The Truth About Homeschooling


Awhile ago, at church, a friend got a little teary while she told a group of us ladies about a remarkable experience that had happened to her that week. Her youngest daughter didn’t want to get up for school, and instead of yelling at her daughter, while hurriedly packing lunches and backpacks and rushing her kiddos out the door, my friend just climbed in bed with her daughter.

Her older kids laughed and clambered into the bed, too, and they all enjoyed snuggling together so much that they missed the bus. They did scramble to get ready after that, but the time they spent together was so spectacularly noteworthy that she had held it in her heart and thought to tell us all about it.

Our friends all agreed that it was a sweet experience and one they wished they could enjoy more often. I sort of wanted to tell them that my kids climb in my bed to snuggle most mornings, but I didn’t want to make them all feel horrible about their lives, ha, ha!

It’s the truth, though. On cold, winter mornings, after Dad leaves for work, we snuggle under my down comforter while we listen to the school bus pick up the other kiddos on the lane and then head off to school — in the dark. I always feel sad for those kids, heading off to school in the dark and returning home again with barely any daylight left.

And they have to fit homework, music lessons and soccer practice into the little time they have outside of school. What a rushed existence! I absolutely love not having to hurry everyone awake and out the door every morning. We get to enjoy each other’s company all day every day.

It’s just one of the many advantages of homeschooling!

advantages of homeschooling
A spring snowstorm!


Last year we remodeled our house, top to bottom, in addition to finishing the basement, which was previously just concrete and studs. The part of the job I was looking forward to the least was relocating a toilet in a basement bathroom, on a concrete slab. It involved moving some plumbing, which meant breaking out several square feet of 6″ thick concrete.

I was really dreading that job, but my 10-year-old completely took it over. He had a lot of fun jack-hammering up that concrete, while my girls and I finish-sanded the bookcases I had built for the library.

You might think that homeschool moms would be insanely busy, with the responsibility of educating the kids added to the normal mom responsibilites, like cooking and cleaning. I won’t tell you you’re wrong. There are times that it feels overwhelming. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that my army of little helpers is a huge boon.

We homeschool for about three hours every day and then my kiddos help tend the garden and run the farm. They also help with housework and mind younger siblings. And I can’t even begin to tell you what an asset they are when it comes to home improvement projects. I couldn’t possibly keep up with things without their help!

But my veritable army of helpers isn’t the best perk of homeschooling!

advantages of homeschooling
This is Shanghai from atop the Pearl Tower, in the skywalk observatory.


Last week, when it snowed, we took a snow day. We didn’t go anywhere, except to build a snow fort in our own backyard. And then we came in and drank hot chocolate and ate gooey chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven.

And the next day, a Thursday, we were the first ones on the mountain when the ski resort opened. We had all that fresh, new powder practically to ourselves until 3 pm, when the schools let out.

It’s the same story at the library and the zoo and the children’s museum and the aquarium. We have them all to ourselves Monday through Friday until 3 pm. I don’t know how other moms cope with the enormous crowds that take over family venues weeknights and weekends.

We even get Disneyland all to ourselves (mostly) by visiting on weekdays in January and September, right after new semesters have started. We can usually walk right onto all the rides.

We can learn the history of the Great Wall of China by hiking it, we can learn about the Great Barrier Reef by snorkeling it, and we can study foreign languages where they are spoken. We can learn American History as we walk the Freedom Trail in Boston and visit battlefields and monuments and the Smithsonians.

Basically, we can do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it — with total freedom.

And we still haven’t reached the best perk of homeschooling!


advantages of homeschooling
Hiking the Great Wall of China


You know how I mentioned earlier that I love not having to rush out the door in the mornings? Well, I love not having to rush at all. We start and end school whenever we need to in order to make life work the way we want it to.

We’re very intentional and careful about the activities we pursue, because we don’t want to run back and forth. My kids get plenty of sleep, and they get plenty of down time, and I make sure they have time to be bored, because I think boredom is critical to proper child development.

We have time to pursue our interests, too. One of the things that always bothered me about school was being right in the middle of something interesting when a bell would ring, sending us all scurrying to our next class. My kids get to choose not only what they study, but for how long.

It’s really remarkable to watch them learn a semesters worth of biology in a week of near frantic, truly inspired learning. And then watch them set it aside for awhile and come back to it again with renewed vigor.

Being in charge of our own schedule is wonderful, but it’s not the best perk of homeschooling, either.

advantages of homeschooling
Melody and Caleb both played solos in their orchestra’s concerto concert.


My kiddos don’t carry the burdens of being exposed to things (like sexual innuendo) by their peers, far earlier than they should be, or in vulgar or immature ways. Instead, they get to take the time they need to grow up so that they’re developmentally ready when they encounter those grown up issues. And when we do introduce them to difficult concepts, we, as caring parents, do it in an appropriate manner and in a safe and understanding environment.

My children don’t suffer social anxiety over peer pressure. They aren’t excluded from cliques, nor are they bullied. They learn social skills primarily from adults who model positive interactions rather than from peers who have instituted a Lord-of-the-flies-esque social hierarchy in the school.

In addition to not having to suffer from negative social interactions, my kiddos are constantly and intentionally being taught Godly attributes like charity and kindness. We can spend homeschooling mornings shoveling our elderly neighbors driveways after snowstorms, feeding the homeless, and sewing hygiene supplies for disadvantaged girls as part of the Days for Girls program.

As incredible as those advantages are, they still aren’t the best perks of homeschooling.

advantages of homeschooling
Sisterly love


I never felt very confident as a child. I was naturally quiet and shy, and school exacerbated those tendencies in that I was taught to obey authority without question. The result was that I completely lacked confidence.

I’m trying to teach my own children, instead, to respect people rather than authority. All people, as children of God, deserve respect. Obedience is a different story. Authority, from police officers to politicians to school teachers, should be questioned, and I try to teach my children to discern what is in their best interest rather than to blindly obey.

I’ve watched my children become much more confident, independent and able to assert themselves than I ever was.

But that is still not the very best of all the advantages of homeschooling.

advantages of homeschooling
Big brothers are fun!


I’m sure you do the same thing I do with your preschoolers; have them count out plates to set the table for dinner, count each step together as you walk up and down them, and talk about how animals have babies when you visit the zoo.

We moms use daily experiences to teach numbers and counting and colors and animal sounds. It’s natural to turn life experiences into educational ones. It stems from our immense love for our children and our desires to impart the world to them.

I’m sure it’s different for every family, but once I started school as a kid, that teaching/learning aspect of my relationship with my parents disappeared. In fact, by the time I hit middle school, I thought my parents were stupid and that I was beyond anything they could teach me.

I’ve since repented, ha, ha! But I’m so grateful that my own families experience has been different.

When we began this journey, I honestly thought I would be my children’s teacher, and my biggest worry was how I would fit ‘teaching’ into my already busy days.

But it’s not like that at all. It’s more like learning is something we all do together as part of each and every day, whether we’re sitting around the table with textbooks or building a chicken coop or taking a road trip. I’m learning as much, or more, than my kiddos are, and we all sincerely enjoy this beautiful lifestyle. Life is school and school is life at our house.

My kiddos do groan, “Does everything have to be educational?” pretty often. It’s actually a running joke in our family. But because my children never go off to school, we are able to continue the learning atmosphere at home, beyond preschool.

It’s pretty cool that everything is educational when your life and education are completely intertwined.

And yet it is still not the biggest of homeschooling advantages.

advantages of homeschooling
Big sisters are such a comfort!


When my eighth and last child was born, my oldest was 15-years-old. All of my older children were immediately enamored with the baby, but my oldest was particularly so. She carried her baby sister everywhere on her hip and played with her constantly.

When my baby was tired or grumpy, she wanted me first. But if I wasn’t around, she wanted her sister. Nobody could console her or entertain her like her big sister. Not even dad.

It’s been five years and those two still have a special bond. I suspect they may not be as close if my oldest had spent all her waking hours at school and extracurricular activities.

All of my children are so close that my mama heart sings when I watch them together.

Yes, they squabble — they’re normal kids. Siblings argue. But they also spend hours playing together, riding bikes, digging holes and building forts in the backyard. They rarely (as in never) ask to have friends over because they are each other’s best friends. It’s a natural byproduct of spending every waking moment together.

While I can’t imagine life without indoor plumbing and modern conveniences, I think modern society is lacking one thing the previous century had in spades — family time. Dads worked in the field with their sons while mothers worked at home with their daughters. Values were passed on through conversation and relationships were built over time.

Here’s a shocking statistic: The average American home watches 49 hours of television each week, while the average amount of time the average family spends in conversation is just 39 minutes per week.

Quality time is not nearly as important in family relationships as quantity. You can’t seize moments you aren’t there to seize; or ones your children aren’t there to seize.

We spend the majority of every day together. It’s just what happens when you homeschool. We make breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and we enjoy them together. We work and play and learn together, and all three are inextricably intertwined.

Because homeschooling takes so much less time than public school, all of our extracurriculars fit into the school day, along with practicing, and our evenings are always free to just spend together.

The natural byproduct of all that time together is that our family bonds are strong. We are each others confidantes and best friends.

And that is the biggest advantage of homeschooling!

advantages of homeschooling
Playing a creative game with marshmallows


I never imagined that I would love homeschooling so utterly, perfectly, and completely.

I never imagined that reading aloud and building models of the solar system were where it is at.

I never imagined giggling with my children as we hike and bike and explore incredible places.

I think if the secret got out about how truly incredible a lifestyle homeschooling is, the world (and the libraries and zoos and museums) would be overrun with homeschoolers.

So shhhhhh!

Let’s just keep the shocking truth about homeschooling (and all of it’s advantages) between us!




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