This is a post I originally wrote and shared on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here, too. Please know that no matter whether you already homeschool, you are just considering it, or you think I’m crazy, you are welcome on this blog! My intent is never to make anyone feel guilty or make anyone think I think they should be homeschooling, too. It’s a personal decision, and while I’ve become a little biased over the past nine years, I know that not everyone can or should homeschool. We take it one year at a time and this is where God has led us for now.
I do feel like I am called to encourage and equip those desiring to homeschool and those already in the thick of it! If fear or the feeling that you just can’t do it is holding you back, I want to reassure you. I’ve had quite a few questions over the past few years about why we homeschool, and I wanted to address them specifically for our family.
Reasons Why We Are Homeschooling
If you had told me ten years ago, I would be teaching my children at home…I’m pretty sure I would’ve laughed in your face. I attended public school as a child. My college experience included earning a degree in Elementary Education. I taught in several schools before the girls came along. School was my life.
But somewhere along the line (after my oldest daughter was born), I began to feel uneasy. I reflected on my time in the school system. I didn’t like what was happening there, but I didn’t really see any other options. I knew we couldn’t afford private school. And then….
Yes, God. He brought all kinds of amazing people and books and resources into my life. We began to seriously ponder whether we could actually undertake this difficult task of homeschooling our children.
After studying and praying, I knew without a doubt, we had to do it.
Here are just a few of the reasons why we homeschool:
1) Life is short.
Ten years ago, I lost my dad, and I was completely lost and utterly broken. Because I was also expecting our first child (I was five months pregnant at the time), I experienced the gift of life…and the agony of death at the same time. Although it took me several difficult years, I can now see through the pain and find the gift God gave me through my dad’s death.
Here’s how: Losing my dad gave me perspective. My dad was two days shy of his 50th birthday when he died, and I began to look at my own life differently.
I don’t know the length of my life. Will I be around one month from now? 50 more years?
Time is short. Already almost ten years of my oldest daughter’s life have gone by. I can’t rewind time and I can’t get it back, but I want to make the most of what we have together.
Several years ago I wrote a mission statement. Part of it says, “I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ and glorify Him by shepherding the hearts of my children.” It also says, “I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ by stewarding wisely the time and resources God has entrusted to me.”
At this point, our family believes we must invest the precious time we’ve been given—and give our children a firm foundation. Yes, I’ve had to “sacrifice” many things I’ve wanted to do. Yes, I would love to have more time to myself. Yes, I would love to write a book and write more curriculum and take music lessons and speak to groups and have a clean house and cook more exciting meals and spend more time with my friends and on and on….
I don’t have all the time in the world.
I have right now. And I believe I’m called to pour myself out for my husband and our three little girls.
*forces* me invites me into relationship with my children.
I really hesitated to put this in here, because I’m afraid it might be misconstrued. Please don’t read this the wrong way. I genuinely love and care for my girls…it’s not like I have to be forced into loving them. There are just moments when relationships are hard—when parenting is hard.
For instance, I butt heads constantly with one of my daughters. Some days I think I would love to send her to school—just so I could have a break. It’s at these moments I realize how valuable homeschooling is for our relationship.
If my girls were away from me for eight hours a day, I’d miss the character and heart issues that need dealt with (in them AND myself). Being with my kids 24-7 means we have to find solutions and grow together! We’re *forced* into building a strong relationship.
In The Well-Adjusted Child, Rachel Gathercole mentions “the detachment snowball.” This term was coined by Dr William Sears in The Baby Book. She says, “According to this idea, the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids; the less responsive, respectful, and communicative both parents and kids become; and the more time both need away from each other.”
I don’t want that to happen to my relationship with my children. All too often, I’ve seen a similar progression in children as they go away to preschool, elementary school, and middle school. By the time they are teenagers, they want nothing to do with their parents.
I’m thankful that homeschooling invites us to a deeper relationship with each other — and I’m grateful for the time we have to work on it!
3) I’ve been given a great gift.
I went to a conference several years ago and listened to the challenging Voddie Baucham. He made a comment (actually several of them) that stuck with me…
“Just imagine someone coming to your house, knocking on your door, and asking for the keys to your brand-new car. They tell you they’re just going to use it during the day, but they’ll return it to you in the evening.”
Are you kidding?!! That would be crazy…I’d never do that!
Are not our children much more valuable to us than a car?
Yet, we turn our children over to a teacher we’ve met once and let them be influenced and molded by them for hours each day.
Now, do not think for a second that I am bashing teachers!! I know there are excellent teachers in my community, and there are excellent teachers all across the nation (I hope I was one of them)! I know how challenging it is to teach and the rewards are often few and far between.
But because I was a teacher, I also know that there are many teachers whose hearts are not in it. They’ve grown cynical. They crush instead of inspire.
More than that, they don’t share my values—and even if they do, they can’t teach them outright in the public schools.
My girls are gifts. They are little sponges….and I can’t stand the thought of them losing the curiosity they possess and the desire they have to learn and create.
I know what they love. I know what they struggle with. I love them more than anyone else ever could. Ultimately, God has made me responsible for training and discipling them.
I don’t feel I can abdicate that responsibility to someone else for hours and hours each day.
4) Schools are not a good fit for *most* kids.
I personally loved the “school” part of school. I was good at it. It fit my learning style. But I would say I am the exception rather than the rule.
Many schools I’ve seen (and been apart of) attempt to make cookie-cutter people. They desire uniformity. They quash creativity. They have an agenda. They leave children with wounds.
I’ve seen kindergarteners come to school excited and exuberant. Nine months later, they leave hating school and learning.
It’s extremely sad.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other reasons schools are not a good fit for kids:
- Early exposure to alcohol & drugs
- Sexual experimentation
- Disrespect for adults
Children are growing up too fast too soon.
I will do what I can to guard my children’s hearts. I love the analogy that they are like newly-sprouted plants in a greenhouse—they need special care right now. I’m not going to stick them out in the elements and expect they’ll be able to survive. They need time to grow deep, strong roots. It’s my job to nourish them, to protect them, to give them the guidance they need to grow. Soon enough (way too soon!), they’ll be transplanted outside of our “greenhouse”.
Right now, my children love to learn. They feel safe. They talk to me about everything. Home is a great fit for them.
5) We teach as we live.
When you are one-on-one with a child, you can accomplish “schoolwork” in an abbreviated amount of time.
We don’t have to wait for the other kids to finish their work. We don’t have to spend time moving from one location to the next. We don’t have to go at the same speed for everyone. We don’t have to deal with tons of discipline problems. Our on-task time is probably more in just a few hours than what children in school accomplish for the whole day!
This frees up our afternoons—for music, cooking, playing outdoors, visiting, serving, or other creative pursuits! We’re involved in church, local classes, sports, 4-H, and various other community activities. When family members visit from other states, we can take off and enjoy their company. We can “do school” in the evening if necessary—or even on the weekend (yes, we have)!
Life is education. Education is life.
I realize that homeschooling is not an option for everybody. Please do not take my own personal reasons as judgment on what your family has chosen to do! Again, lots of you have asked, and I just wanted to share why WE homeschool.
Truthfully, there are hard days. There are days I want to give up. There are days I think I’m just pretty much crazy. There are days I blow it.
However, the blessings far outweigh the hardships. I cannot even imagine my life without these three little people with me most of the day! If homeschooling is something you want to try or you’ve been considering, you can do it. I truly believe that!
Questions? Comments? Please feel free to voice your opinion and share your thoughts! This can be an emotionally-charged issue, so I do ask that we keep our comments kind and respectful!
Thank you very much for this blog. I have been homeschooling my daughter for the past 2 years, and honestly I have been getting discouraged. I forgot the real reasons why I homeschool. April 7, 2014 my dad died, he had pancreatic cancer, he was told in February that he had 3 to 6 months to live. Since he was told that academics were put on hold. My daughter and I would go over to his house multiple times a week. Then after he died, we were spending time with my mom helping her get things set with moving on with her life. Now we are trying to make up for lost time with academics, and it is hard. Your post I feel was God sent putting things in perspective. I feel renewed and refreshed and I am able to move on with our homeschool journey. God bless you and this website, thank you.
Janice Willis says
I could have written many parts of this – mostly the realization that public school is not providing my children what we want for them and that God is revealing homeschool to us as a real option and although our inner circle of mom friends mostly work outside the home or stay home but do NOT support the idea of homeschool it feels scary to take this leap myself but I am enjoying the encouragement here on your blog and thank you!