Friday, January 22, 2010

The Homeschool Question

With the planned closing of our church school at the end of this academic year, a number of people are considering alternative educational arrangements for their children. At the same time, a few friends are sharing their homeschool thoughts and journeys (thanks, Zoanna & Laurie). I thought I might throw my lot in, too.
When Abigail was born, I was already thinking about school and homeschool (forward planning, and all that). It wasn't long before Toby and I decided that we wanted to be among those weird and wonderful people that decided to homeschool their children. Thinking back, some of our reasons (or mine, anyway) would have lacked real backbone: I didn't see why my child should start spending the largest portion of the day under the care and influence of another adult and 20-30 other kids; because of our particular family situation, how could I be sure that our kids would learn enough about the histories of both their nationalities; I saw other families that had homeschooled (well, one or two), and their children had grown up to be interesting people doing interesting things.
Upon reflection, though, these are all side issues. They are all true, but they are not the main point. I think what it boils down to for our family is this: If I am to train up my children in the way they should go (Proverbs 6:22) and teach them God's ways as we lay down and rise up and walk by the way (Deut 11:19) , how can I do that at all well when they are away from me for the largest portion of their day? Maybe some can, but I can't. Because they are at home with me, I have the opportunities to train them in diligence, service, and loving-kindness that I don't believe I could do if they were in school most of the day. (I also get to model a lot of repentance for them!)
I can already hear some of the protests, so to clear up some misconceptions:
"I can't teach! What about when we get beyond what I can teach them?" I am not a trained or natural teacher. Having said that, I think we've all managed to teach our children to walk, talk and go to the bathroom on their own. The Rs are just the next step. Beyond that...let's just say there is more than one way to skin a cat. Worry about calculus when you get there - by that time I daresay little Johnny will be learning it on his own.
"I'd go crazy stuck in the house with my kids all day! We don't get along as it is." Not getting along with your children is probably a pretty good indicator that you should consider homeschooling them - it's a sanctifying experience. And who says you have to be stuck in the house? Co-op, library, field trips, playground...sometimes it's a fight to stay home.
"I'm not organized enough." If you're not organized, that's probably an area you'll want to grow in, but I wouldn't suggest using an area of weakness that can be improved upon for not doing something. After all, I am somewhat organized, but not as much as I should be - I had to miss Care Group last night because I didn't allow enough time to find an available babysitter!
"I don't know how you do it - I never could!" And finally, please don't say that. At all. For any reason. I am a saint, but only in the Scriptural sense. I sin against my kids every single day, which would be the case if they were in school, too. So please do not assume that I am somehow endowed with some shiny radiance that never gets tired or loses it's patience or doesn't struggle with selfishness. We homeschool because we think it's the best thing for our family, not the best thing for me.
Is homeschooling for everyone? Probably not, but I do think it is for more than are currently giving it a shot. Don't get me wrong - I do think that there are valid reasons not to homeschool, but "It would mess up my gym schedule" is not a good one.
Give thought and consideration to all the options, and ask God to give you direction and a sense of His purpose. If He calls you to homeschool, He'll equip you to do the job.


Zoanna said...

Well said, Kelly. Amen and amen. Your wisdom, humor, and humility are like neon lights on my field of vision.

Most people's reasons are just excuses. That said, some people have no business homeschooling, but by and large, selfishness is the number one reason most people dismiss homeschooling out of hand.

Laurie said...

thanks Kelly. I will link up on my blog. I'd love if you did a few practical posts especially on what to do with your preschool/babies while you educate your older students.

Karen said...

as always, thank you for your gracious insight, humor and wit! :)