Preferred Style:

Mobile: No images
Low Quality (Default): Small Images
High Quality: Large images, shadows, colors. Do not attempt on dial-up.

If you have a recommendation for a new color scheme, please tell us about it via the Contact Us page.

All articles are presented to stimulate thought and assist Christian families in homeschooling their children. Articles may or may not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the management of

Looking at the Benefits of Homeschooling

By Pete and Becky Storz

There once was a time, not too long ago, when, if you mentioned you were homeschooling (or thinking of doing so), people would ask, "Why?" - sometimes politely, sometimes in a way that implied they thought you were more than a bit crazy. This has changed some, as more people have begun homeschooling, and as people have become more familiar with the idea of homeschooling, but I'm sure the "Why?" question remains in many people's minds.

There are many parents with children of pre-school age who lack confidence in public schools and are considering alternatives, including homeschooling. There are other parents who are considering homeschooling because they are dissatisfied with the public schools (or even private schools) their children attend. Their questions might range from, "Are we crazy?" to "How might homeschooling benefit our family?"

It is my hope that this article will provide these folks many of the answers they need and deserve. Elsewhere on this website, there is an article, Answering Common Objections to Homeschooling that considers the most common objections and doubts folks voice about homeschooling. This article, "Looking at the Benefits of Homeschooling," will look at the positive side of homeschooling - its benefits for children and families.

The State of Public Schools

I will leave it to the reader to find the evidence of public schools academic and social problems. It is easily found, for those willing to acknowledge what they see and hear, in newspapers and on TV and radio news. This does not mean that all public schools are awful, only that there are widespread problems. A top-down glimpse at how public schools are run may provide insight into the problems, the difficulties in addressing them, and serve as a backdrop against which to highlight the benefits of homeschooling. Many of the benefits of homeschooling are comparative, and it is essential to know with what homeschooling is being compared.

Though many people, if not most, probably think public schools are controlled at the local level, this is only partially the case. State constitutions and governments define how each states schools are to be organized and run, what subjects are to be taught, what curriculum may be used, and how teachers will be trained and certified. Certain federal laws add some requirements, and some federally-funded programs also influence what is taught by schools. Besides basic subjects - reading, English, math, science, history - many states also require teaching sex education, drug abuse prevention, "diversity", and so on. Trendy political "causes" get incorporated into school requirements. The curriculum screening process, while ostensibly intended for quality control purposes, by reviewing and pre-selecting a few textbooks out of the many available for each subject, has become an out-of-public-view means by which issue-oriented advocacy groups have often gotten their agendas written into the curricular materials mandated for use by a states school children. These groups focus is their particular agenda, not the task of education. Thus, much of what a child in school will be required to learn, the way it will be taught, and the pace at which teaching will progress is decided by people have no familiarity with that child.

The local schools ability to maintain campus and classroom discipline is compromised by restrictions that society (e.g. federal and state courts, threats of lawsuits from civil liberties groups) imposes on the school. Where once teachers, school administrators, and parents usually worked in cooperation in the education and discipline of their students, now many parents and "rights" groups defend student wrong-doers, setting up an adversarial relationship between parents and schools where discipline is concerned. On the other hand, schools and teachers also frequently, intentionally, undermine the parent-child relationship by doing things such as contradicting the morals parents have taught their children, urging students to keep classroom activities secret from their parents, having students participate in surveys that focus on private family matters, and even taking girls to abortionists without their parents knowledge. And should a teacher prove to be incompetent or worse, tenure rules and teachers unions make removing a problem teacher from the classroom extremely difficult.

In the classroom (remember that place?) the teacher has a class of 20 or 25 children, and textbooks that are supposed to be covered within the school year. Usually, on the first day of the school year, the students are total strangers to the teacher. At this point, the teacher doesn't know where the students are academically, in what way each student learns most easily, or the students interests. The textbooks define what teaching methods will be used, and the pace at which the teacher will teach the subject. The size of the class limits how much flexibility the teacher has to slow the pace of instruction or supplement for students having difficulties, and how much individual instruction time the teacher is able to give such students. At the same time, for students who are quick learners, the teacher lacks the flexibility to cover the subject material more quickly, as this would cause difficulties for less quick learners, and might finish the textbook before the school year is over. It would be impractical for the teacher and for the class to have individual students or groups of students proceeding through the subject material at multiple paces. Though the supposed intent of education is to prepare students for real life, schools segregate students into classrooms by age, not because this bears any resemblance to real life, but solely for the convenience of the school as an institution and the teachers. This artificially limits the environment in which the child learns about interacting with people with different interests and life experiences.

In a public school, most of a students time is spent with children of the same age. The child may find friends with interests similar to the family's, interests that encourage learning and becoming a good citizen. Likewise, a child may encounter children who decide to bully them or exclude them and make the child's school life generally miserable. And a child may find friends whose interests will lead the child into antisocial and dangerous behaviors. The public school has very limited ability (and sometimes little will) to protect bullied students or guide students away from bad influences.

Comments Regarding Private Schools

At present, private school students are faring much better academically than are their public school counterparts. This reflects several factors. Parents of private school students tend to be more involved in their children's education. Private schools have considerable freedom from government interference, have the freedom to focus on teaching the core academic subjects, and select excellent curricular materials without being subjected to pressure from political advocacy groups. Private schools also have much greater freedom to enforce campus and classroom discipline, including receiving greater parental cooperation and participation.

Private schools still retain, however, the limitations that are intrinsic to the classroom method of instruction. Their classes still use a single curriculum that is designed around a single approach to teaching the subject. The teachers still lack flexibility with regard to the pace of class instruction. The size of classes place the same limits on the amount of direct personal instruction each student can receive. And classes remain age-segregated, which, while convenient for the school as an institution and for teachers, is quite unlike real life.

Spiritual Reasons to Homeschool

The Foundation of Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and Ephesians 6:4

Deuteronomy 6:6-9: "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (NKJV)

Ephesians 6:4: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." (NKJV)

These passages do not command homeschooling as such. However, between them, they emphasize the seriousness and the scope of the task of raising children in the Lord, and squarely place the responsibility for doing this on children's parents. It is a task that should permeate a family's home life. It requires daily, conscious work on the parents' part. While parents are not restricted by these passages from having a task such as academic education done by others, the parents should consider with care who those "others" will be, and what they will teach. Homeschooling is uniquely suited to the responsibility parents have of raising their children in the Lord.

Avoiding Spiritual "Poisoning" and Delayed Diagnosis

As mentioned earlier, public schools' subjects and curriculum are mandated by the state. States usually require teaching of inter-species evolution as fact and mandate detailed sex and drug "education" courses that start in early grades, teach that all sexual lifestyles are to be accepted as normal, and undermine morals taught in the home. Additionally, learning that ones child has a problem arising from how such subjects are taught is often delayed until correcting it will be difficult. Homeschooling allows the parent the freedom to select both the timing, content, and manner of presentation of such subjects. Homeschooling also avoids competition between the parents authority on one hand and the authority of the school (an authority conferred by the parents by enrolling their children in that school!) and pressure to conform from peers on the other.

Securing Parental Authority

While parents should avoid being autocratic, they also should avoid allowing their parental authority to be undermined or compromised. Growing children - growing physically, mentally and spiritually - need clear guidance, not mixed, contradictory messages, regarding morals and how to live one's life. In a homeschooling family, this clarity is what the children get. Homeschooled children's parents are able to give them clear instruction, in word and example, when crucial questions about morals and how to apply morals in real life are asked and discussed. Contradictory messages and cross-purpose lines of authority regarding moral instruction are minimized. And the homeschooling parents are free to point their children to the ultimate Source and Authority for wisdom, God and His Word.

Teaching in Freedom

The theme of the multifaceted freedom found in homeschooling will appear frequently in this article. As was mentioned above, homeschooling parents are free to choose how and when they present subjects. When it comes to teaching about sex or the origins of life, homeschooling parents are free to teach facts and ideas that public schools cannot, and sometimes, willingly or under pressure, suppress. Parents have the flexibility to encourage and incorporate their children's interests into what the children are taught. Homeschooling parents can freely teach their children about God and His wisdom without interference from the government or "civil liberties" groups.

Academic Reasons to Homeschool

You Know Your Child

As your children approach school age, you, the parents, are the ones who, mostly, have taught your children everything they know. In the years of teaching physical skills (e.g. walking, eating, tying shoes) and pre-academic skills (e.g. language or identifying color, shapes, numbers, and letters), the parents have gained their children's trust as being loving and capable teachers. The teacher-learner relationship is intrinsic to the parent-child relationship. Consequently, the parents have learned much about their children's personality, how their children approach learning things, and what kinds of things interest their children. These are essential elements for planning the education of one's children. When a family "begins" homeschooling, it is simply a continuance and an application of the relationship and knowledge the parents have worked for years to establish and learn.

You Custom-Select the Curriculum, Method, and Pace for Your Child

There is not any one learning approach that works best for every person. Some people learn something most easily when they see it. Some learn most easily when that something is described to them verbally. Others learn most easily when they can handle and manipulate what they are trying to learn. This is commonly referred to as differing "learning styles." There is an incredible wealth of educational materials available to the homeschooling family, including materials that are designed around the different learning styles. This, when added to the parents' knowledge of their children, enables the parents to select curricular materials that use the approaches that best fit each of their children. Thus, the parents are free, should they so choose, to custom-select very different materials for each of their children. Since the parents know where their children are at in each subject, they can mix grade levels or skip textbook sections that teach concepts their children already understand. Parents can move more slowly or decide to supplement when one of their children is having difficulty with a concept. This will avoid frustration in the future when learning concepts are introduced later that build on the troublesome concept. Or they can move on to new concepts more quickly when one of their children grasps an idea quickly, thus avoiding boredom due to excessive repetition.

One-on-One Time; Instant Feedback

Homeschooling affords a near ideal teacher-student ratio. This means that each homeschooled child has available as much one-on-one time with their teachers (their parents) as may be needed to understand fully the subjects being learned. At the same time, the parents also get immediate feedback from that one-on-one time as to whether each of their children understands what they are learning. In short, this one-on-one time provides the real-time feedback needed to allow the homeschooling parents to adjust what is taught and how quickly to assure that their child understands what is being taught. The children, on the other hand, don't need to worry about being teased should they admit they are having trouble or ask to move ahead more quickly.

Homeschooling Encourages Students to be Self Reliant

In adult life, character qualities variously described as "self-reliance," "initiative taking," "leadership," or being a "self starter" are much sought after and admired by employers and people in general. Homeschooled students are afforded great freedom and find much encouragement to pursue things that interest them, whether the interest is brief or becomes life-long. Homeschooling also provides a safe, accepting setting in which students may experiment and try things without having to worry about being teased or bullied if they don't succeed (or even if they do). Freedom, encouragement, and safety, these all encourage homeschooled students to take initiative and be resourceful in whatever they pursue.

Freedom & Flexibility

Saying this might seem repetitive and redundant, but homeschooling parents have incredible freedom in how they educate their children. The homeschooling parents are free to aim for understanding rather than rigidly adhering to schedules dictated by textbooks written and selected by strangers hundreds of miles distant from the actual learners. They are free to supplement what the textbooks present with something they believe their children need in order to understand what is being taught, something the parents believe the textbook should have included, or to tie what is being taught to their children's interests. The homeschooling parents are even free to create their own curriculum if they believe this is what is best for their child. The homeschooling parents have the flexibility to shape what and how they teach around each of their children's interests, so as to encourage their children to realize that learning is, gasp!, fun.

Family Reasons to Homeschool

Controlled Manner and Timing of Exposure to Sensitive Subjects

A family's religious beliefs inform how they want their children instructed concerning many real-life subjects. Homeschooling allows the parents the freedom to select the timing, the content, and the manner of presentation of topics that have to do with ones relationship with God and with applying morals in day to day life so as to fit the family's beliefs, and take into consideration the maturity of each of their children.

Integration of Education into Family Activities

To a large degree, a family whose children are in a public or a private campus school has compartmentalized their children's and their own lives between education and family activities. Homeschooling enables families to integrate their children's education into family-interest activities. What better motivation for a child to learn to read better or to do math better than if acquiring that skill will enable the child to pursue some hobby or interest? And what better way to encourage a child to learn or to discover new interests than through interesting trips and activities in support of the children's education? By integrating education and family activities, such things are done more efficiently and flexibly, and more things can be explored.

Develops Better Parent-Child and Child-Sibling Relationships

All in all, a homeschooling family will spend a great deal of time together. Recognizing this fact does not mean, however, that homeschooling families isolate themselves from the rest of the world. The homeschooling family learns together, helps instruct each other, shares members triumphs and discouragements, plays together, and learns to resolve conflicts together. And the parents and children cant evade working things out through the children heading off to school and spending most of their waking hours there. After having been such a large part of each others lives, working together, encouraging each other, and comforting each other, the family members end up having great relationships with each other.

Parents Love Their Children as no Other Person Can

A campus school teacher begins each school year with a class of 20 or 25 children who are (usually) total strangers to the teacher. At the end of the school year, these children will depart from the teachers classroom and life. This process repeats itself annually. While many teachers are wonderful people who truly care about their students, and love teaching children, the most caring attitude of the best teacher cannot match the love and care parents have for their own children. Homeschooling is motivated and empowered by the homeschooling parents love.

Social and Local Reasons to Homeschool

Age Integration

Unlike a school classroom, real life - the family, the workplace, churches, most clubs - brings together people of almost all ages to work together to accomplish their various purposes. In homeschooling, children learn to work, learn, and play with people of all ages, whether in their family, at church, in a club, participating in charitable activities, etc.. With thoughtful planning by the parents, this will give their children a broader perspective on cultural trends, lets them learn about real life from people with greater and wider wisdom and experience, and teaches them to respect and assist those younger than them. This is far better preparation for living real life than can be found in an age-segregated classroom.

Selective Socialization

Friends have great influence over children: possibly encouraging destructive interests and behaviors; possibly encouraging valuable and helpful interests and behaviors. Homeschooling allows the parents the ability to encourage friendships with people, young and old, who share the family's interests and values. The parents can also, to some degree, decide how much time their children spend with friends, taking into consideration their children's schoolwork, family time, interests, and their personalities. For homeschooled children, they enjoy some wonderful freedoms: from bullying and teasing; from pressure to conform to whatever is currently popular; from clique-y games kids play with each other.

Decreased Peer Dependency

When children spend most of their time with other children their age - i.e. at a campus school - they tend to look to their age peers for guidance and approval. These age peers are not likely to have great judgment, nor consistently to approve of right actions, but the time spent together in friendship gives peers great influence and credibility. By being able to coordinate their children's friendships (as part of homeschooling), encouraging friendships with people who are interesting and of good character, and assuring that they learn about getting along with people of all ages, homeschooling parents can defuse excessive peer dependence and assure that their children have influences who are better sources of advice and approval.

Safety - Less Exposure to Drugs, Gangs, Bullies, Etc.

At a public school (and sometimes a private school), a child does not need to become a troublemaker to find trouble - too often it comes to the child. All it takes is for a bully to choose that child for their target or for the child to be in the vicinity of a violent person or group at the wrong time. While this obviously is not a problem at all public schools, homeschooling avoids this problem pretty much entirely.

Local School Issues - Discipline, Teaching , Special Needs

As mentioned earlier, public schools have a difficult time enforcing discipline. It is very unpleasant, of course, to be chosen as a bully's target. What is easily forgotten, however, is that a disruptive child or two can bring so much turmoil to a classroom that even an excellent teacher cannot teach, and that students who are eager to learn cannot learn as they desire. Inadequate campus or classroom discipline allowing distractions is not a problem in homeschooling.

Just as not every public school is excellent, neither is every teacher. Having even one bad year can have unpleasant consequences for a child academically, regardless of whether the problem was with the school or with the teacher. Nor do school districts always cooperate with parents who wish to transfer their child to another, better, teachers class or to another, better, school campus. Homeschooling avoids the risks of poor quality schools and teachers, and with unhelpful school administrators.

Not all public schools do consistently well in handling children with special needs. Thus, a child with a learning problem that requires some sort of special type of instruction or learning environment may not find the public school amenable or even able to satisfy that need. Likewise, the parents of a child who is gifted may find the public school unable (sometimes unwilling) to provide advanced instruction to help the child develop their giftedness. While homeschooling a child with special needs presents challenges to the parents, homeschooling enables the ones who know the child best and care the most for the child, the parents, to use their knowledge and love for their child in directly educating their child.

A conflict with a child's school is never pleasant, especially when the school is unwilling or unable to work with the child's parents to resolve the conflict. Parents need to know how to recognize whether a problem is resolvable, or whether it will go on being detrimental to their child's education and growing up process. When the latter is the case, parents urgently need to look around for alternatives to what isn't working for their child. Homeschooling is one alternative parents should consider when faced with a non-resolvable, harmful conflict.

An Afterword

Lest anyone complain that this article makes homeschooling sound too idyllic, these benefits of homeschooling are not guaranteed to every homeschooling family. Indeed, there are some benefits listed here that cannot apply to every homeschooling family. These benefits definitely require work. Every homeschooling family needs to look at what homeschooling offers them, and take positive action to make the desired benefits real in their family. Especially, a homeschooling family needs to recognize the great freedom available to them, in what ways they could use it, and take steps to harness that freedom to the blessing of their children and family.

Copyright © March, 2002, Peter Storz and Homeschool

See other articles about getting started with homeschooing.

About the author: Pete Storz grew up in Woodland, CA, near Sacramento. His family attended a Lutheran church, and for grades 1 through 3, Pete attended the private school run by that church, and public schools thereafter. Pete attended a college in Phoenix, AZ, graduating with an Associate's degree. While in Phoenix, Pete worked in a Christian bookstore and tape library, was involved in a ministry that reached out to Jehovah's Witnesses, and ran sound for several local contemporary Christian music bands. Pete moved to "Silicon Valley" to work in electronics and be closer to his parents. He met Becky in 1978 at a church, and they were married in 1980. They have three children, Suzy, Chris, and Katie. Becky first heard of homeschooling on a Focus on the Family program, and about a video seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore that was to be hosted at a nearby church by his daughter. After attending this and a seminar by Gregg Harris, Pete and Becky were encouraged to believe that they could homeschool their children. Remembering that first year or two, when support was crucial but hard to find, Pete and Becky started a support group in 1992 with a special emphasis on fellowship, person-to-person support, and helping new homeschoolers get started. Though Pete and Becky stepped down from leadership after 4 years, SELAH Christian Schools continues to assist homeschoolers in the San Jose, California area. Pete and Becky continue to publish a resource directory for San Jose area homeschoolers as well as other support activities.