Parents have numerous reasons for wanting to teach their children at home, and feel the benefits far outweigh the time and commitment they give to providing an education at home. Some parents homeschool for spiritual reasons or to give their child a broader education. Some choose to teach at home to avoid negative peer pressure or because the children have some sort of special needs that was being ignored while in school. Along with the obvious benefits such as these, there are some hidden benefits, as well.
Homeschooling is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) estimates that "1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010 in the United States. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years)."
Many parents feel that they are better able to bond with their children if they are at home. When a child goes to school for six or seven hours a day, they usually come home do to homework or play with friends, or attend social groups. This leaves an average of two hours a day for the parents to interact with their children during the week. This isn't a lot of time to really bond with a child, to get to know them and what they are involved in.
Often, the child's friends know more about him than his parents do. For many, this isn't acceptable. While homeschooling families don't completely cut their children off from the world, spending more time at home with the parents teaching proper social skills better prepares the child for when they are interacting with other children. They tend to have a strong sense of self and are less likely to follow the crowd.
Due to the fact that parents hardly get to spend time with the child during the week, it's easy to see how difficult it is to properly mold that child. It is the parent's responsibility to teach the child how to be a responsible person who puts others first and has compassion on others. Parents should be instilling important values in their children that will benefit the child when she becomes an adult as well as those in the child's community.
With the parents being the main influence rather than peers who bully, harass or make poor decisions because they are still learning and growing in a society that pushed character building onto the schools or other students, a child is better able to make responsible choices. This may save the child from making decision that may harm himself, or others. He is being guided by older, wiser adults without the negative influence to ignore sound advice, as so many children do.
Getting into real life
The public school model of placing children all the same age group in classes where they have very little exposure to people of all ages, isn't much like real life at all. Neither is being forced to learn certain subjects without being allowed to explore other interests. A child who homeschools is still required to learn the basic subjects that will guide her through life, but she has more time during the day to learn about anything else she wants. She can explore home economics or animal husbandry. She can move forward to college level subjects or practice making documentaries with a video camera.
Programs such as CLEP allow children of any age to have the opportunity to earn college credits before actually entering college, provided they can pass the test. Some local colleges have enrollment options for children from K-12 grade to take courses while still studying at their grade level through dual enrollment options. This opens possibilities to homeschoolers because they aren't sitting in a classroom all day and may be capable of passing the required testing earlier than their peers.
Overall, more children are involved in community service who are homeschooled than those who are public schooled. This gets them out into the communities to learn about other lifestyles, personal and religious views and gives them a chance to learn new skills while benefiting others. Some of this is due to not having the time restraints of those in public schools. However, this is due in part to what NHERI found in their studies of homeschooled children versus public-schooled children: "The social skills scores of the homeschooled were consistently higher than those of public school students."
Freedom and flexibility
One of homeschooling's hidden benefits is the freedom the family has to live life. They don't have to follow a set school schedule, which allows them freedom to travel. One of the best ways to learn about life, incorporating all of the core subjects they learn while in school, is to get out and explore the world. Many families budget for trips to museums, historical places of interest and locations that allow them to explore nature.
They don't have to obtain notes from the doctor when sick or worry about reporting to a school board to justify missed school. School can be made up on the weekends or on holidays. They can school year-round and decide when they want to take time off. This is a perfect setting for children with severe medical needs who otherwise would be in trouble or fall behind if in public school.
Many households require that both parents work. Homeschooling allows the parents to teach while fulfilling the family's financial obligation because school can be done during any hours of the day. Some jobs allow the children to attend, so they can be learning while the parent works. School is tailored to the needs of the family, instead of the family having to work around the school.
It takes a lot of time and commitment to decide to teach a child in the home. It's not easy, and it's one of the most important jobs a parent can have. Homeschooling isn't something to take lightly as it affects the child's future. However, both the obvious and the hidden benefits of homeschooling for the child are profound, making it one of the best options for learning when possible.
A child can learn faster when they have one on one attention. If he is struggling to grasp a concept, it's easier to detect then when he's by himself or with a few siblings rather than in a class full of kids. Having this kind of focus enables a child to catch up any work they were behind in or move forward.