“Why do you homeschool?” I hear this question a lot from family, friends, neighbors, and perfect strangers. For me it was an easy decision because it was Jason’s. (Insert smile here.)
From the first time he heard of the idea of homeschooling he thought it was wonderful. Me? Not so much. To homeschool I thought you had to be weird or crazy–maybe both! Homeschooling was for the kind of people that don’t cut their hair, wear all home-sewn matching clothes and have children that sit still for hours with smiles on their faces. You’ve seen the pictures. If homeschooling parents weren’t strange, they had to be what I like to call super people like some friends of ours who live on a farm. Their kids raise their own animals, milk the cows, and churn their own butter. The wife writes her own curriculum and has a blackberry business on the side. These were my two images of homeschoolers, and I knew I did not fall into either category.
Once Jason made up his mind that “we” were going to home school, it did eventually become a desire of mine as well. Maybe not for the same reasons as my husband’s, but I began to see a lot of value in homeschooling.
First of all, my main job as a parent is to “Teach them (God’s Word) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). So it occurred to me that if I have my children at home most of the time, I will have more opportunities to teach them. I’m not saying I couldn’t teach my children Biblical principles if some day we should choose to put them in school, but my opportunities would be fewer. So I think this high calling becomes more difficult for those who don’t have as much time with their children.
Secondly, academically, I had taught in a small Christian school for several years before I had children. Even in that environment, as a teacher I realized I was pretty much shooting for the middle of the class. What I mean is that there were always bright students who were being held back somewhat, and there were always slower students who had a hard time keeping up. I couldn’t go faster for the bright students and leave all the others behind, and neither could I go slowly enough to benefit the other students. Teaching my own children, however, I can go with the pace of each one and bring out the particular things that are interesting to them.
I also really like having more control over who my children are with right now while they are young. I know that homeschooling is not a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to them, and that ultimately I have to trust in God for their well being. But at the same time, I need to do everything I can to protect them.
Another thing that drew me to home schooling was meeting and being around so many home schooled teens. Now, granted, there are all types, but the majority I have been around possess qualities that I want for my children, that I find lacking in many regular schooled or even Christian schooled kids. They seem to demonstrate a love and desire for spiritual things at a younger age. They are not so concerned about having all the “in” things and dressing a certain way. They seem much more content. They are more likely to converse and interact with people of all ages. I see much more respect for their elders. I’m talking, of course, about kids from groups that I have been around. I do realize that home schooling alone is not a guarantee that kids will develop these qualities. I have spent much time asking questions and talking to parents of some of these teens. What stands out to me about the home school families I have met at church, regardless of their teaching styles and methods, is a genuine love for and commitment to the Lord. This is what challenges me the most. For whether I home school or not, I am teaching my children by the life I live. Homeschooling is just one way that I endeavor to purposefully teach my kids what I believe. So although it probably would not have been my first choice, and I do not promise to always home school, I am thankful to have this opportunity.