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Why Homeschool?

It’s been a long time since I pulled my elder child out of school. The boys are teenagers now and I’m really happy with how everything has turned out. This, I think, is the first post I ever wrote. Why homeschool? Why did we decide that homeschooling was the best option in terms of education and lifestyle? This blog was meant to be a homeschool blog, not a travel blog, but things changed. Now we own one of the biggest travel sites in the world, but you can see in this post that I’d only just come across the term “worldschooling”. I’m updating this post today, adding our outcomes and adding some reasons why people homeschool, there are many reasons, answering that question, why homeschool? The original post is much as it was, our recent updates and homeschooling outcomes are at the end.

why homeschool

Why Choose Homeschool?

We chose to homeschool because we believe it would give our family the best possible lifestyle and our kids the best possible education. Today I am mum to teenagers. I believe strongly that we made the right choice. We explain more on why homeschooling was our preferred way of life in this post. This short video gives you a glimpse of our world.

Our Reasons To Choose Homeschooling

why homeschool wildschooling child
Why homeschool? Freedom, fun and enjoyment of childhood are a big part of the reasons. Kids outside classrooms can do more wildschooling.

Even before I had children, or was anywhere close to being in a situation where it would be wise to have children, I had this vague idea that homeschooling them would be good.

But then the years went by, those children became a reality and I, like most other parents, did what was expected of me. I handed over my first-born to the education machine to be molded as the government saw fit.

There were lots of tears, mine. He was only 4 and in no way ready for school, but they told me that he should start.

Well, to cut a long story short, after 2 and a bit years in school it became very clear that school just wasn’t for D. He wasn’t learning anything, his use of English had deteriorated, and he was experiencing bullying. He remained easy-going, he’s a happy kid, but it was making our family terribly stressed and unhappy.

So I took him home, where he belongs, to be educated by me along with his younger brother, Boo.

why homeschool teenager high school age home schooling
Why homeschool? Because you get to spend every day with your kids, from birth to teens. My son was 15 in this photo. We were on a mum and son trip to Vietnam, learning so much together.

First Days Of Homeschool Life

I had no idea what I was doing to start with. When first starting homeschooling many try to replicate school at home. It’s not a good idea, you are Mum, not teacher, they are at home, not in school.

I tried various online learning sites for maths and English but nobody was fully happy with them after the initial novelty had worn off. They look like a quick fix, in my experience, they’re not, although some have great success with them.

I continued to read with my son daily and amazing things started to happen. He went from barely being able to read and hating it with a passion, to actually enjoying books. He discovered Roald Dahl.

At first I read aloud then he read aloud, a paragraph each. By the end of The Very Hungry Crocodile he was reading solo, in his head. He demolished just about every book Dahl has ever written before moving on to the Harry Potters. This all happened incredibly quickly. He was 7.

It was a combination of giving him interesting books and the time and freedom to read for pleasure. He has often told me how people tried to force him to do things in school. He hated it, and the boring readers he was made to read. Within 12 months I had a voracious and enthusiastic reader on my hands.

Choosing a Homeschooling Style

After much trial and error, we seem to have fallen into a semi-unschooling sort of approach. I like to think of it as lifelong learning.  I’m certainly a lifelong learner, I hope my kids are, too. If you’re new to homeschooling you’ll need to find out about Classical, Eclectic, Montessori and Charlotte Mason – I prefered to just create our own style that suited me and the kids.

Homeschooling and unschooling come in many shapes and forms, I think there are as many varieties as there are homeschooling parents and we all change and evolve our methods over time. It’s different things to different people.

For me our homeschooling means not forcing or pushing anything. I don’t get the books out and insist they do x number of pages every day and I reject standard school structure. We are not learning to pass particular tests at particular times, I see that as unnecessary.

I try to get the children interested in things, show them films and books and science experiments. I take them to places of interest, zoos, museums, rain-forests, the beach, and try to inspire them to want to learn. This evolved into taking them to see the whole world.

I talk and talk and talk about what they are seeing and what’s going on, a constant commentary on the world around them. In this way, learning happens without the need to put it on paper. If something comes up that fascinates them we can explore that topic in-depth until they tire of it, be it dinosaurs or Doctor Who.

It is one-on-one education, perfectly tailored to each individual child. That’s something even the best schools can never achieve. D is interested in science, so we do tend to keep a notebook of experiments and scientific ideas which would probably be recognized as more like conventional school procedure, but he only does it if he is happy to do so. I don’t want to turn him off learning.

In the last few days I’ve come across a new term, “worldschooling“. Now doesn’t that sound great! I think that’s where we will end up in a year or so, once we start really travelling again.

Why Homeschool? Usual Reasons

This is a section I’ve updated, I’ve met so many homeschooling and worldschooling families now and their reasons are different every time, but here are some common reasons families choose homeschooling.

Everybody Panics Sometimes

Every now and again I have a crisis of confidence and resort to the maths books, but the boys amaze me, despite weeks or months of doing what most people would consider nothing, the improvements are there. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing improve through reading. Maths improves through counting money and scoring games. It is truly incredible how this works.

After all, they are so young, their brains and bodies are developing and maturing, concepts become so much easier to grasp with a little more time for physical development.

I am convinced that junior school is mostly a waste of time and strung out over so many years just to keep kids under control and their parents in the workforce. With some pro-active parental input, school is totally unnecessary. If you have a quick look at the curriculum you’ll see what I mean.

Does that sound crazy to you? School is important, isn’t it? Surely the government knows best when it comes to education. Does it? I think the government’s agenda is nothing to do with providing the best possible education.

Why Homeschool – For Pinterest

Why homeschool or worldschool

Advantages of Homeschooling

So there you have some of the academic advantages. There are many more bonuses. We are a family, we have time, to be creative,  for each other, to do things together.  Taking the daily, weekly and termly structure of school out of my life has done wonderful things for my stress levels and given me and the boys the freedom to pursue whatever it is we want to do.

I get to see the boys growing and changing from a ringside seat, not just on weekends and holidays. They spend more time with their family, immediate and far away.

It is the most fulfilling, absorbing, and interesting job I have ever had and I learn so much alongside the kids.

We write our curriculum, we focus on subjects because they are of interest to us, not because the government thinks we should. Our curriculum is government approved every year and rubber stamped.

The boys have their own ideas about what they should be learning, this has changed over time but the lists usually include animals, arachnids, food, dinosaurs, electronic things, chemistry and cars.

There is so much that is taught in primary school that just doesn’t need to be taught, it is absorbed through normal living, by all children, not just the homeschoolers. All they need is just a little exposure to the world and conversation.

I should add that the whole thing is not totally unstructured, I spend a lot of time looking at curricula from all over the world, collating ideas and educating myself about the succession of learning. I actually do have a plan, a loose structure to ensure I don’t leave any gaps. I guide them along a very rough path but side trips are always welcome and we have all the time in the world to get to our common destination.

I was a scientist, I have 20 years of work experience in the field, it does come in handy, but is by no means essential, anybody can do this. A surprising number of teachers, dissatisfied with the education system, opt to quit work and educate their own children at home.

Just for the record, I don’t do this for religious reasons, that’s a common picture painted by the ill-informed media. This job is not a cop-out, taking responsibility for your own child’s education involves a lot of paperwork.

why homeschool kids spending time as a family science at home
Why homeschool? Because it’s more fun doing thigs together. You can buy so much equipment to use at home, don’t ever worry about not having school-style equipment.

What About Socialisation?

This question comes up all the time and I really can’t see why, it’s a terrible cliche.

They socialise, a lot, all the time. I’d have to tie them to the chairs to stop them playing out with the other kids on the street.

To most people this is what socialisation means, hanging out with other kids. That’s actually not quite right, it’s more to do with learning to be part of a community and accepting that community’s values ie. being like everybody else.

Well, I’d like them to think for themselves thanks, and not blindly follow what all the other kids are doing.

They meet and hang out with people of all ages, in many jobs, from many countries. I think that gives a more balanced view of the world than forced association with a room full of similar aged children from one small town.

Are You Still Wondering, Why Homeschool?

why homeschool learning in different ways volunteering
Why homeschool? Because homeschooled kids can learn in different ways. This is my son volunteering with a science-based marine conservation group. It’s learning, its work experience, its meeting many different people, and it’s doing some good in the world. He couldn’t do this if he was in the school system and he loves it.

We homeschoolers tread a very difficult path. Talking about our decision always seems to irritate someone. It is never our intention to irritate, offend or pass judgement.

We often just keep quiet about the whole thing in public as many people take our choice, to take responsibility for our children’s education,  as a direct criticism of their choice to use the school system.

It’s not, we fully understand that not everyone could or should or would do this. That is, after all, why schools were set up, some children, but only some, were getting no education at all.

But, if people ask, and they often do, we will talk, with boundless enthusiasm, about what a wonderful way of life this is. Please don’t think we are criticising your lifestyle choices or passing judgment on your school, that is not the case.

Homeschooling- How Did it Turn Out?

This is the update, today I have teens, they have been fully homeschooled or worldschooled, maybe unschooled, and I and the boys have been very happy walking the walk.

Nothing bad has happened, they are at home in the real world and have diverse interests, skills, and abilities.

In 2020 the global crisis put an end to our travel lifestyle. We found ourselves in lockdown and climbing the walls with boredom. We quit homeschooling and signed the boys up for an online school. Read about how that went. Obviously Covid had a huge impact on travel bloggers and digital nomads. We had to find a new way to be and to parent.

To that point we were still travelling with the children and doing almost no formal education. One was earning a good income with a little tech-heavy side gig he’d developed. One was engrossed in building something online that interested him.

They were learning enough as we travelled and I was very happy with how things were looking. Lockdown wasn’t a good learning environment, it was too limited.

Homeschooling on the road, they learned the science and technology they needed – and not needed – to do what they do today. They learned how to research, how to find information, and how to teach themselves skills.

As far as I was concerned they were good to go. I don’t say they’re ready to enter the real world because they’ve never not been in the real world. It’s the classrooms that keep kids out of it. Now lockdown keeps them indoors. Their real-world became limited to the online world. It’s fine, it’s good.

So, have I answered your question? Why homeschool? Do you think I’ve got a point, or that I’m an eccentric, a nutter, or maybe a hippie earth-mother? Trust me, I’m normal, average, an ordinary, middle-class, school-educated, mum. Most homeschoolers are. Thank you for reading about our world, leave us a comment, good or bad. I’m more than happy to answer any questions.

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Shazia

Wednesday 2nd of September 2020

Hi I think you have made a brilliant decision. From my experience in the lock down when my daughter was doing home schooling I learnt that she kept on having bad reports from school because they were saying she has learning difficulties and was so depressed to hear that. But guess what when I was doing home schooling we taught her spelling maths English literature which she didn't even know nothing about she learnt this at home. The question is what did she learn in school they said she has learning difficulties what rubbish waste of time sending her to school. I would say my child is very bright and there is no such thing called learning difficulty it just a way of school presenting a child stupid. I would like to think the parents need to think if they have children think wisely and if they can afford to stay at home then you should go for it because I am think your child is in the best hand of the parents school is a waste of time.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

I fully agree with you and the very best of luck to you and your daughter.

Chitra Iyer

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Happily homeschooling my boys and we couldn't be happier..not so common in India and even less so in the small town where we live on a farm...I love how independent minded, how constructive, how creative and curious they are...I did send them to 'school' for a year but instinctively knew it was dulling them in every way. Thanks for sharing the update on the outcomes...it always helps to know it all turns out well (not that conventional schooling has a great track record in turning out well adjusted, productive citizens!!!). But the single biggest benefit is spending more time together as a family.. isn't that why we create or build families in the first place!?

Alyson for World Travel Family

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Absolutely! And I'm so glad to hear from you. I've been working on a piece on homeschooling in India. Best of luck!

Lucy

Wednesday 25th of December 2013

I think it's great that you homeschool, we've chosen the same for our family and I'm so thankful to be able to do it. I think of places like Germany where it's actually illegal, and glad to be able to make a more flexible, interesting, natural choice. Following your travels!

Alyson

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Yes, Germany. It's terrible that some parents, and I've met several, find themselves unable to homeschool, so they leave. Some travel, some just move away. Likewise Sweden, my uncle would have preferred to homeschool but he was working as a professor in Sweden. This shouldn't be the government's choice at all.

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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