1.) You guide what your children learn and from what perspective. This was the reason we decided to homeschool. We wanted to give our children a biblical worldview, and we didn’t want to waste energy constantly trying to undo what they would be taught by someone else.
2.) Your children can learn at their own pace. Although you will need to keep goals for the school year in mind and schedule accordingly, your schedule does not need to be set in stone. Homeschooling gives the freedom to slow down a little or go back over a topic until it is mastered, if your child doesn’t nail it the first time. This is especially important in the early years, when foundations in reading and arithmetic are laid. If the foundations are shaky, it isn’t going to do much good to go on building, so it’s better to take extra time to learn basic concepts well. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to do that. On the flip side, if your child is out way ahead of the game, he or she can learn at a faster pace without having to wait for other students to catch up.
3.) You can answer their questions and teach them the practical stuff of life as the need arises. Take advantage of those special teaching moments that come up naturally during the day, which have nothing to do with the class at hand. Does your child suddenly pop out with a question, smack dab in the middle of a math lesson, about God, or how to handle a relationship problem with a neighbor child, or how insects manage to hang upside down on the ceiling? Use the opportunity! Math can wait.
4.) You can offer classes which might not be available to your children in a traditional school. Do you own a home business or excel at a hobby? Do you know the fine points of creating a website or how to build a treehouse? Teach your children what you know.
Teach them life skills. Many traditional schools include this topic in their educational program, but it just works better in a natural setting. You can teach some life skills as a “class,” but a lot of this type of learning is going to happen informally along the way. We tried to make sure our daughters were as prepared as possible to live in the “real world” once they were grown. I kept that goal in the back of my mind throughout our homeschooling years, and I kept a checklist of things I felt they would need to know.
5.) You can tailor your teaching to how your children learn. Some kids learn best by hearing, some by processing visually, some by participating in hands-on activities. Whatever your child’s learning style, you can choose a curriculum which fits him or her well — or adapt your curriculum to accommodate him. This is often not practically possible in a traditional school setting, although many teachers do their best to provide a variety of learning opportunities for their students.
The points I’ve just mentioned can be boiled down to flexibility — one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling. There are other obvious reasons people choose to homeschool, such as reducing social contact with children or adults who would be a negative influence, cutting down on exposure to communicable diseases, and avoiding violence possibilities in the institutional school setting.
Next time we will talk about the disadvantages of homeschooling. I think you will find the pros far outweigh the cons, but it’s still good to know what challenges you will have to find ways to overcome.