Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

The Parkland, Florida shooting has many families wondering if they should take a closer look at homeschooling. I want you to know there are so many amazing reasons to homeschool that have nothing to do with fear or safety.  In fact, Business Insider says that “homeschooling is the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st-century.”

In this post, I will discuss five benefits of homeschooling: 1) Academics; 2) Socialization; 3) Mental Health; 4) Family Relationships;  5) Love of Learning.

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Academics

Homeschooling offers you the opportunity to craft a 100% customized education for your child.  Multiple factors will go into how you decide to personalize your child’s education including her learning style, skills, and passions as well your family’s priorities and values. You can speed up or slow down depending on your child’s needs and interests.

Sixteen-year-old homeschooled student, Christian Williams, who has just been accepted by MIT,  summarized this well:

“I’m able to do so many academics, so many customized learning programs through my homeschooling, so I was able to take advantage of my love for math, my love for sciences, and was able to do math way above my grade level. I was able to do any science I wanted to. That’s how I discovered half of my passions.”–Christian Williams, 16-year-old admitted to MIT

Homeschooled students typically score above average on standardized tests and the SAT and ACT compared to their public school counterparts. Impressively, many homeschoolers complete 1-2 years of junior college before they turn 18 years old and are admitted to top universities across the nation without ever having to take the SAT or ACT. Additionally, you can choose to school year-round so you don’t lose ground with summer slide.

Homeschoolers don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum and don’t teach to the middle or a test. We aren’t bogged down by hierarchies and bureaucracies to make change. Quite the opposite, we are entrepreneurs of our children’s education and are nimble and adaptive to their needs and learning opportunities.

Many cities have homeschool learning centers and co-ops. If you don’t feel equipped to teach a subject to your children, you can seek out the best instructors. This semester, for instance, some classes my kids are taking from other teachers include physics, chemistry, debate, art, and theater. In California, we have the option to receive educational funds to pay for some of our educational expenses including classes.  Because of the customization we are able to do with these educational funds and the tremendous ecosystem that has emerged, I believe Southern California hoomeschoolers are on the cutting edge of education.

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The Well-Trained Mind is an excellent place to start if you are considering homeschooling. The book’s authors provide a how-to homeschool plan including multiple curriculum recommendations for each grade level.

Socialization

Many homeschool families chuckle at this question about socialization. Yes, there are some homeschooled kids with quirky behavior, but you find plenty of that in conventional schools.  I firmly believe my children’s socialization is superior to what you find with traditional schooling.

They are not confined to the same desks, playground and cafeteria day-after-day. Instead, they are often out in nature enjoying the freedom and purity of those landscapes together. Other times they are interacting in places as diverse as museums, nature centers, restaurants, galleries,  performing arts theaters, farms, and more. This stimulates tremendous creative interaction amongst the homeschoolers.

They are more actively engaged in conversation, thought, movement and play with friends. Their friendships are strengthened as they learn and play together in a wide variety of interactive environments. This is in stark contrast to the humdrum of being in the same classroom with the same teacher in the same desk each day.

Additionally, homeschooled kids build relationships with peers of a wide age range. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, wrote in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:

“There is nothing natural about segregating kids by age. That isn’t how families work; it isn’t what the world looks like and it runs counter to the way that kids have learned and socialized for most of human history…As anyone who’s every spent time around children can tell you, both younger and older benefit when different ages mis. The older ones take responsibility for the younger ones. The younger ones look up to and emulate the older ones. Everyone seems to act more mature. Both younger and older rise to the occasion. Take away the mixx of ages and everybody loses something.”–From The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Sal Khan

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Mental Health

The mental health of our nation’s youth is, sadly, declining rapidly. You don’t need to read statistics to know this is happening. You hear sad stories in the news all the time and probably hear many of them from your own child’s school. Depression, anxiety, anger, bullying, and suicide are all on the rise.

A teen suicide in my community last month prompted a Newport Harbor High School principal, Dr. Sean Boulton, to write a letter in which he stated:

“Our teachers and district have simply created and maintained a system that our community/country has demanded from us over the past 20 years since college admissions mania went into hyper drive, since vocational training programs were dismantled, and since earning “A’s” in AP classes became the norm.”

“Our teachers feel the pressure, administration and counseling feel the pressure, and now parents/students are really feeling the pressures.”

“When we grew up nobody asked us what our GPA was, and it was ‘cool’ to work on the roof of a house. This competitive culture has significantly impacted our young adults. We endlessly discuss test scores, National Merit Scholarships, reading scores, AP scholars, comparisons to other school Districts and this is when we start losing our collective souls–and our children.”–Newport Harbor High School Principal, Dr. Sean Boulton

When you homeschool, you can get out of that rat race. Instead of living in comparison and competition, homeschoolers are so generous in helping one another out to succeed with their homeschooling. Blazing a different trail than the masses is so empowering.

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Many factors that contribute to children’s mental health problems are lessened with homeschooling:

  • Bullying is greatly reduced.
  • Students are less likely to get on ADHD meds because they are not being confined to a desk in a classroom for hours each school day.
  • Parents spend more time with their kids building bonds, sense of love and security, and transmitting values.
  • Children usually eat healthier when they are with parents.
  • There is less rushing around because school can be done much more efficiently than in a large classroom of kids.
  •  Kids are happier because they are getting outdoors much more and have extra time to play with their friends. This also reduces the need for ADHD meds.
  • Homeschooled children, generally, are not dealing with developmentally inappropriate topics and situations.
  • Homeschooling does not have the hyper-competitive atmosphere you see in many schools today.
  • There is much less risk to personal safety for homeschooled kids.
  • The teach-to-the-test culture is absent.
  • Involvement in drugs, alcohol and sexual activity is much less.
  • Image consciousness, such as the clothes you wear and people you hang out with, is greatly reduced.
  • Homeschooled students don’t usually know who struggles with math and reading and who excels. Those are typically done at home at a customized pace. As a result, it is much less likely that less academically-inclined kids will feel dumb. That insecurity and damage can take years to get over–if ever.
  • Parents often play a greater role influencing with whom their kids socialize.  As peers play such a big role in our children’s lives, this can’t be underestimated.

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Family Relationships

Homeschool families are typically very close. I think part of it is because we have so many shared experiences together. I have been told many times by parents who left public school to homeschool that the whole family is so much more relaxed, and they are finally having time to enjoy one another.

 

Most of our homeschool family friends have siblings who get along well as do my own children. My hypothesis is because they do so much life together. They have so many meaningful experiences together out in the world. They know one another’s friends well because we are experiencing the world with them, too. We read aloud books as a family and discuss them which is, also, a powerful bonding experience.  I don’t know the precise reasons homeschool kids typically get along so nicely with their siblings, but it is wonderful and sweet.

Love of Learning

Earlier this week, The Harvard Gazette published a story featuring three of their homeschooled students. The writer pointed out the following: “The three profiled here share a spirit of curiosity and independence that continues to shape their education.”

This is one area that homeschoolers really shine. Because we aren’t caught up in competition and standardized tests, homeschoolers usually exemplify love of learning!

 

In fact, homeschool parents have tremendous fun learning with their kids. I have a master’s degree and have completed some executive education. However, none of my prior education comes close to what I am learning as a homeschool parent. It is nice to be surrounded by other parents who enjoy learning and discussing ideas. I find the lifestyle of a homeschool parent extremely rich and gratifying.

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There are quite a few other compelling reasons to homeschool. However, I covered some highlights for you.  I am so grateful to homeschool and feel it is one of the best and most important decisions we will ever make for our family. Additionally, I love it more and more each year. It is an incredible journey to go on with your children, and  I hope you will strongly consider it. As I remind my friends who are in public school and on the fence, there is no wait list to get back in school. If you try it and it doesn’t work, then you can always go back. However, most people I know who take that step only regret they didn’t start sooner.

Please share this post if you believe others should learn more about homeschooling. I believe with all my heart that with devoted, loving parents who can make the time for it, in most cases, it is the optimal choice for kids, families and our nation.

Finally, I highly recommend Richard Louv’s groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. “He links the absence of nature in156512605X the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. This is the first book to bring together a body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions to heal the broken bond.”

You may also like:

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

How We Homeschool First Grade

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool?

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Homeschooled Teddy Roosevelt Never Sat in a Classroom Until Harvard

Homeschooled Teddy Roosevelt Never Sat in a Classroom Until Harvard

President Teddy Roosevelt is one of many distinguished Americans who was homeschooled. As we look back on his childhood, we can marvel at how the extra time and freedom that comes with homeschooling created his unique character and intellect. For example, he had the latitude and space to:

  • Spend ample time  reading
  • Explore and pursue his passion for natural science
  • Travel abroad extensively

Reading

Young Teddy had tutors and copious amounts of time to read. His parents “offered him a wide choice of reading material and did not force him to study any particular books.”  In fact, he was such a fervent reader, “never without a book to settle down with or pick up in a spare minute.” Kids laughed at the way he read standing up balanced on one leg and the other foot raised like a stork.

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Pursuit of His Passions

All the free time Teddy gained from homeschooling also allowed him to explore and pursue his passion of the natural world. A visit to a to a taxidermist’s shop, where he learned how to skin, stuff and mount animals, was an important event in his life. He hunted, collected, and labeled so many specimens that he was given the attic for his own Museum of Natural History at his family’s home in New York.Image result for free image teddy roosevelt

 

Travel Without Constraints of a School Schedule

Though sheltered in many ways, Teddy and his siblings saw more of the world than most American children. Twice his family journeyed on yearlong trips abroad. This included a year-long excursion to Europe and also living on a houseboat in Egypt. In Egypt, he was able to observe and catalog many exotic new birds.

When Teddy entered Harvard, he had never been in a class with others before. Teddy participated in a variety of activities and was elected vice-president of the Natural History Society.

Teddy Roosevelt went on to become the 26th President of the United States and was called the “Father of Conservation” for his tremendous work protecting the environment.

A reflection of his education mirrors what so many homeschool families value today: 1) Personalized and customized academics; 2) Experiential and hands-on learning; 3) Travel; 4) Pursuit of passions; 5) Love of books; 6) Time with family.

You may also like:

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Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

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Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

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Homeschoolers Make High Profile Entries into Top Universities

Increasingly, we are seeing headlines in the news about homeschoolers attending Ivy League schools and other top-tier universities.

For instance, this summer news broke of Cornell’s youngest ever freshman who is just 12-years old. He was homeschooled his entire academic career by his mom, an engineer, who quit her job to educate him.

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In India, a homeschooled girl’s entry into MIT  has sparked great interest in homeschooling among education circles in the South Asian giant. These are just a couple of this fall’s freshmen class of homeschoolers studying at Ivy League and other top-tier universities .

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Maybe one of my homeschooled kids will be a future student at MIT. We enjoyed visiting the campus and, especially, the MIT Museum on our visit to Cambridge this summer.

The September 2015 cover of Boston Magazine displays a smiling young woman sporting a Harvard University sweatshirt with the caption, “Homeschool got me into Harvard” in front of her. The article opens with:

“More and more of Boston’s smartest families are opting out of the education system to homeschool their children. Is this the new model for creating elite kids?”

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In a Tech Insider article , Dr. Susan Berry states, “The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation. Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers.”

Eliot House at Harvard University

Outstanding grades and test scores alone will not make someone stand out applying to top-tier universities. A September 2016 Business Insider article authored by a Harvard and MIT graduate outlines 7 tips for college applications. Passion, drive, and accomplishments are hooks that will get an application noticed. Homeschoolers are poised to shine in this area with such flexible schedules and the ability to complete academic work more efficiently.

What story will your homeschooler tell?

Your homeschooler is in a unique position to have a very interesting story to share on their college application. What story will your homeschooler tell?

You may also be interested in:

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Does Your Homeschooler Want to Attend Stanford?

Benefits of Experiential Learning

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Does Your Homeschooler Want to Attend Stanford?

Is your homeschooler interested in attending Stanford University? Fortunately, Stanford has a history of recognizing the benefits of homeschooling including its mix of unusual experiences and intellectual independence. As homeschoolers can complete their work so much quicker and efficiently than their conventionally-schooled counterparts, this allows students to do more with their time and further pursue their passions.

 

I reached out to Stanford admissions, and they gave me this insight: We are looking for “evidence of intellectual vitality, depth of commitment to academics as well as outside activities, and character traits that will contribute positively on our residential campus.”

Fortunately, Stanford has a history of recognizing the benefits of homeschooling including its mix of unusual experiences and intellectual independence.

 

Stanford takes into account three primary considerations when granting admission: 1) Test scores on the ACT or SAT; 2) Letters of recommendation; and 3) Academic record. Below is a link to Stanford’s homeschool admissions page.

Stanford Homeschool Admissions Page

Regarding academic record, Stanford is particularly interested in the homeschooler’s learning process. Here is an excerpt from their website:

We are interested in how you have gone about the learning process, not how many courses you have completed.

In particular, we would like to understand:

  • how and why your family chose home schooling
  • how your learning process was organized
  • what benefits accrued
  • what, if any, choices you had to make to accomplish this type of education

This is the first in a series about college admissions for homeschoolers. We will look at a variety of options from admission into top-tier universities to getting credit at junior colleges in high school  and transferring into four-year universities.  To receive future posts, you can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. 

Join our Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

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This book, The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family’s Method to College Ready by Age Twelve, was a very informative read about a family who sent 6 of their children to college by 12. While I am in no rush to get my kids to college at 12, it certainly gave me a lot to consider as well as taught me about some affordable and efficient ways to earn college credit.

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Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

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