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The Hidden Benefits of Homeschool (From a Homeschool Graduate)

The Hidden Benefits of Homeschool (From a Homeschool Graduate)

These days, it’s almost common knowledge that homeschooled students have a better academic education, do better in college and careers, and are regarded as “smarter” than students from public schools. Homeschooling families typically gravitate toward this educational lifestyle to avoid the public school environment, to prioritize their faith and family values, to adjust to a more flexible and forgiving lifestyle, and to offer their children a better childhood than that found in public schools. Yes to all! These are wonderful reasons to choose homeschooling and should be widely shared and celebrated.

When my parents chose to homeschool me and my siblings, though, they had no idea how deep the effects would be. Academics is only one aspect of homeschooling. The family-centric, homeschool lifestyle offered us benefits that continue to shape my adult life and the life of my own family. Everyone should know the often completely hidden perks that homeschooling provides children long after they finish their high school coursework. Here are just a few:

Better Socialization

My dad always looked bemused when people brought up the age-old question: “But what about socialization?” His perspective was, what adult spends eight hours a day in a room filled with people exclusively the same age?

Homeschooling offered my family the flexibility to explore social settings of all sorts, rather than relying solely on peer classroom interactions. The most natural form of socialization stems from immediate and extended family relationships. Siblings and parents provide the first relationships in our lives, and these often become lifelong stalwarts.

Beyond that, extended family and friends offer wider circles, bigger age gaps, and more activities for students to explore.

Even beyond that, a flexible homeschool schedule allows room for completely different social contexts to be introduced. For instance, my family was really interested in music and dance. Our various performances through the years taught us all the basic skills of learning to make introductions, first impressions, small talk, and much more.

Time Management

Homeschooling offered me a lot of free time and a flexible schedule. Throughout my teen years, I would almost always complete my daily lessons before noon! (I challenge you to find a teenager who wouldn’t jump at having that type of free time.)

Along with that, my parents wisely gave us many responsibilities to attend to during our ample free time. We had many different chores like tending livestock and gardens, babysitting, and various extracurricular lessons as well. The result was that all of us kids, after reaching the age of reason, developed the valuable skill of time management.

As we grew up, we had less and less direct supervision from our parents and learned to balance schoolwork, chores, family, outside jobs, and leisure on our own. This is actually a rarer skill than people might think. In public (and even most private) schools, students are locked into an hourly schedule, with bells and teachers prompting every shift of activity and change, which doesn’t provide the opportunity to internalize how to manage one’s own schedule.

This educational method was designed to train children for the military and the industrial/factory world of the early 1900s, and arguably did so successfully. Of course, we do not live in that world today—so why are we still using that system? Many students now will move into work-from-home jobs or careers with widely varying or self-managed schedules. For those who struggle to self-manage, this can be a nightmarish awakening to the real world. And those who are self-disciplined might fall into the common workaholism trap because they never were taught the importance of integrating leisure and variety into their schedules. Homeschooling can be a helpful, maybe even necessary, preparation for the world of adulthood, where time management rests on the shoulders of each individual.

Self-Teaching Skills

It’s no secret that the public school curriculum is a one-size-fits-all approach. Homeschooling, however, allows students to pursue their niche interests as well— sometimes to great depths.

For me, my adult life has been shaped by having the above-mentioned skills of time management and creating a flexible schedule. But also, by allowing me to pursue niche interests, homeschooling helped me learn how to self-teach.

For instance, my great passion as a child was art. I would pour hours and hours into working with my sketchbooks, pencils, and crayons. Neither of my parents were artists, and my mother says she’s lucky if she can draw a decent smiley face! But they gave me something better: art books for every birthday, drawing tools for every Christmas, and encouragement to forge ahead on my own. Today, sketching and painting are beloved hobbies I pursue in my leisure time—hobbies I work hard at and choose to do over things like watching television or scrolling through social media.

This shaped me into a person who is not afraid to self-teach and pursue things I’ve never tried before. This skill actually led me to my writing work in both novels and freelancing. My writing interest started late in high school; my parents/teachers were not writers, and I did not go to college to study English or journalism. I simply had the skills to seek out resources on my own and the self-discipline to keep at it. Now I have a job that fits my lifestyle, skills, and schedule perfectly. How many public or private school students today might be better able to carve out time for work as well as for the pursuit of passions and dreams if they just had the skill to self-teach?

Lifestyle Confidence

I have yet to meet a homeschooler who is self-conscious about his alternative lifestyle. Whether their family focused mostly on religion, naturalism, farming, travel, or something else, the common ground is that homeschoolers grow up outside the normative culture. This removes any fear or insecurity about being different. We grew up being different, getting weird looks, and being asked countless questions about being homeschooled from curious strangers.

Being a social curiosity inoculates us homeschool families against caring what the wider culture thinks of us. This offers us great freedom and confidence to live as we choose to live. And this doesn’t mean that every homeschooler will grow up to simply echo whatever their parents valued. I have met plenty of adult homeschoolers who are members of a different religion, who have moved far away, or, due to other factors, don’t even see their families of origin much. But all of them were unapologetically living what they valued and wanted and were unbothered when others looked at them askance. They simply felt free to do what they wanted, whether or not the wider world condemned or supported them.

This is also valuable in today’s world of social media. I personally don’t use social media, but I have a couple of siblings who do, and the same freedom from peer pressure holds true in their cases. None of them are addicted to it, worried about comments or feeds or negativity, and they don’t compare themselves to what they see online. I attribute this to their confidence in living differently from the norm. And in today’s world, traditionalism is wildly different from the norm.

Homeschooling is one of the best choices we can make regarding our children, and it gives them so many more benefits than even what I’ve listed here. The wider world of education is waking up to this, too. Many more modes of education are available today than even just a decade ago. Private schools are popping up left and right, Montessori is on the rise, learning pods and co-ops are growing, and online options are everywhere. And of course the school lockdowns of 2020 pushed the need for alternative education into the spotlight. So let’s take it seriously and choose what’s best for our children in every aspect of life, not just academics.

Image credit: Public domain

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  • Avatar
    Luis
    May 17, 2024, 1:12 am

    JMJ

    Thank you for this great piece. These comments coming from the father of a family, one who thought he could inspire his public education students to be moral, introspective, analytical, and so, successful human beings, but no, who saw that he could not overcome the raging American anti-intellectualism and so, left, returning to the previously-earned superior levels of financial income.

    We are especially struck by these extracts, "..;homeschooling helped [the authoress] learn how to self-teach" and "…Being a social curiosity inoculates me …against what the wilder culture thinks of us."

    God bless you folks for undertaking this mission of destroying the value of the American notion of public "education" and replacing it with homeschooling, something logically and morally much easier to understand and implement.

    Amen.

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    Dacian
    May 20, 2024, 3:06 pm

    A thirtysomething woman lives two blocks over and runs a home school. The number of students she teaches has risen from a few to more thanhalf a dozen in less than a year.

    The best option is what the author describes she had: dedicated, private instruction from those who loved her. But having your children homeschooled alongside a handful of other kids by a nonconformist teacher, like my neighbor, is also an option to consider because parents can select a teacher whose values better reflect their own.

    This teacher near me, for example, is politically conservative and attended two years of military training, so her students learn about genuine American civics and history. And if someone skips doing homework, she has the violator drop down and give her twenty (or run a mile the next morning)! She also stays an hour after end of each school day to meet with any students who may need extra help.

    VIVA LA HOMESCHOOLERS!

    REPLY
    • Avatar
      Cadence McManimon @Dacian
      May 20, 2024, 5:42 pm

      What a great homeschool program your neighbor is running! I love the idea of small collaboration between community members for alternative education. Thank you for reading!

      REPLY
  • Avatar
    Michael
    May 23, 2024, 8:09 am

    I was not homeschooled (although I often wished I was as I did not fit in well to a traditional school environment). But, after all my schooling was over I eventually fell into the freelance, work-from-home, flexible lifestyle that you describe–in my case, working as a writer and editor. This lifestyle has been liberating for me, allowing me to be myself, live life on my own terms and at my own pace, and enjoy more of the substance of life while leaving the "rat race" of commuting and office life behind. Of course, this lifestyle involves the challenge of self-managing (as you observe), but I am getting better at it! I am grateful that I am able to pursue my dreams and passions on my own terms.

    REPLY

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