If you've been following my blog over the past couple weeks, then you know that I'm posting a series on homeschooling. If you are new to my blog, then I think you'll still find this post to be interesting. You can read about our path to becoming a homeschooling family in my post, Before We Homeschooled. This post is going to focus on why we choose to continue this quest to educate our children at home. If you are a homeschooler, then your reasons for doing so are likely broad and varied, as are ours. Here is a glimse into some of the reasons why we do this thing we do.
Homeschooling is a calling placed on our hearts by God...When our oldest child was just a few months old, my childhood best friend called to tell me that she was expecting her first baby. In that conversation, somehow, we started talking about education. It was in that moment that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my fun-loving, normal, spontaneous, previously rebellious friend had fallen off her rocker. Completely. Totally. Off. Her. Rocker. Even so, God planted a seed that day. It was the first moment that I ever thought a normal person might choose to homeschool. Five years later when it was time for us to homeschool, I was hesitant. I took this homeschooling plunge because I knew God wanted us to do it having no idea what His purpose for doing so was. Since then, I have learned that God has given every parent the task of discipling our children first and educating them second. For us that means educating our children in our home. The best place to make sure that our children are learning in an environment in which their faith in God is the top priority, we educate them ourselves. We personally have no desire to delegate this responsibility and are grateful to this calling that God has given to us!
Higher quality of academics...I don't believe that most classroom teachers would argue the fact that, if you are teaching only a few students, you are able to do a better job than you are when you are teaching 25 students. As a classroom teacher, I always knew that, the smaller the class, the easier it was going to be for me to teach them. This is true in the home as well. Our kids are getting individual attention every single day.
Variety of subject matter...What a blessing it is to study subjects that are of interest to our kids! Lukas asked to study the Civil War, and so we did. Ava asked to learn about butterflies, and so we did. Of course, our children don't get to choose every subject they study, but when they do have an interest, we are able to cover it. This makes learning fun for them and shows them that learning has a life-long purpose.
Flexibility...When we began to homeschool, I never imagined how important this would be for us. All homeschooling families have to learn to be flexible as the demands of managing a household collide with the demands of academia, but, for us, this became even more real when my mom became ill last year. We were able to be so flexible that we moved to be closer to her! Since then, we have been able to take days off when she had a chemotherapy treatment or other appointment. This is one of the many blessing of homeschooling! This time spent with my mom is irreplaceable, and my kids will never forget the opportunity homeschooling allowed them to spend time with their grandmother. If our kids are going through something emotionally, like finding out just how sick their grandmother is, we can throw school out the door for a day and catch things up later. After this past school year was interrupted with chemotherapy treatments, a bout of pneumonia, and a round of bronchitis for the kids, we continued to have school through the end of June. All that matters is that the material was covered.
Ability to meet the needs of our kids where they are... We are able to carefully chose curriculum based on the individual needs and learning styles of our children and to tailor their academic program to their ability levels. Of course, there is a time and place for children to learn to adapt, but that doesn't need to be an everyday occurrence. Lukas is an auditory learner, so we have learned that Teaching Textbooks works well because he can hear the lecture as he sees examples being worked on the computer screen. Math-U-See works well for Ava because she is a kinisthetic-tactile learner who loves hands-on projects. Ava is creative, and Lukas is intuitive. Both are getting their academic needs met in our home.
World View...One thing that I love about homeschooling is the ability to weave our personal world view through our curriculum. This doesn't mean that our children aren't learning about other world views or religions; it just means that our curriculum reflects our belief system. For example, we believe that the creation story in the Bible is literal, so our science curriculum is based on that belief and actually teaches them the opposing belief of evolution so that they will know how to defend a creationism stance. Biblical standards are also woven through things like history study, hand writing, read-alouds, and more. We also study the Bible and use Bible verses as copy work, dictation, and memory work. What better resource is there?
Discipleship rather than Evangelism...I could have chosen to cover this thoroughly in a couple of the above points, but I wanted to discuss it specifically. As a homeschooler, I have heard all of the reasons why we shouldn't be doing this, mostly from fellow believers. The biggest lie that many Christians choose to believe is that our children are designed to be salt and light, just as Jesus calls us to be. This simply isn't true. Children are children. It is our job to train up our children in the way they should go, and it is our job to protect their hearts and minds. It is not their job to evangelize the local elementary school. Sure, there are times that happens, but that is rarely the case. More often, Christian kids are sucked into world views and experiences that go against scripture. There is a time and place for children to be introduced to such things, but it is the parents' responsibility to do so, not a teacher who truly barely knows our children. If an adult feels called to serve in the public school setting with the goal of being salt and light, then that is certainly what they should do, but don't use this passage of scripture as your basis for putting your children in harm's way. We disciple our children in our home and provide them opportunities to minister in our community and church. Some day, they will be able to evangelize the world, but that day is not today.