It’s a conversation we have with the youngest almost monthly. Though being homeschooled is increasingly cool as it takes on the symbol of “what the most dedicated artists do,” she is convinced that there is magic on the other side of that yellow school bus, and she is the only kid missing out.
“Why do we homeschool?”
Because we can focus on values that we believe are truly important.
Because we can provide (with help as appropriate) as much or more academic rigor than most school options around us.
Because we can customize your educational experience to your strengths and weaknesses.
Whether conversing with the genuinely curious stranger, the skeptical but well-meaning(?) relative, or even our own children, it seems we are forever working to convince someone that homeschoolers have it better than any other kid in a more traditional school system
But do they?
I took a look, moreso for my own education than anyone else’s, at a recent listing of the best private schools in the country. The rankings were determined by looking at college attendance success rates, standardized test scores, and overall ability to produce an academically astute college student (more on that later). But, in taking a closer look at the profiles of some of these individual institutions, there are commonalities in certain areas—the areas which correlate directly with the price tag they place on a spot amongst the class:
Quality and flexibility of education: the ability to develop educational programs around certain principals or themes; the ability to take students on extended field trips, domestic and abroad; the level of rigorous preparation for future academic study. One school boasts ‘a full slate of foreign language, fine arts, and athletic requirements,’ as well as ‘political and cultural immersion.’
Safe learning environment: the set of experiences and opportunities created for students not just to memorize and regurgitate, but to also ask questions without judgment and develop critical thinking; the opportunity for rich discussion without the pressure to know everything
Small teacher-to-student ratio/ smaller numbers of students: these schools emphasize their overall atmosphere as one of loving and nurturing relationships, where students do not simply “go to school;” they become confident, caring adults who can effectively engage with the world around them. One school even boasts that they present ‘the resources and opportunities of a college but the intimacy and attention of home.’
Gender equality: though I have read that, given more exposure to STEM and STEAM-centered learning, women are still making choices to return to non-STEM related academic studies, at least they are given the chance to stand alongside their male peers without stereotypical mindsets of what women are more inclined to pursue as a career
Hmmm…a flexible, rigorous education, a safe learning environment, small class size, and everyone learning the same things. Doesn’t that sound like a homeschool to you?
Where were these schools most commonly lacking? Diversity. Of course, if you are not open to diversity in your homeschool, you probably are not reading my blog. But I do hope you are intentional about your kids interacting with people who are older and younger, people who do not look like you, and people who offer something different (but still positive) to your formal and informal education.
This short comparison does not even touch the other benefits of homeschooling—self-paced studies, flexible daily/ weekly/ yearly scheduling, higher standardized test scores, cost, customized meal plans, and overall quality of preparation for adulthood (whether the goal is college or not).
So, when I speak to the youngest about why we homeschool, I can say with even more confidence that we gather at the kitchen table because our hearts as parents are to offer her the very best there is, and we are not paying an arm and a leg for it.