One of the most difficult decisions as a parent is figuring out your child’s education. It’s definitely been the biggest stressor so far for me. Starting when our daughter was young as 18 months, we stressed over whether it was better to have her attend an in-home preschool, a public preschool, or (what we finally decided upon) a Montessori school.
We thought having a great base education for our child before she started elementary school would give her the confidence to enjoy school and be a lifelong learner.
Through the years, our daughter has experienced each of these educational choices, including homeschooling, before she started kindergarten. I tell you this to say that we’ve had a little bit of time in many different educational environments. Right now, for our family, homeschooling is the best option, and I’m going to share five reasons we choose to homeschool for first grade.
1. Focused Time to Master Each Subject
Having focused time on each subject is crucial in making sure your child has the academic confidence that leads to a lifelong love of learning. A parent can ensure there are no holes in a child’s education by moving on only after a child has mastered a particular topic.
For example, I always thought I was bad at math. I carried that belief into my college years when statistics and three years of accounting were required. I still carry it today. If I had mastered each level of math before moving on to the next, I would have known I am good at math.
In a classroom with 20+ children, a teacher cannot wait for each student to master a subject before moving on. Homeschooling allows the freedom to make sure the student is solid in their understanding before moving on. I look forward to providing this freedom to my daughter in first grade.
2. Higher Quality Education
With a homeschool curriculum, you can dive deep into subjects that would be limited in a brick-and-mortar school. You’re able to spend extra time during the evenings or the weekends, going on field trips to get hands-on experience in the subject. You’re able to get extra information from books at the library, from videos, or by asking professionals who are educated in the subject.
For example, when we were learning about the cassowary bird of Australia, my daughter noticed it looks like a dinosaur. To build on this observation, we took a trip to the Dinosphere at the local children’s museum to learn about other bird-like dinosaurs.
We learned from a paleontologist while we were there and picked up some books on dinosaurs at the library as well. It was enough to spark a deep dive into dinosaurs that lasted the next month.
In a first grade classroom in a public school, the teacher would have moved on the next topic instead of exploring my daughter's interests fully.
3. Homeschool Anywhere
There is no classroom for a homeschooled child. You don’t even need an entire room. A bookshelf to keep materials and a flat surface to write upon are all you really need to homeschool.
In our family, we do school on the floor every day because my daughter prefers stretching out in the sun-filled front library in our home.
- We often do our Read-Alouds in the hammock or on the swingset.
- Sometimes we have a guest teacher like Dad or a grandparent come do science experiments.
- We have been known to homeschool while camping, in the car, on our way to the park.
Learning somewhere new is often just the thing my child needs to be re-invigorated in her lessons.
4. A Positive School Environment
A negative school environment can be caused by the typical challenges all children have to go through as a human. Other times that negative environment is more detrimental, causing serious harm to a child’s education or even their wellbeing. We choose to homeschool to keep our daughter out of that potentially negative environment.
There is no way to shelter a child from all heartache but if a situation is getting out of hand, it is absolutely a good idea to homeschool.
5. Less Testing and Homework
Public schools have state-mandated requirements such as testing and curriculum standards. These can put unnecessary stress on a child through test anxiety or being weighed down by hours of busywork or homework each night.
This isn’t an issue for our first grader yet, but it’s definitely not a path we want to head down. We love watching our daughter bloom and grow through swimming, dance, and art classes after school and during the week. She’s able to truly discover who she is and what she likes with the additional time homeschooling gives us.
Homeschooling offers so many benefits that cannot be found in a public school setting. For us, having the ability to keep a love of learning in our child’s heart is worth homeschooling again for first grade.
About the Author
Shelly Bergman is a homeschooling mother of two children ages 2 and 7. After trying various educational options including private Montessori school, museum-affiliated PreK, public schooling, and homeschooling, she and her children fell in love with the hands-on, literacy-based curriculum of BookShark.
Shelly blogs about her family's travels and lifestyle at DIY Mama.