Today I want to focus and share some insight on a topic that I receive SO many emails, personal messages, comments and questions about and that is the pros and cons of homeschooling. Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular each year with a growth rate of about  7 – 15 percent. Homeschool children do exceptionally well on standardized tests, are welcomed at colleges and universities, and as adults, have a reputation for being self-directed learners, humanitarians, philanthropists, community activists, and reliable employees, as well as accomplished business owners and huge participants in community service and philanthropy. The demographics of homeschooling are quickly changing, as black Americans are becoming one of the fastest growing segments of the US population that is deciding to teach their own. Of course, there are many reasons parents decide to homeschool, and many are similar and some have additional reasons. For us, we wanted to ensure that our children received lessons of morals, high levels of critical thinking, lessons in history that educate beyond slavery and the likes, as there’s so much to Black and African History that is simply not covered in many schools today. As well as the removal of many of the music and arts in non-private schools. Another reason for us, we felt that the school system has an overtone of assimilation, teaching in manners where they feel everyone learns the same and that’s simply not accurate. With homeschooling, we get to see how each one of our children are different and how well they learn in their own manner. 

Again, these are some of the pros and cons we have considered being that my husband and I have homeschooled our 4 little ones for a few years now. As always, I hope this list is helpful so you can make informed decisions best for you and your family. For further reading, check out this article via Business Insider on 5 ways "Homeschooling Could Be The Smartest Way To Teach Kids In the 21st Century"

PROS

EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM and PERSONALIZED LEARNING

Most homeschooled students have the choice to study and learn what they want, when they want, for as long as they want. This is not to say that all of the basics (and more!) aren't covered. But those basics may be covered at age six for one child, and at age ten for another, depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels.

PHYSICAL FREEDOM

After the initial shock of leaving the school system has passed, parents who homeschool say they experience a real sense of freedom. With their lives no longer revolving around school hours, homework, and the school calendar, these families plan off-season vacations, visit parks and museums during the week, and live their lives according to what works for them.

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM

 As parents, we all understand that our children will be exposed to other children. And with that comes peer pressure. Sadly, peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies — are all part of a typical school day. This can be a particular problem for girls. According to studies, self-esteem plummets in middle-school girls. However, similar studies of homeschooled girls have shown that self-esteem remains intact and that these girls continue to thrive. (Read: A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls by Susannah Sheffer.) Homeschooled kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to "fit in." They live in the real world, where lives aren't dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. 

RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL FREEDOM

 Many families feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are. Homeschooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives.

CLOSER FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

 Just about every family stressed the important role that homeschooling played in helping them find time to foster loving ties between all family members. Teens seem to benefit enormously from this interaction, and rebellious, destructive behavior often begins to diminish soon after homeschooling begins.

WELL-RESTED CHILDREN

     As more and more studies are illustrating, sleep is vital to the emotional and physical well-being of kids, especially teens and preteens. The effects of early morning classes can be devastating to many children, especially those who are not morning people. What we've found is that our kids are definitely more alert being allowed to sleep in a bit longer in the morning. 

    FLEXIBILITY WITH CURRICULUM

       With the flexibility of the curriculum comes flexibility of time and vacation. You have more freedom over choosing vacation times, whether planned or spontaneous. Families can go on vacation when it’s less expensive because you don’t have to worry about interrupting school time and important school dates ( this is a HUGE benefit). Another great thing we've found is that being entrepreneurs, we are able to have lessons throughout the day, not only at scheduled times. So, we set a time of day that works for our family and that may vary from day to day. And..don't forget to take field trips!! These are the icing on the chocolate cupcake. Field trips are great for you to have a small break and for the kids to interact with other children. Each Wednesday, we have family field trip day and take the kids to various kid-friendly places, such as The Creative Discovery, The Tennessee Aquarium, Kid Zone (rock climbing), The Public Library, Jump Park, Hiking Trails, Parks, Lakes, etc. And be sure to save by getting a year membership (that's the best option for a family of 6 like ours). And, many of these places offer homeschool courses, such as ecology and STEM courses, so be sure to check with your local kid friendly places. Also, check out your local YMCA, many offer homeschool days. For instance, each Thursday  our kids attend the YMCA with other children who are homeschooled for four hours to enjoy a plethora of activities. 

      SOLID SENSE OF IDENTITY


      It's amazing how much our kids identify with who they are. They are allowed respectable free expression without feelings of hindrance or shame..or the feelings of wanting to belong or fit in.

       

        COMMUNITY

        Some parents may run into the issue of not being as advanced on a particular subject, especially during high school years. The benefit is there are a plethora of programs, videos (especially YouTube) and other homeschooling parents there to help. If possible, get with another parent who may be advanced in a particular subject and speak with them in a community homeschool environment. Also, many colleges and universities offer specific courses as well. And there are some kid-friendly places that offer courses for homeschool children, for example, art museums, zoos, rock climbing, woodworking, writing, drawing, etc. (ourTN Aquarium offers homeschool course on marine ecology). You can also opt to connect with other homeschooling parents and/or families.

         

        CONS

        TIME RESTRAINT


        There's no way around it: learning outside of a school environment can consume a lot of mom or dad's time. Most folks visualize that time being spent at the kitchen table with textbooks and worksheets, but for most families, that's not the case. My family has rarely gone that route, choosing hands-on experiences and interesting activities as learning tools, instead. However, planning, driving to, and participating in those activities (or waiting for them to be over) constitute the bulk of my day. And that can be very draining. 

        SACRIFICIAL FINANCIAL RESTRAINT

        For married parents, one partner often foregoes full-time employment out of the home in order to homeschool. This can be a big sacrifice for families who are struggling to balance their budget. Surprisingly, most homeschooling families believe that the brief loss of income is well worth the satisfaction of watching their kids grow and learn in freedom. What we've found is that operating our business in a manner that helps us in not becoming so overwhelmed with day to day business has truly worked in our favor. And, if you are fellow entrepreneurs like my husband and I, it's great to look into hiring help (like extra employees or even tutors for the kids on desired subjects) for the busy times with your business. 

        WITH THE KIDS PRETTY MUCH ALL DAY

        There's no denying it — if you choose to homeschool, you're going to be with your kids most of the time. If you don't enjoy being together, then homeschooling may not be for you. While it can sometimes be difficult, most homeschool parents view their daily interactions with their kids — the ups as well as the downs — as opportunities for personal and familial growth. With us operating a business, we also take the opportunity to bring the kids into our studio to help with packaging or learn little insights about the business. 

        MAY BE VIEWED AS LIVING OUTSIDE OF THE NORM

        Like any activity that challenges mainstream thinking, homeschooling may be seen as an oddity at best, or even as a threat to those who are unable to accept ordinary parents succeeding where trained professionals often fail. My family has developed a bit of a tough exterior over the years, but cynical comments and criticisms still filter in occasionally (it's pretty rare though). If you are unable to live "outside of the box," then homeschooling may not be for you.

        DON'T FORGET TO CELEBRATE MILESTONES:

        Keep in mind, that our children work hard on their education each session. In recognizing that, it's great to start some traditions to celebrate that hard work and those milestones. Some milestones to celebrate can be:

        • Beginning a new grade

        • Completing a grade

        • Completing a book series

        • Reading aloud

        • Mastering a difficult subject or task

        • Extracurricular Activities like, dances, sports, spelling bees, chess, etc

         

        Some ways to celebrate those milestones:

        • Pizza Party or some small party

        • Special Meal or treat

        • Special Field Trips (Acquarum, Zoo, Museum, Park, Theatre)

        • Small Gift

         Or, whatever way you feel works for you and your child (children).

        Now, Let's Chat about some tips that can help throughout your homeschool adventure:

        Ways To Encourage Independent Learning:

        What I've noticed in my children is that the need for more hands-on lessens the older that they get. Our 14-year-old is definitely an independent learner, but it definitely took some hands-on touches in the beginning to encourage this. Here are some ways that can help encourage independent learning when the time comes.

        Spend time laying the foundation in the beginning. In the beginning, there will tons of one on one time that will be needed as your young child learns to feel confident and secure to learn a bit more on their own. Be sure your kids are strong in basic skills such as reading, writing, and math. This way, they can read instructions on their own.

        Accountability. A great way to keep kids accountable is by having a checklist sheet. Your kids can check off each assignment as they complete it. Be sure before allowing your child to indulge in fun activities, that they have completed their assignment.

         

        Stickers and Incentives are great! Set a milestone and give incentives if your child completes their assignment within a set time.

        Provide resources. Be sure that your child has an idea of where and how to look for help when needed. For example, how to look up words they may not know via a dictionary (an online dictionary is fine as well). 

         

        SOME APPS WE LOVE:

        Here is a wonderful website that lists the requirements for intending to homeschool per state, click HERE to find out

        Stack the States (great for learning geography)

        Khan Academy Kids

        Stack the Countries (great for learning geography)

        Pet Bingo (awesome math app)

        Panda Preschool Activities

        Kids Shapes and Colors

        Kindergarten Activities

        Toddler Preschool Activities

        Amazing Alex (great enegineering app)

        Nick Jr Draw & Play

        Squeebles Times Tables

        Squeebles Spelling Tes

        ABC Mouse.com

        Multiplication Table Kids

        Puzzingo

        Friendly Puzzles

        and many more but these are some of our favorites!

           

        WEBSITES WE LOVE

        (Click each to view the website)

        Khan Academy (for all subjects, our favorite)

        Discovery K12 (for all subjects)

        Kamali Academy (for all subjects)

        Math Exercises for Kids (MATH)

        Youtube (great for teaching subjects such as algebra, calculus, multiplication, how to write essays, etc)

        Bino and Fino

        Hip Homeschool Moms

        Teaching Textbooks

        Mr. D Math

        TLSBOOKS (for all subjects)

        BrainPop

        IXL (one of my favorites for all subjects!)

        Apologia (for science)

        The Good and The Beautiful ( for all subjects)

        Brave Writer (for writing)

        Write Shop (for writing)

        Masterclass (amazing program for the artistic child)

         Grammar Girl (for grammar questions)

        Algebra Help

        All About Learning    (Spelling and Reading Kits)

        Typing Club (for typing)

        Woke Homeschooling (history)

        and many more!

         

        YOUTUBE CHANNELS WE LOVE

        Life Noggin

        Ted Ed

        Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell

        It's Ok To Be Smart 

        The Origins of Everything (history)

        NETFLIX: EDUCATIONAL SHOWS WE LOVE

        Brain Games (via Netflix) is pretty awesome

        There are also a plethora of Nat geo documentaries

        SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

        Also, there are some amazing subscription services, a few in particular that we love are:

        Kiwi Co 

        Mel Chemistry

        Smore Magazine

         Curiosity Stream

         The Great Courses

         

         

         

        TAKE A MOMENT TO VIEW SOME OF OUR HOMESCHOOL FAMILY FUN!