There are a lot of reasons why homeschooling is the best choice for us. I am blessed (exhausted but blessed) to be the mother of an energetic, imaginative, nature-loving, brilliant, 8-year-old girl. I’m lucky that I get to stay home with her all day every day. We spend a lot of our time homeschooling while Daddy is out of state for work for long stretches.
I worked in graphic design, typesetting, and printing for years before I became a stay-at-home mom. When we had our daughter, we always knew we wanted her homeschooled. We parent with a more holistic, all-natural, free-range child approach. Our days are spent learning, reading, and enjoying nature. We do Girl Scouts on our own so my independent girl can do everything the way she wants to. This is just one of the benefits and joys I find in homeschooling.
We wanted to homeschool because we wanted her taught with the morals and values that are important to us. Don’t get me wrong. There are tons of kickass public schools and teachers working in them. But this way we are able to give our child the one-on-one attention that we want her to have. And bonus: she can focus on and develop any special interests she may have.
Doing it our way
Since beginning our homeschool journey, I have found many other benefits I hadn’t even realized. First, she was able to start Kindergarten when she was ready. She wouldn’t have been able to start Kindergarten the fall she was turning five years old because of state laws. (She has an October birthday).
Well, she was more than ready. We went right ahead with our Kindergarten curriculum and she’s been moving up just fine each year. Bonus: we were also able to begin Girl Scouts that year since it goes by grade level. We have always done Girl Scouting on our own instead of in a troop. We can make it fit better into our schedule, and we are still able to attend events with our council.
While homeschooling, we moved multiple times – once across the state and then a new state altogether. None of that moving around interfered with her schooling.
COVID hit in 2020 and kids had to switch to home-based learning. Many kids were falling behind because of it. I was glad we were homeschooling because she was completely unaffected by that change. Aside from our beloved library closing for months. Boo.
Homeschooling is so hot right now
Homeschooling is a choice that has become more popular than ever in the past decade, especially in recent years. We love the options it gives us to school our child as we choose. We don’t have to follow the structured guidelines set by the school district.
I didn’t realize how many resources were out there for homeschooling families. With access to the internet, the options for homeschooling are almost limitless. Once I started homeschooling, I saw how easy it really was.
One concern I had was that my child would miss out on the social aspect that schools provide. Well, the days of homeschoolers not being socialized is old news. These days, nearly every community has a group of homeschoolers that get together and clubs geared toward homeschoolers’ schedules.
What you need to know
The homeschooling regulations vary from state to state, and some states are stricter than others. But parents are given the choice of what they teach their children and how they structure their school days.
If you’re considering homeschooling, there are a few things you should know:
It’s easier than you think! There are so many programs online if you want to choose a full curriculum for your child to follow.
There are also many free resources, so you don’t have to pay for anything if you don’t want to. You can find information online. There are many worksheets and unit studies out there. Pinterest has become my best friend for finding most of my material.
There are many homeschooling support groups. Most areas have local groups that get together for park meetups or field trips.
The homeschool laws vary with each state. Check with the Superintendent of Schools for the most up-to-date laws for your state as you make your homeschooling choice.
Most states give the parents the freedom to school their children as they wish, many with little to no regulations. Some states will have you do a yearly evaluation to verify that the child is indeed learning. Most homeschoolers aren’t assigned a grade level because they are allowed to move through the subjects at their own pace. This is great for children who excel in one subject but need a little more work in another. Your child can work on third-grade level math work and on first-grade level reading if that’s what they need. This is just one more benefit I have found in homeschooling.
Creating a brainiac
One of my favorite benefits of our homeschooling choice is the level of instruction I can give her. Many classrooms have over twenty children in a class, with one teacher having to teach all of them. Teachers might overlook students if they don’t know they’re struggling. Then there are kids who learn quickly and get bored waiting for the others to catch up.
There is a lot of downtime during the school day. The school day could be completed in about four hours if you only focused on the lessons. Most homeschoolers finish their lessons in half the time. That lets them focus on special interests or activities as they wish. This results in a much more engaged student who loves to learn and is able to do more hands-on projects.
Children in most states have to be enrolled in school from age six to 16. Since a homeschooler can make their own schedule, most homeschoolers complete high school by 16.
Colleges offer dual enrollment to high schoolers. Many homeschoolers will be starting college at age 16 while they’re finishing their high school curriculum. That’s an amazing head start to have. It’s one reason homeschooling is the best choice for a lot of families.
Start ’em young
Like most parents, I began schooling my child myself at a Preschool age, around three years old. I was teaching her colors, numbers, letters, and basic words. We all start teaching our children at home before we even realize it!
Touchscreen devices are the norm these days. Kids everywhere know how to use them by the time they are strong enough to wrestle a phone out of your hand. I wanted her to learn how to use a traditional PC before she ended up on touch screen devices. I ordered a popular online program that started at Preschool and went up to second grade, and I sat that little three-year-old at our computer and showed her how to use the mouse!
Our little one quickly became computer literate. She could use the mouse to work on the color, number and letter activities. Kiddo completed Preschool that first year, Pre-K the following year, and was ready to start Kindergarten the September before she turned five years old!
She can sit in front of any computer and know what to do. It’s another bonus.
Why homeschooling is the best choice, even when it’s hard
One struggle with homeschooling is how to set a routine to keep your child on track. She hasn’t had to sit still in a classroom before. That means the urge to get distracted and run around outside is strong! I have changed schedules for her every year since we started as I see how long she can sit still and how often she needs a break.
That’s another benefit to homeschooling. Every child will learn differently and have different attention spans, so you can adjust your schedule to work for your child.
After our first year of trying to keep some sort of structure for Kindergarten, I realized my little wild child can only sit still and focus for about a half-hour. After that, she needs a run-around break.
For first grade, I tried switching to a schedule of a half-hour of work, and a 20- minute break. We did this off and on from around 9:00 am to about 2:00 pm. We managed to cover all the basic subjects in that time. Some families might choose a schedule of working on certain subjects on certain days. The freedom to choose is amazing.
We always utilize our local library, too. I was able to find ‘The Dick and Jane Collection’ in our library and taught her to read in first grade on the same stories I learned to read with! Going to the library every couple of weeks has also instilled a love of books and reading into her, which I feel is very important for a child’s learning.
Finding our groove
Now that we’re finishing up our third-grade year, I’ve tried a couple different free online curriculums this year. I got to pick and choose the lessons I want to show her from these.
I still have a hard time keeping a structured routine for her. But I learned early on not to worry if she’s falling behind because she is not being compared to any other student. Just herself. We have no regrets or worries about our homeschooling choice.
I know she’s extremely bright. If she’d rather spend an entire day collecting bugs and studying them with her magnifying glass, she has the freedom and time to do that special interest of hers. Allowing her that freedom has turned this wild free-spirit who doesn’t want to sit still into a little scientist with a love of learning new things.
It is definitely a sacrifice to homeschool if it means a family has to live on one income. For my family, the sacrifice is worth it. We didn’t want our child to just be occupied. We didn’t want someone else teaching our child how to be, let alone other peers teaching misinformation to our child.
It may be a bit of a controlling frame of mind that we want to be the ones to teach our child everything she learns. But no parent should ever feel the need to apologize for wanting to protect their child before they get sent out into the world.
Make the homeschooling choice that’s right for your family
If you’ve always wanted to homeschool but aren’t quite sure where to start, I would direct you to your county school district’s website. Most will have a section on homeschooling right on that website.
Most schools also give the option to do the public school lessons at home. This is different than homeschooling, because you still have to follow the curriculum and standards given by the school.
With homeschooling, the parent is able to choose the curriculum that works best for their child. Each school district will have a homeschooling representative to help you navigate through the process of switching to homeschooling.
Letting the school district know you’re planning to homeschool can be as easy as … telling them. Usually, this form or letter only needs to include the child’s full name, address, and date of birth.
I also recommend parents search for online homeschooling groups in their state, county, or city. This is a great way to meet other local homeschoolers.
I love being an advocate for homeschooling and I’m always willing to give guidance or advice on getting started. Feel free to reach out to me through Sixx Cool Moms with any questions. I’m happy to share my experiences and advice! I hope that more parents will be able to explore homeschooling and teach their children as they wish.
Author: Kristen Kelley is a stay-at-home homeschooling mama living in Alabama with her partner and their daughter, exploring nature and braving the southern humidity. Kristen is also the Market Director for Cool Moms of Southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, Cool Moms of Volusia County, and Sixx Cool Moms of Special Needs Kids.