But when kids get older and their academic work becomes more “serious” can homeschooling really work for them?
While I was thinking through which example to use for this post, quite a few came to mind. After all, there are many reasons homeschooling is a great option for older elementary kids.
Should I talk about how easy it is to incorporate their budding interests and hobbies into our learning? (Shout out to 3-paragraph essays on Minecraft conduits!)
Or, maybe I could explain how quickly homeschools can change gears when needed as older kids figure out what works best for them. Like when our much-loved math program just wasn’t a good fit anymore… I researched, purchased and switched to a new, kid-approved, curriculum in one weekend! Annoying red tape? Time-wasting bureaucracy? Fruitless committee meetings to approve the new direction? Nope, not in this school!
Another option would be to write about how efficient it is for kids to work at their own pace and at their own level in each individual subject. Do they understand it and want to move on? Go for it! Do they need some extra time on a subject? No problem!
Finally, I decided that a recent experience with my 5th grade son sums up some of the best reasons to homeschool older elementary kids.
Why Homeschooling Works – A 5th Grade Example
Kids in 4th-6th grade are at an interesting turning point in their education.
The sugar-coated newness of kindergarten and early grades has worn off. They’re getting into harder work and more homework. Less play-doh, more tests. Teacher-friends of mine tell me this is the age they see kids’ attitudes toward learning start to shift (often not in a good way).
Tweens want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. How is what they’re learning useful? Are they doing important work? They know when their time is being wasted with busy work.
When tweens are homeschooled, life is their classroom. They navigate real family situations, participate regularly and directly in home management, practice consumer math in real consumer settings, and read and study about their hobbies and interests. They’re trained IN the midst of life, BY the lessons of life, FOR success in life.
Here’s an example. Recently, I saw a dental discount plan that seemed like it might be a good deal for our family. But I needed to compare it with our current plan to see if it made financial sense for us.
I gave the brochure to my 5th grader and asked him to run the numbers to see if we should sign up. He deciphered the small print and used what he’s learned about arithmetic, percentages, and problem solving to determine that it would be a good idea to switch to this new plan. I talked it over with him and double-checked his work and he was right! So we switched dental discount plans!
Imagine the satisfaction a ten-year-old feels knowing that his work led to a helpful family decision! It’s not just made-up scenarios on some worksheet. This is real, grown-up stuff. He used things he’s learning to directly help our family with a real-life problem.
As a tween, he could tell this work was both useful and important.
As the educator, I could tell he has a firm grasp on the skills needed to solve this problem. He had to understand the concepts, analyze the situation and evaluate the options (plus several other education buzz-words that mean real learning has happened). And experiences like this help him painlessly learn skills he’ll need as an adult, easing into young adulthood in a natural way.
Of course, traditionally-schooled kids can do these things, too. Nobody’s stopping public school parents from giving their kids dental discount plan brochures. I know several families who do a great job incorporating learning experiences like this after school or on weekends.
But the key difference is TIME. Homeschooling families, generally speaking, have a lot more time with their kids and more freedom with that time. They can take advantage of teachable moments and run with real-life learning opportunities when they arise on a daily basis.
I said it before and I’ll say it again… real life learning trains kids for real life living!
So, why does homeschooling work?
- It works because each child can work at their own pace in every subject.
- It works because they can spend more time on the hobbies and interests they’re developing and parents can work those favorite topics into the schoolwork.
- It works because homeschools can quickly adjust and customize when changes to curricula, schedule or methods are needed.
- It works because living life IS learning and learning IS living life!
Homeschooling is a great option for many families! Kids of all ages can benefit from the many advantages a home education provides. There are so many ways and reasons it works… why does homeschooling work for you? Let me know in the comments below!
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