I have healthier children because I homeschool them. As I've stated before, homeschooling is a big part of my prepping. It’s really more than that though. It’s the first thing I ever really did that went away from the herd of society. It has always felt natural to me, and I have never really questioned my decision, but of course others did. I've had to defend my decision on more than one occasion and hence I've been able to organize my thoughts and feelings because I've had to defend them. The older my children get the more I’m convinced I've made the correct decision and that my children are happier and healthier than they would be attending a public school.
I am a product of public school, so I can’t say that public school is horrible, and that it should be abolished. After all I didn't turn out so bad (at least I’d like to believe that). The truth is homeschooling is not for everyone, however, there are people who are intimidated by the concept that really would flourish with the lifestyle if they gave it a chance and knew there was nothing to fear. Here are a few reasons to consider homeschooling:
- Homeschooled children get more sleep. The simple fact is that homeschooled children have a more flexible schedule. It diminishes as a child gets older, as older children usually have more commitments, but in general homeschooled children are able to sleep because they don’t have to be at school at a set time. My two oldest sons’ Boy Scout meetings easily run until 9:00pm every week. It’s 30 minutes home and then they need a bit of time to unwind, by the time they are asleep it’s close to 11:00pm. If they had to be at school at 7:00am they would not have enough sleep. I know countless activities that are similar, sports being a big culprit. I remember when I was in school teachers would actually give football students a break for homework every Friday morning because Thursday nights were when games were played. Here I’m using an example of extra-curricular activities that are sponsored through public school (football and some scout troops are sponsored through schools). There are other activities that are even more demanding. The answer is not to pull children out of these activities, or to allow them to walk around like zombies the next day, it’s to allow them a more flexible schedule.
- Homeschooled children have a healthier diet. School lunch. I really don’t need to say anything else here, but I will make a few more points. It’s well publicized that in general school lunches are unhealthy (see Jamie Oliver's food revolution). The real advantage here is that you can lead by example as to the food you want your children to eat. Two years ago I decided to follow a plant based diet (there are many reasons for this decision which may be the subject of another blog post). I did not force any member of my family to stop eating meat. I did not prepare meat or buy meat for anyone, but at restaurants and relative’s homes I did not restrict my children’s eating. In less than six months all three boys followed me to my plant based diet and now turn down meat when it is offered. This might seem like an extreme example but the point is that you have a lot more influence on your child’s eating habits if they are eating the majority of their meals with you. Also, two of my boys would stay slightly dehydrated all day if I wasn’t around to put a bottle of water in their hand. Teachers aren’t concerned about these little habits that make for healthier children. How can they be? They’ve got over twenty kids and less drinking means less bathroom breaks they have to keep track of.
- Homeschooled children have better mental health. I’m not saying children who attend public school have metal health problems. What I mean here is that homeschooled children usually have better self-esteem, are less intimidated, and are challenged according to their skill level. When I was a child I was bullied in school, as a result I had low self-esteem. Intimidation by peers or teachers is also a low occurrence with homeschooled children. Peer pressure is monitored more closely in a homeschooling environment not just by parents but also by other children. Because homeschooled children are with other children of varied ages (like in the real world) the older children often model good social skills. Lastly, since parents pick a child’s curriculum when homeschooled, the child is not frustrated with school work that they don’t understand or on the other end of the spectrum bored with concepts that they’ve already mastered.
- In general homeschooled children get more exercise than kids who attend public school (I’m not talking about the high school varsity football team here). After all that’s one of the classroom teacher’s goals, to have everyone sit down and be quite so instruction can go on. Let me just say I have nothing against classroom teachers. I was one myself for several years. But a teacher has to have classroom management. Yes, there is recess, yes there are occasional group activities but in general, it’s “sit down, and be quiet.” It has to be in order to manage that many children. I have three boys and if they had gone through school sitting at a desk, well, it would have been rough for them, the teacher, me and possibly the principal. My children take breaks when they need to and are allowed to move around. Now, that my children are getting older we also follow a daily exercise program. They participate in an extra circular sport as well. Older children and adults need structured (but fun) exercise daily along with the "let’s just go out and play with friends" type of exercise. If children are in athletics in middle school and high school they get those workouts but if they're not in an athletic program then they don’t get much exercise at school.
- Homeschooled children are more flexible than public schooled children. Homeschooled children have parents that think outside the box and don’t do everything according to societies rules. This in and of itself influences a child. But more than that public school children are taught from a very early age they need to conform. Again, it’s just a management thing, the same rules have to apply to all children whether they make sense for all children or not. The bell rings and it’s time to move to the next class. To spend more than forty five minutes on history is just not done, even though the subject matter might call for it. Even if a child understands the math concept taught that day they still must do all twenty practice problems because, “that’s just the way it is.” Lunch is between 11:30am and 12:00 hungry or not. The elementary school near where I live has children going to lunch at 10:30. I mentioned that to a parent one time and their response was, “yeah, those kids are hungry by 10:30 because they have to be at school so early.”
Like I said earlier I am not criticizing teachers. They do the best they can with what they have. I’m just saying there is a better way if you’re willing and able to make the commitment.