There are textbooks out there designed to teach to the AP tests, or if you’re just looking to learn the material and aren’t as concerned about a specific test, get a freshman college-level textbook. A good friend of mine who had been homeschooled had taught herself calculus out of a textbook well enough to score a 4 on the AP Calc BC test.

      2. Take community college classes in the specific subjects. Not only will this give you a specific “expert” to discuss subject material with, community college credit in basic courses such as freshman-level calc, physics, chemistry, composition, foreign languages, etc., will usually transfer easily to your child’s college choice. And even if the credits don’t directly transfer (my college wouldn’t let you sub anything for the freshman-level English/composition course), the experience and material your child learns WILL, making that course an easy A. Taking classes this way was how many of my homeschooled friends had completed their senior years and prepared for college. Only one had a bit of an issue adjusting to a classroom setting, and that was because he’d been homeschooled due to ADD/ADHD problems. He finished his college degree, then went on to get another degree and become an Registered Nurse (a great job for someone who needs a lot of physical activity to be able to continue focusing!)

      One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to take these classes as a high school senior. Although many high schools do have joint programs with local community colleges, the students are still sometimes required to spend a certain minimum number of hours on the high school’s campus.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing! I wish I could have been homeschooled when I was in high school… I’m definitely more of an independent study kind of girl. Thankfully, I’m attending a UK university, which is much less structured than American ones, so I sometimes feel like I’m homeschooling myself now :).

  12. says

    Hear, hear!

    My husband and I plan to homeschool our kids for many of the same reasons. I was homeschooled in elementary school and loved it, and I want to give our kids a similar experience. The freedom of a homeschool classroom vs. a traditional classroom is just unbelievable.

  13. Diane says

    I didn’t homeschool my children, but as a GT teacher I followed a program similar to yours. I had the privilege of teaching small groups of children who stayed with me over their years in elementary school. I designed my own integrated curriculum, took them on field trips to coordinate with learning and allowed them plenty of time to figure out things on their own. Our little space at school was a haven for these kids who were often bored in the regular classroom. I always said I had the best job any teacher could ever have.

  14. Sher says

    We homeschool for the same reasons you listed (plus a few more). It’s a great lifestyle for us and works well for our family.

    Great post — virtual high-fives from this homeschooling mama-of-six!

  15. Red says

    Yay! I stumbled onto your blog a few weeks ago and have been faithfully checking for this post that you mentioned was in the works every morning. I am so excited to see it!

    Though I do not have children, based on my own experiences with public school, I have done some homework and am leaning towards homeschooling if I ever do have kids. Public schools tend to move at the pace of the slowest quarter of the class and I spent a lot of my public school days being very frustrated at the slow pace in some subjects and upset when we would have to frequently stop to deal with misbehaving children.

    My senior year of high school, I was forced into (long story) a self paced program and with a lot of hard work, finished the last three credits I needed to graduate in two weeks. In a similar vein, I was very dismayed when I took the High School Competency Test in 10th grade (the forerunner to the FCAT) and passed it quickly and easily. It really made me feel that most of my time in public schools had not been used as efficiently as it could have been.

    It’s really hard to find literature/ blog posts about what some of the challenges of homeschooling are. What are some challenges in homeschooling that you face? Having been both homeschooled and a homeschool teacher, you must have some very unique insight into the challenges of homeschooling.

    Thank you for sharing your insight with us!

  16. says

    My mom homeschooled my brother and I most of our school year. I have reaped many of the benefits you wrote about. I think its wonderful that there are still people very vehement on homeschooling. I think its especially outstanding now as public schools get worse and worse.

    Thanks for writing!

  17. says

    These are all the same reasons I hope to homeschool our daughter. My mother is a public high school educator and I have a few friends who teach elementary school in our local school system. I also taught high school special education for a short while (before I realized I didn’t want to work with other people’s children because I can’t control what happens once they go home). You would never believe some of the stories I could tell you. I want to choose who my daughter socializes with. Parents don’t parent anymore and there is no telling what my daughter would learn from her peers. Great post!

  18. says

    awesome post on such a touchy subject! (although I’ve yet to understand why it’s so touchy:) I do both…public and homeschooling. This is our 1st year of homeschooling…I would love to know more about your schedule and what curriculum you use. I know…just because YOU use it doesn’t mean I should, but inquiring minds would love to chat about it:)

  19. says

    I wish I had homeschooled my younger two when I had the opportunity to. The public school system has changed so much in the last 10 years that I believe they would have been better off in a homeschooled program.

  20. Rachel says

    We decided to start homeschooling this fall. My husband and I are attending a homeschool conference in May. We are really excited to get started and we think our daughter (and possibly our other daughter when she is old enough) will benefit greatly from being homeschooled. We share many of the same reasons for making this choice and its refreshing to hear from others who are pro homeschooling!

  21. Jessy Keim says

    I had those colored blocks when I was young! I forget what they are called; sorry to the posts above. Probably some Googling will give you the answer. My brother and I should have been home schooled. I feel the bad influences I ran into in high school would have been avoided/resisted if I had a better foundation. We were also both fast learners (we didn’t watch TV until I was 8). My brother taught himself how to read.
    Kristen, if you have time, could you talk a bit about how expensive supplies/curriculum are? My husband and I are planning on having kids in a few years and I’d like to start thinking/researching home schooling now. My husband doesn’t like the idea; he thinks our kids will be too socially strange if we home school. Thank you!

    • says

      I educated two children from K-12 for about $25,000. This is what our NJ school district would have spent educating them for about a year. Each child did some online or software learning, and had some outside classes and coops. My daughter did her senior year in conjunction with community college classes. This includes books, curriculum, field trips, HSLDA membership and whatever else. It seemed like a lot to squeeze out of one income at the time, but over a 21 year period, it sure doesn’t seem like much now!

  22. Jennifer says

    Thank you for the post! I especially love the comment at the end about parental involvement, because that does make all the difference regardless of the method of education you choose for your child. I TA’ed for a 2nd grade teacher during college, and it was shocking to me that her biggest struggle was dealing with the children’s parents. When I was in grade school, the parents were the teacher’s biggest ally!

    I doubt we will be able to home school our children, but it is nice to know that the option is viable if public school doesn’t work out.

  23. Madeline says

    I love reading your blog– my son is all grown up, but I get to relive those happy younger days when I watch you and your children home schooling,baking,etc. The one thing I would DEFINITELY have done differently is: Kept my son out of the stagnant , boring school system! (And bullies!) Our son turned out fabulous in spite of a dull school system and now WORKS at a community college as a Videographer/Web Master.

    I have lots of friends who homeschooled, their “kids” — the “kids” are all grown up now, several are in Ivy League colleges, several in our local state colleges, and a few graduated with their own businesses now!

    I think that locking kids up in doors sitting in a chair for 6-7 hours a day is close to child abuse, now!!

    Nature, Mom and Dad, Aunts,Uncles, neighbors of all ages, and grandparents, daily living chores, gardening,traveling, all hold such rich opportunities for learning. Kudos to you for schooling your 4 children! A lot of work I am sure, but your Joy comes through in your blog!

    I am now semi retired, my husband and I love to bike, hike, garden, and I enjoy living frugally and as “green” as we can..so I get a lot of tips from your site!

    I would like your recipe for WHOLE WHEAT FRENCH BREAD..I received a panini maker for Christmas (!) and want to make my own bread for sandwiches.. yours looks sturdy enough.

    thanks for sharing!!

    • EngineerMom says

      Madeline –

      I make a lot of panini sandwiches, and I agree- whole wheat bread works best. If you have a basic french bread recipe, you can easily make it whole wheat. Just sub whole wheat flour (preferably “white whole wheat” which is made from soft white winter wheat instead of hard red spring wheat – it has a lighter color and milder flavor), and add 1 T (or more if your wheat is coarsely ground) of gluten for each cup of flour.

      The gluten will help your loaves rise higher (more structure) and feel softer. For best results, don’t add too much flour – the dough should still feel a bit sticky at the end of your first kneading. If you’re still having trouble, try adding an egg white – it helps the yeast.

  24. says

    This describes so perfectly the reasons I want to homeschool. And your point about teaching kids to learn on their own is one I hadn’t heard before but makes perfect sense! I was that kid that didn’t crack a book in school (I was lucky to test well by just listening) and when I got to college, I really struggled being in a class of 500 students with 1 professor. Thanks for publishing.

  25. says

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always been very interested in homeschooling, but unfortunately it doesn’t fit our current financial situation, and we very much like where we live at the moment! My daughter is a toddler attending a 4 day half day preschool at the moment, and I have one on the way. I’ve been recently looking into hybrid school options, because I feel like that would give me the opportunity to work and still give my children a more rounded and interesting education. Luckily in the Atlanta area there are a lot of options for this.

  26. says

    I applaud parents who have the drive and discipline to be able to homeschool their kids. My mother and both of her parents were schoolteachers, and there was a time when I planned to teach after college. I changed my mind when I really realized how little flexibility there is in a traditional classroom. I am entirely too much of an outside the box thinker to do well in a public or private school classroom.
    One of my dear friends & former roommates has a daughter who was diagnosed with Asperger’s when she was finishing 8th grade. School was overwhelming for her, even in our semi-rural country-city. Too many people makes her crazy. Her stepdad spent HOURS every night trying to help her with homework, yet she continued to struggle. In 9th grade, she was transferred to another district, MUCH smaller, and she did a little better for that year, but still had trouble with the homework and meeting the schedules the school set forth. She’s now being homeschooled, and thriving, not just academically, but her personality has blossomed, now that she doesn’t have to deal with the traditional stresses of high school.
    I think the key is in meeting the child’s needs best, and honestly, a parent is usually in the best position to determine that.

  27. says

    Hello! I really enjoyed reading your post.
    I too am homeschooling. We are in our 4th year. My children are 14 and 8, plus I watch my 21 month old nephew 5-6 days a week.
    I love making my own schedule as well. My teen gets to sleep in which studies have shown teens should be doing (getting more sleep and sleeping in.)
    I orginally started homeschooling because my oldest has special needs that his school was not meeting. He does much better learning at his pace without a large group around him.
    Another great benefit is the bond my boys have (yes they do fight) but they play together and enjoy each other too.
    Also my boys are very innocent when it comes to things that most of the kids their ages are doing. Many of the 14 year olds in this town and surrounding have tried smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Plus even in the middle schools sexual activity is happening. These are not low income towns. These are middle class (lower & upper) areas. It is really sad.
    I know people worry about homeschooled kids being sheltered, but it is my job as a parent to keep them safe, and sheltering helps with that.
    That being said my boys are active at our church (the oldest has been on a mission trip already.) They also do sports, and piano lessons. They have friends at church and in our community as well.
    I wanted to add in case any other single moms were considering homeschooling, I am a single mom. It is hard, but possible, and so worth it. I run an in home daycare and clean homes one day a week as well (daycare is opne Tues.-Sat. I clean on Mondays.) This allows me to be able to homeschool while earning a living.

  28. says

    I would love to homeschool, but it looks like that wont be in our future. While I can Im working with my 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old . Did you start activities with your children that young ? My oldest LOVES workbooks, puzzles, games any “table work” My youngest does too. Puzzles and matching mostly. I find it hard to manage them at the same time. Do you have any tips ? Thanks :)

    • Kristen says

      That is hard to deal with sometimes! I have to go back and forth between Sonia and Zoe pretty often.

      Can you get something for the 3.5 year old that’s so easy he/she can do it without help from you? Then you could help the 1 1/2 year old. Another idea is to work with your 3.5 year old while your 1.5 year old naps.

  29. Elle says

    “Homeschooled children do a lot of figure-it-out-by-reading-the-book kind of learning (with mom available when they get stuck).”

    YES! I have observed that ALL of the college students I’ve taught who were homeschooled actually read (and follow) assignment directions. These students are not overwhelmed by multi-step directions for complex projects. I have shared this observation with my teaching colleagues, but it was great to have it affirmed in your post.

  30. Aubrey says

    Thank you! I’ve been waiting eagerly for this post :-).

    My 2yo son is in preschool 2 days a week right now because I have to work while my husband finishes his degree, but as soon as he is done I want to homeschool! I was bullied *every day* from 1st-6th grade for being the “smart kid”, and it was completely awful. My husband and I can tell that our son is very intelligent, and I don’t want him to be bullied for it, or be frustrated at having to learn at a slow pace (like my husband and I both were), or start acting out due to boredom (like my husband did). Right now my son loves to learn new things, and I don’t want him to lose that.

  31. says

    Great post! Although my daughter is too young to start school (1 1/2 yrs old), I have been thinking more and more about homeschooling for her for when she gets older. Thank you for providing your reasons; they are good ones :)

  32. Samantha says

    Thank you for your post. It is very interesting to hear about your reasons to homeschool. I have a 2nd grader and a preschooler. I am interested in finding out how you deal with road blocks or when they are unable to learn from your teaching? I appreciate watching my children learn from other adults. Do your children get those opportunities to learn from others? Would you ever consider letting your children be involved in recreational sports teams? Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    • Kristen says

      Well, thus far we haven’t come up against any insurmountable difficulties, thank goodness!

      My kids do learn from people at church, and my mom also comes once a week to teach Latin and Composition to Joshua and Lisey.

      Sports teams…yep, if my kids are ever interested, we’ll definitely consider it. As of right now, none of them have shown leanings that way, though. They’re more into things like biking, rollerblading, and scootering (that’s probably not a word!) than team sports.

  33. Amanda says

    I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since you mentioned it. I’ve taught public school for seven years. For the first year I was a family literacy teacher and actually worked with immigrant parents. Our whole program philosophy was empowering parents so that they could be involved in their students’ education.

    Since then, I’ve taught six years of high school English. Yesterday I had a student upset with me because I emailed her parents about her failing grade, and she got grounded. Today she submitted late work and thanked me for getting her parents involved. She said she needed that support and is doing better in three classes for it. That’s a long-winded way for a teacher to illustrate that parents really are the most important factor in their students’ success. I love involved parents!

    This May will be the end of my public school teaching career. My husband and I are having a baby girl in July, and I’ll be staying home with her. When the time comes, we’ll be homeschooling her (and any future siblings) for many of the reasons you mentioned. I cannot wait to teach and learn alongside my own children. Thank you for an inspiring blog post!

  34. Hannah says

    Wow, what a powerful post. Thank you for posting! I was homeschooled and of course, as a child, I loved it. Once highschool hit, I know my parents decided to go with “co-op classes” because I simply was not as diligent to study by myself (all of my siblings were out of the house by then). I find myself thinking of new reasons to thank and love my mom for what she did with me and the countless hours she spent tutoring me, every day.

    I really hope I can homeschool my kids. At least in the early grades, when their little minds are like sponges.

  35. Denise says

    I freely admit I do not have the temperment to teach very young children, which is why my children attend a small private school. There are only 12 students, 1st-6th grade. I do, however, love teaching middle grade students and am happy to volunteer my time at the kids’ school teaching writing classes to the 4-6th graders. Our son, in second grade, is working at grade level on spelling, (he’s dyslexic), reading at third grade and working in fourth grade math—all of these things would not be possible at our public school.
    The tuition is minimal compared to most private schools, which means I can work part-time, in part, to pay for their education, and still be home when they get home. The students at the school have a learning garden close by. We take them on numerous field trips to the garden and other places in our community. My husband and I feel we have the best of both worlds. The parents at this little Christian school have made this dream a reality with careful attention over the past decade.

  36. says

    It sounds like you purchase curricula and adapt them as needed, and that you teach “school subjects” in a systematic way. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on unschooling!

  37. Sarah says

    I think that everything you said is bang-on. I did public, private, and home school when I was growing up, and I’m finishing my teaching degree, now. Many of the things you mentioned actually conform to the ideals that teachers are supposed to use in the classroom, but often can’t because of bureaucratic impasses and lack of time and resources. Since you are a very organized, intentional, and intelligent person, I have no doubt that your children are receiving an above average education and will be sufficiently prepared for adult life.

  38. says

    This i incredibly enlightening. I come from a tradition school and family, but have always been curious about home-schooling and how it is different. Thank you for the insight!

  39. says

    Thank you so much for this post! I don’t really “know” any other homeschooling families in our area and it is so helpful to hear about how and why it works. We’ve decided that it is the way our family will educate based on many similar reasons.
    I know that it is our decision but we do face some opposition from outside family members. You just reinforced that our reasons are perfectly solid ones. The next time I am asked why or told I should do otherwise I will have even more things to back up our decision.
    In the beginning I thought it had to look similar to a public school day but reading your blog has shown me that our day can take on many different forms and I am no longer afraid to make the day work for us!

  40. says

    You are a WONDERFUL mother and homeschooler. This post is inspirational. Although my family is different, and making different choices, I completely respect yours. Reading through your post reminds me of something I’ve learned as a new gardener. I really see my children like I see little plants, just starting out from seeds. Children need all the good nutrition and sunlight, warmth, reinforcement, positivity and consistent discipline in the world to strengthen their character in the early years, just like plants need to be cared for by being watered, and by good, nutritious soil and sunlight. If put out in the direct sun too early, after being incubated, a little plant can get sun-scorched, windblown to bits, and generally not thrive. This has to be done gradually and with utmost care. Once they are strong, from all the love and care they’ve received, they are ready to take on the outside world. They’re no longer fragile, and their roots are deep.

  41. Shannon H says

    Hello. I want to start by saying I LOVE your blog. It has blessed me in so many way. I too am a hsing mama (with an education degree). I just started off my oldest in Kindg and the other two will be soon following. We did preschool at home as well and I noticed that Jakin was starting to get bored with his preK stuff so I bought a lot of Kindg curriculum. He seems to be doing very well and loves the challenge. I loved the ability to start him in Kingd in February.

    Anyhow, I was wondering what curriculum(s) you use. I mix and match. Right now we are doing Handwriting Without Tears (LOVE it), Saxon Phonics, Teach Your Children to Read In 100 Easy Lessons (LOVE it), Five In A Row (LOVE it) and A Child’s Book of Character Building (for Bible). I was looking into Christian Light Education for math. I was wondering what you liked and have not liked and why. What advice could you give a new homeschooling mom?

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and love for your children, family and Christ with all of us.

    Shannon H.

  42. says

    Great post! I homeschool my daughter and find the benefits are amazing. We don’t actually utilize curriculum, preferring instead the unschooling method. Like your kids, she loves the extra free time and being away from busy work. People in my community don’t really understand homeschooling and, in fact, we are one of very few families around here who educate this way. Positive posts like this are great to see after hearing such negative feedback elsewhere. I agree that it isn’t right for every family, but it works for us!

  43. Sheila Payne says

    Well Said!!! I agree with you 100% on every single point. We homeschooled K-12 and loved every minute of it. I guess I will add that point. It is just plain fun to watch your children grow into amazing adults. Great Job!!

  44. Rebecca says

    I really enjoyed this post!

    I know your faith is very, very important to you, but I must say (as an athiest) that I really appreciated the limited mention of religion in this post. I know you very much include faith in your homeschooling, but it was much easier for me to follow along and identify with what you wrote because of the limited mentions of religion.

    SO many people I know believe that homeschooling is only for religious extremists, in an effort to keep their kids away from the ‘real’ world. Obviously this is not true.

    I don’t have any kids, but I am considering homeschooling when I do (someday). This post really gave me a lot to think about.

    • Mairsydoats says

      I agree! And really appreciate the respectful attitude Kristen always exhibits towards those of us who don’t have exactly the same views on religion. She has a way of talking about religion that doesn’t make me feel preached at or talked down to.

      On another subject – I went through public school, and it was a pretty good experience (certainly my mother and I wouldn’t have made a great educational team – shudder!), but at the end of high school, I was taking several classes at the next-door junior college, which really made my senior year more productive and enjoyable.

  45. says

    Well written post. When I was working full time I would have never even considered homeschooling my girls. Not only because I was working, but because of the same common misconceptions about homeschooling. I had those misconceptions, and so did my husband. What we didn’t realize at the time is that we were doing quite a bit of homeschooling. We have always supplemented, worked extra with our girls on everything. As we got to know more people that homeschooled, we realized that homeschool kids are more social. So last year we began homeschooling our two younger girls. Kristen is right, it’s not for everyone, but it has quite a few advantages. Many of my reasons are the same as Kristen’s. I wouldn’t change it for anything. My kids are more cultured now than they ever have been. We go to museums, art exhibits, plays, sports events, libraries etc. We take field trips with other children in our community that homeschool. Often when we take a trip, we see other kids that homeschool too. There are so many co-op’s that your kids will be around other kids too. My kids are around a wider range of people in terms of age, race, economic factors etc, now than when they were at school. I think if you homeschool and become a shut in you might find a lack of culture, diversity and exposure to different race and religion, but most homeschooled children get out and interact more than public school children. It all goes back to the part about efficiency. We have more time to do more things.
    I have a daughter that is a senior in public high school, she is the very top of her class. She will be the first to tell you that she is where she is because she had to figure things out for herself. She knows how to get the answers, she knows how to figure things out on her own, and she has good study habits. Just because a person is a teacher, does not mean they know any more about a certain subject than the student. They may be reading the same book as the student. Many of her AP teachers had never taught the classes before. They are teachers, but not necessarily have any expertise in that subject. There expertise is teaching.

  46. Jo in RI says

    Much as I’d love to read all the comments in addition to your post, I just don’t have the time right now. I homeschooled for 2 years and loved it for the most part, and it served our family well as we moved between states two years in a row and it kept my oldest from moving between schools as well. Now we’re in a place with a good, small, neighborhood public school, and we are taking advantage of that while I take a bit of a breather. And we are SOOOO happy that this year our oldest’s teacher is a simply lovely woman who happens to go to our church! Love it. And my oldest loves school so much. She can’t stand to miss a day for any reason–we even talked about going to Disneyland but she really hesitated because it would mean missing school, so we decided it wasn’t a priority for us if it wasn’t for the kids. Older son didn’t really care about it either.

    I do have to say our school is FANTASTIC about missing school/taking off. I’ve never once had to take in a doctor’s note for illness, and we just let the school know if we’ll be away on a trip–no questions asked. My husband has a research trip to London coming up, and we are taking the kids out of school for six days for a big field trip (yay to air miles and a brother-in-law who is willing to host us!). I told my son’s teacher today and asked if there is work he should do in advance or while we are away, and she said absolutely not. Travel is great education in itself. So glad for teachers and a school that are on board with that.

    I feel like we really have the best of both worlds going on right now–lots of opportunity to be involved at the school, kids are really happy there and learning tons. And we try to continue that learning process at home as well.

    All that to say, even though we have a good situation now and aren’t currently homeschooling, homeschooling is always an option for us on an as-needed basis. If one of my kids started having issues in the public system, I would bring them home in a heart beat. I actually kind of miss having that really focused time with my kids. And I miss the learning I got to do in the process.

    Enough for now. I continue to love your blog and love that you’re homeschooling. Some days I wish I was too right now, but I am grateful for the good situation we do have.

  47. Heather says

    Your post echoes so many of the reasons why homeschooling is the right choice for our family right now. As I type, I am listening to one of my sons practice piano, the other practice drums. We tackled grammar and math this morning and were about to move on to history, when a short break turned into three hours hanging out in the yard. It was an irresistible 65 degrees outside. We’ve got the rest of the day (or tomorrow for that matter) to finish up our history and Latin lessons. On our own schedule :)

    • Kristen says

      Yeah. We had an impromptu P.E. session (i.e. teaching Sonia how to ride her bike without training wheels!) today too. ;)

  48. says

    I LOVE this post! This is something that has been totally pulling at my heart to do. A year ago I would have had a completely different view on homeschooling. Now I see how much the other kids are influencing my kids and I really dislike that. Thanks for this post. It came at a time when I needed it! :) Erin

  49. Rebecca P. says

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet. I’m going to set aside some time this evening for that. Hopefully I’m not repeating what someone else has said, but I would add one thing to the list. Having had my older two children graduate from public school, I know all to well about the extreme pressure kids in ps have on them to have “things.” Whether it be expensive jeans to the newest game system to the newest car, kids are taught by peers that they’re self worth is based on what they have. Of course homeschooled kids want things, but they don’t have that terrible social pressure. If they were used jeans and spend their money on rock collecting, they aren’t made to feel less than.

    I love this post! I’ve already shared it on my facebook page. Thanks for sharing!

  50. Robin says

    I love your comments about “figure-it-out-by-reading-the-book” learning! I’m a librarian at a university and I have noticed that many college students who are learning to use library resources (article databases, the library catalog, etc.) want verbal, step-by-step instructions and constant reassurance and praise. They have low tolerance for reading instructions and applying what they learn through trial and error. I don’t blame anyone specifically for this–who can truly say that it’s the fault of schools, “helicopter parents,” TV, or whoever?–but somewhere along the line, many young people aren’t learning how to independently use the resources at their disposal to build knowledge and develop skills. Anyway, my point is that I admire you for valuing this kind of learning and for helping your children “learn how to learn” this way. Also, I really like your blog!

  51. says

    Wow! This is so cool! My husband really wants us to homeschool our (someday) kids, but I’m on the fence. It’s good to know this a good option and it’s working for others! :) Thanks for sharing! You rock!

  52. says

    I really appreciate how you’ve laid out your reasons for homeschooling in a positive way. We have little ones too young for school, but we plan on sending them to public school. I think it’s important to be open-minded and hear where others are coming from in their decisions on how to educate their children, but it can be frustrating to read things like, “the system is broken and failing” and “I’m not sacrificing my child to the system.” No one likes to have their choices criticized, so thank you for not doing that here!

    • Kristen says

      Yes. People who have made any educational choice should be careful not to rudely denigrate someone else’s choice. It happens to everyone…people tell public schoolers that they’re sacrificing their children, people tell homeschoolers their children will be poorly educated social misfits, and really, none of that is helpful because it’s hard to listen to what someone has to say when it’s couched in such negative terms.

      So, yes. We should be kind! And we should treat other people’s educational choices as courteously as we’d like other people to treat ours.

  53. Wendy says

    I am a college English teacher, and I can tell you that teaching your children to learn independently will make a big difference in their college success. I have many students who believe they should not have to read the course textbook, because they think I should tell them everything they need to know in class. That’s not my philosophy; my major objective is to teach students how to be independent, critical thinkers, so I give them a lot of out of class work, quiz them on it, and build class time around what they should have studied. Students that refuse to do their independent study rarely do well in the course, because it shows in their course work. And I always get comments from those students that they shouldn’t have to read the book. I don’t know where things went wrong for these students. I often wonder if the public school system accommodates this approach, or in some cases, it’s just laziness on the student’s part. The students who know how to motivate themselves, manage their time, and learn independently do much better than their peers in college, and in the business world. You are teaching your children an essential skill.

    And I really appreciate your post on this. I was afraid to read it at first because I know people who home school precisely to avoid having their children exposed to ideas outside of their religious beliefs or world view. You clearly do it for other reasons. As an educator, I think there is value to being exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives. It’s what makes us tolerant people and open-minded, critical thinkers.

  54. says

    My kids attend a specialized public school program where they learn half-day in Japanese, and half-day in English. Because this started in kindergarten (and they’re now 8th and 10th graders) they both now speak Japanese very well. They’ll be fluent by the time they finish high school.

    It’s not been perfect by any means, as a few of the teachers along the way were less than stellar. On the other hand, a couple of teachers were unbelievably fantastic and I feel like their presence in my kids’ life will positively impact their lives for years to come.

    I did homeschool my younger son for a year when he was being horribly bullied and the school refused to recognize what was going on. It was a joy. We were able to get school finished within a couple of hours, then we’d just hang out. It was very healing.

    The language immersion has been so enriching to our lives. To learn another language and culture in such depth is a special opportunity. My older son will spend a month in Sapporo this summer, and my younger son and I are going for two weeks on a class trip next month to Hiroshima.

    Public school certainly provides many teachable moments in terms of dealing with awful people. But for my family, public school has been an incredible gift.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • priskill says

      Wow, fluent speakers — that is amazing and a wonderful outcome! it’s a great reminder of how there are stellar public schools out there. I work in a small elementary district and am constantly blown away by the gen. ed. teachers and what they accomplish (spec. ed. is different) — it’s a staggering amount of work and they are constantly balancing the work with all those teachable moments that can’t be scripted or tested for. Love this discussion and seeing the possibilities out there — it really is a great thing to have choices.
      So admire Kristen et al for having the discipline,brains, fortitude, and joy to tackle this job. I know I could not so I relied on the (mostly) wonderful teachers who did so well by my daughter. Anyway, have a great time in Japan!

  55. Meredith says

    What a great post! As was pointed out by others, you very eloquently explained some of the great reasons why homeschooling works for your family. I was also homeschooled, all the way through high school, then went on to complete college. My husband (who was also homeschooled) and I decided to teach our children at home for many reasons similar to those you stated – and a few others. We have 4 children ages 6, 5, 3, & 1.5. I have to say, that there are days I second guess our decision. My two older children are in 1st and K, so the schooling for them at this stage is VERY involved. My younger two have not quite figured out how to always ‘play nice’ or problem solve when it is just the two of them, so my attentions are very often (and constantly) needed there as well. At the end of the day I am generally tired, and sometimes I wonder if they would be receiving a better education from the local public school. When I look at what they have learned and are currently learning, they are on track and even ahead in some areas. I have to frequently remind myself that in a few years, and even a few months, things will be easier in some respects, and I will be glad that we stuck with it.
    Thank you for your reminder of some of the wonderful reasons for choosing to homeschool!

    • Kristen says

      Hang in there! It does get a little better down the road. :) When my younger two were small, we often did the bulk of our work during naptime in the afternoon…it saved me a lot of stress for sure.

  56. says

    Wow, this is a wonderful post. As usual, Kristen, you have written a post on a potentially controversial issue with tremendous grace and without an ounce of judgement.

    I’m a longtime lurker/reader, and one of the things I find fascinating and admirable about the way you are raising your children is your big emphasis on downtime. Homeschooling can facilitate downtime but as I’m sure you’d agree, it’s not unique to homeschooling. There are homeschooling families whose schedules are packed with enrichment classes and activities, and traditional-schoolers who strive to keep non-school time as “chill” as possible for their kids.

    Eschewing after-school enrichment activities is tough! We’re bombarded with choices: sports, martial arts, music, gymnastics, art. And of course, all of these activities can be wonderful additions to a child’s life. It’s just that it can all get to be too too much, and can add stress to a family’s life very quickly. It takes confidence to know that your children will be fine without all of those things, and in fact will benefit from having to create their own “enrichment” much of the time.

    • Kristen says

      Oh, definitely. There are some homeschooling families who are pretty much never home! ;)

      One thing that helps me is that I grew up in a home with lots of free time and not a lot of structured extra-curricular activities, so that helps me to to be confident that my children will be just fine. That, and history…for many years, children did survive just fine without learning multiple sports, multiple instruments, and so on.

      There’s a balance to be had, of course, and it’s not the same for every family. But for us, I think the perfect balance point is close to the fewer-activities end of the spectrum.

  57. says

    I admire and agree with most of your points. However as the mother of an only, I value the friendships and the network of other parents we have access to at public school. Our school is also French Immersion and for that I think you need other people to speak with to learn the language! I try to supplement what he learns with extra at homework time, he is an advanced reader for example, but the social aspect I could not replicate. Thanks for a great in-depth view into your life as a home school mom.

    • Kristen says

      Yes, I can definitely see how things would be different with an only child! If I was homeschooling an only child, I’d definitely do more networking with other homeschoolers than I currently do.

  58. says

    I love how homeschooling works for you. I don’t know if I have the patience and time to do what you do for 4 kids. I’m a girl scout leader and just to plan one girl scout meeting takes me hours and the meeting only lasts 1 hour. I even have a guide line that maps out the meeting but it still takes time to get the supplies, figure out the order of the meeting, make sure the experiments work, rehearse what I’m going to discuss, etc.. I’m sure I’m struggling with the same thing that a traditional teacher has is limited time. So, I can see how in home school environment you are not rushed to finish things and you work at your own pace. So, you must be super organized to do all of that with your kids. I’m sure the teaching style is different because I can’t imagine that you spend that much time prepping everyday for school. How much of your time do you spend prepping, researching, buyings supplies, etc? Do you follow a plan out on some website? How do you decide what material to use? Are you ever worried that you aren’t teaching some of the required stuff like reading fluency, reading comprehension, and many other terms that I don’t know because I assume teachers go to school to learn more than the average person knows. I guess, my fear is that I wouldn’t be teaching my kid the right thing. Is there a guidebook that tells you what to teach at each level? I just googled some teaching terms and some that came up were Bottom-up teaching, Cloze, Discourse Competence, Contrasive analysis, etc… I guess, my concern would be that these things aren’t being taught. I’m not saying that the traditional school environment is better I’m just saying that teachers are taught to teach these things that I as a parent have no clue about. There are tons of things wrong with traditional teaching I was just curious about how a homeschooler parent makes sure they cover everything or is that something they don’t worry about.

  59. says

    I think homeschooling is admirable and I applaude you. If I had been aware of homeschooling back in the dark ages when my children were school age, I would have done it. I would happily homeschool my grandchildren if I could get them all to move down here to my island home.

  60. says

    What a great post. I just started homeschooling my 3 boys (5, 7 & 8 1/2) just last month. Your post explains all the reasons I am loving it so far even with its daily challenges. Thanks for giving me a great post to send my in-laws! :)

  61. says

    I think this might be the best post on “why I homeschool” that I have ever read. I started homeschooling in 1989, and finished up in 2010, so you can imagine that I have read (and written!) quite a few of these. You voiced so many of my same reasons, and added a few that I actually had and didn’t realize it, and a few more that were my guilty pleasure but I didn’t tell anyone that they were real reasons (like the one about having a love affair for setting your own schedule).

    I can’t even begin to tell you how it makes me feel to read so many comments that begin “I was homeschooled and I am teaching my x year-old.” It is a far cry from being the only homeschooling family in town and having to seek permission from the school district.

    Thanks for a wonderful post.

  62. Patricia Fargo says

    Home schooling is very simply a practice used by countless generations over the history of the world. Usually the very elite of society were educated this way. Pioneer children learned this way. I teach public school in the inner city. No, you do not want to send your kids to public schools. The influences there are no longer desirable. The pacing plan we must follow is too slow. And all public schools in America now are ‘teaching to the test.’

  63. Claudia says

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I think it is wonderful that you were able to post about homeschooling with out continually condemning regular schooling, but rather by listing the benefits of homeschooling. That gives your opinion much more credibility.

    I was somewhat surprised to note that you didn’t mention the opportunity to teach your children from a Christian perspective as a main reason to homeschool. As a Christian, this seems to be the greatest benefit. This is why we send our four children to a Christian school, and if it were not an option, we would also consider homeschooling.

    I could not resist to comment on your statement that homeschooling is very efficiency. I agree that in a homeschooling environment, actual learning of material is done more efficiently. But don’t forget, many tasks you may deem to be repetitive or unnecessary are done for a child’s benefits in a school. For example, colouring in K or Gr 1 is an excellent way to strengthen fine motor skills. Additionally, when seat work is done, rooms in the lower grades have stations (reading, blocks, pets, etc.) for children to engage in ‘free play’, which is definetely of upmost importance. It is not as unstructured as in a homeschooling environment, but it certainly exists.

    On a final note, open your world! You obviously enjoy this tremendously, as do your children, and I believe you do a wonderful job in this. But ensure your children are getting beyond the bounderies of your constant presence. Otherwise they will become mini adults, or more specifically, mini-Kristens. I have many friends and aquaintances who homeschool, and this is by far the most negetive consequence of homeschooling. Children speak like adults and expect to be listened to as adults, with out the knowledge or wisdom of experience behind their thoughts and opinions.

    All the best Kristen!

    • Kristen says

      Thanks for your respectful comment! I appreciate the tone of it.

      Teaching my children from a Christian perspective is indeed a benefit of homeschooling, and it is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to homeschool. But that reason is trotted out a LOT, and I was feeling a bit like I wanted to offer up some different reasons for homeschooling, maybe some that people haven’t heard a bunch of times before.

      Just so you know, my kids spend time around other adults and other children (homeschooled and traditionally schooled) and they seem to do just fine. Of course, there will be more of this as they grow older, just like there was when I was growing up as a homeschooled student.

      It’s interesting that you see homeschoolers’ interactions with adults as something negative because when my siblings and I were growing up, we were consistently complimented on the way we interacted with adults. :)

  64. says

    Hmm… I think that this really isn’t such a black and white issue regarding kids’ exposure to diversity in public school or private school vs. homeschool. People who homeschool do things in so many different ways, and exposure to folks from different walks of life is completely up to the parents, at least when children are very young. Our son is finishing first grade in our local public school. He is Arab American, and his three best friends are half Iraqi-half Turkish, second generation Thai, and Indian (I believe his friend was born in India.) They all go to first grade together. All of these children, including our own, speak more than one language. So, it really depends. This has been our inaugural experience, having our first child develop friendships with children he’s met in public school. I guess it depends where you live, and how open you teach your children to be (by modeling openness) and not necessarily the method of schooling that ultimately makes the difference.

  65. says

    Kristen, I love the picture of your four shining children at the top of the post. They look lovely, cheerful and sweet.
    We homeschooled our 3 children through the 8th grade. The most important factor in our decision was wanting our children to internalize our values. It was a wonderful experience for our entire family. It had difficult moments, for sure. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. What made our tough moments even harder was the criticism we endured from some (though, most definitely, not all) non-homeschoolers. We felt we had to look perfect to the outside world, or risk hearing again that our children “needed” to be traditionally schooled.
    But all in all, it was wonderful. Our three children are today, kind, compassionate, generous human beings. And you know what, I think there are many pathways to raising wonderful kids. I know this for fact. I have many nieces and nephews, some who were public schooled, others private schooled, a couple unschooled, and a couple who experienced a mix of schooling types (as did mine). As my father-in-law always says, “there’s not a bad one in the bunch”. They’re all good decent kids. What I think they all have in common is parents who care deeply about being good parents.

  66. says

    I agree with just about everything you’ve written. While my reasons to homeschool are primarily to give my children a good education, I do like the flexibility you mentioned and the fact that homeschool improves family time. I think homeschool families are often close knit because of it.

  67. Constance Myers says

    I loved your article, this is the first year I will be homeschooling my four children, I’m a bit nervous but your blog reminded me of all the reasons I’m drawn to it! God bless you, you are a wonderful mom!

  68. Wendy says

    Wow! Is my first time visiting your website and I really enjoyed reading about your homeschooling. Thank you for sharing. I truly wish I could homeschool my little girl :(

  69. Leigh says

    Kristen,
    I really enjoyed reading this. I was looking at homeschool curriculum, and I have some time to decide…my youngest children are 4, 3, and 2, but I was wondering if I should homeschool them. I am a bit on the fence right now. I homeschooled my oldest child for 4 years, and frankly, it was not a good experience for either of us. I think a big issue was that I didn’t feel well with my pregnancies, and we did not get out a lot. She felt extremely isolated, and I didn’t feel like homeschooling, but I felt like I should. Putting her into a private school has been a wonderful decision for her. My 4 and 3 year olds are in preschool and have just flourished in the Christian preschool setting. My 3 year old has really come out of his shell.

    That being said, my husband is quite firm that he really does not want our children to go to public school, and we cannot afford 4 private school tuitions. I think that homeschooling could be different than it was with my oldest, and I sometimes do get the desire to do so, but seeing how well my children have grown socially since attending school, I am not sure that bringing them home full time is the best decision.

    Do you have some tips on keeping them socialized with others their age? My oldest was in quite a few activities when we did homeschool her, yet it was hard for her to form bonds with the short time she would be at a practice or game. They were being coached instead of really meeting eachother.

    I guess what all of this constant rambling is leading to is that I just want to make the best decision for my children. I know that no matter what direction I choose, there will be pros and cons, but I want there to be more pros :) I also know that I will get quite a lot of negative feedback from family and friends…not to mention my oldest daughter is even against me doing this again due to her experince of feeling isolated.

    Sooooo: 1. Do you have socialization ideas
    2. How do you deal with the negativity from family
    3. How did you know that this was the right decision for your family

    • Kristen says

      Fortunately for me, most of our extended family is quite supportive of homeschooling, so I haven’t had to deal with very much in the way of negativity.

      So, I’m not sure exactly what to offer in terms of advice, but I’d probably talk with your husband to figure out some things to say when people ask about it, and I’d probably try to come up with some statements that don’t encourage a whole bunch of discussion (Even if you don’t feel terribly confident, it would be good to be able to say something confident! ;) )

      Socially speaking, I’d see if you could meet some other homeschooling families that you could hang out with (not because they’re better than other families, but because their children’s schedules will probably match your own better.) Also, do your kids play with neighborhood children? My kids love to have neighborhood kids over to our house once they get home from school.

      Homeschool groups often have activities you can participate in too, like field trips or game days, and if you attended those, your kids could get more of a chance to be with other children.

      If you had no other kids at home when you homeschooled your older daughter, you might want to keep in mind that things will be a bit different this time around. A household with four kids is a lot different than a household with one!

      Regarding your last question, socializing hasn’t really been a huge concern for me…my kids are happy being homeschooled, they don’t have trouble meeting new people and making friends (at church or at extra-curricular classes), and non-homeschooled neighborhood kids are anxious to play with my kids (so they must be fairly normal!) Also, I was homeschooled myself and I haven’t experienced any social problems. So, I’ve never really had socialization worries-I’ve been confident that this is right for our family (for all the reasons I detailed in this post, actually.)

      I feel like this reply is sort of rambly, but I hope it helps!

      • Leigh says

        Thanks so much!!! I do feel like where we live is also a huge advantage if we do choose to homeschool. There are a lot of support groups here, and a wonderful lady that I know homeschooled her children and knows the leader of one of the groups, so I really do feel it could be much better this time around :)

  70. Abby D says

    I love your blog. I have a four year old and a 10 month old. My four year old is currently in traditional preschool, but I am quickly learning that they cover things to say they did and move on regardless of mastery. My son doesn’t want to go either. I’m a former public school teacher and a long-time advocate, so you can see my dilemma. Nevertheless, I’ve started the homeschool process and ordered Volume 1 of Five in a Row and will soon order Horizons Math. Child you tell me what materials you use? Do your children work at the kitchen table? Where do you keep their materials? Excited and nervous about homeschooling,

    Abby

    • Kristen says

      So glad you’re enjoying my blog!

      My kids work all over the house (the office, the kitchen table, their room). Their materials are in various places..some are in a bookshelf and some of my kids keep them in a stack in their bedroom closet.

      I use a wide variety of materials. I love Saxon Math, Easy Grammar, Wordly Wise, and Handwriting Without Tears.

      It sounds like you’ll be needing kindergarten materials, so check out this post, where I outline how I do kindergarten:

      http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2009/08/kindergarten-basics-on-the-cheap/

  71. jenny says

    Thank you so much for this post! I am trained as a teacher and I completely agree with all your points. I wish more parents were as involved and invested in their children’s education as you were.

  72. says

    Hi, like to be apart of your blog. My wife and I homeschool our 5year old for last two years and we have a 1 year old, with baby brother on the way. We use a christian homeschool program. Only problem is that it can be limited in center areas that our child is advanced in. Any comments or suggestions. I am a current school teacher and truly support the ideal of a homeschool education. My child does multiplication, basic division, and reads at 3rd to 4th grade. We put her i 1st grade in the program but it slows her in those two major areas. Comments welcome?

    • Leigh says

      That is one of the advantages of homeschool. My oldest daughter performed at different levels for different subjects, and if you don’t mind putting together your own curriculum, you could have your child at different grade levels depending on the subject.

  73. Amelia says

    As a 14 yr old Australian, I know Australians as a whole are primarily against homeschooling because a) 33% of Australians attend private schools (which have quite high standards). b) The catholic and public school system seem to have an okay basis for education and c) many have the perception that homeschooled children are anti-social. Personally I would hate to be trapped at home with my siblings all day, everyday. My school provides tutoring if you don’t understand a Maths topic or something in English, what if my only teacher, my mum couldn’t explain something to me! I feel homeschooling is also quite sexist, I don’t find many husbands on Wife Swap USA doing the teaching. Also in the wealthy areas of where I live, in Sydney the private school/selective school you pick can be critically judged by society. If my mum homeschooled me many would be quite shocked! Selecting the private school you chose your child to attend can cause much controversy! Each year the top 100 schools are released and I know many of my friends can recite it! Overall I respect that although we both speak English´╝î Australia and America harvest extremely differing cultures.

    • Kristen says

      I’m glad that you’re happy with the choice your parents have made for you and that it works in your culture.

      My children are delighted to be homeschooled, though, and would not choose to go to school if they had the chance (though they will go when college time rolls around!) And my husband and I are quite happy with the arrangement we have going on…he would not want to stay home and homeschool, and I would not want a full-time job outside of our home.

      Personally speaking, I never came across anything my mom and dad couldn’t help me with, and thus far, the same is true of my experience as a homeschooling mom. And several studies have shown that homeschoolers do at least as well as and often better than their traditionally schooled counterparts when they take standardized tests and attend college, so we do seem to be well-prepared for traditional academic life. :)

    • says

      It seems your view of parents and siblings is not that positive. My children love each other and their mother and me very much. The oldest 5, has attended private school in another country (philippines) which has much higher standards than america. At 4 she was in a class with 5 to 6 year old and was to far beyond them, she became bored. I understand now due to your comments, that the home environment must be very loving and stable. As far as knowing the school information, I am a teacher, math degree and engineering degree with a (master in educational technology), my wife has an Art degree. We can cover any highschool topic with ease. My 5 years old will have no problems in this area. She also will be finishing 1st grade soon and starting 2nd well before she is 6 years old no school system can keep up with her. My 1 year old already knows the alphabet and will begin the same process of rapid learning her sister under went. I would like for you to truly consider homeschool as potentially far more advanced to private and public. One more thing social: My 5 year old does gymnastics on Mon, Wed, and Sat, does bowling 3 to 4 times a month, Golfs on Sat. ,helps me with volleyball on Thurs, and does sunday school at church on sundays. There is no problem with social.

  74. Trasey says

    I am so interested in home schooling my 7 year and I felt that way since he first started school and now he is in the second grade his teacher is the absolute worst. I requested a class change two times and they refuse, I am going to make another request in the morning and if it doesnt happen…well I will have to make the decision to do it. A little nervous about it all, I have a 7 year old and 6 month old twins and I work from home. Im not sure how long I will be working from home, but I know my sons education depends on it big time…..

  75. kelly says

    Hi. I loved reading this. As a full time mum to my 3 and 1/2 year old boy ive come to tge conclusion I want to home school him. He tried nuresery and hated the unqualified staff. But to to be honest I have no idea where to start .. could you help mr as I seem to be going round in a circle and getting lost :/

  76. says

    As a mother who will be new to homeschooling this next year and getting a lot of questions from friends and family, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. Many of those are the same reasons that we think this will be best for our family and you did a great job listing and explaining them!

  77. Carla says

    I love this posting!!!! I am planning on homeschooling my daughter. She is only 8 months right now but we have been attending circus school since she was 6 months and we will be attending music classes once she is 9 months. Also, in the community I live in, we have an arena that offers gymnastic classes specifically for home schooled kids during the day! I am not worried about her being social in any way and know that we will, as a family, see the benefits of homeschooling her entire life!

  78. Lauren says

    This is a great article! I have been googling the topic of homeschooling recently. My children have been enrolled in public school but we are thinking about making a huge change to homeschooling. My children like the idea. I am just trying to read pros and cons from other homeschoolers. I really enjoyed this!

  79. Amy Rudy says

    I have a child the is ADD and currently not in medication as quite honestly it scares me. She wants to succeed and it just breaks my heart to see her struggle so much. She does really well in a small group setting, but you put her in a group of more that 5 and you will loose her. She just kind of shuts down. I have thought of homeschooling her, but I’m not sure if that would be a benefit to her or not. Do you have any input?

    Thank you,

    Amy Rudy

    • Kristen says

      I don’t personally have experience homeschooling a child with ADD, but I know a lot of people have, and I’ve often thought that outside-the-classroom learning would be very helpful for a child who has trouble sitting still and focusing for long periods of time. The ability to let her work in small spurts and to let her run around and move seems like it would be really beneficial.

      • Namstemama says

        Check out Tera Warner.com. She just did a Wish Summit about Add ADHD spectrum. These were audio calls you can listen too. She home schools and runs a successful business! Good luck

  80. Leanne says

    I’m also homeschooled but online with K12. It is very fun, I love all the free time I have. It’s just great! I like all your pointers and the good things about homeschool.

  81. Blake McDonald says

    This is amazing. My wife and I don’t have children yet, but when we do, they are definitely going to be homeschooled. Thank you for opening my eyes!

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