Thursday, January 10, 2008

13 Reasons I Like Homeschooling

I decided to do a Homeschooling Edition of Thursday Thirteen. To see other Thursday Thirteen participants, click the header graphic.
Here are 13 reasons I like homeschooling, in no particular order:

1. Field Trips We love field trips. I enjoy them as much and sometimes more than the kids do. So far this year we've been on several. Our annual family camping trip to Cannon Beach became a field trip: we explored the tide pools around Haystack Rock, visited Ecola State Park where Lewis & Clark saw a beached whale, and visited Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark spent the winter in the Pacific Northwest. We have also visited the Hands On Children's Museum, the Pacific Science Center, and Camlann Medieval Village. We saw the Sound of Music at a local playhouse and went to the Tacoma Symphony.

2. Projects On of my kids' favorite thing to do for homeschooling is projects (second to field trips). They love making things and doing experiments. We've done many quick science experiments. Some other things we've done is build a giant model ear out of household items and crawl through it, make a salt dough map of the USA, make homemade musical instruments, and attended a few Home Depot workshops to make wooden items. We have a large dragon marionette that has been in process forever that we need to finish soon.

3. Lapbooks We just completed our first lapbook on the Grinch. My daughter, who generally complains about doing school, asked for more lapbooks in the future. I'm hoping to complete lapbooks on birds, horses, and medieval times in the near future. I may look for or attempt to create lapbooks for some of our other units this year as well.

4. Choice of Study We get to chose what we want to study each year. This has the potential of making school much more fun because you can pick what your children enjoy learning about as a starting point for science, history, literature, writing, reading, vocabulary, and spelling. In the homeschool world we call this doing unit studies. My daughter loves horses so we are including a horse unit later this year. My son loved our in depth study of hearing and sight earlier this year.

5. Safety One thing that would scare the daylights out of me is sending my kids to school for six hours a day. As homeschoolers, we spend all of our time together which means I know where they are, I know who they are playing with, and I know that they are safe. With the current state of things, I would be worried about what kind of friends they are learning from (ie. bad language, bad behaviors, bad influences). I would be worried about bullies and gangs. I would be worried about guns and knives being brought to school (even elementary schools). We've all heard the newsstories of school shootings...there was one at a local high school here last year.

6. Individualized Curriculum Besides chosing what topics we'll study, I like that I can tailor my curriculum choices to what works for each of my children. Public schools don't have this much freedom; all of the kids use the same basic curriculum whether it works well for them or not. My daughter's math curriculum wasn't working for her so we tried something else and then something else again just in the course of this year. She likes the newest one so I'm hoping it will work. My son, on the other hand, is still using the first one.

7. Scheduling I love that homeschooling doesn't take a ton of time on it. Our basic stuff (spelling, phonics, grammar, reading comprehension, handwriting, and math) only takes us about two hours a day. This means we have the rest of the day to read, work on fun projects, do science experiments, go on field trips, and attend fun classes. Of course, I try to fit in running errands, shopping, and housework in there somewhere also. If I have a lot of errands and appointments, I can also pull out today's work and take it along with us. We have clipboards that open with storage inside just for this purpose. It has enough room for today's papers, a couple of pencils and an eraser in it.

9. In-depth Study With only two students and the basics only taking a couple of hours, we have the time and ability to go in-depth with a study that interests us. Where school textbooks can usually only devote a few paragraphs (or a chapter at the most) to a subject, we can spend as much time and energy as we want on a topic. It isn't unusual for us to check out 20 books on a subject, watch a movie or two that go with our study, throw in a field trip, and complete an art/craft project as well. Plus all these fun things help solidify what they learned. They'll remember that field trip or project better than they will remember those couple of paragraphs.

10. Lots of Books Our library allows us to check out 50 books on my card. It isn't uncommon for me to max out so I signed the kids up for library cards as well. We get books on our chosen topic of study as well as books to read just for fun. We usually don't get to all of the books we check out but we have lots of choices and do read many of them. A downside to this is that it gets very expensive if you are late returning all those books. At $0.20 a day per book, it adds up fast!

11. Socialization Being with my children all the time means I know who they are playing with. Homeschooling allows me to set up play time with kids I believe are good influences and avoid bad influences altogether. Of course they need to know how to handle negative people and they do still come in contact with them on occasion. But, because I'm with them, I can guide them through the interaction rather than them having to go it alone. Homeschooling also gives my children the chance to interact with kids and adults of all ages; a very valuable skill. I am proud of the fact that my daughter likes to play with just about anyone between the ages of 0 to about 10. She's 8. Public school segregates children into age groups, giving them little chance to interact with a variety of ages. In our town, they even did away with scheduled recesses. The teacher chooses, if and when, their class gets to go to recess which means we usually see only one or two classes using the playground at a time which further segregrates the kids.

12. Parent-Child Bonding My children and I are very close and enjoy each other's company immensely. This comes from being together all of the time. We know each other intimately. Even though we are together nearly 24/7, we also take opportunities to go on special dates one-on-one leaving siblings home with dad. Of course, in the name of sanity, I do find some time for myself. My kids hate it when I leave without them. Apparently, nearly 24/7 isn't enough time for them!

13. Field Trips Yeah, yeah, I know I said this one already but we really do love field trips. Future field trips include (hopefully) a trip to Woodland Park Zoo, Portland Zoo, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a planetarium, Camlann Medieval Village (again), a lighthouse, a local newspaper, Fort Lewis Military Museum, a horse stable, Emerald Downs (horse racing), horseback riding, an observatory, the Seattle Aquarium, and a jeweler. Some of these might not make it into our schedule but they are on a list of things we want to do this year.

14. Physical Fitness and Play (Since #13 was cheating.) Homeschooling gives us the time and opportunity to fit in a lot of physical activity and play time. In addition to unstructured play at home, we have many scheduled activities. Our current schedule includes: Awana (1x weekly), swimming (2x weekly), gymnastics (1x weekly) and church. My son also takes taekwondo 3 times a week. While it may seem like a busy schedule, we can utilize school hours making it do-able. Most of our field trips involve a lot of physical activity and play as well. At our local public schools, the kids get PE twice a week. Our school district also did away with scheduled recess, giving each teacher the choice of if and when their class gets recess. We know some public schoolers and some of them only get one 15 minute recess a day.

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geek-betty said...

I always wanted to homeschool my daughter but couldn't afford to. I love this list. I'm glad it's working out so well for you and your children.

JoAnn said...

I really enjoy learning along with them. I'm always surprised by how much I didn't learn in school.

Homeschooling can be hard on the budget. Fortunately, I've been able to find ways around that. When I first started I used a couple of workbooks I bought for about $10 each (phonics and math) and made up the rest using library books and worksheets I typed up myself. It was a lot of work! Now we are enrolled in a public school-homeschool partnership program that gives us a student fund of $1200 a year per student to use towards curriculum, supplies, field trips, and classes. About $120 of that will go to curriculum next year and the rest will pay for most of our classes, field trips, and supplies. When we run out of student fund, I have to pick up the rest so I'll be saving for it throughout the year.

Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

This a great post, and a true testament to how amazing homeschooling kids can be.

Nadiah Alwi - Write at Home Mom said...

Reading your homeschooling experience, I feel like homeschooling my daughter. I'm not sure yet...but it's a great idea. I will surely bookmark and visit your blog. TFS!