Doubts can assail when considering or beginning homeschooling:
- Can I really do this?
- Won’t my kids miss the social life of school?
- How can I teach subjects I don’t know or don’t know very well?
- What if my child hates the idea?
- What if I have only one child?
- What do I do with the preschoolers when I am teaching the older ones?
Despite all these doubts, research clearly shows that homeschooling works. (Click here to download a pdf on homeschool research.) Parents are the first and best teachers for their children. All good education takes place within the context of a relationship with a person who carefully considers one's thoughts and ideas and responds to them with respect and dignity. Life’s best lessons are learned within the context of positive relationships, not government institutions. The potential for those relationships are best found within the family.
Homeschooling allows families to relate deeply to one another and thus draws the family members closer together. Siblings develop more significant friendships with their brothers and sisters. Homeschooling creates times of solitude missing in our overly-structured culture. These times create space for the child to know himself separate from peer pressure.
True socialization is living by the Golden Rule: to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Children do not learn this from other children. They learn it through frequent positive interactions with adult role models like their parents. Luke 6:40 says, "... the disciple when he is fully taught will be like his master..." In reality, the homeschooled student when he is fully taught will be like his teaching parent. Parents will socialize their children by example.
Few adults relate to more than a few "friends" at once. Even in the work world, socialization occurs in small groups or teams. The social skills needed to succeed are in the building of meaningful relationships. The social life of school is often the best reason to avoid "school."
Not only does homeschooling allow for more excellent socialization, but it also allows for better academic performance. By giving children more appropriate instruction (more challenging, in-depth, slower paced, etc.) the curriculum molds to the needs of the student rather than forcing the student through an academic assembly line. With one-on-one instruction, less time is wasted waiting for the others. The family offers a more positive environment: spiritually, mentally, and physically. Students have time to pursue and become excellent in their interests and passions.
Children who are allowed to assume responsibility for learning their interests and passions, thrive. Learning to adapt curricula to the child is a natural function of a parent, if the parent is willing to step out of their box-like definitions of school and enter into the world of education. At young ages, children tend to comply with parental wishes. While they may balk, as parents respond to the true needs of the child, usually his objections wane. As adolescents, students are capable of making education their own. Offering a negotiated agreement to try this new "thing" can put off suspected objections long enough for an adolescent to appreciate homeschooling advantages.
Learning to manage family-directed education, whether you have one child or multiple children, means the family must learn to problem solve, acting on another's behalf, focusing on the sum of the whole family's needs rather than on the total of the parts. Homeschooling affords the time and opportunity to follow the dictates of one's heart.
While there are thousands of curriculum companies out there that would dearly love to sell each homeschooler something, research and advice can help negotiate the maze and avoid unnecessary expenses. Working with a Family Academy Teacher Consultant through Academy Northwest and our Able to Teach course can help parents cut through the deluge of curriculum and put a learning program together that matches the student’s academic needs, passions, and learning style.
So when do you want to start?