For the most part, home educators could replicate most of the aspects of a typical classroom. We usually don’t want to, but we have that option. Even being in a room with similar-aged peers, we have co-ops, church groups, sports teams, etc.
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However, there are brilliant aspects of home education that the typical classroom can’t replicate. Education in life skills is sorely lacking in American classrooms today. If your high school schedule is filled with classes like Physics and Calculus, you will probably not be able to squeeze in Home Economics or Automotive classes. Of course, you can go home and help mom cook or dad change the oil, but don’t forget your homework or that project due next week.
Homeschooling is schooling without borders. The world is our classroom. Schedules are fluid. This allows for a world of opportunities that students in the classroom just can’t easily have.
This open-door fluidity of schooling makes life lessons and non-academic skills easier to incorporate into homeschooling. Below are 10 of my favorites.
Homeschooling allows many high school students to get jobs during a typical school day since we can homeschool during the evenings or on weekends. Many homeschooled high school students have bank accounts which they can balance. They are checking their credit reports. Some may be investing in the stock market.
My daughter was a nanny during the day for a time and did her school work at night. A friend of our family owned his own lawn care company during high school. He hired his grandfather to drive him to his jobs before he had his license.
My children always go grocery shopping with me. They can meal plan within a budget, do the shopping, comparison price, and have an intelligent conversation about quality over quantity. They are immersed in the economics of home economics daily without a class.
2. Menu Planning/Grocery Shopping/Cooking
I’ve already touched on this with finance, but it is so important. Everyone has to eat. Everyone has to feed themselves.
A few years ago, I had a miscarriage just before Thanksgiving. My daughter planned the Thanksgiving meal, bought the groceries for it, and cooked it for the family and a couple of out of town guests. I know grown women who would stress over cooking a holiday meal for guests, but my daughter made it look so easy.
I have made it a home education goal that each of my children will know how to cook their favorite meals before graduation. They also need to be able to buy their favorite fruits and vegetables in season and perfectly ripe.
3. Vehicle Maintenance
If you gave my sons all the parts to make a vehicle, they would make something out of it, but it’s not likely to be a vehicle. They are not car enthusiasts, but they can change a tire, change the oil, and do routine maintenance checks.
I know some homeschoolers who could take the parts and make the car.
4. Home Maintenance/Gardening/Lawn Care
Homeschoolers gets their hands dirty in a lot of household maintenance projects. I know homeschool kids who can paint better than a professional. Everything in the house that breaks becomes a learning opportunity. If you haven’t heard the joke about how a homeschooler changes a light bulb, you should google it.
Many hands make light work. We will initially have our kids help out in the house or yard because we need or want the help, then realize later the valuable lessons they learned through the work that will help them with their own homes someday. Books about home maintenance, gardening, or lawn care are wonderful sources, but they are no substitute for getting your hands dirty. Experience really is the best teacher.
5. Child Care
Since homeschoolers are home during the school day, we are often called upon to babysit. All my children can change a diaper (they prefer not to, but they can if needed). They can make and give a bottle. They can hold and soothe a baby. They can play with and entertain little ones.
Homeschool parents with both bigger kids and smaller kids have to bring the smaller kids with them to functions for the bigger kids. This gives all the bigger kids the opportunity to learn to interact with little ones.
I’m about to get on my soapbox. The inability to interact with little ones has become a plague in our country. Crying babies and toddlers are being thrown off of flights and out of restaurants. Tolerance for children behaving like normal children has become a rarity. This is sad. We were all little children once.
Some homeschoolers say that they were “volun-told” by their parents for projects. An occasional volun-told moment is fine, but I normally let my children choose. We have volunteered countless hours in church especially in the Children’s Ministry.
I know homeschoolers who have volunteered for political campaigns, at animal shelters, at church, at food pantries, and countless other charities.
Again, having a fluid schedule allows for opportunities that arise during typical school hours.
I can bring my children up in accordance with my own religious beliefs.
I could write an entire blog post on this topic alone (and I might one day) so I’ll just leave it ’til then.
8. Fine Arts and Crafts
As I watch school system after school system cut music and art programs, homeschoolers can have as much music, drama, dance, art, fashion, sewing, crafting, etc. as they want. We can choose the programs, groups, clubs, lessons, books, or DVDs that teach the skills that are most meaningful to our learners. We can visit art museums without the red tape of a public school field trip (and we aren’t limited to 1 or 2 per year). We can listen to symphonies even if they play on a Sunday evening. Our classroom has no borders.
9. Sports & Physical Fitness
Again, we can invest in the clubs, programs, groups, lessons, equipment, and teams that are most meaningful to our learners. In our area, our homeschool network has a huge assortment of sports teams including (but not limited to) archery, bowling, soccer, cheer leading, basketball, football, track & field, volleyball, softball, baseball, and swimming. That is in addition to the countless competitive and recreational teams that are available in a wide array of sports as well as lessons for ballet, dance, karate, gymnastics, etc.
10. Pursue Passions
I saved the best for last. The best thing about our border-less classroom and fluid schedule is the flexibility to pursue passions. Whether their passions fall into one of the categories already listed or something else entirely. Learners have the time and flexibility to chase their dreams. They can study a course not normally available in schools. I have a son who insisted on Italian as his foreign language. They can spend a day shadowing someone in the field they are interested in pursuing. They can do internships, volunteer, take courses, or work in the area that interests them building a fabulous resume in the process.
There are so many studies that show the superior ability of homeschool programs to prepare learners academically, but it is the non-academic life skills that resonate with me. I have one son who is studying for some computer certification. He is passionate about computers. I have another son who is on two soccer teams, takes guitar lessons, plays guitar at church, and has even played with his guitar teacher’s band on Beale Street. My daughter is attending Bible College. She wants to be a Children’s Minister. She has spent easily hundreds (if not thousands) of hours volunteering in Children’s ministry. She has babysat, nannied, worked in a day care, and is currently interning with a Children’s Ministry.
In my humble opinion, this is why public and private schools can’t compete with home education. Schools aren’t equipped to offer as many opportunities as a quality home education can give.
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