My name is Sarah Dzialo, and I am a young, 25 year-old woman living in Connecticut, who is five months married and four months pregnant with twin girls. For the last several years, I have been socially plugged into the network of homeschooling families and have been planning on homeschooling my now-imminent children. There are serious educational, practical, ideological, political, financial, religious and even medical benefits that families can reap from homeschooling, the main ones of which I plan to enumerate in this short piece.
- Flexibility of schedule.
A homeschool schedule can be tailored entirely to fit the other needs and desires of the family. In this way, a family’s educational needs can be compatible with other vocational, social and/or emotional needs. Individual subjects can be accelerated or decelerated, depending upon the student and his or her particular needs. Homeschooling can be done bit-by-bit year-round, or the typical summer break can be observed. Families can stick rigidly to a schedule as an important exercise in discipline, or they can vary their schedules day by day if they prefer or if other circumstances necessitate it. Families can schedule vacations at times that work best with the parent (or parents’) work schedule(s), seasons, weather forecast, etc.
A homeschool curriculum can be completed not only anytime, but anywhere. If a family needs to go visit in-laws or grandparents, or if a family would like to attend a family reunion, homeschool lessons can be brought along and completed. In this way, family trips do not disrupt schooling, and vice versa.
It is no secret that much time is wasted in our modern school system – time spent:
- commuting to and from school
- traveling from classroom to classroom
- sitting in Advisory and/or free period(s)
- listening to announcements
- having fire drills
- engaging in frivolous activities, such as:
- dodgeball tournaments
- door decorating
- senior cruise
A homeschooling family can complete the day’s academics in several hours and replace all of the aforementioned time-wasting events with, for example:
- extra socializing
- extra reading
- cultivation of skill sets such as knitting, sewing or woodworking
- gardening or farming
- chores (like laundry or dishes)
- care for younger siblings or even animals like chickens or goats
Most homeschooled students have the time to pursue an internship, whether paid or unpaid, with, for example, a local tradesman (like an electrician or plumber) or even for the sole purpose of acquiring useful, helpful “home ec” skills.
- Quality-level socialization.
Homeschool families have not only more time for good socialization with other families, but an ideal amount of freedom in picking which children with which they socialize their children. It is no secret that peer group is one of the most powerful influences on especially adolescents, and it is something that we as parents must “get right.” Good families can be sought out not just through work, community groups and churches, for example, but through the large homeschool network of academic and extracurricular co-ops. These homeschool communities are very welcoming, always eager to grow.
- Quality of curriculum.
Homeschool families have 100% freedom in deciding what their children learn. Moreover, they have the freedom to use an extremely high-quality curriculum and teach their children amazing material that is not offered in the vast majority of public, private and Catholic schools. “Classical education”, “grammar, rhetoric, logic and dialectic”, “the great books” and “the seven liberal arts – quadrivium and trivium” are all phrases with which many homeschooling families are familiar. Classical Liberal Arts Academy is arguably the most purely traditional, “unedited” classical homeschool curriculum on the market, not altering itself or for modern students in any way. It seeks to replicate the content and structure of the education that every Western scientist, philosopher, theologian and artist received, from ancient and medieval to Renaissance and Baroque times and onward. In short, though, there are abundant options from which homeschool families can choose.
Homeschool curricula are generally not only more high-quality, but almost always much less expensive than local Catholic schools. For example, Xavier High School for boys in Middletown, CT (largely considered one of the best college preparatory high schools around) tuition is $15,600 for Catholics registered in the Diocese of Norwich, CT, $15,900 for Catholics registered outside the Norwich diocese, and and $16,100 for unregistered Catholics and non-Catholics. Of course, like other similar institutions, Xavier has a financial aid program in place.
On the other hand, for example, the aforementioned CLAA (Classical Liberal Arts Academy), whose “tried, tested and true” materials are all public domain and therefore free, has a basic enrollment subscription fee that costs $25/month per student and $100/month per family (although if one buys the family plan for a year, one receives a $200 discount) and provides families with assignments, grading, and live chat and ticket support. CLAA’s premium enrollment subscription, which costs $100/month per student and $250/month per student, tacks on on-demand grading, a weekly hour-long tutorial meeting and live online classes.
Therefore, as opposed to paying $15,600-$16,100 a year for Xavier, CLAA families pay $1,200-$3,000 a year. These numbers play out similarly for other private schools and homeschool curricula across the board.
- Medical freedom.
In some parts of the United States more than others, of course, many families are concerned with medical (such as vaccine) mandates. In Connecticut, the right for parents whose children attend public and private schools to claim a religious exemption for vaccination was recently removed, although a medical exemption can still be claimed. In any case, none of these concerns are present in the homeschool community, where families retain their right to medical freedom in this regard.
The reasons for families to homeschool are abundant. It is my hope that more and more families will take these considerations into account over time, and examination of recent trends and statistics in this regard seems to confirm that indeed, they are!
South Glastonbury, CT