Reason enough to homeschool

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

A note from Jamie: Now that we’re in the swing of another academic year, it’s helpful to remember the reasons why we’ve chosen this homeschooling lifestyle. Sarah sums it up so beautifully in this post, which originally published on August 12, 2011. Enjoy!

Where I live, the public schools begin in early August. Summer still—the hottest month of the year—and kids are sitting in slick chairs, pencils sharpened, new shoes still a little tight. I imagine a little boy just my son’s age watching a fat bee hover outside the window. He can’t hear it buzzing, of course, because the air conditioner drones at high speed, drowning out the sounds of bees and the smell of sunshine and dry grass.

We started homeschooling 12 years ago because…

• We thought it was silly that our then-first-grader spent time each week in public school devoted to filling in bubbles on a test page. He and his classmates were practicing for the standardized tests they would have to take in second grade.

• We didn’t like being warned that we were not to go away on vacation—that doing so would be an unexcused absence. But, we asked, what about all the learning that comes with traveling? They’ll miss too much at school, we were told.

• Our six-year-old would come home from a long day of school and have to do homework. He would sit at the table, folder of worksheets in front of him, looking stressed out.

• Our state ranks near the bottom of the barrel, year after year, in education. Even the “best” schools, when held in comparison to other states, are only mediocre. And we do not strive for mediocrity.

We started homeschooling for a bunch of reasons, and the list has grown year after year.

But sometimes it is just one reason that stands out above all the others. Forget academics, test scores, long days, busy work, and tedium. What we give them now is this: an August day. A river to wade in. The feel of dry grass beneath our feet, and a sliver of silver moon at night.

Sometimes that whole stack of “reasons why” comes down to a knowing feeling—a conviction that this is the way life should be.

That’s how I like to start each new year of homeschooling: knowing that for every tangible reason why, there is an intangible one as well. For every study that points to higher ACT scores among homeschoolers, there is my own memory of my three little ones playing in the sandbox while I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond to them. For every argument that homeschoolers become more responsible adults, there is an afternoon spent hiking in the glorious autumn sunshine.

As I prepare to begin my 12th year, I hold on to the conviction that we are made to hear the bees buzzing and smell the late-blooming flowers. And sometimes that’s reason enough to homeschool.

What intangible moments have made you grateful to be homeschooling? What reason do you give most often when asked why you homeschool?

About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.


  1. Oh gosh…I admire all the Mama’s and Dad’s who can and do homeschool! Unfortunately, my husband and I work full-time; therefore, I must think outside the box. For example, I strive not to meet the academic standards set forth by our local public school. Yet, I keep in tune with my daughter’s needs, wants and desires. In addition, I encourage her to explore personal inerests, and remind her (and myself!) that the world does not stop on the last page of a text book!

    I applaude all of you who do make homeschooling a possibility for your own family; which in return, allows me not to become a voiceless bystander with the relm of the public school system. We always have choices! Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the inspiration! My oldest is 12- and we have always homeschooled

  3. Those are some pretty powerful reasons. I’ve always wished I was homeschooled. I’m gonna pass this post along to my sister, so maybe my tiny nieces can be luckier. :)
    carly’s latest post: My Irvine dentist

  4. Well said!

    It’s not an easy choice to make. While we won’t start our year for another week–it is the only option that fits our family.

    Conversation and creativity are very important to us!
    Jessica Nunemaker from little Indiana’s latest post: Vevay, Indiana Swiss Wine Festival: Good to The Last Drop

  5. Of course I’m coming to this really late, through the newsletter but you say it so well Sarah.

  6. Love this post!!! Even the tiny illustration of only seeing the fat Bumble Bee but not hearing it! We are in our second year of home-schooling and while we have had some struggles we wouldn’t change it for the world. (Actually the thought of sending them back to school makes me panic) I am just so thankful for the time we have as a family and seeing the relationships flourish and grow deeper among my children (11, 9, 7, 5 , and 3) I know in my heart of hearts that they wouldn’t have such deep love for each other if they were still at school!
    Sharni’s latest post: Paint and Rainbows

  7. Wow — just a few of the many reasons I try to review often for why we homeschool. I think that review is as important for longtime homeschoolers (I am in my 12th year as well) as for newcomers. It is so easy to doubt ourselves! Thanks for this post.
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: September Reading List

  8. So totally true!!! Sometimes as a homeschooler it is so easy to get caught up in the “What we should be doing” … but just a day out doors always tends to get our perspective back on track!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en Would Love Help to Save the Rhino…

  9. The most common reason I give to why we homeschool/unschool our daughter: we want to be with her. We want to BE with her. We love her so much and we’re preparing her to strive for what inspires her knowing full well her dreams and desires will take her all over the world. Those are the times when we won’t necessarily be with her, so we choose to be with her now.
    Claire’s latest post: Catalog Copy.

  10. I really appreciate all the encouragement and gently reminders that Simple Homeschool sends my way. I am a homeschool graduate, so it’s all I know. However, last year, my Kindergarten year with my oldest, was terrible- not because of school, but because of the awful curveballs that life threw our way. This year, I wanted to throw in the towel and send him to private school. Now that we’re a month in, I’m really happy that I made the decision to homeschool, and I’m grateful to all of you for helping me keep going.
    Jennifer Campbell’s latest post: Knobby Crocheted Gnome Baby Girl Hat (Preemie/Newborn, Organic Handspun Merino Wool, Wood Slice Button) by MadeleineAndCo

  11. At the end of January or middle of February, my reason for homeschooling looks like this: I’m standing in my toasty kitchen with a mug of hot chocolate wrapped in a comfy sweater watching all the school kids trudging through the snow all bundled up, books and homework all checked and stuffed in their backpacks, hair brushed, breakfast gobbled already… and it’s only 7:30am!!! Maybe around 8:30 my munchkins will wander in wanting some warm apple-cinnamon oatmeal. Then we’ll snuggle on the couch with our schoolbooks and hot chocolate for each of them. Maybe after lunch, when “school” is done, we’ll go build a snowman.
    That’s reason enough to homeschool.

  12. You must be from Mississippi. Starting school in August and VERY low preforming state schools kinda gave me a clue. At the very least you must be in the southern states. Mississippi ranks #49 this year with public education (last year it was #50). We also don’t strive for mediocrity in our homeschool. Love the post. This is one of the many reasons why we homeschool. Another reason is that my husband and I are homeschool graduates. :)

  13. I was thinking about this just this morning as I cuddled for an extended time with my two (almost three) kids in our bed. No pressure to get going unless we wanted to, plenty if time to discuss the difference between an ocean and a sea, and then how big a book would have to be to “actually go inside”… Eventually we got up and got our day going. Now it’s just after lunch. School work is done and our day just keeps unfolding. Little pressure to be or do. Mostly we simply enjoy. We are human Beings not human Doings.
    Another-Mom’s latest post: Allowance At Six

  14. Practicing filling in bubbles? OMG. You gave me one more reason why I’m glad we’re homeschooling! And I hear you on the other points too. I’m especially thankful we’re homeschooling right now because the weather is so beautiful, and I’m glad my son isn’t stuck inside a school building most of the day!
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Homeschooling and Socialization

  15. Loved this post. We home school, too.

  16. Does anyone have experience / advice on pulling a child out of public school mid-year and beginning homeschooling? We are in SC and my son is in first grade. He is so not happy at school. We had great experiences in preschool and K5 at a small 10 student half day private program, but public school has been a major change. My son says he feels invisible and just like he is herded around all day.

  17. Love it! And I totally agree. Sharing this on my page.

  18. Yes, reason enough!
    Jennifer’s latest post: Collecting Firewood: Tips for the Best Wood Stove Wood

  19. So true. We started homeschooling for a list of reasons to do with academics and public schools. Somewhere along the way I realized that our reason became living life as a family and learning along the way.

  20. When I taught we did a unit on butterflies. Below I illustrate the difference between when I did them with my class and how I have been doing them each year with my children.

    caterpillars delivered in a box to my classroom…placed in plastic cups..brown goop placed inside for them to eat…watching them eat the goop and eventually turn into their chrysalis in the cup. They turned into butterflies and we were not “supposed” to let them go free. They were not “native”.

    Watching a butterfly land on parsley my children planted in the garden they planted. Seeing it bend and lay eggs on the underside of the leaves…going over and finding the eggs. Waiting and finding little caterpillars have hatched a few days later. Checking their growth each day. Handling them, watching them eat and bringing them inside when they are at their fattest to be placed in a net. Seeing them turn into a Chrysalis and waiting till that special day when you wake in the morning and they are coming out. Having them fly around the kitchen and letting them go outside. Watching them land on the butterfly plant you planted and drink its nectar.

    The world is our classroom. We are not limited to four walls.

    And today my son called out numbers off the back of a truck. And I have not formally taught him any numbers. I had no idea he knew them.

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