Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Imagining a Day Without Homeschooling

I do my very best to remember that methods change but principles don't. I will not engage in the co-sleeping vs. crib debate. Or the breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding war. Or the whole foods vs. processed foods skirmish. Or the...well, you get the idea. In matters of principle, I will not argue; but I may give you my Scriptural reasons. That being said, I will sometimes share what works for us but perfectly respect your right to do it differently.

We have decided to teach our children at home. When people find out we homeschool our children, about 75% of them keep their opinions to themselves. Of the other 25%, some do give their opinions and others just ask questions.

"Were you or your husband homeschooled?" Nnoooo.....

"Did you have a bad experience in school as a child?" Not really....

"Does anyone in your church homeschool?" Nope.

"Does your family want you to homeschool?" Ha, ha. No comment.

Five years ago, I would have laughed if anyone had suggested that I would homeschool my children. I grew up with the idea that private, Christian schools are superior in training academically and spiritually and getting into a good college is the ultimate goal of education. I did get a good education that way--at least as far as my grades went. I saw homeschooling families as "weird", "antisocial", "educationally inferior" or at least "nerdy and geeky--the kids no one likes to be around even if they do have PhD.s at age 15". You know the stereotypes. My husband was more open to the idea, although he had great reservations. He had attended a private, Christian school and a public school and wasn't satisified with his experiences in either. He learns new skills better than anyone I know, but he has always hated school.

The lack of quality education, threats to children's safety and false religion in public schools and the exorbitant costs of private schools in our area led us to rethink our prejudices. I can't remember when we made the decision, and I haven't necessarily committed for life (though I'm leaning that way), but there are a myriad of reasons we homeschool. Consequently, when I started homeschooling, I realized that this is just an extension of what I've been doing since we brought my firstborn home from the hospital. "Formal education" is just building on the foundation that has already been laid. Since our decision not to send our daughter to kindergarten, people have said, "Imagine how much freedom you could have if you'd send your kids to school!"

I went down that road in my would I feel if I dropped off my kids at school each day? Besides feeling that I was missing out on a very big part of their training.....I would feel bored. Yes, bored. What on earth would I do without my children? I would spend my days cleaning house unencumbered by little ones spilling mop water and "helping" wash dishes. Without them, it would take me record time. Then what? I'd start cooking supper. But, what on earth would I do without my son trying to taste the flour or my daughter fetching me things (and sometimes spilling them) from the pantry and fridge? How would I set the table without a lesson on "the fork goes on the left, the knife next to the plate on the right"? You guessed it---it would go pretty quickly. Well, then I would have time to spend with friends, right? Yeah, the friends that are either at work or the friends that are home homeschooling their children....all of them would be busy. So why not just get a job and let someone else teach my children?

In the past year and a half, here are just a few of the things I would have missed had I sent my children to school:

  • The absolute hilarity of seeing my kindergartner and her brother practicing their fire escape when we studied fire safety. I will forever remember my two-year-old son carefully inching his way down the stairs, covering his nose and mouth with his hands, only to get distracted with his toys once he hit the living room.
  • The flexibility of gathering up my kids to fix breakfast with my grandparents each Friday morning then to stay with my grandpa while my grandma was rushed to the hospital where they confirmed that she was gone from this world.
  • Seeing my anti-homeschool, math-whiz brother painstakingly teaching my daughter the shapes she didn't know (all those geometry shapes that end in -on). The lesson stuck because when I showed her a stop sign a few days later in hopes of having her recognize the blend "st-", she answered with a bored expression, "That's an octagon."
  • The wonder in my two-year-old's eyes when we studied magnetism and he saw a magnet pick up a paper clip for the first time.
  • Giving my 5-year-old the beginning readers and finding out she already knew how to read before I even had a chance to teach her!
  • The two-for-one phenomenon. It's hit me many times. One example was when my 2-year-old started singing the alphabet song by himself after a week or two of school or when he supplied the correct phrase for his sister when she stumbled in the 23rd Psalm.
  • Family time with Daddy who works Saturdays but has Mondays off.
  • A lot of field trips! Daddy jokes that they have many more than he ever had.
  • The enormous task of daily modeling and training in the things of the Lord.
For you homeschoolers, what would you miss if you didn't homeschool? For those of you who don't, let us know how you fill your "kid-less" hours?


  1. I read your post with interest. A few months ago, an acquaintance posted all the "negatives" of homeschooling on his blog. In response I posted many reasons why I homeschool. It saddens me to see how many mothers (even Christian mothers) can't wait to get their children out of the house so they can have "free" time. I sent my children to a Christian school for 3 years. Every morning it ripped my heart out to leave them there. I love having my children around! Some days can get a little hectic with a 5th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader and a 4 year old, but I wouldn't trade this for anything! Blessings on your day!

  2. I would miss "knowing" my children. I would miss learning together and the day to day activities. I would miss seeing my older girls enjoying their younger sisters and brother. I would miss having them want to be with me....I could go on and on...Homeschooling is the greatest thing we have ever done!

  3. I love homeschooling! I've done so for 3 years now and hope to continue through to the end.
    I know if I wasn't homeschooling I'd really miss getting to know my children in a more intimate way than I do now. It is possible we'd miss issues that I can see very clearly while I am with them each day. I'd miss learning with them and seeing the joy in their faces as they learn a new concept or skill(esp. like reading).
    I'd miss them!

    Thanks for this post:-)

  4. This is wonderful :) We have no children yet, but I have been praying for them for a while now, and one of the many things I hope to have a part in is a godly education. Reading posts like this are of great encouragement! And, it's just another thing I can share with my husband who is becoming more open to the idea, I think (he used to think homeschoolers were weird too, lol, but seeing how public education is becoming more socialized, I think he's softening up!) The fact that public schools are basically pagan now is the first reason I hope to homeschool. And around here the quality of education is lacking, to say the least, unless you have the right last name or play basketball you're likely to fall through the system's cracks. Thank you for sticking to your principles and for sharing them here!!

  5. I believe there are two sides to homeschooling. But before I go there, lets look at this.

    Nancy commented on Christian mothers who want their children out of the house so they can have some free time. I don't believe that is a sin. I look after many children to give their parents a break. Some people have kids and they aren't necessarily cut out for parenting and they need a break every now and again.I think Christian wives who abort unborn children by taking birth control pills is a bigger issue. I like Generation Cedar's blog post regarding this matter. Check it out.

    You wouldn't necessarily get bored if your children were at nursery (kindergarten to the US people). Look at it like this, what did you do BEFORE you had kids? Were you bored then?

    Regarding nursery, when I was young, I had a nanny, not a living-in one. I stayed with my nanny during the daytime and she also took me to nursery and back to her house, until my parents collected me when they came home from work. I had various childminders when I was growing up, but my I preferred having a nanny. She was great, her children had grown up and I was her new baby. We still keep in touch now as she lives on my road.

    At my previous church they ran a nursery twice a week, but it wasn't the type where parents abandon their children there, it was the type where the parents stay and interactive with their children in a large group.

    I am pleased I went to nursery and school, as I learnt how to interactive with other people (not my own family) and these skills are what I use now in my job. I'm glad I was out there to learn for myself and I wasn't shut into the house by my mother.

    Now for my homeschooling views. I don't see anything wrong with children going to school, but the quality of the education in some schools has dropped over the years and children are being educated in the wrong subjects e.g. children as young as five are being taught about the birds and the bees instead of learning to do their maths, which is one good reason to homeschool.

    I believe if you can pay for your children to attend a decent school, then do so. If you can't afford it, then homeschool.

    Having said that, I worry about parents who can't let their children go, because your kids won't be with you forever, they will grow up, have jobs, get married and have their own families, will you all still be clinging unto them? I worry they will turn out like the children from the book Flowers in the atic.

  6. Thanks for sharing, homeschooling mommies! You echo my sentiments exactly.

    Sarah, there you go, stirring up controversy again--that's why I love ya, y'know! :-) I realize there is a very real trend of moms wrapping themselves so up in their kids that they have no life of their own and when their children leave their marriage is in shambles. That is something to be guarded against. I also know that some moms smother rather than shelter their children.

    I prefer to see our home as a greenhouse. We shelter our little ones, gradually releasing them and growing them into healthy "plants" (am I the only one thinking "tomato-staking" right now?). When the time is right to be totally released into the world, they are ready and will not be beaten down by conditions that will destroy them. At least that is our aim. As hard as it will be, I fully realize that my children are only on loan to me, and I am raising them for the sole purpose of giving them to God and a family of their own.

  7. I agree with you Jen:-)

    Lots of Love


    PS I might change someday

  8. I love this post! Just yesterday, I was hand-writing a letter to my dear piano teacher (now in her late 80's and still sharp as a tack), who tirelessly taught me piano, theory, character, ethics and the value of hard work for 11 years and I commented to her just what a joy it is to be the one next to my children as they learn and discover things - my oldest son (3) just learned how to recognize his numbers 1-10 - only needed reminding on one of them. He has almost mastered his alphabet as well. I wouldn't trade those moments with anyone in the world in exchange for "me time"!

    I can't even imagine my life if I sent them off to government or even private schools - there would be a profound emptiness in my life!

  9. We are just starting down this road. My kids will get time with Daddy because thier public/private school weekends would we days he worked. So they would only see him one hour in the evening most days of the week. They will get an education that is not lacking in any areas because it will be one-on-one and one-on-two. They will get a sense of security like nothing else can provide.

    I will not miss the wonderful times that are so unexpected like my youngest just learning parts of a song's hand signs because he's seen his brother do it. I will not miss those times when my son figures something out and you can see the moment in his eyes. You see the instant when his eyes flicker with understanding and total learning.

    My boys will gain friendships they could never foster in any other environment. They will gain confidence in Christ. They will have opportunities not afforded to them in public school or private schools as my oldest has Autism and my youngest is still on the diagnosis trail. They will not be given limits set by a third party that hasn't even met them. They will see the sky as the limit because we will not put that barrier up.

    There are too many reasons to list why homeschooling is the best choice for our children. The only one that really matters, however, is that God told my husband and I to do it. Therefore, we will do it.

  10. Beautiful thoughts! Thanks so much! Yes, when God tells us to do something, it doesn't matter if there are good reasons or no reasons, we simply trust Him and do it. However, I'm glad for the tangible benefits, too.

  11. I've been homeschooling now for 11 years ... more or less. My oldest is 14. We LOVE it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Vannan has most of her AWANA friends jeolous because she can go sit in the goat pen and do school work.

  12. I love it, Rachel! The most creative we've been is in the car on a trip (made studying traffic safety in kindergarten really easy!). This would be an interesting study....what is the most creative place for homeschooling? :-)