Did you know that over 1 million children in the United States are homeschooled? That is a pretty big number, and it appears to grow a little more each year.
Well, it was quite surprising to me when I joined the homesteading community, how many of us homeschooled as well.
It is also rather funny, though, because when I run into people and tell them that we live a self-sustained lifestyle from homesteading to homeschooling, I’m always met with the same two questions: Why and how?
So I want to share both of those responses with you. If you are a homeschooling homesteader, hopefully you’ll find this encouraging. If you are someone that has been on the fence, maybe this will help you decide.
Finally, if you are someone that has never considered the benefits of homeschooling on the homestead, maybe this will give you some insight.
Homeschooling on the Homestead
Here is my ‘how’ and ‘why’ for homeschooling on our homestead:
Before I dive into the meat and potatoes of our homeschooling and homesteading lifestyle, I need to give you a little more background.
First, I have 3 boys. They are spread out by about 7 years each. My children were not always homeschooled. The oldest went to public school until his Junior year in high school. My middle son went until his fourth-grade year. My youngest child went to a private preschool for two years.
I am in no way against the public school system. I have friends that are teachers, and I think they have an incredible but difficult job.
Now, I do have a college degree, but I graduated from college after I had homeschooled for one year. Each state’s requirements vary, but in my state, you can homeschool as long as you have a high school diploma.
We decided to homeschool for multiple reasons (which I’ll dive into a little later), but I have found this experience to be amazing, difficult, and extremely rewarding.
Be sure, if you are considering homeschooling, that you check out your state laws. They vary depending upon the state, and you must follow the law so you can have a positive homeschooling experience.
Why We Homeschool
The best thing, in my opinion, about homeschooling is the freedom. We can homeschool any time of day, anywhere we want, and I get to choose the curriculum. I can set my own school calendar. It is amazing!
For instance, this year, we started school the first Monday in July. We have been able to experience some really fun field trips so far this year, and we take breaks every seventh week. This gives me time to catch up on anything I’ve kind of let slide during our homeschool days.
Also, my kids don’t start school until around noon every day. This gives me time in the mornings to work, exercise, cook a healthy breakfast, and take care of our animals.
Plus, my kids get to have more sleep and are more awake by the time school starts. This is what works for us. I love that I get to educate my children based on what works best for our family as a whole.
2. To Teach Different Skills
We homeschool because I want my children to learn a different set of skills beyond what they’ll learn in most other school settings.
Right now, I have a sixth grader who is learning Hebrew. I have a second grader that is super interested in learning Spanish. They both want to learn to code. These are all things they can learn right in our living room.
But they are also able to learn how to farm. My kids get real hands on biology lessons when it comes to helping with a goat giving birth. They see these things up close and personal. They also get to learn how to grow plants each year.
As a matter of fact, each spring, they each do a project based upon growth. So they can either raise a plant or an animal. My youngest is more of the gardener so he grows his own garden each year. While my middle son is more into animals so he raises a different animal each spring.
These are skills that we find important so we want our kids to learn these on top of the book smarts.
Now, I know many think that they could learn these after school, but I’ll go into detail a little later as to why that theory didn’t work for my family.
3. Install in my Kids Who They Are
Next, we homeschool because we want our children to know who they are not who society says they are. If that sounds a little deep, it is.
See, my middle son would come home from school every day upset over the tiniest things. Someone would say something about him (nothing horribly bad) and it would absolutely crush him because he was basing his worth upon what the kids thought of him.
Well, this really began to take a toll on him, and my husband and I knew that we had to do something to make him realize that just because someone says something doesn’t make it true.
So we decided that homeschooling was a great option because it allowed our kids the time to figure out who they actually are without a ton of other opinions impacting that.
I’m happy to say that my 18-year-old is rather confident in who he is, his purpose, and his abilities. A lot of that comes from the fact that he had the time to actually process his own thoughts and emotions.
Our other two kids are happy, social butterflies now. Our middle child is really thinking for himself (which I love), and my youngest child definitely marches to his own drum. I love that!
4. The Learning Process
My kids have a great student teacher ratio. It is one teacher for every two students (now that my oldest graduated this past spring.) Not bad, huh?
Well, it actually helps them very much because if they have a question, it gets answered efficiently, and they can’t slip by me. If our kids don’t understand something, I know it because I only have two children to teach.
Now, this is where I say I have a huge amount of respect for any public or private school teacher. I go crazy some days just trying to keep up with 2 students. I couldn’t imagine if I had 20-30 kids per class. Teachers are a huge asset in all our children’s lives.
However, when you have 20-30 kids per class, it is physically impossible to have a curriculum that is specifically suited to each child. There is just no way of doing that.
But with homeschool, I’m able to choose the curriculum that works best for each of my children. If something doesn’t work, we change it. It’s that simple.
For example, my youngest struggles with sensory processing and has shown a few signs of dyslexia. By giving him lots of hands on learning opportunities, we’ve really been able to work through his struggles. He has shown great improvement with each passing year.
So I love that they have that one-on-one time with me during school time and that I’m able to cultivate a learning environment that specifically meets their needs.
5. We Have Time Together and It Saves Us Money
Finally, we homeschool because we have more time together. A lot of what we cultivate into our homeschool could be taught after school hours if you had the time.
But for us, I was on the road for about 5 hours a day driving to 3 different schools for pick-up and drop-off.
Then we had hours of homework, I had one playing a sport which equated to more time invested other than our home, and we felt like we just never saw each other.
Clearly, it was really that bad because we allowed our high schooler to make the decision on whether to be homeschooled or not. He sprung it on me two weeks before school started that he wanted to be homeschooled.
However, he was able to finish high school early and complete a semester of college courses during his time of homeschooling.
Not to mention, homeschooling saves us a ton of money. Prior to homeschooling, I was spending about $500 per month on gas alone. We don’t have to dive any deeper than that.
When we realized this could potentially be something that could draw our family closer and we would save money, it kind of felt like a no-brainer.
So these are the 5 most important reasons we decided to homeschool our children on our homestead.
How We Homeschool and Homestead
I get this question a lot because if you’ve ever been on a homestead, then you know it can get busy. So how do you give your kids the school time they need while running a homestead?
Well, by using these few tips:
1. Be Intentional
You have to be intentional with your time. There is no sleeping until noon if you homeschool around a homestead.
In fact, I get up first with my husband, and I do allow our children to sleep in some. But most days they have to be up between 8 am and 9 am. This still gives them more sleep than they once got when attending a traditional public school with traditional hours.
But they have to get up. That way they can help me with feeding the animals while I work on breakfast.
Also, I have other things that we have to fit in each day. For instance, I work from home. I have to have a couple of hours of quiet time each day so I can write. This works out well because I allow the kids to have electronics during this time.
Then we also must stay active so as a family, we plan time to get active. This can be done with traditional exercise. My youngest actually likes yoga.
But we also pick the garden to get active, we go fishing, and we work with our bees.
So in order to fit everything in around your homeschooling homestead, you must be intentional with your time.
2. It Doesn’t Take as Long to Homeschool
You have to realize, it doesn’t take as long to homeschool as it does when your kids attend public school. There is a lot of time spent waiting for other children to finish, a lot of time spent walking in the hallway, eating lunch, etc. It just takes longer when you are maneuvering with a group of 30 versus a group of 3 or 4.
So I can usually homeschool my two younger children in about 4 hours. We don’t take breaks usually. Instead, we just keep going until we are done.
Now, this time will increase as they get older because the subjects get harder.
Also, if you have more children the time increases as well because there is one of you and more of them which equates to them having to wait on you more often.
So we usually homeschool in the afternoon from about noon to four. This allows me to be done in time to start dinner.
Plus, we’ve had a morning of tending to our homestead, and we can have an evening to take care of it as well.
3. Organization is Key
Being organized is a must if you homeschool and homestead. You have to be organized with your time each day, and you must be organized with your school calendar.
What I mean is you must plan your field trips ahead of time. Not only do you get great discounted rates at some places, but you also have to plan ahead with homesteading chores.
So if we decide to go to the zoo on a field trip, then I need to know ahead of time so we can either feed our animals the night before or get up super early to make sure that everything is taken care of before we head to our field trip.
I had the same struggle with organization this past month. We went back to school in July so we could take a break every seventh week and still finish by the end of April.
Well, this fell right in canning season. Had I not thought of this ahead of time, it could have been a disaster.
But remember how I shared that we like to teach our children homesteading skills as part of their homeschooling experience?
Well, they got a few really great lessons on how to can properly. It worked really well, and I feel confident that my children (with some help) could preserve main vegetables from the garden.
Needless to say, organization is your friend when both homeschooling and homesteading.
4. We Work Together
As you can tell there is a lot of teamwork that happens around our homestead. It has to because if you are going to raise enough food to feed five people, work from home, and homeschool, then you’ve got to work as a unit.
So if you are wondering how you could ever add homeschooling to your homestead routine, you’ll have to learn to delegate some of your homesteading responsibilities. This is a good thing though because this gives your children an opportunity to learn more about homesteading while helping you.
Then you can give them free time while you work from home if you need to help supplement the family income like I do.
Finally, you all come together and work efficiently at school work.
5. We are Prudent
Finally, we are a frugal family and very prudent with our money. I know a lot of people feel homeschooling is expensive, and it can be because you have to purchase your curriculum.
But our first year of homeschooling, I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, I didn’t want to make a big investment for this reason, and I didn’t have a lot of money.
So we used this free online homeschooling curriculum and relied heavily upon our local library. This was the curriculum my oldest used all the way until graduation. My middle child now uses the Genesis Curriculum.
However, I did change out curriculums for my youngest because that is one of the great things about homeschooling. You can make changes when you feel your child needs them.
So don’t feel like you have to invest a ton of money into your homeschool curriculum because there are ways around that as well.
Well, there is still so much more to talk about when it comes to homeschooling on the homestead, but we’ll stop there for now.
But I’d still like to hear from you. Are you a homeschooling homesteader? If so, how do you make it work for your family?
We love hearing from you so please leave us your thoughts in the space provided below.