By Lori Hatcher
Contributing Writer and Homeschool Mom
Thirty years ago when homeschooling first reappeared on the educational radar screen, it was limited primarily to families who were, shall I say, unusual. One family that achieved national recognition left their suburban lifestyle and moved to a goat farm in upstate New York to rear and educate their sons. The boys did quite well academically and ultimately secured full-tuition scholarships to prestigious Ivy League colleges. The results were great, but what average family wants to live on a goat farm for the purpose of educating their children?
Today, homeschooling has once again proven itself as a viable educational option. I say “once again,” because for 200 years in this country homeschooling was the only educational option. Our founding fathers were quite well educated using the tutorial method. State-sanctioned public education didn’t come into full use until the late 1800's.
As a 17-year homeschooling veteran, I am often asked the question, "Why did you homeschool?"
While my answers are not the same as all homeschooling families, the following six reasons capture the essence of why so many families choose to educate their children at home.
We homeschooled because it gave us:
- A Rich Family Life. The nature of homeschooling lends itself to activities the whole family can do together. Instead of being age- and grade-segregated, all members of the family can explore an area of science, history, culture, or the arts together. We visited the places where the Civil War began and ended, watched loggerhead turtle babies released to the sea, toured the museums in Washington, D.C., and laid on our backs in the grass tracking the stars in the summer sky. In addition to the educational lessons my children learned, we had the opportunity to build relationships and family memories.
- Opportunities for Our Children to Pursue Their Interests. Because homeschooling is more time efficient, our children had more time to pursue their areas of interest once the academic portion of their school day was complete. One daughter was fascinated by the political process and the flexibility allowed her to travel to Florida to work on a grass-roots presidential campaign with a group of 100 homeschooled students. Another daughter wanted to become a physical therapist because she loved children and swimming. Our schedule allowed her to work with a college grant project helping autistic and mentally retarded children feel comfortable in the water.
- The Freedom to be Children. When other children would ask my girls if they have homework, they would reply, "All our work is homework!" It was a funny way to comment on the fact that their homework was built into their school day. Because I could work one-on-one with them in challenging subject areas, extra remedial work and practice was not necessary after they had completed their assignments. This allowed them time to play outside with their friends, read for fun, daydream, and simply be a child.