"Where did you learn that?"
"Dad, I read it in a book."
I have no idea how many times I have had the above interaction with my children. It seems that a few times per week either Caroline, Mary, or Bobby will walk up to me and launch into something about math, history, literature, or science that I am at least somewhat ignorant about.
At that point I say, "Where did you learn that?" Sometimes they tell me that they learned it from my wife. Many times, however, they simply respond, "I read it in a book."
This is one of the many beauties of homeschooling. Because our kids don't have to waste time riding the schoolbus, waiting in line to use the bathroom, sitting in the lunch room, waiting for the class bell to ring, listening to a well-meaning teacher review the same material five times, etc., they have much more time to simply read. They read some for assignments and some for pleasure. Many times those two things overlap.
While growing up, I attended public school for kindergarten through 8th grade. I then transferred to a private Christian school for 9th-12th grades. One similarity between my experiences in public and private school was that I did not have to read much. Instead, my duty was to sit quietly in class, write down what the teacher said, understand and memorize it, and then regurgitate it on a test. I did learn a few things along the way, but I wish I had had the opportunity to read much more.
Reading has so many advantages that it would be impossible to list them all here. Three things immediately come to mind. First, when a child reads, he is also learning how to think critically. He sees how the author develops his argument and comes to his conclusions. Second, reading allows the child to use her imagination. Because reading is an auditory medium, the visual imagination is allowed to run wild. Third, reading teaches the child how to teach himself in the future. Learning should be a life-long process, not something that ceases at the end of high-school or college. One of the best ways to keep learning is to keep reading.
I have no doubt that one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is that when it is done well, children learn not only how to read, but also how to love reading. This is a gift that they will take with them for a lifetime.
I'm already looking forward to the next time I hear, "Dad, I read it in a book."