I’ve worked with homeschool families for five years. As a homeschool guidance counselor, I help parents create a strategy for those pivotal four years of high school. Over and over, I’ve seen homeschoolers excel in college, career, missions, or entrepreneurship, a constant reminder of just how well homeschooling equips students for real life. And as a homeschool grad myself, I credit my education with what I’ve personally achieved over the last ten years.
Many of my readers were not homeschooled. My passion for home education is not a statement about other educational models. But as a homeschool grad, homeschool counselor and future homeschool mom (counting the years!), this is my area of expertise. If you’re deciding whether to homeschool through high school or whether to homeschool at all, I hope this article relieves some of your fears and gives you the “push” you need.
Homeschooling Requires Self-Discipline
Homeschooling is rewarding, but it’s hard. This initial difficulty prevents many parents from jumping on board. But the challenges of homeschooling produce a fruitful harvest, particularly in regard to self-discipline.
Homeschool students use a variety of methods throughout their educational career: online programs, personal tutoring, co-op classes, dual enrollment, and parent-taught courses may each play a part in their coursework. But regardless of method, homeschooled high-schoolers are largely self-taught and self-motivated. The freedom of schedule and study allows students to work at their own pace, which in turn boosts productivity and encourages a healthy management of time.
Due to their extremely small “class size”, it’s very difficult to slack off without notice. This increased accountability is further pressure to perform at a higher level of expectation, which homeschoolers continue to do in college and career.
Generational Socialization Is the Norm
Recent years have seen the wane of homeschoolers’ least favorite question: “What about socialization?” It’s been proven many times over that homeschoolers are well socialized (though some moreso than others). How can this be, since they generally form a class of one?
Because homeschooling promotes generational socialization.
Age-specific segregation has not always been a fixture in our society. Rather, it was initially introduced through John Dewey’s educational model of the early 20th century. Up to that point, students learned together in the familiar one-room schoolhouse. Even outside of communal learning, these children operated in an adult world with no expectation of anything different.
Homeschooling has resurrected many of these roles. Students interact with learners of all ages. Many homeschool students work for the family business or even launch as entrepreneurs. Most are actively involved in cooking, cleaning, caring for younger children and are generally expected to contribute to the welfare of their family. This trans-generational social environment facilitates early maturation and gives homeschool grads a leg up in the workplace.
Education is Individualized
This is by far my favorite aspect of homeschooling. Homeschool students are equipped for the real world because their education was individualized to their gifts. While this can be executed to a degree in public and private models, homeschooling can be personalized for a student by the person who knows her best: her parent.
This personal, individual approach to education encourages students to embrace their gifts from an earlier age. With the freedom to pursue what they are good at – not just what they need for graduation – homeschoolers know sooner than most which major they’ll study, what career path they’ll take, and what dreams they will pursue. With a defined purpose and goal, these students enter “real life” with a significant advantage in time, money, energy, and experience.
Work Experience Starts Early
It is frustrating for a guidance counselor like myself to review the transcript and resume’ of a graduating senior, only to see no work experience for the past four years. Today’s economy requires more than a degree to get hired, much less to succeed in the workplace. Students need to enter the workforce with job experience, and what better way to do that than to start early?
Homeschool students have an advantage here as well. Because their school schedules are flexible, they can work year-round. Whether for the family business, a local store, or their own entrepreneurial ideas, homeschool students can begin compiling a resume from as young an age twelve (I recommend parents begin keeping track of volunteer work and first “jobs”, such as babysitting, from 7th grade on). This experience – no matter how mundane it may seem – is invaluable when students begin applying to colleges, scholarships, and jobs.
Homeschoolers Are Well Connected
Though working early garners any student a network of connections (much needed down the road!), homeschoolers create a network of their own. Co-ops, groups, and conventions provide a support group of likeminded families. As circles cross over with one another, students make connections that not only last a lifetime – but open doors for the future. For homeschool students, it’s both “what you know” AND “who you know”.
Homeschooling is difficult, and parents who choose this path face a lot of self-doubt along the way. Fortunately, homeschoolers are loyal to their own and there is a ton of support for those struggling with uncertainty or concerned about taking the first step.
This mini-series on homeschooling will focus on the benefits of homeschooling through high school, and why you should pursue a discipleship-based homeschool model. Comment to subscribe for posts via email, or better yet – follow me on Facebook to see updates!
For more information on what I do as a guidance counselor, visit this site.