Want a Healthier Family?
12 Health Benefits of Homeschooling
By Linda Dobson
A family’s homeschooling decision almost always begins with academic considerations. For myriad reasons, each family comes to the conclusion that the children will learn better and happier when the family is in charge of decisions, resources, and schedule.
There’s another aspect of homeschooling, though, that doesn’t receive anywhere near the attention it deserves when mainstream media covers the topic. Once they get started, many families realize terrific health benefits emerge from the homeschooling lifestyle, too.
12 Health Benefits of Homeschooling
1. Individual sleep patterns and needs are met. Young children generally need more sleep than adults, which can be difficult when family time after a long day for all involved is over. Teenagers, research shows (and most parents have observed), function on a sleep cycle that has them wide awake the later it gets. When your family must function on a schedule that includes school bus pick-ups and starting times, individual sleep patterns are not fulfilled in a way that most benefits your children’s health.
2. Lots of time to be outdoors. Due to budget constraints and focus on teaching to standardized tests, lots of schools have done away with physical education and recess which means children are confined inside all day. Yet the benefits of physical exercise are obvious, with a positive impact on maintaining healthy weight. Additional benefits to enjoying green spaces include increased Vitamin D levels good for bones and a diabetes deterrent; improved distance vision and less incidence of near-sightedness; increased critical thinking skills; and reduction in ADHD symptoms.
3. Eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, pee when you gotta. In school, your child is subject to scheduled lunch times, so sometimes children are subjected to eating when not hungry or, conversely, needing to wait when they are hungry. Ditto for getting a drink. Have you ever tried to concentrate when you’re hungry? It’s not easy. As for relieving themselves, the act of holding in urine can lead to urinary tract infections and other serious complications. Similarly, encopresis (holding bowel movements) can also cause urinary tract infections as well as enlargement of rectum and intestine. Everyone in the homeschooling family can heed nature’s calls.
4. Eat healthier food (and learn to prepare it). While some schools are trying to make lunches healthier, they still often consist of a lot of processed food. If parents pack a lunch, this often consists of convenience servings, things like Lunchables, pudding in a cup, and more. Not only can healthier, fresher food be consumed for breakfast and lunch while homeschooling, you’re not rushed, as many children while eating at school are, leading to proper chewing and digestion. BONUS: Your child receives many more opportunities to help prepare meals, a valuable life skill.
5. Not cooped up in “sick buildings.” Many of the problems attributed to sick buildings are a result of poor indoor air quality. Other causes include inadequate temperature, humidity, lighting, or ventilation. Chemical contaminants include adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products, cleaning agents and pesticides, while biological contaminants include pollen, bacteria, viruses and molds. Homeschooling parents can make sure there’s plenty of fresh air, learning outside if fine weather beckons!
6. Less shared germs – and lice. Google “lice in schools” and you get over 5.5 million hits, many of them referencing necessary school policies for dealing with them. During flu seasons, entire schools get shut down because so many administrators, faculty and students are sick at the same time, and it’s an effort to spare those who don’t already have it. Admittedly, no one has ever done a study on homeschooling and lice and germs, and either could be picked up during a homeschooling family’s many outings. That said, it’s a logical leap to conclude less incidents of both when children aren’t in a closed-up room surrounded by the illness of the season – or lice.
7. Time for play. With less recess and constant adult-driven activities, children get less and less time for unorganized play, which is a shame because of play’s multiple and varied benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics writes, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.” That’s pretty comprehensive, which is why many homeschooling families make sure play is an important part of every day life.
8. Less need for medication. Again, there has been no scientific study, but strong anecdotal evidence exists in the homeschooling community that many children, labeled in school with any of a variety of behavioral or cognitive disorders, have seen symptoms of such disorders decrease or disappear completely. This means prescribed medications can be cut or eliminated and, along with them, the unhealthy side effects they create.
9. Alone time. As society grows increasingly frenetic, children who race to school, have classes, go to after school activities, come home for dinner, do homework, and go to bed are denied the important and healthy benefits of alone time. Children need breaks in the action in order to consciously and subconsciously process the information they receive – and are supposed to “learn.” This time additionally leads to use of imagination, strengthening curiosity and creativity. It provides a chance to practice and learn time management skills, and in that time discover and pursue individual interests. It increases self-sufficiency as the child practices finding solutions to problems and learning from mistakes made. It increases comfort in one’s own skin and company, which creates real self-esteem and confidence.
10. Time to pursue passions. Think about how happy, content and fulfilled you and your friends would be if you had been able to form and pursue passions meaningful to you. It would be a great way to live and work, yes? Homeschooling children receive that time.
11. Less stress. Stress can cause physical illness, as well as mental and emotional problems. When you combine all of the above in the way you live life, you and your children experience less stress. If you’re really lucky, you completely eliminate stress from your lives. Everyone is healthier as a result.
12. A strong family that knows and loves one another. Families are the building blocks of society. Strong, healthy families are required for a strong, healthy society. The benefits of homeschooling transcend your immediate family and make a positive impact on your community and society.
Homeschooling: Not bad for a way of life that allows your family the opportunity to learn together while enjoying a very healthy lifestyle!