why I home school
Humble reasons for embracing the counter cultural education
When we’re asked about Homeschooling, I rarely know how to respond in the ‘nutshell’ people are looking for. It seems searching for the perfect sound-bite to appease the begging question “why?” is just too difficult. The reasons “why” are far too many and too complex to sum up in a 2 minute response. But, because so many parents ask, and so many more are curiously considering the option of Home Education for their own family, I want to come up with the best response I could humbly offer.
Here is my word-in-progress list, but keep in mind, every day I learn more reasons why home education is so wonderful!
Why Home Education?
1. Because we feel called to teach our children at home.
A huge part of why we choose to educate our children at home is because we believe it is what God would want for our lives. A lot of people call people like me ‘religious’. I’m not. I’m a follower of Christ. His love is a free gift of grace. I love God, and I want to follow Him.
Biblically, as parents, it is our responsibility to be our children’s primary educator. (If you’re looking for a great book about Christian home education, please, consider reading Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson.)
God created the sanctity of the family unit, and discipleship was to occur naturally and daily within that unit.
We are to raise them up in our loving arms and also in our protection and guidance. We are to teach them to love God and love others and show them our faith as we walk in it every day.
We also believe God created the world and made everything in it and created us for His purposes and His glory. We try to infuse aspects of God’s word and truth into everything we learn, every subject, every outing, every moment. The center, the focal-point of all creation is Christ, and we desire this perspective as a goal for every day growth just as we’re instructed to do biblically. Home education for us is primarily spiritual with academics placing second. We’re nowhere near achieving this perfectly but we’re humbly trying.
I also acknowledge that homeschooling is not every Christian family’s journey either by choice or because homeschooling is just not logistically possible. I want to mention that our family honours and respects the choices all parents make for their own children and we support you in love. If you are a follower of Christ wondering what path to choose for your children, I would simply encourage you to boldly seek God and ask for His guidance. If you feel the Lord tugging on your heart with regards to homeschooling – pray!
2. Because we believe in family togetherness not peer reliance.
Families who learn together and spend every day growing with each other are going to be close-knit, period. It’s not that schooled kids can’t have close relationships within their families, but parents will have to fight harder to make it happen. They are competing with the bond children are forced to make with their peers, in their parent’s daily absence while they are at school.
Peer dependence is a huge part of growing up. Peer pressure, kids relying more on their friends than their family – it all goes with children spending excessive amounts of time fending for themselves with peers in tow. It surprises me how amazed so many parents are when their schooled children do not value their opinion, but rather, look to their friends for what they think. Of course they do! They spend more time with their friends and have formed trusting bonds with them out of necessity. Far more hours are spent with peers, so why wouldn’t kids look to them as a sort of ‘family’? As parents, when we send our children and teens to school daily, we remove ourselves completely from their lives for the majority of the day.The child, who now doesn’t have their parent to look to, looks to those they are surrounded by for cues as to how to live, how to behave, how to ‘socialize’. Quite frankly, I am not comfortable handing my kids over to their peers and hoping they do a good job at influencing them for the majority of their days.
3. Because we don’t want to miss ‘it’.
It, is everything! Our children are the most precious gift in our lives. They are only young for such a short time. The moments with them are precious, fleeting, too few. I’ve lost people in my life suddenly and far too soon. I’ve watched them leave this earth. I know life is fragile and sacred – each day a gift. I am not willing to miss every day, all day with our children – that time is just too precious to me. If they leave this earth too soon, or, even if they grow up naturally, still, the time is too short to give them away for the majority of their week. No way.
Some people who’ve heard me speak this way, say things like, “Wow, you’re living in fear!”. No. I’m living in reality. Life is no guarantee. God gives breath and He takes it away. No one knows the time or the place our children will leave us. I want to embrace every moment I can with these gifts…Thinking of life as fragile puts things into great perspective.
When I hug my children at night, I try to hug them with the passion and love that reflects my thankfulness for their daily existence. Daily. When they are driving me crazy, I can center myself with the realization that they are a gift and I’m BLESSED to be their Mom. I can calm myself by reminding myself that although the days can be challenging, and a lot of sacrifice is required to Homeschool – I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I wouldn’t miss being part of their every day, all day. Being the primary person they look to and see while they grow and learn.
4. Because we believe in giving our children the best education possible.
Kids are all different, period. I don’t believe children learn best in ‘schools’. I’ve had so many conversations with parents who do not agree with Homeschooling mostly because they believe teachers are more qualified to ‘educate’ my children that I am. I couldn’t disagree more.
I respect teachers very much, but I don’t think they can educate my children more effectively – it doesn’t matter how much ‘education’ they have behind them. In our home, every child has a one-on-one, individualized education plan with curriculum that is created specifically for them based on their interests and learning styles. I am with them every day, all day. I am always re-evaluating, re-assessing, learning, growing. They have the ability to choose what they would like to learn, rather than simply having to follow a school-based curriculum.
They are actively involved in every learning experience, many happening outside the home in real-life settings. We follow our hearts and our minds and learn about things that interest us. Sure, we can spend a week at a time going on journeys back to the Middle Ages, because our son is suddenly enthralled with Knights. We can spend an entire day building toad habitats and exploring their anatomy first-hand. The ability to not follow a schedule, if we so choose, is an open window to the world God gave us. The ability to allow our children to be the authors of their own education is priceless. As home educators, we have the ability to study world history in first grade. To follow Charlotte Mason’s teaching that all children are beautifully gifted beings capable of so much more than most adults accept. We study art, poetry, culture, language, famous painters, scholars… and this is learning at a Kindergarten to third grade.
We also want to keep our children free from a system of busy work, tests, grades and teacher-based ‘evaluation’… instead gauging real learning by the fruit of their growth and understanding.
When they achieve, they are embraced and celebrated on an intimate level. When they struggle, they have the loving arms and eyes of an encouraging Mom who cares more about them than anything.
5. Because we believe in focusing on real life preparation.
I’ll go ahead and say it – I don’t believe “school” is the best training ground for real life. I don’t believe in separating children from their families and every day community life. I don’t believe in putting them behind walls in big huge buildings all day, every day. I don’t believe in learning while sitting in desks inside rooms. I don’t believe in putting 20-30 kids who are all the same age in a room together and forcing them to learn the same things, at the same pace. What I do believe in, is encouraging children to be part of their community on a daily basis. I believe children belong in their family unit primarily, with friends playing a much smaller role in their life. I believe in interaction between kids and people of all ages, not just those within a year of their chronological age. I believe in learning from daily experiences and I believe children belong outdoors. I believe children learn best through experiences and daily life with their family.
When we pull kids away and put them in another place and label it the ‘place of learning’, we suggest that ‘learning’ only happens in school, with a teacher telling you what to learn.
6. Because we believe in nurturing individual gifts and talents and interests.
We firmly believe all people are given gifts and talents, by God, that should be nurtured and encouraged. Our children all have their own individual gifts that could develop into their unique way to serve others, bless people, earn a living, etc. When children are in school, their opportunity and time to develop their gifts is very limited. After they’re done learning within the schedule of the full school day, it’s often hard to find time to truly focus on what they’re really interested in and talented at. Homeschoolers are able to cover the basics of the ‘school year’ often in the morning hours, leaving loads of time to nurture individual interests, hobbies, and gifts. Whether that be at home or registering for daytime classes or spending time with someone who is a specialist in a specific area… Home Education just offers far more options for a tailored journey.
7. Because we long to live life at a slower pace.
The majority of the world lives on over-load. Media over-load, ‘to-do’ list over-load, extra-curricular over-load, school and homework over-load; a rushed, harried frenzy of daily existance. I see it everywhere we go. I’m used to the feeling of people constantly being on our heals, oblivious to the idea that maybe we don’t need to rush.
Homeschooling gives freedom.
Our days have purpose, sure – we have tasks that need completing and lessons need doing and projects waiting to be accomplished, but, we also have a lot of flexibility. Nothing is ever an emergency. We don’t have to be anywhere, usually, at any given ‘time’. I don’t have to worry about pulling along three exploring kids. At this tender age, life is to be savored, enjoyed – not hurried. It will pass quickly enough! I love the pace we can go when we live by our own schedule and rules, it’s liberating and peace-inducing.
8. Because we believe in fostering real, deep-rooted self-assurance and independence.
Kids who homeschool have been proven to be more confident, self-assured, and comfortable in their own skin. They are able to cope better in a wide range of social settings, especially with adults. They are far less influenced by peer pressure. They have a firmer grip on their purpose in life and the initiative to pursue their goals. Because they are nurtured within a solid family unit while they’re developing, children develop independence at their own pace. Rather than forcing children into an isolated “independent” situation like pre-school or Junior Kindergarten at the precious age of 3 (or younger for day-care children), kids develop a solid foundation on which to build true independence fostered in natural time. Our family has taken our share of grief from well-meaning parents and teachers who scoffed at the idea that I was not willing to leave my children, if they weren’t ready. Our eldest wasn’t ready to be without us (except with close family) until he was five years old. All of a sudden, he wanted to be in Sunday School on his own. So, we fostered that independence. Today, people tell me he is one of the most confident, self-starting, young kids they know. We want to live differently and have chosen to stand up (sometimes with a lot of criticism) for what we know is right and healthy for our children. Children develop independence at their own pace and with the nurturing love of parents who unconditionally support and nurture them. The route we’ve chosen isn’t always easy, and we often feel the need to defend our choices to the masses, but, we’re comfortable and confident in how we are raising our children and ourselves!
9. Because we believe kids belong outside.
Every day. As much as possible. Wild and free – exploring, learning, discovering. With their parents engaging with them. Period. Call us hippies – it’s ok, it wouldn’t be the first time. *wink*
10. Because we want to know what our children are being taught.
I know this is a touchy subject, but the reality is, if our children were away from me every day, all day, being taught by individuals I barely know, within a system I do not believe in – I’d be pretty on edge. There is a lot of material taught in secular schools that completely contradicts our beliefs as Christians. It’s not just Creation vs. Evolution. We’re talking lifestyle choices presented in curriculum, often amoral, books and materials covered that we would never present in the home, and general attitudes projected by teachers in some cases.
It’s not enough to say the school system simply doesn’t teach a biblical world view. In fact, the school system teaches the Enemy’s world view. In the school system, God is dead. This world evolved into existence, we came from apes, and our lives are nothing but hap-hazard. The cosmos banged into being and when we gaze upon creation, we have evolution to thank. Our children are taught they are here by chance with no Maker, no creator God.
We believe in raising our children and teaching them God’s Truth. Also, they are so young and so impressionable and we are incredibly uncomfortable not knowing exactly what they are being told and taught throughout their days. If we want to raise our children up in the ‘ways of the Lord’, how can we send them away to be taught content we don’t believe in and have no power to control? It just doesn’t make any sense