Recently, I was asked to write a post for another blog for which I occasionally write called The Intentional Journey. The topic about which I was asked to write was homeschooling, and this is the post that I developed over two weeks time and many editing sessions. The only disclaimer I have is that, if you are a teacher, I believe that what you do is essential. Christian teachers, in particular, are necessary in the public school system. Please know that most homeschoolers feel the same way. We are choosing to fight against the system, which most teachers will admit is broken. To see other posts both for and against this topic as well as many other topics, visit The Intentional Journey.
“Faith in the prayer-hearing God is an unproved and outmoded faith. There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, the immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.” ...John Dewey, socialist and founder of the modern American system of education.
If a religious sect or social club were founded by a man who firmly believed the statement above, the modern Christian wouldn't go anywhere near it; yet, each and every week day in America, children are herded into the halls of our public schools in a system that was designed by Dewey and other socialist catalysts who had a very definitive political agenda and desired to pass this belief as well as others like it onto our children. Most parents don't even question this very young tradition of schooling children outside the home. Sending your children to school is what you do in America, and so they do it.
I have to admit that I used to think that homeschoolers were crazy people. Hippies. Religious fanatics. People who were completely off their rocker. As a former public school educator, the Lord had to open my eyes. Initially, I wasn't sure why we were taking this step of faith and felt like I had to almost apologize to others for it, but, when Lukas was 4, we knew the Lord was leading us toward this blessed path. We attended our first homeschooling convention that summer, chose curriculum, attended several "how to" seminars and, the following September, a week before Lukas turned 5, we began kindergarten at home. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to teach him to read, but the Lord knew all my fears better than I knew them myself. Lukas read like a pro almost immediately. Kindergarten was a breeze. Our first year of homeschooling was a success!
Since that first year or two when I often had feelings of insecurity, I have come to believe in this form of education more than any other. I have been a teacher. I know what the hallways, classrooms and playgrounds of today's schools are like. I know how infrequently children experience positive interaction with other children in our school system. I have watched as teachers teach students to master the next standardized test. It's sad and unfortunate that so many parents believe that this is the best they can offer their children.
I want to take a moment to write a brief disclaimer and say that I'm not writing to insult anyone who is choosing to educate their child within this system, but I am writing to explain a little about why we don't choose to utilize this system. My hope is that those persons who are so passionately against homeschooling that they can't help but judge us and tell us repeatedly what they think, will learn to be silent more often, will learn to be more respectful of our choice, and will learn that our desire is to give our children God's best for them.
First of all, putting aside what so many believe our obvious motives to be, we believe that homeschooling actually trains students to function better when it comes to higher education or a professional career. They are being taught to become self-starters and independent learners, which means that it doesn't matter how a professor teaches because, if they don't relate to the professor's teaching style, they know how to learn the necessary material on their own. Having been taught in a typical, cookie-cutter American classroom, I was robbed of that essential life skill and struggled w/professors who didn't teach the way I learned. Thankfully, I was one of the few who was able to rise above such poor training. I taught myself to study and to learn independently during my first year and a half of college.
The one thing about which non-homeschoolers seem to worry the most surrounds the dreaded unbiblical concept of "socialization". Since John Dewey was indeed a socialist who designed the system to meet a socialist agenda, I'm not surprised that so many parents are so concerned about conforming to what the government tells them is right for them and their children, but it still makes me cringe to think that so many Americans just accept it so willingly. They were trained to do so, and they do it without question.
100 years ago, before John Dewey’s influence was so strongly felt in America, home education was the norm. Why are we all willingly expected to accept an educational system that was created by a known socialist and his followers??? Since the creation of the modern American system, the quality of education in America has diminished. Statistics support this as fact.
The bottom line on this topic is that children go to school to be educated, not to socialize. They sit in desks most of the day and have very little time to interact and form positive relationships w/other students. Much of the very little social interaction kids get in a school does nothing but hinder their education anyway, so why is that even an issue? Plus, they're in a classroom w/children who are all the same age as them. There is no other place in all of their lives when they will experience such an odd grouping of peers. Most of us spend time with people of all ages. My children are so blessed to be used to playing with children of various ages and to be around adults of all ages on a regular basis. This will surely prepare them better for the real world that so many non-homeschoolers are so concerned about.
My hope is that others will learn to judge us less. Why do so many people have the audacity to think that they have any right to judge our decisions or our children or to repeatedly express their opinions and concerns to us? God gave these children to us, not to them. God told us to homeschool them. Do they believe that their words and strong points-of-view are going to sway us from the will of God for our lives? There is nothing another person can say to sway me from the will of God for my family.
I know that homeschooling is a big commitment that many people aren't willing to consider. Do I understand why they won't even consider it a little? Not really. I know Christians who I can't imagine homeschooling and some who I'm not even sure should, but, at the same time, I know that God equips us all to give our children what they need, including education, which makes all excuses null and void in my book.
I am proud to say that my children are receiving a top-notch education. They are learning to love education and to become independent learners. It's not just a task that they have to accomplish. We don't have to be satisfied with the mediocrity that is offered in America's educational system because we are willing and able to give them something better. They aren't spending more time with strangers than they are with Eric and me, the people with whom the Lord intended them to spend most of their time during these formative years. They will be better suited for whatever career the Lord has set before them, from mothering to doctoring, they'll be prepared to do it because they are getting the greatest educational foundation that I can possibly give to them within a godly, loving atmosphere.
I believe that homeschoolers are recognizing what so many others are not. Homeschooled students consistently score significantly higher on standardized tests and college entrance exams, and their parents aren't even teaching to the test the way so many school districts do. They know how to learn.
Of course, the statistics that are most important to me don't really have anything to do with standardized test scores or career success. The most important stats concern the church and the relationship Christians desire for their children to have with the Lord. Stats show that 85-88% of young adults leave the church permanently!!!!! That is an unreal statistic!!! So many parents are tied up thinking "it won't happen to my kid." YES, it will likely be your kid that turns away from the Lord! There is very little hope in that kind of statistic.
In the homeschooling community, that statistic is drastically different. I found an article recently that said stats show that 4% of homeschooled children leave the church as adults. 4% vs 85???? What is wrong with that picture???? Yet our choices are the ones being consistently challenged? I believe we have figured something out here. Other Christians would be well-advised to stand up and take notice.
In the long run, all these statistics and benefits don't matter as much as what this lifestyle gives to our kids and to our family. We start our day snuggled on the couch with a Bible. We giggle our way through amazing adventures about far away or magical places. We move to the dining room table and create masterpieces and write spectacular stories. We experience science in the back yard and the kitchen or while looking through a telescope at the moon. We don't merely read about American history. We go to the actual places where these things took place and see how canal boats were pulled, learn how real castles were built and how river boats traveled down the Ohio. When the children express interest in something like snowflakes or outer space, we explore it as our science study. We study nature and create sketches. We cook together. Our school day is efficient and doesn't require endless hours in the evening to do extra and unnecessary busy work. When our kids know something, they're done with it, and, when they don't, we do it again and differently until they do. While I won't say that we never have bumps in the road, most of our days are gloriously woven together.
I am so blessed to be a homeschooling parent. My children are blessed. My husband is blessed. This is a lifestyle that we never dreamed the Lord had for us, but it is also one that we will never regret.