While I believe homeschooling to be the best choice for educating our children (in most cases) keep in mind that unless it is a biblical mandate it is then a family choice. Some will argue that the bible does command us to homeschool but I have yet to see the scripture that makes homeschooling an imperative. Homeschooling is not a biblical principal it is merely an application, albeit a great application. Deuteronomy 6 does present the imperative to teach and train our children in the ways of the Lord but it does not state this must occur in the home only.
Please hear my heart on this matter; I am not condemning you or anyone else if you have your child in public or private school. I do not feel that it is my place to tell you how to raise your children or how they need to be educated. What I am presenting here are simply some thoughts to contemplate. What you do with this information is up to you but I am not saying that you don’t love your kids if you don’t homeschool. This thought is often perpetuated in homeschooling discussions and I feel it is important that you know I do not agree. I would also like to add that there are some highly gifted public and private school teachers and I am privileged to know some of them, but they are still required to teach from an atheistic point of view and a Christian school doesn’t always teach from a sound biblical foundation; just something to keep in mind as you read.
It is the job of parents, not schools or churches, to train children.
1. If you believe your child is ready for war. If your five year old is ready to pick up arms and head off to fight on the battlefield of a major war then by all means you don’t need to homeschool. I don’t know about you but my five year old isn’t ready to handle firearms or any sort of weapon at this tender and impressionable age. None of my kids are ready for the battlefield. They are all still in training, they are in life’s boot camp and we spend our days teaching them and readying them for the war that lies ahead.
If you are wondering what in the world I’m referring to take a moment and look up Matthew 5:13-16. What you are reading is the scripture that many use as a foundational reason to send their kids to public school. I struggle greatly with this because this verse is pointed to believers, to Christ followers. Not all of our kids are converted by age five when we put them on a school bus and instruct them to be the salt and light to their peers. These little dears have no idea how to fight that battle as they have not been fully trained nor are all of them fighting on the same side. If you feel convicted to place your child in school outside of the home please do not use this verse as your foundational reasoning as you would be doing so out of context.
2. You do not feel the conviction or call to homeschool. For a few years prior to beginning our journey of homeschooling I had felt the conviction to homeschool though my husband did not hold the same conviction. It was something that I thought I wanted to do for various reasons. Some of those reasons were pressure from the church I was attending, pressure I put on myself for what I thought a good mom should do, pressure from other mothers and competing with them. Those are not good reasons to homeschool. In fact those are very poor reasons and if any of these reasons are why you are homeschooling please take some time in prayer and evaluate why it is you homeschool and if it is something you should continue doing.
When it came time for our first child to start school we were set to put her into public school. I still felt the call to homeschool but for many reasons I lay out in the rest of this article I chose to ignore that call. After about six months of our daughter in public school the call and conviction to homeschool became louder and louder. I could no longer ignore it and my husband was also hearing the call. Not everyone feels the conviction to homeschool, which is okay, and I’d agree that they should not take that path. However, there are those who are like I was and they hear the call and choose to ignore it. I would like to encourage you if you are feeling the call and ignoring it to prayerfully consider why it is you are fighting against homeschooling.
3. Fear of the world; what others will think, afraid it will be hard, I’m not smart enough. If you live a fear driven life and are not inclined to work hard then you should not homeschool. If you believe that you are incapable of learning, and you have learned all you ever need to know then you should not homeschool.
Many of the reasons I chose to not homeschool were fear based. Fear told me I was not smart enough to teach my own children, even though I do have a college degree. Fear told me I’d have a lot of kick back from family and friends and homeschooling would be too hard. I allowed fear to invade my decision-making and I wrongfully allowed it to dictate the decision to not homeschool.
Two major issues I allowed to take root in this process; I was not handing any of this over to God and asking him what he wanted for these precious children of his and I was not communicating any of this to my husband. I didn’t allow us to make this decision together but rather I took over because I didn’t want him to suggest that we homeschool as that would mean I had to work through my fear, trust him, and trust God. As for not being smart enough to homeschool, well that’s hogwash. I certainly don’t feel educated enough to teach my children but I know some college professors who feel the same way. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that everyone is learning, all of the time and all together, including the parents. In fact statistics show that children homeschooled by mom’s who do not have a high school diploma have children that test higher in annual assessments than those of children being taught in public school by teachers with college degrees in education.
With that said not everyone who homeschools their children is doing a good job. Some parents are too free in their approach and let their kids run amuck, this is not a biblical approach to education and is not encouraged. With all of my fears about homeschooling I remind myself consistently that success in academics does not secure a place in heaven for my child or for me. Therefore, academics should not hold a position of importance higher than the importance of knowing God. Be careful not let education become your idol, whether you homeschool or not.
4. You don’t like wearing skirts. Those who homeschool are often put into categories. There is the always smiling, skirt wearing, and casserole making type. The dreadlocks, organic fabric, milk your own cow type, and then you have the elite my kid plays six instruments, speaks ten languages fluently and started calculus at age eight type. Okay, obviously those are really unfair and over exaggerated examples, sort of. None of these attributes in people are corrupt but they are if you expect others to be just like you.
The truth is there are those aspects of inclusion that haunt each homeschooling family. Why do we struggle to fit into a homeschooling clique? Isn’t the whole reason we homeschool because aside from feeling that conviction we homeschool because we don’t want to be shoved into a box. I’ve never fit into any one clique so I couldn’t tell you where I fit with other homeschoolers if I tried. Not all homeschooling ladies wear only skirts, I love my jeans! This philosophy in the homeschooling realm claims it is not modest for a lady to wear pants. I’ll be writing an article on modesty in the near future.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to cook and I like skirts but I don’t cook all of the time and I don’t wear skirts every day. I like organic cotton fabric and I like food that isn’t soaked in pesticides. While we don’t milk our own cow quite yet we do have farm fresh eggs daily. I also like lipstick, stilettos, and fancy perfume. My kids don’t play musical instruments because lessons for three kids are expensive and I figure that when God wants our kids to play an instrument he’ll provide the funds and the teacher for it. As for teaching them a foreign language, we’re just trying to get English down right now so that will have to wait a bit. As for smiling, well I try to smile. During the day when we are schooling it is really hard sometimes to smile. At church on Sunday mornings I try so hard to not have that fake plastic smile but sometimes it’s all I can do to not break down in tears from pure exhaustion and self-condemnation for not fitting into the right box. The self-condemnation issue is my own and I need to continually work through it and not listen to the lies that permeate my thoughts.
5. You like your freedom during the day. When I got married and started my family I had to take some of my wants and my dreams and set them aside. Okay, I had to take most of them and set them aside. I think this is why so many don’t want to have kids, because it requires both father and mother to let go of some personal dreams, to step back and put another person in front of themselves. That is hard to do. It can only be done in gospel-centered love. It is a sacrifice worth making though, a thousand times over.
As much as I do like to homeschool I have days, sometimes weeks, where I want to put my kids on a bus and send them off to school. Like everything in life there are seasons that are more challenging than others. I dream sometimes of the many sewing projects I could not only start but also complete, and books I could read in the span of a school day with complete silence in my home. I could write and blog on a regular basis. My home would be tidy and I’d have time to pursue some of the dreams I have tucked away inside of me. I am not unhappy or discontent though. While I have days that I struggle, ultimately we are to find our fulfillment in Christ alone, not in our worldly successes and desires.
The problem with not being willing to set aside some of our desires for our children and spouse; it is selfish. If you have kids then you understand this. When babies are born they are completely dependent on us (both parents) to take care of them. When they are hungry they can’t go to kitchen and make a sandwich, they need us to feed them, even in the middle of the night no matter how much we’d rather sleep. They need us to be there for them even when we are ill and tired and just want five minutes alone. We take care of them because we love them and because that is part of the call of parenthood. Even when they are grown and adults we do not stop being their parents, it will simply look different.
Continue reading: Part Two