Parents will go to great lengths for the physical and mental well-being of their children, including making a complete switch in their education program. Many families are turning to homeschooling for its myriad benefits, the most compelling of which is its positive influence on the mental health of homeschooled children. If you’re considering beginning an online homeschool curriculum and you’re curious about the additional benefits that this choice may offer, this article will walk you through the mechanisms that may commonly contribute to positive mental health changes in homeschooled children.
Homeschooling Allows for schedule flexibility
When you homeschool your child, you create your own schedule to suit the needs of your child and your family. There is increasing evidence of the extra sleep needed in the teenage years. Yet, the conventional school system often requires students to stay up late finishing homework and get up early to rush to their morning classes. Homeschool offers some great advantages when it comes to scheduling:
- Less rushing in the morning sets kids up for less stress overall in their day
- Longer sleep-ins are important for mental and physical well-being as well as better focus and work ethic throughout the day.
- Homeschooled children can take breaks throughout the day as needed and are less likely to burn out and form negative associations with school and learning.
- A flexible schedule allows kids to learn at their own pace with less pressure or comparison to other students. On the flip side, they are also able to learn at a faster pace or even skip over certain lessons if it comes naturally to them; they experience neither pressure nor limitation.
- Flexibility also allows homeschooled students to focus on areas they are really interested in. This creates more excitement about learning and gives them a greater sense of meaning and purpose related to their education.
more time for physical activity is better for mental health
Homeschooling often involves more time outdoors, field trips, and visits to the playground in the middle of a school day. Even during normal lesson hours, kids are free to get up and move when they need to, or even complete lessons while standing or fidgeting if that feels right for them. Increased physical activity and time outdoors are extremely beneficial not only for physical health but for mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’re homeschooling your children, consider doing lessons in the backyard on nice days, or incorporating concepts into hikes or trips out into nature. Allowing children to move however and whenever they need to keeps them from getting antsy and losing focus. They will find more freedom in the learning process and as a result, more enjoyment. Physical health is a major factor in mental health and homeschooling makes room for that in daily life.
homeschooling doesn’t require regular testing and daily homework
When homeschooling your child, the teaching process is a 1:1 student-to-teacher ratio rather than one teacher to a room full of kids. Because of this, homeschooled children are directly involved in their lessons, and the learning is solidified while they are in the “classroom” rather than later on through homework. Homework is essentially intertwined within the teaching schedule and it is not necessary to continue formal study after hours. For the same reasons, regular tests and exams are not necessary because the homeschooled children are demonstrating their knowledge during their lesson time, and lessons are particularly catered to move at the pace of their comprehension.
Taking away traditional homework and testing can greatly reduce the stress that children feel about school, and allow them to spend their free hours simply playing and being kids. This also allows for more time learning and engaging in lessons rather than memorizing facts and stressing over marks.
there is room for special needs and emotional freedom
In the conventional classroom, kids have pressure on them to keep up or stay back with the current lessons, blend in with the rest of the kids, and generally disengage with their individual needs and interests. Homeschooling brings back emotional and educational freedom in a few ways:
- Homeschooled kids don’t need to worry about fitting in or feeling “fine”. They can be true to how they feel and express themselves as they are.
- Because of the 1:1 teaching ratio, they can also be met where they are at in terms of lessons. If they have special needs, such as repeating a lesson or spending more time on a certain subject over others, these can be accommodated.
- Mental health can be addressed as part of the lesson plan and acknowledged as an important part of education and life.
- Kids can learn in a comfortable environment that allows them to relax and express themselves more naturally.
- Kids can vocalize their individual needs directly to their teacher/parent without feeling embarrassed or inconveniencing an entire classroom of students.
homeschooling means more time with parents and the community
These days, parents and kids are like ships passing in the night, often only spending a few rushed minutes getting out the door in time and quickly finishing dinner to make way for homework time. Homeschooling allows children to spend more time with their parents and to be part of errands and daily activities that allow them to engage in their greater community. Parents become intimately involved in the learning process and will be aware of where their children are at and better able to care for them and assist them with any struggles.
more independence and autonomy
Homeschooled children essentially become “in charge” of their own education because they are able to communicate their passions and areas of struggle and shift the course of their learning to address these, rather than quietly falling behind or losing interest. Homeschool kids don’t need to follow the crowd.
Homeschooled kids also spend more time doing “self-study”, helping with household chores and errands, and learning life skills earlier on rather than when they leave home as an adult. Having more autonomy may give homeschooled kids more self-confidence and continue to benefit them later in life.
avoid bullying and peer pressure
This is one of the most compelling mental health reasons parents switch to homeschooling and using an online homeschool curriculum. While bullying ultimately needs to be addressed at the root level, children don’t need to deal with ongoing bullying while they are in their learning environment.
Peer pressure is also avoided through homeschooling as children are mostly learning on their own at home and aren’t lost in the crowd. Playtime is usually with other homeschoolers and in small groups where bullying would be seen and dealt with immediately, or likely not occur at all.
Homeschooling allows children to avoid many downfalls of the conventional schooling system, but it also paves the way to go above and beyond steering clear of the negatives. The flexibility and individualized nature of homeschooling give kids the space and support to explore themselves philosophically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Homeschooled children spend more time in conversation with adults, and there is room within the personal lesson plan to explore topics that allow them to discover more about who they are.