The Benefits of Homeschooling, Part 2
“Anxiety in teens is higher than it’s ever been. Because these kids are having to perform at a standard that is a generalized standard that they don’t necessarily fit into and it does make sense because when we remove God’s design and plan, we end up with these things like depression. Because the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so when I’m sent into a place every day where, well, God is there but where I’m not allowed to be taught about God or speak of God or see God or do things God’s way, then it’s not going to be a joy-filled place. When you remove the Lord from the school, you’re also removing joy and strength.”
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. In case you didn’t read the previous post, The Benefits of Homeschooling, Part 1, make sure you go back and read that one. Aby Rinella is back with me today and we are talking about the benefits of homeschooling. We talked before about “The Why of Homeschooling” and today we’re building on some of those ideas. We recorded that episode several months ago, but this is the second part of that conversation about the many, many benefits of being able to keep our kids at home and disciple them.
The Bible passage that we have parked on for this episode is Matthew 6:31-33, but really focusing on verse 33. But it starts out, “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the Gentiles seek after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“I think in the beginning, I would look at other kids who parents would talk about the struggles that they had with their children but also the blessings of it too. But I thought, well… Homeschooling’s going to be different in our house. It’s going to run smoothly. And as I had this fairytale in my mind of what it was going to look like, we were going to just have this perfectly scheduled-out day. My children were going to just sit so compliantly in their desks and they were going to just do the work that I asked them to do. And they were going to learn everything the first time and they were not going to argue with me. I mean, I had this idea of how it was going to unfold and then I started homeschooling!”
Aby Rinella: I love talking about what these things are that are going to be added when we’re obedient to God in raising our kids, and last week we talked about all the academic benefits, all the things that moms panic about. “Can we really do this academically?”, and how we’re seeing that academically, homeschooled kids are thriving. We talked about all the reasons why, so I’m excited to get into a lot of the other benefits and all the other things that are added on to us when we choose to obey God’s call to homeschool.
Yvette: Yes. We talked a whole lot about the principle, “obedience brings blessings.” God is a God of blessings. He loves to bless his children and he hears our prayers. And he loves to listen to us as we cry out to him on this journey of homeschooling and parenting and just trying to figure it out. I know for myself, it has been… You know, before you have kids, you think you know it all.
Aby: Everything, yes!
Yvette: You see other kids and you’re like, “My kid would never do that. My kid would never throw a tantrum in public. My kid would never say no to me.” And then you have kids and you’re like, “Oh, so, let me take back everything”-
Aby: It’s universal.
Yvette: Right. It’s universal. And the same goes with homeschooling. I think in the beginning, I would look at other kids who parents would talk about the struggles that they had with their children but also the blessings of it too. But I thought, well… Homeschooling’s going to be different in our house. It’s going to run smoothly. And as I had this fairytale in my mind of what it was going to look like, we were going to just have this perfectly scheduled-out day. My children were going to just sit so compliantly in their desks and they were going to just do the work that I asked them to do. And they were going to learn everything the first time and they were not going to argue with me. I mean, I had this idea of how it was going to unfold and then I started homeschooling!
Yvette: Reality hit. So there are things that are hard about it, but in looking back, I also didn’t get to see all of the blessings that would come from it. And so it’s been… We’re in our ninth year of homeschooling now. And it’s so amazing to just see how with Garritt and I having been obedient to the call that God has put upon us to homeschool our kids and to have them with us day in and day out and discipling their hearts and training them. He has just blessed that beyond belief and I love what it’s brought. You and I, in the last episode we talked, like you said, about many of those things. One of the greatest things we talked about was marriage and sibling relationships. And I’m so grateful for what the Lord has done in our family through those things. So, let’s keep on talking about this. What are some of the other benefits that you’ve seen through homeschooling?
Aby: Okay, we’ll keep going through the list. One that I have seen hugely and I never expected and now I’m so passionate about it is health. We are a family that’s really health-oriented and I never equated that homeschool would have anything to do with health and it’s kind of blown my mind. Which everybody knows and science has shown that too much sitting leads to all sorts of issues, increase of diabetes. It kind of slows your brain. They say it actually gives you lethargic thinking, increase of heart disease. Obesity has tripled since the ’70s as more people are going to computer-oriented jobs rather than more labor jobs. So, sitting causes a lot of health issues and so, when you have the kids in a classroom from the day that they’re four all the way forever and they’re sitting for endless hours, it is not good for their health. And I am seeing in classrooms now they’re trying to do all these creative things. Like, let’s say you want to bounce the ball or let’s say you want a swivel chair. But we’re still sitting and we’re just sitting on different things.
So, that’s a huge benefit with homeschool. We did an episode before on the benefits of getting outside. And we talked a lot about that, about how it’s important to get up and move our bodies and physically outside. So, that’s when everybody can go listen to hear the health effects of that. Aside from just kids being able to move more, which helps their brain, especially if you have a kinesthetic learner. But even non-kinesthetic learners, it helps our brains when we’re moving.
So, in addition to that, sleep. This is one that has hit me and I have seen that with health, like a lack of sleep brings on illness. They’ve said that, I mean, if you’re listening to this and you’re a homeschool mom, that means most likely you’ve had babies. And that means you know what it’s like to sleep, to not sleep for long periods of time.
Aby: And that does affect our health. It affects our attitudes. They say a lack of sleep can lead to depression, it leads to a lowered immune system. So with homeschool, we can let our kids sleep when they need to. And I’m not saying that if you want to get your kids up at 7:00 AM and start school, that’s fine but that’s your option. That’s your privilege, that’s your freedom to decide how much sleep your kids need. And so, we run by our own clock in our own home, not somebody else’s. So, just the beauty of not having to get my kids up, yelling and screaming at them to get dressed, hurry up, and shove food down them and get them out the door when they’re exhausted. That can take a toll on a child’s health.
The other thing that just is brand new to me and you’ll relate to this, is when kids hit that pre-puberty, their whole circadian rhythm changes, like all of the sudden, they’re staying up later and they’re sleeping in. And I didn’t see it coming. All of a sudden, I have a daughter that’s entering into that and she’s up later. And it’s not that she’s just trying to be up later like her body is, it’s just her whole rhythm is different. That’s a scientific thing that happens when you’re going through those pre-puberty. So, again, we can let our kids sleep when they need to sleep according to their body and their season and when they are. When kids aren’t tired, they learn better.
And that’s something I saw as a public school teacher. I would have kids that were so exhausted, little teeny tiny five-year-olds coming in so tired because they didn’t get a nap because now we’re doing full-day kindergarten in most states. These kids were so tired and then we expected them to learn. And that just doesn’t… That’s not healthy. So the beauty of homeschooling, one of the blessings is that physically, it’s so much healthier.
Yvette: Yeah. And not just kids but for mom too. You know, mom having to get up early to get her kids up and ready and out of the house and fulfill all those responsibilities. Then mom is tired, and we talked in the last episode about marriage when mom’s having to get up and she’s exhausted from the day. By the time her husband’s home and kids are in bed and now it’s finally time for you and your husband to spend time together.
Yvette: You’re exhausted and you want nothing to do but sleep. And that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy for your marriage. It’s not healthy for your kids. It’s not healthy for mom. And so, I mean, there are often days with us where Garritt or I or our girls will just say we just need a nap today. And it doesn’t happen often. But sometimes, I’ll just say, “I really need to sleep. I can’t even focus on what I need to do right now. I’m going to go just take a power nap.” I’m good at power-napping. I can take a 20-minute power nap and be refreshed for the rest of the day. Not all of my family members can do that but I love the benefit of being able to do that. And my girls, every once in a while they do that too. Lacey, my little one, we call her the Energizer bunny because she requires so little sleep. We don’t know how she does it but that girl, I feel like she could be one of those adults who can survive off of four hours of sleep at night. I don’t know.
Aby: She’ll handle newborns well.
Yvette: She will. I mean, from the time she was about, I think, a little older than two, she didn’t even nap anymore. Because if she did, she wouldn’t go to bed till 11 or 12 o’clock at night. She just does not require a lot of sleep but many do.
Aby: But many kids need a lot more than the average kid, too.
Yvette: They do, yep.
Aby: Again, when we try to fit all the kids in the same box, well, every kid has to be up at the same time to make the bus at the same time. And we’re doing this herd thing where I don’t care if you need more sleep or less sleep, you’re going to get the average amount of sleep that everybody gets because the bus hits it this time.
Also, when kids are sick, I saw so many times, moms bring kids to school sick because they couldn’t stay home from work. And then they would be sick week after week because they never got the rest they needed for their body to heal.
Yvette: Sure, they couldn’t fully recover.
Aby: They couldn’t. So again, when you can just rest, when you can just say, “You don’t have to do school today because you’re sick.” And our kids are healthier, they can heal faster. Their bodies can do what God designed their bodies to do.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s great.
Aby: And another physical health benefit is… Can you tell I’m passionate about when it comes to kids’ health?
Yvette: Yes, I love it.
Aby: Is food. I think, I look at an adult schedule, we all get hour lunch breaks. Well, those that work outside the home. I just can eat all day.
Aby: But most adults in settings an hour lunch break and we’re giving kids 20-minute lunches. The average lunch in an American school is a 20-minute lunch. And those kids are so amped to get up and out of there to the playground that most of them aren’t even eating their whole lunch because they want to get out the door. So they’re eating too fast. And again, when you look at the medical side of things, it is eating too fast, has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems. And actually, not getting enough food that you actually need nutrient-wise because you’re just shoving it in and your body isn’t being able to balance what you’re eating. This is what we’re setting. We’re setting these habits in our kids at such a young age that are going to stick to them through a lifetime. And food choices too. Even just what the kids are eating when they’re rushed out the door and hurry up and grab.
So, there’s just so many health, just physical health benefits that are secondary reasons, secondary benefits to homeschool when we… Not the reason to homeschool, the reason to homeschool because God has called us to, but these are benefits that come with it.
Yvette: That’s right.
Aby: So, also physically, ADHD symptoms drop and that’s an incredible one. ADHD is through the roof now and it’s growing every single year. But you’re finding that, this is really interesting. Early childhood school enrollment is a primary culprit with the ADHD diagnosis epidemic. The earlier kids are registered for school or in schools, the younger the age, the higher rates of ADHD. And that’s really interesting. So, we now have all-day public kindergarten. You’re in kindergarten all day and now we’re taking it down to preschool. So right now, putting kids in at four years old.
Yvette: Oh, they’re just babies.
Aby: They’re babies and the rates of ADHD, which really, just a kid, a four-year-old can’t sit still all day, anyway. Just, their bodies aren’t made to do that.
Aby: So, the ADHD symptoms drop when kids can get outside, and we talked about that before, when we play outside. And so that’s a benefit. This is interesting, I’m just going to read this. A Harvard study found that in states with a September 1st enrollment age cutoff, children who entered school after just turning five were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born later about to turn six.
Aby: So, that’s a 30% increase.
Yvette: That’s huge.
“I can’t stand to sit all day. It drives me crazy. I mean, I have to get up every now and then. If I’m sitting and working and doing stuff at the table, I have to get up every probably 30 minutes at least and just move my body. I need to grab a snack, go outside, and get some fresh air or something. And no one is made to sit all day, every day at a desk and have to focus on what it is that you’re supposed to focus on.”
Aby: With putting these little tiny ones in school. So, obviously we see with a lot of this, and I’m not negating ADHD. I’m saying that there are ways to help that and some of these studies show that immaturity is really the real factor, not pathology. So, that’s a huge benefit that we have. If our kids aren’t ready to sit all day, that’s okay. We don’t have to make them sit all day. We have the freedom to change that up.
Yvette: Sure. And it’s not just the preschool kids who aren’t ready to sit all day.
Aby: If you had a teenage boy, just look at them.
Yvette: It’s all kids, even me. And I’m not a super… I’m an outgoing person but I’m not a super crazy high-energy person. But I can’t stand to sit all day. It drives me crazy. I mean, I have to get up every now and then. If I’m sitting and working and doing stuff at the table, I have to get up every probably 30 minutes at least and just move my body. I need to grab a snack, go outside, and get some fresh air or something. And no one is made to sit all day, every day at a desk and have to focus on what it is that you’re supposed to focus on.
Aby: No, it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy. So, those are some of the physical benefits. And then, the mental benefits are absolutely incredible. So, adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide declines during summer when they look at the statistics. So all those things go down in the summer. It’s different for adults and I’m not sure why but when they study adolescents, then they find that those things spike right at back-to-school time. So that seems pretty obvious. Suicide has more than doubled since 2007. Then we’re just… The more the testing, the more the requirements. But I just find it very interesting that all those symptoms go away in the summer and then they spike back up when it’s time to go to school. And that’s pretty obvious. So, a Boston college psychology professor that writes frequently about the problems with this other kind of schooling looked at the statistics and stated that the available evidence suggests quite strongly that school is bad for children’s health. That kind of blew my mind but psychologists are saying this isn’t a place where kids are going to mentally thrive in, in that health department.
Yvette: And when he says school, he’s talking about sitting in a classroom all day. He’s not talking about academics, of course.
Aby: Not academics. No, no, no, no, no. Although sometimes trying to teach subtraction makes me lose my mental health but that’s not what he was talking about.
Also, fear is eliminated. Because when kids are home with mama that loves them and they’re safe and they don’t have to fear the bullying that goes on. There’s, again, an epidemic of bullying going on in our schools. The programs, when I was just stepping out of the school, a huge part of our days were spent with an anti-bullying program that was being put in because bullying is such a problem. Safety, drugs, the temptations that are out there that kids have to battle every day. I was a public school high-schooler, and the temptations that I faced every day just caused severe depression in me. I stood for my faith. I was able to stand for my faith but it just was a pressure that I wasn’t mature enough to handle. And so, kids are dealing with that every day. Constantly having to perform for someone else’s standards. That is a lot of pressure on kids and that leads to depression and anxiety.
Anxiety in teens is higher than it’s ever been. Because these kids are having to perform at a standard that is a generalized standard that they don’t necessarily fit into and it does make sense because when we remove God’s design and plan, we end up with these things like depression. Because the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so when I’m sent into a place every day where, well, God is there but where I’m not allowed to be taught about God or speak of God or see God or do things God’s way, then it’s not going to be a joy-filled place. When you remove the Lord from the school, you’re also removing joy and strength.
Yvette: Sure. Sure, it’s a very dark place to be.
Aby: It’s a very dark, a very dark place. And I know because I was there. And the other thing that you just did an awesome podcast with Heidi St. John, which was amazing. You guys spoke about something that really hit me about how when we educate kids collectively as opposed to individually. And when we’re not able to educate the independent, individual child, which is the child that God created to be unique with a purpose and a plan, with unique interests, with unique strengths. When we have to educate kids as a collective, we’re kind of forcing them into this peer-pressure situation. And I got to thinking about that when I was listening to you and Heidi speak, where we’re kind of telling kids, “You have to be like everybody else. You need to have the same scores as everybody else. You need to learn the same thing as everybody else.”
And then, that carries over with kids too. “Okay, well then I need to dress like everybody else and act like everybody else and talk like everybody else and have the same gifts and talents as everybody else and the same hobbies.” We’re kind of shoving our kids into this state of peer pressure. And then, we’re acting confused as to why there’s all this peer pressure yet these kids that were trying to be a part of the collective that we’re forcing them into, they have a unique independence inside of them because God made them that way. Because whether they’re believers or not, they’re still created in God’s image.
So, then they have this battle of, “I want to be independent and I want to fight for my independence, but I need to be a part of this collective and fit in.” And you see these teens and it’s just like extreme mental anguish that they want to stand out and be unique. So they’re going to do these extreme things to be noticed. But then they want to be a part of the crowd and fit in. And it’s an unhealthy thing that you don’t really see elsewhere besides this setting. So they vacillate and that leads to depression and anxiety and bullying and a lot of these social issues that we see because we’re setting up this artificial setting for kids to try to be socialized in.
Yvette: Sure, sure. Which you can also see that sometimes in the church and in youth group and homeschool co-ops, things like that.
Aby: It’s part of our nature.
Yvette: It is part of our nature but at the same time, it’s different when they’re not faced with it all day, every day for 40 hours a week.
Aby: Yes. Yeah, that’s for sure. And the thing is, homeschool is not a savior and that’s not what we’re saying but God’s way is. Doing things God’s way will lead to a much better outcome. So, we want our kids to be able to embrace their uniqueness.
Yvette: Yep, that’s right.
Aby: The Bible, we’re told in Corinthians 12 that we’re a body created all different with different unique traits and different talents. Yet we are part of the body. So, we are created unique but we are all being part of this collective. But if you do that void of God, which is what’s happening, we end up with a terrible mess. Because anything we do, void of God, no matter how natural it is, it ends up being a mess because it’s void of the one that designed it.
Yvette: That’s right.
Aby: Anyway. And so I guess lastly, this is a big one. What’s the number one thing people ask you about homeschool? The big “S word”.
Yvette: Oh, socialization for sure.
Aby: Socialization. What about socialization?
Yvette: Awkward unsocialized homeschoolers.
Aby: Right? Totally. Which all you have to do is go hang out with them. So the definition of socialization, I love, it’s the process beginning during childhood by which individuals acquire the values, habits, and attitudes of those they’re being socialized by. So that’s the habit, the values, and the attitudes. You can be socialized anywhere by anyone. You’re just getting the attitudes, the habits, and the values from those people.
So, my husband was in law enforcement previously and he always said, “The closest thing that we have in our society that looks like the school system as far as socialization goes is the prison system, incarceration.” And he worked in the prison system. We segregate these people in the prison system based on… They have parameters. They can eat when they’re told to eat, they can socialize when they’re told to socialize. But they can only socialize with a certain set of people that are in the same pod they are, right? And they have to move as a group where they’re allowed. So it’s interesting that that social setting is very similar to what we see in the schools.
And so a blessing with homeschool, one of the secondary advantage when we seek first God’s way is that our kids can be socialized anywhere and with all ages and it’s a more natural way because they’re interacting with people of different socioeconomic status, people of different ages, people of different class. It’s a much more natural way, which leads to kids having, we’re talking about health, a healthier way of socializing.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. One of my favorite answers when people ask about socialization and “Don’t they need to be in school so that they can socialize?” is, “Okay, well, tell me exactly which character trait you want my child to emulate of those kids who are in the public school system because pretty much none of them.” And I’m not saying there aren’t great kids in the public school system. There certainly are. And in private school as well, there are many, many great kids. But overall, I’ve seen those kids. You’ve seen those kids, you see them when you go in public anywhere. You go to the mall or Walmart or anywhere. Why would I want my child to emulate that? And you don’t see a lot of godliness going on, at least not a lot of godly examples happening in the public school system.
So, that is not where we want our children to be in order to be socialized. I will say on that point though, that even today, we have seen that there are homeschool parents who are so afraid of the world out there that they really still continue to keep their children isolated at home. And I don’t think that that’s healthy. Parents need to have their children out there. But one of the great benefits of homeschooling is, in a sense, we often get to choose our kids’ friends and at least we can better direct who they’re going to be spending their time with.
So if you’re part of a co-op or if you’re a part of your church youth group or their sports teams or whatever it is that they’re part of, you can really encourage them because you get to know their friends better and you’re around them more. And so you have a whole lot more control over it. Not full control, of course. And especially as they get older, they’re going to hang out with kids who maybe you don’t know as well. But I don’t think isolating our kids from other children is healthy for them.
Aby: No. And that’s not seeking. We’re going back to our whole point is seek first the kingdom of God. So, if you’re homeschooling because you’re afraid of what’s out there then you’re not seeking first the kingdom of God. And if you’re homeschooling because you don’t want your kids to be exposed to certain things, which granted we don’t. But if that’s your primary then that’s not seeking first the kingdom of God. So when we seek first the kingdom of God, we’re not afraid of those things. But just because I don’t fear it doesn’t mean I want that to be the primary influence in my child’s life.
So, we seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things. God will guide us and direct us. And, again, we’re not saying that kids in the public… I was a public school system child and I love God with all my heart and I had to overcome a lot of things. We’re not saying that homeschool is the save-all end-all. Because if we were saying that then we wouldn’t be seeking first the kingdom of God. We’d be seeking first homeschool. And that’s not the message that we or Schoolhouse Rocked or anyone that follows Jesus wants to send.
But we do know that when we seek first the kingdom of God that all these other things will be given to us and he gives us discernment and he gives us wisdom. He gives us clear instruction in his book as to how to do these things. So, it only makes sense that when we remove God from the way, from a huge chunk of our kids’ days that we are going to be seeing so many of these social issues, so many of these health issues, so many of these academic issues. Because we’re separating our children’s daily life and God. And that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Those two things are supposed to go together. So seek first the kingdom of God and then all these other things.
Yvette: And his righteousness.
Aby: And his righteousness and you can kind of chill out on the rest of the stuff. It’s just going to naturally happen.
Aby: That health will naturally come. You’re naturally going to let your kids sleep in if you’re a sane woman.
Yvette: Because you’re going to want to sleep in yourself.
Yvette: Yes. Oh, and there are so, so many other benefits to homeschooling and I would encourage those moms who are still… Maybe they need some encouragement. Maybe they haven’t started homeschooling yet and they’re thinking about it. Maybe there are those moms who are just exhausted. Find a seasoned homeschool mom and just ask her, “What are some of the benefits?” And ask, “What are some of the things that you would have done differently?” And that’s really one of the reasons why we have the podcast is because we want to bring on moms who will encourage the homeschool community and just say, “Just keep at it.” There’s so many benefits to having your kids at home and discipling their hearts and training them and working through the relationships, working through the academics, working through the character training, working through those life skills that we’re trying to instill into our children.
And find a mom who will walk alongside you. Don’t do it on Facebook. You and I talked about that. No, I should… There is some good encouragement on Facebook but I feel like the further we go with social media, the more detrimental it has become. And one of my favorite things is, well, I shouldn’t say my favorite things. One of the most annoying things to me is when you’ll pop onto one of the Facebook homeschool pages and it’ll say, oh, what did they say? Not homeschool related but, “Can you please tell about?” Well, shouldn’t there be another page for that? I feel like these homeschool pages should really be just that. They should be for encouraging homeschool families. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about anything because, I guess, homeschool related is life. Homeschooling is life for those who do, are part of their life for those who do it. But anyway, it seems like everything, people talk about it.
Aby: Totally, and we can fall into that same trap even amongst homeschool moms of comparing our kids and forgetting that God made our kids individuals. So it’s going to look different in my home than it is in yours. And we need to guard ourselves because that’s our human nature. I mean, our human nature is our human nature, whether we’re in one setting versus another setting. So we just need to guard ourselves and keep going back to, “Am I seeking first what God wants from me as a wife, as a mom, as a woman, as a homeschool teacher?” And if I’m seeking first God then I don’t need to get hung up on, “Hey, all you other moms, how would you handle this?” I can seek God and then he will guide and direct me to women who are truly going to give me wisdom, not just opinions. Yes. That is good cautionary. Don’t just throw it all out there because it’s a little overwhelming when you get 50 responses and they’re all different. So, seek God first and then ask discernment and where to seek second.
Yvette: Sure. That’s right. That’s right. And there’s a lot of good encouragement on there, I should say. So, I’m not trying to devalue everything that’s said on social media. A lot of people have a good heart and they really want to help those. But I’m just saying, not everything that you see on there is worth taking to heart.
Aby: Yeah. Just be cautious and discerning.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right.
Aby: And remember that if God’s called you to do it, he’s going to equip you to do it. It doesn’t matter how anybody else is doing it. And it doesn’t matter how you feel on one day versus another. He will give you everything you need for what he’s called you to do. And you will see all the blessings flow from there.
Yvette: Yeah, that is right. Well, I feel like we could talk about this forever but we are out of time for the show. So, Aby, thank you again for coming on. You are such a huge blessing to me, to my family, and to our listeners. So thank you for your time and just for all the research that you put into this episode. I love listening to the things that the Lord has shown to you.
Aby: Well, thank you. Thank you. We’re in it together. We’re all in it together.
Yvette: That’s right. That’s right. The body of Christ working together.