If you could be a fly on the wall of my house sometimes when we’re doing school, you might wonder why in the world I would choose such a path. It can be quite chaotic and stressful at times. We do have some peaceful and smooth days, but they can be few and far between sometimes with my four rambunctious, hard-headed little creatures. This isn’t the easiest route we could’ve taken, by any means, but I believe that it’s the course that God laid out for our family.
As I mentioned before, God planted a desire in my heart to homeschool my children many years before I even had kids. It took some convincing to get Trevor to agree to it, but now he’s sold on the idea as he has seen the many benefits that are evident in our family.
People choose to homeschool their children for various reasons: some bring their children home because the kids are being bullied at school; some fear for the physical safety of their children; some wish to impart values into their children that wouldn’t be taught at school; some enjoy their children so much that they want to be with them, even during school time. There are many varied reasons why people walk this path, and some families walk it for a short time while others stay for the long haul. I’ve thought a lot about homeschooling through the years, and I want to share with you a few of the reasons why we chose to educate our children ourselves.
1. First, and most importantly, I want my children to learn about the world and gain knowledge of the universe from an explicitly Christian worldview. I believe that the world can be understood properly only through such a lens, because God created everything—even us—and He is the source of all true wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 9:10). Unfortunately, even the best public schools will not teach openly from this perspective. More likely is that in at least some areas, children will be instructed in ways that are contrary to what we believe God tells us in His Word. There’s a battle raging for the hearts and minds of our children, and I feel that if I give my children a solid foundation based on God’s Word and in agreement with His principles, they will be much less likely to be led astray when they are grown and on their own.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
2. Along the lines of #1, I want to be in control of what my children learn, how they learn it, and when they learn it. Our children are precious gifts, entrusted to us for only a short time on this earth, and I want to be diligent to guard their hearts and minds until they are ready to stand on their own. Here’s an example of something we’re trying to avoid, where “health” class in many schools is little more than an avenue to generate more clients for abortion clinics. I am not quick to trust people anyway, especially with my children, and I’m even less apt to trust the government to have a captive audience of my kids for 40 or so hours every week.
3. Because babies are born with sinful natures, they need godly grown-ups to teach them how to be disciples of Christ. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are less likely to demonstrate their sinful natures at outside activities (thankfully) than when they are in the comfort of our home, around our family. This means that even though my kids are around committed Christian adults at most of their activities, those adults don’t usually witness my kids’ character “issues” and probably wouldn’t feel comfortable dealing with those issues even if they did see them. Because I’m with my children almost all of the time, I’m able to recognize and help deal with their sin issues and character flaws much more diligently and effectively than if I was with them only in the evenings.
4. I want to be there for my children at all of their activities. This is very important to me. I want my children to remember that I was there for their performances, practices, competitions, recitals, matches, and so on. I tell them that I’m their biggest cheerleader, and I pray that if they know that I’m “there for them” now, they will feel comfortable coming to me with anything and everything on their hearts and minds as they grow into teens and young adults. Of course while they are young, our children need us to be their parents, to guide them and discipline them and mentor them, but as they grow older, my heart’s desire is that they will consider me one of their most trusted and valuable friends.
5. Trevor and I feel like we are uniquely qualified and equipped to educate our own children. My husband has been a high school math teacher for 20+ years. His bachelor’s degree is in physics, and he has two graduate degrees in math education. My associate’s degree is in early childhood education, though I changed my major to sociology for my bachelor’s degree. I’ve done a lot of editing through the years, and we’ve both done a fair amount of writing.
However, even if we didn’t have the experience and education that we do, there are multitudes of resources available that make homeschooling “doable” for almost any family—from online public education programs to boxed curriculum that guides one through teaching all of the subjects to homeschool co-ops to computer-based courses and on and on. In fact, there’s so much available that it can be intimidating to sort through it all and choose something that works.
A couple of years ago, we enrolled our three older kids in a local Christian homeschool “academy,” which meets three half days each week, and I teach the kids at home the other two days. We made this decision because our day-to-day school routine had become very difficult, and we were all struggling with the arrangement. I had a kindergartener, a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, and a two-year-old, and I was keeping Trevor’s two-year-old niece to bring in some extra income. In addition, I was working a fair amount online from home in the afternoons while the little ones napped. I was stressed and overwhelmed, so when we found out about the homeschool academy, it sounded like exactly what we needed.
We have to scrimp and save to afford to send the kids, but they love their other teachers and the friends they have made, and it helps me to be a better teacher on the days when the kids are at home because I’m not doing it alone anymore. My point is, as homeschoolers we can be flexible and use whatever resources that are at our disposal to provide the best education possible to our children.
6. Along the lines of #5, I want the flexibility and the freedom to tailor my educational approach to fit each of my kids’ learning styles. Children are individuals, and they learn in different ways. As homeschoolers, we can change and adapt our educational activities and methods based on what works best for each child. I can let my kids jump on the couch while they’re reciting spelling words if it helps to solidify what they’re learning. I can introduce the concept of fractions by cooking a special treat with my children. We can take nature walks in the beautiful spring weather while discussing various plants and birds and clouds.
7. Last but not least, I want to spend as much time with my kids as possible while they are growing up. Don’t get me wrong….they drive me up the wall sometimes and I count any time alone as precious, but I am so thankful that I’m able to be home with my babies, to raise them and nurture them and love them as only I can each day. I want them to grow up secure and happy and well adjusted and productive and responsible, but more than anything, I want them to grow up loving Jesus. May He pour out his love for them through me each and every day.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)