5 Benefits of Homeschooling
Reflecting on a lot of things today. Most notably, as we’ve packed up and sent off kids to college, as we’ve moved out and set up young adults, as the new teens embark on local high school experiences, as the world continues to spiral in craziness, one thing is sure and true- family. I’ve never been so sure about any decision as the decision to homeschool, way back in 1995. Not knowing anyone who homeschooled, I felt a gentle “soul-tapping” ( for lack of a better word), a quiet call to educate our little ones in this way.
The decision to homeschool did not come from a rebellion against a system, a dissatisfaction with any particular school, or an inherent mistrust of people or fear or need to bubble my children away.
No, I will have to say it was a simple yes and openness to a calling. I felt the Lord calling, for a reason then unknown, to “be different”.
I remember the piercing thought “Do you trust Me?” I was afraid, but excited. Much like an explorer might have felt before embarking on a great expedition, knowing it was danger-laden but opportunity-filled, and important.
Homeschooling was very “out there”, I know, for the time. It was not a mainstream mode of education at all. Yet, I knew, deep in my soul, this was what I was to do.
David, my husband, was taken aback at my suggestion. A public school product, his acquiescence to Catholic school alone would have been a compromise. “Wait. What?” Was his initial response.
“Who have you been talking to?”
“No one,” I told him. Then corrected, “Well, except for God.”
God bless this man who trusted my instinct. After two years of our oldest in Catholic grade school, he said we could try one year at at time. “Well, “Ok I don’t think you can mess up second grade too badly” were his exact words. Two decades later we still take things year by year, but this year I’m retiring myself. Our youngest is in 8th grade. I’ll be officially done.
Over the years, I have seen small glimpses of what I believe to be the reasons God gently nudged us to homeschool. . I will share that here for anyone interested.But I do want to preface that I’m a strong believer that there are many ways to raise and educate children and that through prayer, discussion, and discernment, parents can discover what is best for them and their children, their individual family and the mission to which they and they alone are entrusted.
For whatever reasons, we were called as a family to do this.
In no particular order here are the benefits I saw –
- Homeschooling gave my children time. It allowed them the opportunity to be children, meander, spend time in nature, pursue many individual interests that they otherwise would not have had time to pursue in depth-art, music, burglar alarm building, dance, fort-making, daydreaming, rock collecting, pretending, exploring, being… they had time to do everything, and nothing. To ponder, think, surmise, be bored. Invent. Scheme. Pray.
- It allowed us to bond deeper as a family, to forge and grow deep relationships. To learn to work together, play together, pray together. Fight and work things out together. To be one another’s advocates and teammates.
- I could tailor their academic education to them personally. Those who excelled in English were given two grades ahead but perhaps they were simply “ on level” in another subject. No worries. They could go as fast or slowly as needed to gain complete understanding. Some were kinesthetic learners. No problem. Lots of hands on activities. Others were more visual. Again, no big deal. I simply got curriculum to match their learning styles. One was extremely bright in math early on, but whose fine motor skills lagged a bit. I simply did flash cards and oral drills until his little hands caught up with his brain.
- I could teach our religious faith in its fullness with nothing watered down. I didn’t have to worry about whether I thought the religious training was complete enough. I picked it out. What’s more, we could practice our family faith more fully- frequent Rosaries before we started school, extra Mass on Fridays. I chose the stories and activities. Over time I met like minded families and our children became friends, reinforcing our values.
- Homeschooling is like a greenhouse. Young plants need protection from hard climates and insects. Once they are hardy and strong, the healthy plants can be transplanted outside and thrive better
There are many more benefits to homeschooling. In fact, books have been written about the topic. But these few highlights are what I’d like to share today. The rewards are still being reaped. Homeschooling can eliminate children from being peer driven. They learn to think outside the box. I personally believe that creativity is enhanced and logic developed. You learn to seek out people and opportunities, to ask questions. I have no regrets about doing this time intensive activity. I will admit that there were moments I doubted myself and my abilities but “ I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me” became my little mantra. Indeed.
I talk to my adult children frequently. I can’t imagine closer relationships with them even as they are forging out their own adult lives, some many miles away.
My motivation for writing this today is to encourage you to discern the best way to educate your own children, whether it is homeschooling or another way or combination of ways. God chooses us to be the parents of these individual children and we have the amazing privilege and responsibility to discover how best to do that.
As for the option of homeschooling, if anyone wants to talk with me privately about this option, feel free to message me. I’d love to help.
Theresa Thomas is a stay-at-home mother of nine and the wife of David. She writes for Integrated Catholic Life , is a columnist at Today's Catholic News, and her second book Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families is available from Scepter Publishers. You can write to Theresa at TheresaThomasEverydayCatholic@gmail.com