Our day was ending no differently than most weekdays. After waiting in the snails-pace pick-up line for my eldest, we finally made it home. While holding the baby, and my three-year-old’s hand, I ushered my exhausted first grader through the front door. Tossing her backpack to the floor, letting out a big sigh, she plops onto the couch. Settling the baby and preschooler into playing on the floor, I find a place next to her on the couch. As we sort the contents of her Tinkerbell backpack, she tells me the details of her school day. While we were chatting, out of nowhere she whips her palm in front of my face and bobbles her head as a sassy “whatever mom” rolls off her tongue.
Unsure of what caused such a reaction and gob-smacked by her behavior I found myself in an ah-ha moment. For months, well, actually years, I tucked a nagging notion away, but today it found its way to the surface. Homeschooling. The mere idea of it was overwhelming and terrifying. However, I felt it was time to give it genuine consideration.
Recognizing that my child’s school and peers were having an unhealthy influence on her heart and character grieved me. She was being molded by a negative environment and it showed. But what would homeschooling mean for our family? Am I even qualified to teach my child? How would we afford it? How would she make friends? Is homeschooling really what God wants as part of her upbringing? Would I really be able to make a difference in my child’s life through homeschooling?
Although many of my friends homeschooled, I wasn’t convinced this was the right path for our family. Seeking to know more about their homeschooling journey I soon discovered they battled many of the same what-ifs as they forged a path through their call to homeschool. Doubt and fear welled up inside of me while I considered the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling. I poured over every positive reason to homeschool and although there were plenty, the negative points captured my full attention.
5 Homeschooling Myths
1. Qualification: “I’m not qualified to teach my children.” Being your child’s parent qualifies you. Understandably, the mere idea of being solely responsible for your child’s education can be utterly overwhelming–but it is our full responsibility whether or not we homeschool. Sometimes the path to providing the best education for our children is forged with our own home–we are qualified to teach our children.
Academics can be a bit intimidating especially when you consider homeschooling through high school. Don’t fret over your abilities and homeschooling through high school isn’t as terrifying as it may seem. Make certain you thoroughly investigate the homeschooling laws in your area. The HSLDA is a great resource to utilize for such research. If you don’t have your high school diploma you can get your GED. Additionally, there are homeschooling classes you can take if you don’t feel confident (many states require them if you don’t have your high school diploma or enough qualifying college credits). For those who do meet state qualifications and still experience uncertainty–be at ease–teacher guides typically have the answer key and some even guide you on what to say when as you instruct your children.
God will provide you with the resources needed for homeschooling–including the qualifications–if this is what he is calling you to. Take heart, we are not powerful enough to thwart God’s plans for the lives of our children or ourselves.
2. Financial: “Homeschooling is too expensive.” Homeschooling can be costly, however, that’s not always the case. While most homeschooling families are on one income, there is a broad spectrum of what that income looks like. For those struggling to make ends meet each month, the cost of homeschooling may be a deterrent–it doesn’t need to be. Resources today make homeschooling all the more obtainable for every income bracket. Those who desire to make the most of each penny can utilize their local library and the many free to low-cost online resources.
Remember, God will make a way should he call your family to homeschool. He promises to provide all of our needs and if homeschooling is a part of this, He will make good on His word. Bear in mind, it may not look exactly how you envisioned.
3. Character: “I could never teach my own kids.” Countless times I’ve had parents tell me they could never homeschool their children because their kids simply will not listen to them. Your children may be struggling with obedience and being at home with them all day will certainly bring such issues to the surface. This is good. Don’t be afraid of helping to shape your child with gospel-character. You have been given the opportunity to address the issues in a Christ-centered manner.Character struggles plague each of us, whether homeschooled or not, children and adults.
Character struggles and behavior issues in your child(ren) or yourself will not be dissolved because you choose to homeschool. Don’t be fooled into believing that it’s only your child who has these struggles–your character weaknesses will be revealed as well. Homeschooling offers you the advantage of full-time gospel-centered parenting–training your children in light of the gospel, not the world.
Contrary to what some believe, homeschooling does not guarantee salvation or good character, nor does it promise academic excellence. Training our children in the way they should go is wisdom, it is not a promise that our kids will be given salvation with Christ. Time with your children is a gift, enabling you to give consistent and gospel-focused attention to address challenging areas. Gospel-focused time and support are often what we all need to grow in our relationship with Christ and reflect his image.
Be intentional to not create moral beings–that is, they follow the straight and narrow, yet have no relationship with Christ–but rather promote heart changes and growing to be Christlike. Training our children–in the gospel and life–is hard work and it is what we are called to do as parents regardless of how we choose to educate our children.
4. Isolation: “Homeschooling will keep us at home.” Naturally, one may conclude homeschooling means you remain at home. Thankfully, this is the opposite of home educating. In fact, your world has room to expand as far as you desire. The all too common belief that homeschooling families are void of socialization holds little to no validation. Being homeschooled actually offers your children, and yourself, a more diverse environment of engagement with others. Children who are homeschooled develop a well-rounded ability to interact with multiple ages in a diverse manner. More than how many people we interact with, we need to take inventory of whom we are socializing with and why.
What kind of community is God calling you to engage? What are you afraid you’ll miss out on?
5. Imperative: “Everyone must homeschool.” Homeschooling isn’t the fix-all answer. While homeschooling is a marvelous fit for many, it is not for everyone. There are those who absolutely relish in homeschooling and others, such as myself, who homeschool out of obedience to God. Educating our children at home is both joy-filled and grueling. It is not for the faint of heart nor should it be done to fulfill an ideal. Homeschooling is a calling–a conviction placed by God.
Some will assert that homeschooling is an imperative given within Scripture. By asserting homeschooling as a biblical imperative, not only is Scripture being taken out of context, we run the risk of alienating those who are not called to homeschool. Homeschooling is not a biblical principle, it is merely an application, albeit a great one.
Needless to say, we will all do well to not look down our noses at those who don’t educate their children in the same manner we are personally called, whether inside or outside of the home.
Many years of homeschooling have since passed for my family and we have quite a few more still to come. We have all grown in ways we never anticipated. I’m grateful for the years with my children–never feeling as though I was missing their childhood. Every day hasn’t been glitter and unicorns, but I’m thankful for each one. I’m grateful for those who encouraged me to take the leap into homeschooling, to trust God during this mighty task, and for those who offered emotional and tangible support over the years. Homeschooling is a gift to be shared with our children and those around us.