It’s my experience that many homeschooling families spend a lot of time defending (some well, some not-so well) their decision to home educate their children. I was having dinner with some truly admirable women from church and they shared the amount of guilt they experienced because they’re unable to be at home with their children. It made me incredibly sad for them because they’re all doing what they feel God has called them to do, yet still feel like it’s not enough. It also made me more thankful for my current situation. I made the decision to stay at home and home educate, at least in part, before my son was ever weaned. I remember one morning, I packed his diaper bag for daycare when he was only 2 months old, and got into the car to take my husband to class, and I just sobbed. I told my husband, “I cannot do this anymore- I cannot sit and teach other people’s children for 8 hours a day while someone else raises mine.” We talked about it and even though my husband was only working part time and in school full-time at the University of Tennessee, he agreed right then and there that it was best for our family for me to quit my job. We trusted God’s guidance and provision, and we haven’t looked back. And now that our son is approaching pre-K age (faster than I’m okay with!) I am starting to get questions from other parents, many of whom are educators in the public school system. So, here are my top 5 reasons for choosing home education, in order from my perceived most important.
1.) Honoring God’s call on my life- God has placed a unique call on my life and desire in my heart to teach. I love to teach and I derive great joy from watching others learn. Obedience to God’s Word and utilization of His gifts to me have been the primary reason for me choosing to home educate my children.
2.) Taking responsibility for educating my own children- my children are mine; they bear my genetics as well as many of my less than desirable character traits… Anyway, they’re mine.
As such, I feel it is my responsibility to teach and educate them. I was confused at the system in which most Americans function; we procreate to have families we can spend time with, then we work to afford a lifestyle beyond our means, and send our kids to spend 8+ hours a day 5+ days a week with essentially strangers we trust to educate and mold them into the kind of people we want them to be…? I don’t think so, not this Mama. I’m breaking the cycle of insanity and I’m going to be the one to educate and mold my children. Having worked in what is considered a “typical” daycare environment, I’m not subjecting my kids to that. Especially young children (daycare- Pre-K), are far too young in my opinion to spend that much time apart from their families. You can agree or disagree with me, but my mind is made up.
3.) Choosing the curriculum- one of the big reasons I’ve heard many people give against public school curriculum is common core math. I’ve read the problems, I’ve done the assignments, and frankly, it’s dumb. I understand the idea behind it; more hands on, more visual, but I don’t have a problem with math being concrete. I didn’t have an issue with the way math was taught prior to common core. And as far as the state homeschool standards are concerned, Tennessee is pretty strict in their requirements of homeschooling families. However, the motivation for me is not avoiding a certain teaching methodology; it’s not even necessarily about avoiding certain content; (think sex/gender Ed in grade school) it’s about choosing to use every opportunity as a teachable moment and to disciple my kids and point them to Christ instead of sending them off to school for 8 hours a day for them to be told their personal beliefs and convictions aren’t allowed to influence their daily life.
My ideal is not having to spend our time together un-indoctrinating them instead of raising them in the way they should go.
4.) Working to my child’s strengths- no child left behind was great in theory…if your school has adequate funding and small class sizes with one on one personal instruction. The reality is that very few public schools are in that position. When you teach to the most intelligent child, the slower ones get frustrated, overwhelmed, and disengage. When you teach to the lower ones, the more intelligent or advanced students get bored and disengage. When you teach to the middle, there are inevitably students on either extreme who disengage. When you have a class of 30 kids, it is quite literally impossible (or maybe just improbable) that you keep each student engaged in the subject matter in a learning style that suits them. It’s just as easy for me to teach my 2 (soon 3) children as it is for someone else to teach 25- 30. I can stop and repeat material as needed or I can skip ahead as they master material. They can work at their own pace, and stay engaged in what they’re learning.
5.) Naturalizing the education and learning processes- I’m a big fan of natural teachable moments and mastery of practical skills. Why shouldn’t my kids learn about woodworking and carpentry, or animal husbandry, or gardening and botany, or music, or literature, or math, or science at the level to which they’re interested? Why focus on developing skills and interests in them that are contrary to their natural inclinations or abilities? Why not let their natural curiosities and desire to play be a part of how they’re educated?
My son is a reader. He loves books, but he also loves being outdoors so we often read about nature and then go outside to experience it.
My daughter is hard pressed to sit through 2 pages of a story- she would rather be working with her hands, and even at 1 year old is very nurturing with her toys and our pets.
Furthermore, there’s no way either of my kids has the capacity to sit still for 8 hours a day in the typical school setting, so I choose to allow them to be kids and move, and grow, and learn in a way that isn’t so rigidly structured. I will also choose to develop my children’s strengths instead of focusing on averaging out their weaknesses. It just makes more sense. If you have a child who is a musical virtuoso, you don’t stifle that ability to strengthen their grasp of calculous. You nurture what gifts God gave them and accept what they do in other areas where they aren’t as gifted. My father was so concerned with me being well-rounded that I feel I often invested time in sports that could have been better spent developing my skills in instrumental music. I don’t need my children to be above average in everything they do. There will be things in life they’re really good at and many more at which they’re terrible. And that’s okay. And that’s why I’ve accepted the call to facilitate their learning in the comfort and security of our home.
This video is one of my favorites regarding choosing home education. There are aspects that I don’t necessarily agree with, but it raises some important questions about the how’s and why’s we educate our children.
Watch “Natural Education, Homeschooling And the Rebirth of Liberty!” on YouTube