People throw around a lot of silly reasons for homeschooling. I bet you’ve heard them too. Homeschooled kids win all of the spelling bees. The Ivy League schools are overrun with homeschoolers. Homeschooled kids are self-confident, and un-bowed by peer pressure. They knit with old ladies, take care of babies, and never bully anyone.
This line of reasoning falls into two categories:
- Homeschooled kids are smarter.
- Homeschooled kids have better character.
Here’s the problem with category one: There is nothing inherently valuable about winning spelling bees or going to Harvard. There is nothing wrong with them, either, but they aren’t goals worthy of guiding parenting decisions. The problem with category two? Character is not a by-product of homeschooling. What happens in any given homeschool household can contribute positively or negatively to the character development of a child. The same can be said for out-of-home school households.
If you are homeschooling to churn out brilliant, perfect children, you’re gonna be disappointed.
So why do we homeschool? Here’s a (somewhat random) list of the primary reasons we homeschool:
- We have time to do all of things I thought we should be doing when the boys were in school. Things like: chores, and prayer, and brushing their teeth twice a day, and learning to do their own laundry, and visiting all of the wonderful museums and parks and people who live in our very cool city. Things we could never seem to pull off when the boys were in school.
- I experience my kids in more intimate ways as we spend more time together and do new things together. This allows me to see some incredible strengths I didn’t know were there. And some significant weaknesses. Either way, I know them more deeply.
- They are getting the childhood I rushed them through (and they didn’t quite know what to do with) the first time. Now we have time for, and interest in, forts, and crayons, and pretend play, and hours and hours playing outside.
- The boys love each other. They always have. But in the same way that Jeff and I have learned more about them this year, they have learned more about each other. And they are enjoying it.
- Beehives and solar panels and computer repair. Working with their father to create, tend to, and fix things is going to be a defining experience of their childhood. Without the wide open spaces of homeschool, it wasn’t possible.
- The joy of learning all kinds of stuff I never learned. Stuff like history, and geography, and nature studies, and art. And sharing that joy with my sons and my husband.
- The hilarious things the boys say about the world. I laugh loudly several times a day at their observations, misunderstandings, and innocent questions. I don’t want to miss those moments.
- We can go to Costa Rica for three months. And we can call it school.
- We can teach and play and learn and assess on our own timetable. Algebra and oral reports in third grade. Tying shoes and story sequencing in fourth. Math “tests” in the car on the way to the dentist, and four-hour bike rides on the first warm day of spring.
If I’m honest, I also homeschool for lots of other reasons, like the fact that I hated making lunch at 7:30 in the morning. Eventually, I just gave up and let them eat at school, where they chose peanut butter and Fluff on white bread, making me feel like a big loser.
But when you look at the primary reasons we homeschool, you get this: I like being around my kids. I don’t care about where they will get a “better education.” I care about where we will get to spend the most time together doing things we love to do – or aspire to do – in ways that make sense our family.
That’s good enough for me. We can homeschool, not because we should, but because we treasure the life it gives us. That’s why we homeschool. And why you can too.
(You can read the follow-up post, where I respond to comments, here.)