What image comes to mind when someone tells you they were homeschooled? Fundamental Bible-thumper? Socially awkward? Nerd? Someone who wears long skirts with sneakers? I can say these things because I was one until the 8th grade. I don’t think the term carries as much of a negative stigma these days as it did when I was younger, thanks to many types of alternate education gaining popularity. I’m thankful my Mom decided to cultivate my desire for independent learning this way and for all the time and effort she invested in helping me grow, but I’m also glad she was open to me learning in a traditional setting for the latter part of my education.
The way I was educated has certainly shaped how I view schooling options if my husband and I end up having children in the future. The option that I’m currently most drawn to is the university model, which combines the best aspects of homeschooling and traditional schooling.
University model schools like The Covenant School usually hold on campus classes 2-3 days per week, with the remaining days being at home learning using already prepared lessons (by a certified teacher). I love the sense of partnership and ownership that this provides for parents, allowing them to get involved in their child’s education and also have more time to spend with their children.
From my perspective, each family needs to evaluate the temperament, learning styles and future goals of their children to determine the method of education that will be the most effective for them. Here are some of my thoughts on my own experience of being homeschooled.
Focus & Flexibility
Because homeschooling provides the ability to create your own structure in many ways, I was able to learn at my own pace. I could slow down on topics I wasn’t picking up quickly and speed through topics that came easily to me. I didn’t have to sit through questions from others on a topic that I already understood. Also, I was able to focus more time on subjects that I enjoyed and pursue my passions. I believe this freedom allows the natural gifts and talents that a child possesses to be expressed and encouraged at a younger age.
If I wanted to start my schoolwork early and finish by noon to go on a field trip or go to the park for the afternoon, I could do that. We often took spontaneous family vacations because I could take my schoolwork with me and still be able to keep up with my lessons while enjoying some time away. I’m so thankful for the places I was able to explore with my family and trips we were able to take (especially in Asia) because of the flexibility that homeschooling provided. I know some families that travel around the US full-time in an RV while homeschooling their children; what an incredible way to get real-world training in addition to book knowledge.
Homeschooling definitely provides parents with greater control over what their children are exposed to, though they still won’t be in a bubble. With so many troubling things like bullying happening in schools today, learning at home can be a welcome respite from the chaos of in-person school. Parents are also able to spend more time imparting the core values important to them while teaching their children at home.
Limited Social Interaction
During my years of learning at home, there were times I did miss being around my peers and wished I had others to learn with. I was able to attend spelling bees, geography bees and other science classes to allow for more opportunities to interact and socialize and these days, many co-ops exist where homeschoolers come together to learn specific topics. I definitely think it’s important to research opportunities for interaction with peers and adults to make sure your child is able to develop social skills.
Lack of Athletic Opportunities
Athletics was ultimately the reason why I started attending traditional classes in the 8th grade, because I didn’t want to miss out on playing sports. It seems like more and more schools are becoming open to allowing homeschoolers to join their teams now, which seems like a positive in my book. Recreational leagues and club teams are also popping up to provide opportunities to those not learning in a traditional setting.
Teamwork and Group Projects
It can be a difficult mindset shift when you’re used to everything revolving around you in homeschooling and are suddenly required to work with others if/when you switch to in-person schooling in college or even in the workplace. Realizing that not everyone is easy to get along with and discovering that some people don’t pull their weight in group projects are challenges that everyone faces, but homeschoolers will likely be more naive about these things.
For me, the pros definitely outweighed the cons and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to learn in several different settings.
How were you educated? What do you think is the best model for education? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
Thanks for reading!