5 things I love about homeschooling (& how I embrace them)

5 things I love about homeschooling
Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Recently we discussed the tough stuff–the hard side of home education that gives us a run for our money. But thankfully, that’s only one side of the story. There is another–the one that keeps us going through the challenges and reminds us why we do what we do.

Because it’s also a fact that there are also many pleasures involved in this homeschooling lifestyle we’ve chosen! The benefits for our children are often written about–increased self-confidence, ability to focus on interests, and the freedom to move at their own pace, to name a few.

But in today’s post, I want to dwell on the benefits to us as homeschooling parents.

In all of life there is a dark and a light side. We get to choose which one we notice most.

Today, we’re walking in the light. So allow me to share what I love about our family’s lifestyle of home education.

1. The books & read-alouds

Classics and living books change lives, and as homeschooling parents we have the awesome chance to spend our days with them. We read and watch in wonder as their messages slowly influence those who live within the walls of our homes–ourselves included.

I didn’t grow up being read to regularly as a child. This means I now get to discover so many incredible childhood titles right alongside my kiddos!

What this looks like in our home:

  • Reading aloud is the major structured learning activity of our day. We rarely skip it.
  • We read at times when nourishment is required: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch times (I eat at other times, or will eat first with the kids, then read.)
  • I choose books to purchase from these lists: Sonlight, Simply Charlotte Mason, and Ambleside Online

2. A do-over for me

I excelled while climbing the grade ladder of the traditional schooling system. A people-pleaser by nature with a sincere desire to learn, I desperately wanted to be successful.

I was good at test-taking, studying, getting the grade, and then forgetting the material. This bothered my contemplative self–I remember being troubled that I didn’t have more time to learn because I had to spend time proving that I had learned.

For a few years of middle and high school, I begged my parents to homeschool me. A prophecy of what was to come, perhaps?

Now I am falling in love with learning again–through the eyes of my children. As we discover the world together, I feel deeply thankful to have this magical opportunity to spend hours relearning and getting excited about life and all it has to offer.

What this looks like in our home:

  • Our homeschool isn’t based on the traditional style of schooling. It’s based on life learning that happens all day, every day.
  • I want to model a love of learning to my kids–so my own studying and reading is important. Homeschooling isn’t just about my kids and their education.
  • We follow the principles of Leadership Education, preparing to fulfill our unique missions in life.

3. The time

Busyness and rushing characterize modern-day life. We wake to an alarm–our signal to get kids up and out of the door, head to our own jobs, back again to pick them up, home for homework, cleaning, and dinner before doing it all again tomorrow.

Not this mama. We show our priorities by how we live, and I live SLOW. And I love slow.

Homeschooling, the way we do it, means time. Time for…whatever we want time for! Just by having several more hours in the day together, we have time to focus on what matters. Each and every day, I offer my kids the gift of time.

What this looks like in our home:

  • We stay home! Activities are carefully chosen and scrutinized to make sure they fit our ideals before being added to our schedule.
  • We focus on what matters to us. Some of these priorities include: eating well, learning about God, developing our characters, living simply, influencing and changing the world.
  • I believe boredom is an asset to a child’s life, so I leave plenty of unstructured “nothing” time in our days.

4. The freedom and flexibility

Freedom is one of our family’s core values. It influences much of the what and why of our daily lives. Our decision to homeschool means our family is not bound by anyone’s schedule but the one we choose.

We are in the driver’s seat of our own adventure. I am my own boss, CEO, teacher, and principal rolled into one, free to structure our days according to what we need, want and love. What could be better?

What this looks like in our home:

  • Our educational philosophy centers around freedom.
  • We have the flexibility to take vacations when it suits us, to take breaks when we need them, or to jet across the ocean for a month.
  • We school year-round–because learning happens around the clock and around the calendar.

5. I haven’t missed a thing.

We’ll never get back these days, and maybe on some days, that is a very good thing!

But whether days have been good, incredible, or awful–I’ve seen it all. And I love that.

I heard a radio story on NPR recently about 24 hour daycares, the newest development in childcare services. It mentioned children not able to sleep in their own beds due to their parents’ work schedules. And my heart grieved for those children, for the hard choices parents feel forced to make.

And I also felt grateful, for so much: That the first time Jonathan read a book, he read to me. That the day Trishna wrote her first story, she asked me for help with her spelling. That the moment Elijah decided to write his name, I sat right by his side.

I smile, I laugh, I struggle, I screw up.

But whatever I do, I’m here. I haven’t missed a thing.

And that, my friends, is what I love most about homeschooling.

What do you love about homeschooling?

Originally published on July 9, 2012.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Beautiful, Jamie! #2 and #5 really resonate with me.

    My third daughter just read her first word, and that moment is so incredibly magical! I’m so thankful to have experienced it with each of them.

    And as someone who knew how to work the system without really *learning* anything, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go back and really learn all this stuff right alongside my kids!

  2. se7en says:

    I have to say that the good days totally, totally outweigh the bad… In any job you have good and bad days but somehow when you homeschool one circle of friends will tell you how chaotic and awful every moment is and the other circle of friends seem to be in some blissful state floating along on a cloud of educational joy. The reality is somewhere in between… heaps of good moments that I wouldn’t want to miss for anything and well more than a few moments that I am so glad I can be alongside my kids and pick up the pieces and carry them through it!!! It is about finding the path that works for you and your kids and I wouldn’t give up the time spent with my kids for anything!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Saturday Spot: Noordhoek Farm Village Food Market…

    • Jamie says:

      “The reality is somewhere in between… heaps of good moments that I wouldn’t want to miss for anything and well more than a few moments that I am so glad I can be alongside my kids and pick up the pieces and carry them through it!”

      totally agree with this–and that sometimes they help pick up MY pieces, as well!

  3. Keri says:

    My kids are still very young but I have been thinking a lot about homeschooling for all of the reasons you mention but especially #1 & 5. Although right now with three 3 and under I have days when I dream of sending them to school, I really don’t want to miss a thing! Thanks for the encouragement!
    Keri’s latest post: Days 6 ,7 & 8: Ice Boats, the Playground, & Pool Time

  4. Steph says:

    All of these reasons resonate with me. I was homeschooled myself but it in a school at home type way. I’m looking forward to implementing much more of a life learning model with my daughter. The freedom and time are such awesome opportunities for a love of learning to develop.
    Steph’s latest post: What does respect really look like?

  5. I resonate with all these reasons, and want to expound a little on the flexibility. My husband works at a church, so his busiest days are on the weekend–when most parents get in a ton of family time. If my kids had regular school hours away from home, I’d be devastated at how little they saw their father on the weekends. But since we homeschool, it’s no big deal.

    Homeschooling has fit in so well with our real life–and I love it for that reason!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: The Checklist You Need to Have

    • Jamie says:

      That’s such a great point, Anne. I feel the same way about Steve’s travel schedule and how our flexibility allows us to better manage it.

  6. It is funny to me how the best and the worsts are flip sides of the coin. For example, the worst is that you are always with your kids (not quoting exactly, sorry) and the best is you miss nothing. That’s exactly how it is in our house. I love the togetherness, but sometimes the togetherness is overwhelming. Still, if we take time to appreciate what we have, we realize we have it so much better than people who don’t get to spend time with their kids!
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: July Reading

    • Jamie says:

      Yes, absolutely, Jen! It is flip sides, which is why so much relies on us having the right perspective in the midst of it all.

  7. I found your blog through Erin Goodman and am SO glad that I did! We home schooled our older daughter for kindergarten and it was rough. Since then, she’s been in a Waldorf school, which we adore, but goodness is it hard to keep up those payments!
    It’s very freeing to read your posts. I feel like I have a bigger picture, now; that I can actually imagine life without Waldorf(!). Not that we want to leave, but if we have to—if it gets to the point that we are living lives that we don’t want just to be able to swing it—we have another option. And now that my girls are a little bit older, I think homeschooling might actually work :)

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Kim! I’m so glad you found me as well! Funny that you mention Waldorf, we have a school around the corner from us and when we moved here I did seriously consider it as an option. But in the end found that we just didn’t want to give up these aspects of our lifestyle that we love.

      We were also blessed to find a bit of a mid-range option–the kids go to a Waldorf enrichment class once a week. It’s been the perfect solution for us at this stage!

  8. Rana says:

    These are exactly the reasons why I homeschool. Having the flexibility to come and go as we please and also being able to learn through living.

    One of the major reasons I love to homeschool is that I can go at each child’s speed and not race through curriculum because we HAVE TO finish it. We take our time and make sure they understand what they are learning and it’s more enjoyable for all of us.

  9. Paula says:

    Yes! I love all 5 of your points.
    Homeschooling has been a do over for me also. I did the same thing of memorizing the facts and then forgetting. I am so enjoying learning for what feels like the first time. I sincerely hope that homeschooling fosters my children’s love for learning.
    Paula’s latest post: Hannah Coulter Book Review

  10. Beautiful post! I couldn’t agree more, and so well said!
    Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: 10 Pieces of Advice for All Homeschoolers, New or Old

  11. Jeana says:

    These are my exact feelings. My daughter is 5 and is working at a higher grade level because WE CAN! My son is 2 and learning his letter sounds because WE CAN! We get countless books from the library and I work to pick good solid reads because my family enjoys them! My daughter told me today she didn’t like a certain junior book series because it doesn’t have as good of mystery as the non junior series. We are talking about full chapter books here. There is no way she would be doing that if she had spent this year in regular kindergarten.

    I think the hardest part is balancing the good days and bad days when you have three kids five and under. I know that the good always outweighs the bad but in the middle of the chaos it can be so tough. I just try to remember that, like you said, I’m the one learning and living life with them. I’m here to read with them, kiss them when they fall down, watch them learn and best yet, they sleep in their own beds for naps!

    I’m glad I get the chance to do this… even on days I don’t feel like I can. :)
    Jeana’s latest post: Keepin’ it real…

    • Jamie says:

      “I think the hardest part is balancing the good days and bad days when you have three kids five and under.”

      I do really get this, Jeana–even now that my kids are 9, 7.5, and 7. You are doing really, really important work in the world. Your investment in your kids and what you’re giving to them by being there really does matter! Don’t let anyone (even your own thoughts) try to convince you otherwise.

  12. The last post and this are exactly why I felt compelled to write my book. It’s important to be honest about the struggles we homeschoolers face, but also the joys. I loved all of your points. The pace of days, the SLOW rhythm (when I stop running to slow down), and hours with my children are wonderful joys. I also like your recommendation of a break for mom, a babysitter, in the last post. I find having Friday afternoons “off” most weeks helps me catch up, recharge, and enjoy my kids more on the other side of it.
    CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment’s latest post: { rest }

    • Jamie says:

      “I find having Friday afternoons “off” most weeks helps me catch up, recharge, and enjoy my kids more on the other side of it.”

      I’m always so glad to find more homeschooling moms having regular time off like this–I do think it’s so important that we have breaks just like other professionals have! Thanks, Charity.

      • Cheryl says:

        Just curious where you find sitters for this during the school year? We have several high school babysitters from our church we are able to use all summer long, but I have no one to use during the week in the school year.

  13. Jessica says:

    Yes! So lovely! We move closer to schooling in this way each year. We came from an institutional school environment, so we began much closer to schooling at home. Our days’ learning are also centered around reading out loud, from living books. I want to incorporate #3 with more skill. We have a much slower-paced life than most of our regularly schooled peers, but we are still not focused enough on our priorities. Thanks for the reminder of how beautiful this lifestyle is.
    Jessica’s latest post: Never say never…

  14. Kara says:

    I love your 5 reasons. In fact they could all be reasons that I love home schooling, except that my do-over was kind of the opposite. I did not like school and rarely applied myself to anything and scraped by doing the bare minimum. Another reason that I love homeschooling is for the culture it creates in our family. We genuinely like each other. While I know this happens in families who choose not to school at home, I feel that our kids lean on each other and my husband and me for support. We are home to one another and I believe that homeschooling has given that to us.

  15. I definately feel for those parents in number five, as my husband works 12 and 24 hour shifts in public service, so some of those families are our friends. His work schedule is a huge reason I began staying home with our daughter. All of us, not just our daughter, deserve to have a certain amount of consistency in our lives. We are incredibly fortunate that we can fit my staying home, day and night, into our finances! However, I am glad 24-hr childcare is becoming available for our civil servants who require it. The last time my husband and I considered running one (to cater to the local fire and ems schedules), we found out that local laws prohibit 24-hr care. Even if it is a center, those children deserve a safe place to be cared for at night, and their parents deserve knowing their children are safe, whether day or night.
    Queen of Chaos’s latest post: A harsh reminder

  16. Kristy says:

    I still remember the exact moment that my oldest learned to read his first words. The joy on his face was priceless, along with the big hug he gave me afterward. I never knew that was something a parent would get to see. We usually highlight the infant and toddler milestones with great fanfare, so I was overwhelmed with emotion at his joy of reading those first few words. Those days definitely outweigh the tough days. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

  17. Amber says:

    Some day I will write a post about homeschooling on my blog until then I lurk through the blogosphere gaining courage to try our first semester in Kindergarten….and all of your reasons are in my heart…SLOW is a new way of living for me…thanks for describing what it means in practice

  18. Susan says:

    Wonderful! I love the part about slowing down. Definitely something I need to work on. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Susan’s latest post: Comment on You’ve Earned an Honorary Degree in Home Education by Susan Brown

  19. Jess says:

    I so love this post!
    Jess’s latest post: lived well

  20. I love this post. Thank you for sharing, Jamie. And thank you to all the homeschooling parents out there. As someone who was homeschooled myself, I can attest to the wonderful blessing that it is. Keep going, parents! You’re doing a great job!
    Rachel@The Travel Pen’s latest post: A Chinese Perspective on Having a Second Child

  21. Nicole says:

    I love this list. The last one hits me. I spent 12 year in the military. My son was almost 7 when I finally got out. Between long hours and deployments I missed a lot with him! Even with my daughters I missed a lot of the baby stuff. My youngest was 18 months when I got out. I never needed the 24 hour daycare, which was a blessing. I also know the availability of those is a blessing to many families who have no other options.

    Homeschooling was not my plan. I was called to it to improve my sons education and overall happiness. Public school was not working for him. It was the best decision I have ever made. I can never get back the time I missed, but I can quit missing things in my childrens lives. I can also provide them with plenty of memories.

  22. Rachel says:

    My dad always said that if you like a job 20% of the time, it is a great job. And here I sit in my mom and teacher job with a significantly higher percentage than that! Loving the encouragement in this, Jamie. Thank you for your outlook!

  23. Oh I loved this! As someone who is only beginning on the homeschooling path, this is what I look forward to most. My 4 year old is all of a sudden blossoming…and I love it! I am a little nervous about “unschooling” him in these early years, but I hesitate so much in squelching his love of learning with a textbook…

    I, too, new how to work the system without really learning. I was homeschooled, but very traditionally. I look forward to “creating” our learning environment with our children. Always love your insights, Jamie!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: How Internet is Good. But Draining.

  24. Nola says:

    I love the time I have with my kids as well. My heart aches when I think of doing anything else. I can’t imagine having so little time with them if I did it any other way.

    I also love that my kids love to learn. I ended up doing very well in the school system but I don’t remember a lot of what I learned. I just learned it to get it over with. I worked the system, having little things I did to get good grades (like putting my hand up when I knew the answer, so I would never get called on when I didn’t, since teachers don’t pick the child who answers frequently when no one answers, or participating really well when 5% of the grade was just for that, etc). My kids love to learn and I find that they retain a lot.

  25. Lucretia says:

    Jamie, I love your blog and books, especially Steady Days. This was such a great post, I couldn’t agree more with all 5 points. We’re just starting out our homeschool journey, but it’s a continuation of my own (I was homeschooled as a kid). The benefits are so incredible! It’s nice to consciously remember WHY I’m doing this, especially on those crazy days. :)
    Lucretia’s latest post: Foodies In Training – Crepes

  26. Jessica says:

    My little one is only 12 weeks old but my Husband and I are already thinking ahead towards her education. Homeschooling is something we’re really interested in and this post definitely makes me want to just go for it! This is exactly the values we have and lifestyle we’re after, thanks for putting it into writing!
    Jessica’s latest post: Out of the Fatherland

  27. Jennie R says:

    Hi Jamie, l love this! I’m about to begin my first year of homeschooling with my four children. I credit this blog as one that has steared me in that direction. Thanks so much for your inspiration. I’m saving this to read again later.

  28. This is a great post. I’m new to your website and new to homeschooling. I feel very inspired and energized by your words. We’re starting to homeschool our four kids this week as we prepare for a several-month trip across the country in the fall. Thanks for your thoughts!
    Domini Hedderman’s latest post: The Book is Published!

  29. Erin DeGroot says:

    This is such an encouraging post! We are entering our second year homeschooling, after my oldest spent her first three years of school in public school. I have a 4th grader, two 1st graders, as well as an almost 2 year old and another baby on the way. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed, and this list was excellent food for thought for me to remember why I accepted this call on our family’s life in the first place. Thank you!

  30. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for posting about the positive! Its so easy to get caught up in the negatives (even if we are often joking about them or talking about them as a means of reminding ourselves that we all have tough days :). I am relatively new to homeschooling and came to it in a kind of emergent situation so I didn’t have much time to research what I was doing. It was a complete surprise to me that we had MORE time, I assumed we would have less, that I would be a frazzled chaotic mess and would just do my best to “get through” the rest of the school year until I could get them back into a regular classroom. I didn’t realize the amount of flexibility and freedom that came with homeschooling – imagine my delight when I realized we could spend August somewhere besides Arizona (when its 120 degrees!), or that I could let the children sleep in when they needed more rest. And I didn’t even know what I was missing while they were in school, until I got to watch my daughter soak up a history lesson on Joan of Ark, looking at me with surprise and wonder as she gobbled it up with enthusiasm, or when I read an essay my son wrote and I realized what a great sense of humor he has. Homeschooling definitely has its tough moments, but the good, at least for me, far outweighs the bad.
    Jen’s latest post: Should you Homeschool?

  31. Dawn says:

    The books and read alouds are my favorite! I also use the Sonlight book lists. Homeschooling has been such a blessing to my family. My oldest is going to public high school this fall, but I’m thankful that I had the time I did with her.
    Dawn’s latest post: 7.24.13

  32. Gretchen says:

    I needed to read this today. I am a year away from beginning our family’s homeschool journey; however I already feel like the outcast. As soon as a group of mothers start chatting at the park, the conversation often turns to how excited they are to be “getting rid of” as many of their kids as possible for as long as possible in the Fall. Even one of my closest friends has decided to ship her three-year-old off to a 7 hour long day, five days a week, for pre-school. She’s expressed her excitement to me and I’m pretty sure my sadness for her daughter shows in my face instead of excitement. When did we start seeing our children as burdens instead of blessings? I can’t wait to share in my children’s triumphs and disappointments. Thanks for your post.

  33. Lydia says:

    What is the name of the beautiful book you have pictured in #2?

  34. Virginia says:

    Thank you SO much! That was a wonderful article. I absolutely love “In all of life there is a dark and a light side. We get to choose which one we notice most.” I am putting that up on my wail! May you always always feel God’s love :)

  35. Antoinette says:

    You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today as I literally hide in the bathroom from it all! Less than an hour ago I finished a conversation w my husband about the HUGE costs of homeschooling!! With the new year starting I was feeling very overwhelmed w diving back in. I wasn’t finding the good, but the bad was large and scary!!! Thanks for the beautiful reminder of this post. It was like the sun after a heavy ran!! I will read it again often…today!!! Ill also send it to my husband who will rejoice w me at God’s amazing provision through you!! Thank you so much!

  36. The reading! I had no idea that I would love reading to the kids as much as they love being read to. We’re like our own book club, the 3 of us, books bringing us together while enhancing their (our) education.
    Also, YES to everything else in this post.
    Rachel @ 6512 and growing’s latest post: the “un” of schooling

  37. This is such a lovely post! WE also “school” year around because learning doesn’t ever stop in our lives, does it?? Thank you for the encouragement and reminder of what is important!
    tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations’s latest post: Nim’s Island – how we did our first Unit Study in the middle of summer.

  38. Paula says:

    This post is why Simple Homeschool is the only homeschool blog I regularly read : ) I think my favorite thing about homeschooling is that my kids are allowed the grow & learn at their own pace and aren’t forced into a box- told they are “behind” or “ahead”. As a former special education teacher, I know how quickly children our labeled in some schools and I’m thankful mine are only labeled as “kids who learn”. It’s either that…or the fact that we get to sleep in ; )

  39. Amei says:

    I’m so happy to find your blog! We started homeschool about 1 month ago. My older son is 4 and half now, I was thinking to homeschool him after kindergarten. But it turns out, he is stressed, unhappy, and cried almost every morning when we walk him to school. My heart was broken to see him cry, our whole family were stressed & feel not right. We are glad we have made the best decision to keep him at home, where he feels loved, happy & comfortable! There is no turning back! Every reason you listed about I can not agree any more. I wants to read & learn with our children together. I have been a stay home mother since day one. And I really thank God that I am able to watch my children grow day by day :)
    So after stop our son from school, I am searching net, read about homeschooling info like mad, only can do after children are sleeping (4 yrs old & 1 yr old). We ordered sonlight P4/5, which will arrive tomorrow :) I am looking forward to do this learning journey together!
    actually, I am still a bit nervous :( although i know i can and really should relax.
    For now, we really enjoying spend every minute at home together :)

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