Edited May 2019: We were a part of a wonderful Classical Conversations community for the first eight years of our home education journey. Now, due to poor state leadership and questionable corporate business practices, our family has elected to “consciously uncouple” from our association with the organization and we cannot recommend any others get involved at this time.
OK. I’ll admit it.
We are a homeschooling family.
We don’t wear matching denim jumpers and our hair in buns, although we have been known to dress the kids in matching outfits.
As we begin this journey, I think it’s important to identify why we would choose to homeschool, especially since in so very many ways it would be easier to send the kids off to make friends and learn from a person who has a college degree in education and love for children.
Two quotes have deeply influenced my ability to consider homeschooling as a viable option:
“We should understand that teaching our children is our delight, our joy, our opportunity. When we see spending time with them as a burden, rather than a joy, we see further evidence of how encultured we have become. Children, biblically speaking, are a blessing from God. And we ought to seek out time with blessings from God, not plot out ways to avoid them, or hand them over to others.” – RC Sproul Jr. When You Rise Up
“When you face two options and each seems to please God, consider the one that displays God’s glory, power and strength. This makes room for God to reveal Himself to you and show Himself through you. Don’t be fearful about the hard road he may ask you to take… He desires to show Himself strong in you and will encourage you to do things that require trust and faith.” – Priscilla Shirer
I used to make fun of homeschoolers and swear I would never, ever let my kids be socially awkward freaks who were so sheltered from the world they couldn’t function and rebelled outrageously as soon as they had an opportunity.
Never say never.
As our little ones have grown closer and closer to school-age, we became more and more anxious. Something didn’t seem right. We sent Uno to Pre-K and loved her teacher… but never felt easy with the entire system.
So we are trying it a different way. We’re becoming the counter-culture. Here are some of our reasons why:
1. We like our children and believe it’s our primary responsibility to raise them. Our children are awesome. They’re quirky and funny, smart and sassy. We genuinely like them as human beings!
At the moment we conceived, we put on a new hat – to be the best stewards of this gift God has given us of life. It’s our job to take care of these little ones, protect them and cultivate them so they are able to A) do the work God needs them to do B) be the people they were created to be. Yes, others in the community help, but no one has the same level of responsibility we have as parents.
2. We want to be the primary influencers of our children. Humans become what they spend the most time doing. The time spent in school is equivalent to a full-time job and that’s a lot of time for a little person. At home, we carefully and intentionally construct our family, employment and life to create an environment we believe is family-centered, supportive, and Godly. We want to filter the influences on our children. As parents, we have a maturity our children haven’t acquired to discern what is helpful and not helpful to their development. If we don’t stand alongside them, we are abandoning them.
3. We know our children. Putting a single teacher in a classroom with 20+ wiggling, goofy children is the definition of madness. Who would willingly choose that?! How can I expect my child to get individualized attention from a teacher trying to teach social skills? It’s not fair to the teacher or my child.
Homeschoolers typically rate 37 percentage points higher than public school students. The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study). At home, I can work with my kiddo one-on-one, have the time to listen to them, make certain they understand a concept before moving on, and create an environment where mistakes are gently corrected instead of mocked. I know my kid and I care most for their well-being.
4. Children benefit from peer interaction, but profit from adult interaction. A friend of mine told me this. Yes, the social aspect of friendship is valuable, but as much as children benefit from peer interaction, they profit from interaction with adults who have maturity and wisdom we hope they emulate. After all, fart jokes and friendship bracelets can only take you so far in the free market.
5. We have a support group. I was terrified to homeschool because I didn’t think I was up to the challenge. I also didn’t realize it’s not rocket science. (Think of all the teachers you’ve had in your life – don’t you think you can at least do as well as they can?) I also didn’t want the kids to “miss out” on anything significant. We discovered Classical Conversations, a program that provides a framework for learning. There are weekly meetings for peer interaction and accountability and the level of academic instruction is amazing. Once I had that help, I was in!
Let it be said, you can accomplish all of our goals with your child in the public school system. I once had someone tell me my hesitancy to homeschool was a lie from the pit of hell – and she meant it! Good friends have their kids in public school and they are awesome, bright kids who are impacting their peer groups in a positive way.
Our decision to homeschool is not a condemnation on anyone who decides not to homeschool! But we do have an accountability to do what makes sense for our family. And this is a snippet of why we feel compelled to keep the ruffians at home.
Here are some pieces of Scripture we’ve found helpful as we think about what family means and why we do what we do: