At the start of the year, I find it helpful to remind myself why I homeschool. I tend to doubt our decision every year, sometimes I doubt my own ability to teach, sometimes I worry about social aspects, sometimes I’m just lazy and the thought of getting it all together is just overwhelming. This year I really decided to step it up and commit myself to this journey. Please understand this is really more for me, so that when I have a bad day at school, I can look back and remind myself why we’re doing this. (Disclaimer: I understand everyone has their own reasons for their schooling choices, these are OUR reasons for homeschooling, please keep comments respectful.)
1. God. This is the number one reason: I am called. Really I could stop here. I remember about 7 yrs ago after being newly saved we found ourselves at a marriage bible study. The couple leading the study homeschooled. As soon as I walked in and saw their room and all the fun stuff, and how awesome their family was I proudly stated “I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL!” She politely reminded me that maybe I should have some kids first ;o). Well, God clearly took care of that for us, blessing us with 4.
So starting with the Word, though I tried to deny it at first, I believe the bible lays it out plainly for me. Ephesians 6:4 states: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Deut. 4:9 says “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Deut. 6:5-7 says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
This last one stuck with me because I wondered to myself, how am I to teach my children when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up if they are gone all day long? How can I hide God’s word in their heart if most of the opportunities happen when they are at school? How can I truly impress upon their hearts if I only see them at dinner and at bedtime?
2 Cor 10:5 says “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” How can I make sure they learn to bring every thought captive to Christ if they are spending 80% of their day with someone else?
Isaiah 38:19 “The living, the living–they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about your faithfulness.”
Luke 6:40 states “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Which teacher do I want them to be like?
And finally, Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I had to let go of preconceived notions of what I thought homeschooling looked like and realize that I do not answer to this world, but to Christ.
Again, it came down to time: how can I teach my kids if they are not with me during the everyday ordinary comings and goings?
2. Opportunity: The opportunities for spiritual, character, academic, social, and family time when homeschooling are AWESOME! I truly believe the traditional American family is disintegrating. Its too easy to get caught up in the business of this world, running from one activity to the next … or whatever takes up our time…(blogging, LOL!) We can become so busy running around we forget to actually spend time together. Homeschooling affords our family the precious commodity of time. Time spent together, and frankly that’s really what our kids want from us, our time. It breaks my heart when I hear people say they can’t wait for school to start again, as if their kids are burdens. I sometimes feel that if my kids were in school I could get so much done! But I’m quickly reminded that ‘me time’ isn’t in the Bible, well it is, its just referred to as ‘selfishness’. Then I am reminded how quickly time passes, and how few years we have our children with us before they move on to their own lives. If the average person lives say 85 years, then the 18 years our kids spend with us is less than 1/4 of their lives. I don’t want to look back and think I didn’t spend enough time with them, and 3 hours a day just isn’t enough for me.
3. Academically speaking homeschoolers typically rate 37 percentage points higher than public school students. The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study). At home, I can make sure we have mastery of subjects, go at the right pace for each child, have one-on-one (not one-on-twenty) teaching, and I can tailor my curriculum to their needs.
4. Social Skills: So that leaves me with my social reservations. In the early days we debated it over and over. I think I misunderstand the word socialization as that the notion that spending time with 30 other 6 year olds is in some way ‘socializing’ my child. I read this in an article by Manfred B Zyskthis: “Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate.”
I looked up the word ‘socialization’ and found some disturbing things. I do not want to ‘convert or adapt my children to the needs of society’. I do want them to be able to function in our society, but that does not mean they need to be assimilated into society like the Borg. We are in this world, but not of this world.
I do think they need to spend time with friends, and we have committed to making sure our kids are involved in enough ‘outside the home’ activities like sports, dance, church, and homeschooling co-ops that we are confident that the amount of time our kids spend with others their same age is appropriate. Not too many activities though, we still focus on our family time as a priority. I hear so many homeschoolers say that they over-socialize.
Considering my opinion means nothing, we have to ask ourselves what the bible says about socialization?
Proverbs 22: 24-25 “Do not make friends with the hot-tempered, do not associate with those who are easily angered; or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”
1 Cor 15:33 Do not be mislead: “bad company corrupts good character.”
5. Our Goals: We asked ourselves “What do we want our children to look like when they’ve finished their formal education? In Luke 2:52 it says “And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and men.” We want them to learn to trust in the Word of God, to have it hidden in their heart. We want to train them in the way they should go, so it may go well with them. We want them to be healthy, confident, and to know they are beautifully and wonderfully made. We want them to keep their childlike faith, and we want them to be a light in this world. We want them to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet 3:15) We want them to be confident, to have good manners, to be compassionate, to be respectful, and to be humble in spirit.
That’s a tall order for a teacher, and frankly I’m not sure they’d be able to comply at our local school. Honestly, I’m not sure I can do it either, but I’d rather trust God to work through us, rather than leave it up to a stranger.
Lastly, and on a more selfish note, we can protect their innocence a tad longer. We don’t have to deal with peer pressure, my kids haven’t watched Harry Potter, they still like Clifford and Curious George. They don’t wear suggestive clothing or makeup because everyone else does, they don’t beg me for a wii or an iphone, and they don’t look down on their younger siblings because they aren’t cool anymore. We don’t have to worry about car-pool, unhealthy lunches, or bad teachers. And my personal favorite, we don’t have to get up at 6am everyday to get out of the house for school! (This alone is enough to keep me homeschooling!)
Well that’s it, my ridiculously long blog post about why we made this crazy commitment, and why we’ll stick with it, for this year anyway…