I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about WHY we decided to homeschool again, after putting the kids back in school for the first semester of this year. Was there something wrong with the school? With our kids? What happened?
So today I thought I’d talk just a little bit about why we pulled the kids and decided to start homeschooling again – this time likely for good.
Honestly, there were a lot of factors that went into our decision, but I want to be clear that nothing was wrong with the school – in fact, Jon works there still and we think it’s a great school! And nothing new is wrong with our kids – they are very normal 11 and 8 year olds.
I also want to say that we’re super grateful to the school because they have generously allowed Emily to continue in her extracurricular activities to finish out the year. What an unexpected blessing!!
The main reason we decided to homeschool the kids again is simply this: TIME.
1. Time for free play.
The school schedule was tough for us. Out the door by 7:30am every morning, home by 4:00pm, and then (especially for our 5th grader) it was a very full night of homework. She is not what you might call a “fast worker”, so homework dragged on and really filled all the hours between school and bedtime, with a quick break for dinner somewhere in there.
Our kids were stressed, every minute of their days filled with either school or homework, and while we tried to wait it out to see if it was just an adjustment thing that we needed to get over, it didn’t really change. Both of our kids thrive on downtime, free play, and creativity, and going from a fairly open homeschool schedule to a very structured (and full) traditional school schedule was tough.
We wanted more time for them. Time to play with legos or draw or putz around on the piano or build a fort or read a book. Time to be kids.
Homeschooling gives us that time back.
2. Time to disciple.
This one was huge for me. With the very busy school schedule, I no longer felt like I had any time to disciple my kids. Between school and homework, the only time we truly had for conversation was on the weekends. And really, that wasn’t proactive conversation – it was putting out fires.
We want our kids to grow in their character, responsibility, and knowledge of life skills. This requires an investment of time, plain and simple. It takes time to train the kids to do their laundry, to clean a bathroom correctly, to work through tough feelings and offer an honest apology.
Discipleship cannot be rushed. It is small, timely consistencies over and over again, in the nooks and crannies of our lives. In fact, much of it happens in daily interruptions! With a traditional school schedule, we were on someone else’s timetable (of course – this is the way it has to be when you’re coordinating hundreds of students!), so we had no time to be interrupted – and therefore no time to disciple our kids.
Homeschooling gives us this time together.
3. Time to pursue interests and talents.
Our kids are really strong in the arts. Music and drawing and writing and creating – this is where they thrive, both of them! (I give Jon all the credit for this, because he’s been influencing them with music since before they were born!)
Nathan will spend hours drawing, or building, or figuring out how something works. Emily will spend hours writing music, writing stories, or crafting something beautiful out of things I was SURE were trash. 🤣 We recognize these gifts in our kids and we want to foster them. It’s not likely our kids will ever be major league baseball players, but I think it’s likely they will create something incredible. We think it’s important to allow them to pursue these gifts now, and become more skilled in these areas as they get older.
This was the biggest area of struggle for our kids in a traditional school schedule. Emily would be in tears on a regular basis because she simply didn’t have the time to work on her “projects” – all the things in her head that she was in the middle of creating. Nathan was frustrated that school didn’t allow him time to work on things for a longer period of time – he said he wanted to do his best, but his best took time and the schedule of school had him hurrying from one thing to the next.
We could have written these struggles off, and told our kids that they needed to get used to “real life”. But honestly, I think that would have been doing them a disservice, because it’s clear to both Jon and me that our kids are creatives, and that might not fit into a box very neatly, but it could certainly turn into meaningful work one day. And we’re going to let them grow in these strengths.
Homeschooling gives us the time to allow our kids to explore the things they already love and are good at.
4. Time to grow in friendship.
I’ll end with this one. One of the things we’ve been able to observe from having our kids both in traditional school and homeschool is the way their sibling friendship functions. It’s been fascinating, to say the least. We’ve now had both kids in school twice, and both kids home for homeschooling twice, so the patterns are easier to spot.
Put bluntly, my kids are way more snippy, rude, and short with each other when they are in school. They argue a lot more, and they look out more for themselves than each other.
Homeschooling gives us the opposite outcome. It takes time and practice, but as our kids have time together, with each other, without the constraints of a rigorous schedule, they become the very best of friends. They play together, encourage each other, make up games and stories for each other, and learn how to work together.
I’m not exactly sure why this is, but my mom-gut seems to think it’s a combination of a less stressful life (therefore less intense emotions for my both kiddos), and more time together to learn how to be friends with each other. Whatever it is, I truly love it.
(We still have rough days, don’t get me wrong. But overall, I see a vast improvement in their friendship with each other when we are all home together vs. attending traditional school each day.)
Homeschooling allows our kids time to grow in their friendship with each other.
I will say there’s one other thing that played into our decision, and that was technology. As a family, we’re a fairly low-tech household, despite the fact that mom’s entire job is on the computer. We have only one streaming service, we don’t play (or own) video games, and though my kids each have an iPad, they are completely locked down and used only for listening – either to music, audiobooks, or Adventures in Odyssey.
Schools these days can be heavy on the technology front, and we were seeing that play out in our school as well. We definitely acknowledge the benefits of this, as kids these days need to know and understand technology. But we’d prefer them to wait on this front. For now, we want our kids to be on screens less, and in analog life a lot more. There will be time for technology in the future – but they only get one childhood. (If you want some great resources on this, I highly recommend the books Tech-Wise Family, by Andy Crouch, and Digital Detox, by Molly DeFrank.)
I don’t know if these reasons were surprising to you, or if they are something you can relate to! But overall, TIME is our biggest reason for homeschooling. We absolutely love the ability it gives us to be flexible, creative, and intentional with our kids.
Can you do these things in a traditional school setting? I absolutely believe you can. I’m not in the camp that swears homeschooling is the best fit for everyone across the board. Even in our family, we’ve had seasons where traditional school was the best fit and an absolute blessing.
But in our new city, finally settled into one place for as long as the Lord wills, we’re confident that homeschooling is the best fit for our little family for the foreseeable future. And I’m very grateful to be able to do it. If I had a job outside the home, that wouldn’t be possible, and I know it.
I’d love to hear from YOU, too! Do you homeschool, and do any of these reasons resonate with you? Or have you found a traditional school you love that allows ample family time too? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!
Kayse Pratt serves Christian women as a writer + designer, creating home + life management resources that help those women plan their days around what matters most. She’s created the most unique planner on the market, helped over 400 women create custom home management plans, and works with hundreds of women each month inside her membership, teaching them how to plan their days around what matters most. When she’s not designing printables or writing essays, you’ll find Kayse homeschooling her kids, reading a cheesy novel with a giant cup of tea in hand, or watching an old show from the 90’s with her husband, who is her very best friend.