Homeschooling my children was not something that particularly interested me. A friend of mind first introduced the idea to me when my oldest was three, and I immediately insisted that that was not the route I wanted to take in her education.
But as her time to enter Kindergarten grew closer and closer, it was an option I began to reluctantly consider. I live in Philadelphia and many of the public schools in this city don’t have a particularly good reputation. Private school was out of the question. We couldn’t afford it unless I went back to work. At the time my oldest was 5, my son 3, my second daughter 1 and a half, and I had a newborn. My husband and I had always felt very strongly that young children should be at home with a parent.
I was excited about the option of Charter schools and applied to several, but soon found that the ones my daughter got into were not performing (academically) much better than their traditional public counterparts.
My friend said to me, “Just try it for one year. Kindergarten’s easy.”
And thus I began my road of homeschooling. Here it is almost 10 years later and I’m still doing it! Along the way God has blessed our family in many ways that I could have never foreseen. I’d like to share of those unexpected blessings with you.
10 Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling
1. Discipleship – Homeschooling has given me a lot of time to disciple my children. We start off each morning reading and discussing a short passage from the Bible and praying. Often this discussion time is filled with questions, comments, and new ideas about God and his kingdom. I have seen our children grow spiritually as a result of these daily family devotions.
2. GREAT Education – You may say, Gwen, I thought that was why you started homeschooling, to give them a better education. Your right, but I thought I could give them a better education, not a GREAT one! By homeschooling I’ve been able to pick out fantastic curriculum that works well with our family’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve been able to frequently review material that is harder for the my kids to understand, and breeze through material that is simple.
3. Stronger Family Bonds – Homeschooling has brought us closer together as a family. My children have become close to their father because he’s their math teacher 3 times a week. My kids play with each other far more than I did with my younger siblings as a child. They often help each other with assignments and projects. My older kids have even spent time reading regularly to my younger ones. Also, I feel I know our children well, and don’t need to “guess” what they’re up to.
4. No Homework! – Typically a child goes to school and works all day, and then has to come home to do – more work! Because we don’t have homework to do, the kids are free to participate in sports or drama in the evening, or even just play games or watch a movie at home as a family.
5. More Time to Create and Explore – When the kids have finished an assignment, they are free to pursue their own interests, and they can be very creative! Whether the kids are drawing, playing piano, building with Legos, or taking apart old electronics, our kids have the time to create and explore. As a result, they have become even more creative!
6. I’ve Enjoyed Learning With the Kids – I confess that I have not remembered all I once learned from my school years to reteach to my kids. I’ve had to learn and relearn things along the way, and I’ve loved it! Some of the material we’ve studied has just been so interesting! It’s been a blessing to learn more about this wonderful world God has created.
7. Flexible Schedule Makes Life Easier – Because we can start and finish school whenever we like, many things in life are easier. It’s easier to schedule doctor appointments, eye appointments, and dentist appointments. It’s easier to take field trips, or even run my son to the ER if he splits his chin open (for the third year in a row!). It’s simpler to take sick days, and it’s even easier to take a family vacation. Plus, our family vacations are almost half the price because we’re going during an off-peek time of the year.
8. Kids Aren’t Afraid to Ask Questions – In a traditional school setting, kids can often be belittled for questions they ask, whether it be by the teasing of other students, or the business of an exhausted teacher. At home our kids can ask, ask, ask, and ask some more. Consequently, they are able to learn more themselves.
9. Kids Eat Healthier Meals – When I was a kid my mom packed me a nice, healthy lunch every day. I’m ashamed to say, I often didn’t eat it. I would usually throw out the fruit and vegetables. Then, I would save up my money so I could buy ice cream at the school. I don’t think I was the ONLY kid doing that growing up! Because we have all our meals together, I’m able to make sure the kids are eating their fruits and vegetables at each meal. I’m also able to make sure they are only eating a small number of sweets each week.
10. Access to Free Services & Resources – Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to take advantage of many services and resources. The Free Library of Philadelphia has been a blessing to our family for its wealth of books, educational videos, and computers. Because our time at home is flexible, we’ve been offered free tickets to museums, shows, and sports events by various groups and organizations. We’ve been able to take advantage of free trips to ballet dress rehearsals, free tickets to theme parks, and even free coupons for pizza. These are all resources that I would have never known about if I hadn’t homeschooled my kids.
Homeschooling can be a difficult adventure, but it has truly been a blessing to our family in ways beyond the ten I’ve listed here. I believe God will continue to reveal new ways that He’s blessed us in years to come.
Copyright June 21, 2011 by Gwen Fredette