Why Homeschool?

Author: Mike Smith
Published in: Arizona Home Education Journal
Published on: Jun. 1, 2011
Reprinted with permission

As most parents and children are on their summer break, it’s inevitable that parents begin thinking about the next school year. Many are eagerly anticipating the time when they can “send the kids back to school,” but others are considering whether there might be a better way to educate their children.  With the rapid growth of homeschooling and hundreds of thousands of homeschool graduates, there are now many homeschool parents who have graduated all of their children. 

One such parent is Diane Kummer, who now works as a High School Coordinator for HSLDA giving advice to parents who are homeschooling teenagers. She gives an interesting perspective on why her family chose homeschooling and how it benefitted her children:

“I homeschooled both of my children from kindergarten all the way to their high school graduations, and I’m often asked why my husband and I chose to homeschool. The reasons are many, but one reason in particular stands out to me. Simply put, I homeschooled to spend time with my children.

“Time is a slippery commodity. It cannot be held. It slips and slides, and then it’s gone. I understand this concept much better now that my youngest has graduated from college. I’m grateful that my family made the most of our schooling years by choosing to teach our children at home. Homeschooling allowed us time to learn and to make great discoveries together as we snuggled up with books during the morning reading hour and met some interesting characters. Other times, we collected leaves and rocks on our morning walks around the neighborhood. They became the visuals for the science unit I was teaching and were later used in the afternoon art project. One year during grade school, we enjoyed videotaping and journaling (combining science and English!) as we watched a mother bird build a nest outside of our living room window, and we laughed together when she later kicked the last of her offspring out of the abode. In the high school years, homeschooling provided unhurried time to sort out current events in light of past history while analyzing the world through a biblical lens.   

“My children and I learned more than academics from our time in the crucible of homeschooling. According to the Encarta Dictionary, a crucible is ‘a place or set of circumstances where people or things are subjected to forces that test them and often make them change.’  What a wonderful description of homeschooling! My family learned that close living and schooling environments brought out the best and worst in each of us, and that conflict – rightly handled – often resulted in productive change. Homeschooling provided plenty of time for our individual sins to rise to the surface, and I’m convinced that strong relationships with my grown children today are built upon years of working out disagreements. Homeschooling provided the opportunity to almost daily renew our commitment to resolving clashes and wrangling in a respectful way.

“When we take on the role of both parent and teacher, suddenly the lines between schooling, training, and living are blurred and are no longer separated into neat categories. I can’t explain it, but homeschooling somehow allowed my time to be multiplied – not divided. Time spent teaching about the Great Depression suddenly morphed into a discussion on the dangers of spiraling debt, and time spent discussing the theme in The Scarlet Letter led to a conversation about the consequences of our behavior and the choices we make. Training a child to memorize the multiplication tables or teaching a teen to follow the order of operations in Algebra suddenly becomes a practical application of the wisdom in developing character traits such as diligence and following logical steps to a conclusion.

“Why did I homeschool? I homeschooled so that I could spend lots of time with my precious children. I wanted to multiply our time together rather than divide it between home and school. If you are being impressed to homeschool your children, don’t be concerned about the demands on your time. Time invested with your child is always time well spent.”

Diane’s experience is common to homeschoolers. It’s the mix of family time and one-on-one instruction that is so attractive to increasing numbers of parents. Perhaps next school year you will consider switching to homeschooling. To find out more information on homeschooling and how you can get started on the right foot, visit www.youcanhomeschool.org.

Mike Smith and his wife Elizabeth, along with Michael Farris and his wife Vickie, incorporated Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and were the original board members. Mike grew up in Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas. Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and served for three years before attending law school at the University of San Diego. He graduated in 1972 and was admitted to practice law in the state of California shortly thereafter. He is licensed in Virginia, California, and Washington, D.C.

In 1981, Mike’s life changed drastically when he heard a radio program that introduced him to the idea of homeschooling. Mike and his wife began homeschooling one year at a time to meet the academic and social needs of their children. After several years, however, it became obvious that God had exposed the Smith family to homeschooling for many other benefits, including spiritual development and family integrity. All of Mike’s children are now grown, and three of the four were homeschooled.

When he started with HSLDA, Mike began defending homeschooling in California both in court and before the legislature. In 1987, he came to HSLDA full-time. He faithfully served as vice president until 2000 and then as president until 2022. During his tenure as president, he was also HSLDA’s lawyer for California, Nevada, and Puerto Rico. Mike continues to work part-time as HSLDA’s major donor relations officer under the title of President Emeritus.

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