What changed my mind about America’s fastest growing educational trend.
For the first year we homeschooled our kids I avoided telling anyone. Now, at the end of our second year of homeschooling, I am telling everyone.
I never dreamed we would become homeschoolers. I wanted my kids integrated and socialized. I wanted their eyes opened to the realities of the world. I wanted the values we taught at home put to the test in the real world. We tried public school and our parish school. But necessity drove me to consider homeschooling for my elementary aged children, so one night my husband and I timidly attended a home school parent meeting.
I thought I’d find a bunch of stay-at-home moms who dressed liked they lived in the 1800’s. But my biased stereotypes were set straight very quickly. Instead, I found parents, both moms and dads, who are educated professionals including doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Home schooling parents have almost nothing in common except that they care passionately about education, children, and family life.
An estimated 2.04 million K-12 children are home educated in the United States, a 75% increase since 1999. Although currently only 4% of all K12 students nationwide are educated at home, experts are predicting an exponential boom in homeschooling in the next 5-10 years. Most states even provide free online public schools, known as virtual schools or virtual homeschools for K12 students.
For a year I was afraid to tell any of my work colleagues that we were homeschooling. People would stereotype me. My boss might assume that I couldn’t possibly be committed my career as an academic pediatrician for Washington University in St. Louis. I wasn’t sure I could homeschool my kids well. I feared the whole year would be an academic failure and emotional nightmare. I was so unsure about this homeschooling experiment that I even kept a spare school uniform in case I had to send my kids back to school at the last moment.
This month our kids are finishing their second year of homeschooling. I think we can call this success! We’ve had our kids in both public and private schools, but homeschooling has turned out to be the best option for our family.
Here are 18 reasons why we have joined America’s fastest growing educational trend:
1) We spend less time homeschooling each day than we used to spend driving.
With four kids in four locations last year (including a newborn at home), school drop-off and pick-up took four hours, on a good day. We’d get home at about 4:30 and still have homework, music practice, sports, chores, dinner and bath to fit into the 4 hours before bed. Now we spend about four hours per day homeschooling, instead of four hours in the car.
2) We can’t afford private education.
Even on a doctor’s salary, private education has become unaffordable, especially for larger families. Which choice would you make: save for college, save for retirement, or pay private school tuition? Few families can afford for all three, and most can only afford one. As educational debts loom larger for each successive generation, this financial crunch will only get worse.
3) Our kids are excelling academically as homeschoolers.
Homeschooling allows us to enrich our children’s strengths and supplement their weaknesses. The kids’ education moves as fast or as slow as required for that particular subject area. They are not pigeon-holed and tracked as gifted, average, or special needs.
4) Homeschooling is not hard, and it’s fun!
We bought a “box curriculum” from a major homeschool vendor, and all the books and the day-by-day curriculum checklist came in the mail. We have a lot of fun supplementing material through YouTube and online educational sites like Dreambox, Khan Academy, and others. Our kids do about half of their math online.