Homeschooling is here to stay. More and more families are choosing to homeschool their children. In fact, more families are homeschooling their children now than any other time in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Analyses, since 2012 the number of children being homeschooled has grown from 1.8 million to approximately 3.5 million in 2017. That is a lot!
Before I say what I plan to say, I feel the need to address a couple of things.
#1. While my wife and I have made the studied choice to homeschool our children, we do not feel it is “The right way,” nor do we feel like it is wrong to make another choice. In fact, I do not believe homeschooling is the right choice for everyone, and sometimes, not even a possibility.
#2. There are many “experts” on homeschooling, and I am not one of them. I simply have decided to share why my wife and I made the choice that we made for our children.
Truthfully, I have been hesitant to write much (or anything) about homeschooling children. I have been hesitant because I have witnessed some parents who homeschool their children accuse others of not loving their children and not wanting what is best for them. When I see this, I cringe. Refer again to #1.
With that being said, I have heard many (even within the church) who ridicule those who choose to homeschool. Many of the accusations levied against homeschoolers simply are out of bounds and untrue. My wife and I both attended public school all of our childhood, so homeschooling is a relatively new concept for us. While I do not speak for everyone who homeschools (refer to #2.) I would like to share a few insights from my little family.
What homeschooling is for us:
- Hard work
One of the comments that I hear from time to time concerning homeschooling from individuals that really bothers me goes something like this, “It must be nice for her to get to stay home and not have to work.” Of course, the “her” is referring to the mother of the children.
I feel confident in speaking on behalf of all homeschoolers when I say this, if you come across an individual who makes these comments, they have no idea what they are talking about.
I am not the one who stays at home and does the bulk of the educating in my home. That award goes to my wife. Allow me to say, she works harder than I do, almost every single day.
Not only does she keep our house in good shape which is hard when she lives with our children… and me. But, she spends her time teaching all the important subjects that every kid learns at school to our children. When you understand that my children are different ages, so she spends time teaching two children all of their subjects on their respective levels, it is doubly hard work. This is not to say that it is harder than any job someone else might have, just simply stating that it IS hard work.
Make no bones about it. Homeschooling is expensive. I am reminded of how expensive it is every time I buy all the curriculum needed for the school year. Sometimes you can swap books with a friend if you know someone with children close to the same age as yours, but for the most part it costs a lot to purchase the materials.
However, this is not even close to the sacrifice that is having your wife stay home, rather than “getting a job” to make some more money for the household. I know far too many individuals who view homeschooling (from an outside perspective) as an “excuse” for the mother to not work in a secular job.
My wife and I are willing to sacrifice the money that she could be making doing something different, because we firmly believe we are investing for a much greater purpose. More on that in a moment.
Just like parenting is in any area, it is rewarding. It is rewarding when you personally take your child from having 0 knowledge of a subject and you guide them into a deep knowledge of it. It truly is an amazing feeling as a parent. However, even this, is not the primary purpose for my wife and I choosing to homeschool our children. I guess it is time to get into that now.
- A tool to help us reach our goal, and fulfill our purpose as parents.
I want my children to be in heaven. It is my job to train them. It is my job to instill in them a love for God. It is my job to protect them. It is my job to train them up in the way that they should go. As mentioned above, I do not believe that homeschooling your children is “The right way” as in, “The only way.” I was not homeschooled, I think I turned out ok, if you disagree, keep that to yourself.
Please allow me to briefly share with you why I believe homeschooling my children will give them a better chance of remaining faithful to the Lord.
When God commanded, that parents teach their children “When they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise” – Deuteronomy 6. Most children were educated while working at home with mom, or in the field with dad. They were taught what they needed to know about life, while going through life. When you examine that command to teach your children when they lie down, when they rise, when they are walking, when they are sitting what you see is that they are supposed to be spending a great deal of time with their children throughout the day.
While some states vary slightly, sending your child to public school ensures that they will be under someone else’s guidance approximately 900 – 1,000 hours a year (not counting extra-curricular activities). That is roughly 13-14 thousand hours throughout their childhood including pre-k and kindergarten. Or, nearly two full years of their life. While I do not suggest a child going to public school will without a doubt fall away from the church, what I am suggesting is that as a parent, I have a greater opportunity to influence my children in the way God would have me to do if I take those 2 years of my child’s life back from the public-school system and use that time to model a Godly example while educating them in a variety of topics.
The statistics show it. I am in my 10th year of ministry, most of that time has been dedicated to working with youth and young families. In that time, I have seen great times, I have also seen tremendous heartache. Not all good times are a result of homeschooling, and not all bad times are a direct result from public school. However, the church “dropout rate” is staggering and heart breaking. After watching many dear friends fall away from the church, my wife and I determined to do whatever we could to make our children’s souls the top priority in any decision we make for them. We began researching, reading books, studying the word of God and praying. The conclusion that we reached? We don’t have any concrete answers.
With that being said, here is what we do know, homeschool children that attend worship services, and Bible class faithfully while growing up remain faithful to the church into adulthood at a higher percentage rate than any other group we know of. Christiannews.net released an article in February 2015 detailing a in depth study that was done, dealing with 9,369 individuals who are now 18-38 years old. These individuals met these qualifications stated above and 87% of them remained faithful to the church.
Is that 100%? No, it is not. I do not believe that homeschooling my children guarantees their faithfulness. What I do believe is that for my children, it gives them the best opportunity possible to remain faithful.
What homeschooling is NOT for us:
- A way for us to keep our kids in a bubble.
“You know, homeschoolers just don’t know what life is really like.” “Have you seen that family? The homeschool family… Those kids are weird.” “I just don’t understand why someone would want to shelter their child so much, I mean they are going to hinder their development.” Yes, I have heard all of those and many, many more. Most of those statements do not warrant a response. I do however, feel the need to address 2 statements that nearly every homeschool family has heard. While I do not speak for each family, allow me to speak for mine.
“You know, if you homeschool your children they will be socially awkward.”
This statement makes complete sense, if you don’t think about it. I went to public school and was surrounded by socially awkward kids. I used to be that socially awkward person. However, all of that silliness aside, allow me to speak from my heart. I would rather have the two most socially awkward kids you have ever seen, and them have a love for God that burns so strongly that they will dedicate their lives to Him, and will be in heaven, than have the most popular kids you have ever seen and them lose their soul.
I fear that sometimes even in the church we begin valuing things that God does not. Where in scripture do you read of the need to fit in socially? Is that something Jesus did? May we never value the socially acceptable more than we value the scriptural example. One of the first things many people asked me with disgust when hearing of our decision, was “What about sports? Don’t you want them to play sports?” For the record, my son is on a football team and my daughter takes karate. It is bothersome how these insignificant issues in light of eternity become so important to those who wear the name of Christ.
Growing up, sports was my favorite part of school. If it wasn’t for football and weight lifting my high school days would have been extremely dull. I learned a lot of valuable lessons while learning to play on a team. Some of those lessons I pray my children will learn in their endeavors. That being said, not one of those benefits outweighs their walk with the Lord. If we must choose between those earthly benefits or the eternal, we will choose the eternal each and every time.
“I don’t understand why a Christian would keep their children at home, don’t they know public schools need their godly example?”
I must tell you that this question/statement kept me up at night while my wife and I were discussing how we would school our children. It is worthy of our time to think on and pray on. I have heard many answers to this. Allow me to share with you my 2 cents. When do our soldiers in our armed forces receive their training? Is it when they get to the battlefield, or beforehand? You know the answer and so do I.
It sickens me how quickly our children are exposed to the evils in this world. Allow me to share one specific example. Most are familiar with the pervasiveness and destructiveness of pornography. The average age that children are exposed to pornography is 11. Yes, you read that correctly, 11. With that being said, many children are exposed to it even younger than that, closer to age 8.
Please tell me what 8-year-old you know that is “spiritually strong enough” to “handle” their friend at school (the most common occurrence) showing them pornography.
While I cannot speak for every homeschool family, I can speak for mine. The reason we have chosen this is not because we think we are better, smarter, or more holy than those who choose otherwise. No, we do not believe we love our children more than other parents love theirs.
However, homeschooling gives us a better opportunity to train and prepare our children for the spiritual war that they will fight in this life. We want to train them and raise them to be productive members of society, but more than that, we want them to be warriors for Christ (Psalm 127:4). We do not wish to send our children into battle before they know how to use their sword (Hebrews 4:12).
It is my prayer that those in the church support and encourage all children and young families regardless of their schooling choice. Attend their functions, encourage them, participate in their programs, and most of all pray for their souls. Let’s strive forward together as the family of God, lifting each other up and running this race together.