Are you ready for “back to school”? Public schools are opening soon or already started, and even procrastinating homeschoolers like me are finally getting our act together! Yet with recently revised pandemic guidelines hitting schools over the past few weeks, some parents may be feeling like their school planning is back to square one. Do they really want another crazy year of masks, distancing, quarantines, and cancellations?
Perhaps you've recently decided to homeschool, or maybe you are still on the fence. If the latter describes you, I hope to encourage you to pursue homeschooling for several different reasons that are pertinent to today's world! As I frequently say, homeschooling is not for everyone, but it's a great choice for more families than you might think.
My Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool in 2021 (in no particular order)
- No masks mandates. The CDC is now recommending that everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask inside schools, regardless of vaccination status. Masks may not be a problem for some, but for others these rules are a significant issue. I myself have faithfully worn a mask in most public places, but I haven't been required to wear them 7 hours a day for 5 days per week! I would certainly not choose that life willingly, especially for my children.
- Reduced exposure to germs. Why are masks required in schools? Because kids spread a lot of germs! Some exposure is good for our immune systems, of course, but I'm thankful that we aren't exposed to every cold, flu, and stomach virus that goes around. With pandemic rules in place, these illnesses are much less likely to spread, but some will still spread, and the easiest way to avoid them is to stay home!
- Less life disruption due to illness, quarantine, or lockdowns. One of the main reasons we're so averse to getting sick these days is that every little sniffle puts you under suspicion for something deadly. Heaven forbid that we have any more lockdowns, but quarantines and school cancellations are still quite possible. As homeschoolers, the disruptions we’ve experienced have mostly been minor inconveniences.
- You can make school revolve around your life, not your life around school. One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the ability to set my own schedule. I don't have to get my kids out the door at any particular time every morning, I don't have to sit in a carpool line, and I can wear yoga pants anytime I like! Medical and dental appointments aren't difficult to schedule, and last-minute travel can even work, either by rearranging your schedule or doing school on the road.
- It's relatively inexpensive. Public school may technically be free, but the supply list isn't, and neither is gas if you do the driving. Private school is a whole different ballgame, with a national average tuition of over $11,000. Homeschooling costs can vary, but they’re significantly cheaper than private school. I take a moderately cheap approach (shopping for used books, teaching classes myself vs. online or video, etc.), and my average curriculum cost is usually under $200 per child per year. That's potentially not far from public school if you take gas into account! You can find a ballpark estimate of the cost of different homeschooling methods here.
- One-on-one teaching is more reliable. Teaching your children at home is like giving them a private tutor! This is true even in non-pandemic times, but the pandemic has made this more obvious, with virtual school not working for some and teachers far overworked in general. Schools across the country are nixing virtual options and reopening in person, but what happens if an outbreak occurs? A teacher dedicated to one or a few students in a home is much more likely to be a steady source of education.
- You choose the curriculum instead of the government choosing the curriculum. Don't like the beliefs and ideologies being pushed through public school curriculum? Good news! As a homeschooler, you get to pick your own.
- The kids' school day is shorter. Classroom teaching can be effective in some ways, but it is not very efficient, especially for a gifted child. Many children are capable of learning on their own, without long lectures from a teacher. Each student in my house typically receives less than two hours of instructional time from me (including some group lessons, so my day isn't incredibly long either). Then they are free to do homework, chores, and then whatever else they want!
- They can have social time on your terms rather than the school's. The most famous homeschool critique is “But how will they be socialized?!” My return these days is “How will they be socialized if they have to mask and distance all the time?” Over the past year, we've seen friends at church, invited friends to play, played a sport, met up at parks, and in the coming year plan to have a weekly co-op. A shorter school day means more time to play with friends, on your own time and with your own masking and distancing rules!
- You will have more time with your children and a greater influence on their lives. Yes, it can be difficult having our children around us so constantly, but I think the extra time together can greatly benefit our families.
Homeschooling is often not an easy choice. It can be scary and a big adjustment. But my goodness, if you survived the craziness of traditional schools over the past year and a half, you can certainly survive homeschooling! If you're still not sure, check out this post I wrote for new homeschoolers at the beginning of last year. There are several links at the end with tips that may help boost your confidence.
Whatever you ultimately choose, I wish you a happy and healthy school year ahead!