My husband and I are both homeschool alumni; so early on in our relationship, we were in agreement that homeschooling our own children one day was definitely on the table. We’d personally experienced so many of the benefits that homeschooling had to offer: one-on-one learning, customized curriculum, strong family bonds, preparation for the real world and adult life, and most importantly the ability to learn in a God-centered environment. Fast forward several years and our oldest daughter was finally ready for school, but somehow we’d convinced ourselves that she’d probably be fine starting off in the public school system–maybe just to attend elementary school. What could go wrong? She’s just learning the basics after all. If I’m being honest though, I breathed a giant sigh of relief knowing the pressure was off of me at least for a few years. So, we bought all the supplies and first-day essentials and off she went to kindergarten. It was fine–no major issues. I let her teacher and the school know I was always available to help out and volunteer; but to my surprise, no help was needed. I attended as many PTA meetings as I could and while they were enthusiastic about fundraising and fun runs, there wasn’t much talk about what was going on academically inside the classrooms. I had thought I could help prep craft supplies or staple things together for teachers, maybe read some books to the kids. The school seemed to have it all handled though–no need for parents to be overly involved. It wasn’t what I had expected. It all felt vanilla. A description that seemed to tug at me daily and then COVID-19 happened. That’s when my husband and I’s lukewarm acceptance of vanilla crumbled.
Was our daughter learning at school? Yes. Was she retaining the information? Seemed so. Did she have a love for learning? No–far from it. Besides her youthful desire to make friends and play dodgeball, she had absolutely zero interest in learning. Outside her lack of academic curiosity, we recognized adult topics were finding their way into schools and in front of younger and younger students. While exposure to certain things is unavoidable, we had willingly allowed schools to take the lead on these mature topics, while hoping Sunday school and discussions around the dinner table would be sufficient in curating her impressionable little mind. Voddie Bauchman summarizes this well.
If you send your kids to Caesar for their education, don’t be surprised when they come back as Romans.
All of this weighed heavy on me. About this time, COVID-19 came along and I watched first-hand as my daughter struggled through distance-learning. My husband and I were done making excuses.
The fact is no one knows our children better than we do–even if they have degrees and accreditations. We’d surrendered the opportunity to teach our daughter out of convenience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discredit the wonderful, dedicated teachers and schools that are out there and I certianly realize homeschooling may not be the right answer for everyone. I do hope though to bring encouragement to the parents out there that don’t feel their children are receiving the education they should or feel they’re being left out of the learning process, and yet are overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable undertaking of homeschooling their children. Don’t let the world convince you only they are capable of successfully educating your children.
4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Did you catch that? Instructing our children never stops. Moses tells us that we are to talk or instruct them whether at home or away and from the moment they wake to the moment they go to sleep. If you’ve felt God calling you to pursue the homeschooling route, know that God can and will uncover a path forward for you and your family. God never said we needed to receive some type of special training first (but certainly if you feel led, do so). God gave us our children and He wanted us to raise them, guide them, train them, teach them. You will never regret being the one that gets to introduce your child to all the things they get to learn and show them just how perfectly all of them fit within the framework of God’s word.
If you have questions, I am by no means an expert (having just gotten the ball rolling myself), but I will gladly share what I can and cheer you on your journey. I would highly suggest taking the simple step of joining the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They offer not only legal defense for homeschooling families, but also provide information about how to legally homeschool in your specific state and can walk you through the process. This is a great starting point. From there, you can find other homeschool families through either the HLDA website, local churches, or through homeschooling groups on Facebook or other social networks. Ask around and get opinions on different curriculum, day-to-day schedules, and other local homeschooling resources. Pray for direction and let God fill in the gaps.