Homeschooling gives kids, parents many advantages
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen


It’s September, the traditional “back-to-school” time (although the start of the school year has now crept into mid-August, to many families’ dismay).

But for a growing number of families, “back-to-school” means back to – or simply continuing year-round – lessons in the comfort of home.

Homeschooling, as most parents know, is no longer done just for religious reasons; the home schoolers around the Iowa City area that I know range from evangelicals to atheists, from social conservatives to progressives. These families home school for myriad reasons.

If you suspect that your children would benefit from more individualized instruction, realize that any parent of average intelligence and education can teach his own children, for a fraction of the time and cost of private schools.

  • *Your children will get a personalized education, working at their own pace, and will have free time to pursue their own interests: sports, music, special projects, and simply daydreaming, playing outside and being kids.
  • *You will get to spend more time with your children and know them better in the short time before they leave for college or work.
  • *They will be better “socialized,” modeling their behavior on positive adults and real friends, not bullies, cruel social cliques and ignorant children
  • *The big secret: You get to learn fun things too. The history you were never taught, the languages you never had time to learn, the Great Books you always wanted to read. You’ll study these with your children and you’ll become a better-educated person in the process.

The only significant expense is the loss of income that can result from one parent forgoing or minimizing paid work outside the home. But often families can get along without a second income, which after taxes, commuting and other expenses, can be less than the work is worth. If home schooling is a priority, families can usually find a way to make it work by minimizing living expenses, which is easier with one parent at home.  

The actual cost of materials can be almost nothing with a library card and a computer with printer and internet connection (although it’s convenient to be able to spend a couple of hundred dollars a year on core books).

With home schooling, you can decide what’s important for your children to know. This will differ between families to a certain extent (the Bible is central to some, environmental science, the arts or classical languages to others). But there are clearly principal subjects that all students must study.

For grade school-age children, they obviously must learn how to read; how to manipulate a pencil to write proper sentences; and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Teaching these things is not rocket science; you don’t have to manage a classroom of thirty kids, an entirely different skill set. You simply help your own children learn these things, which they will, if they work at them for an hour or two a day with your help.

As they grow older, they will build on the “three Rs” and learn higher mathematics, classic literature, history, science, foreign languages, art and music, philosophy, logic, rhetoric (the art of persuasion), economics, etc.

And you don’t have to know these things for your children to learn them. You can supervise their self-study, learn along with your child, or get someone else to teach one or more subjects: a significant other, grandparent, or for a bit more money, a paid tutor (college students seeking pocket money) or a class online or at Kirkwood. 

Homeschooling is growing in popularity because it allows parents to control and tailor their children’s education.

If you can read this, you are capable of teaching your children yourself if you are motivated to do so.

I encourage you to look into the idea by reading books and online discussions about it and to decide for yourself how best to educate your children.