mom and daughter learning at home

Eight Reasons Kids Learn Best at Home

by Debra Bell, Ph.D.

After I finished homeschooling our kids, I headed back to school myself to complete a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. I wanted to know how kids learn best. Wouldn’t that be helpful information for homeschooling moms and dads?

Boy, did God blow my socks off! I can sum up what I discovered in one sentence: If we built a school from the ground up that is based on the research showing how kids learn best…we’d build a home.

How’s that for some liberating good news? And doesn’t it make complete sense? The best learning environment for any child is the one God designed: a family.  Here’s why:

Kids learn best when they
  1. believe their teacher and fellow students care about them.
  2. have opportunities to pursue their interests.
  3. can make choices and decisions about their learning.
  4. can observe other students who model what success looks like.
  5. have a teacher who is available to provide feedback and encouragement.
  6. when they do work that is matched to what they are ready to learn.
  7. can experience what they are studying firsthand.
  8. they have plenty of physical activity, sunshine, and fresh air.

Think of all the obstacles kids have to overcome in a traditional setting to have these eight needs met. Even the most dedicated classroom teachers would be hard pressed to provide these opportunities regularly for all their students. But you can and probably do so without giving it much thought.

No one cares about a child more than Mom and Dad. Both can regularly be available to answer questions and encourage a child’s progress. Older siblings and mixed-age groups in many of our co‐ops provide those models of success and friendship. At home kids have plenty of free time to pursue what they are interested in and to be outside soaking up all the benefits of nature. Opportunities for field trips and firsthand experiences abound. Parents can adjust their expectations and methods quickly to match what each child is ready to learn. We can let our kids choose what books they read, what topics they study, and what curriculum they prefer. We encourage them to take ownership of their education when we attend conventions and homeschool rallies as a family.

The catch is that we have to see God’s design at work here and maximize the advantages He’s given us. I hope I can help with that at the HEAV convention by unpacking exactly how we can leverage all the opportunities a family uniquely provides each child.

Dr. Debra Bell and her husband homeschooled their four children through high school. She has been a national and international keynote speaker for more than twenty years and is a full time author and the executive director for Aim Academy. This article first appeared in TVHE, Spring 2019.

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