Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why Homeschool?

I just discovered this post sitting in my draft folder, inspired by an email I wrote to a friend last December who was looking for some encouragement on homeschooling. Apparently I forgot to post it at the time! Though I haven't officially started homeschooling personally, I am pretty passionate about it, for several reasons. The first that always comes to my mind is this Scripture:

Deuteronomy 6:5-9:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

and again in Deuteronomy 11:18-21:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

The primary responsibility for teaching and training children in the ways of the Lord is given to parents. How can we do that if our children spend the majority of their time with someone else? A child who attends school typically wakes up, gets ready for school, spends eight hours being instructed by a teacher and influenced by peers, comes home to do homework, maybe rushes off to sports practice or music lessons, eats dinner, then goes to bed. Where in that day is a parent impressing God's commands on her children? Having our children with us all day gives us time to catch and correct subtle attitudes and behaviors, to talk about God in the context of every subject (like how God created math and science!), to model Christian love and Godly actions, and to develop a more intimate relationship with the ones God has entrusted to our care. No teacher, even a Christian, knows my child as well as I do or has the authority I do to instruct him and discipline when needed. By homeschooling, I can make sure that my child is receiving instruction in the Truth outlined in the Bible, rather than in what a teacher believes or a secular textbook states.

Another aspect to consider, though I consider it secondary, is academic. In a classroom, the teacher must teach to the entire group and often must follow a rigid curriculum. With homeschooling, I can tailor the curriculum to meet my child's abilities, interests, and learning style. I can give him extra help in areas he is struggling in without making him feel inferior, or provide more challenging material when he excels beyond his grade level. Sitting in a classroom all day and reviewing subjects over and over can make learning seem tedious and boring, but because homeschooling typically takes just a few hours per day and can be adapted for the individual child, learning becomes something to be enjoyed. Children have the opportunity to learn through real-life experiences, whether it is comparing prices at the grocery store, measuring ingredients in a recipe, or seeing animals at a zoo.

For me, homeschooling also makes sense because we hope to have a big family. It would not be very feasible to have to pick up my kindergartener from school during my toddler's naptime, or rush my gradeschooler off to some extracurricular when the baby needs to be nursed and the other siblings have homework to do. No, I need my helpers at home. By keeping them at home with me, I can train my children to help so that as they become older, they contribute to the family by easing the workload. The six year old can play with the two year old while I do math lessons with the eight year old. Then the eight year old can practice reading outloud to the four year old and get the two year old a snack. The ten year old can do a load of laundry or prepare lunches. Training our children to be helpers teaches them an important work ethic, a sense of responsibility, and the unselfishness that is required to give to others. It seems to me that most bigger Christian families choose to homeschool, and it makes sense. The family is a team, working together at home, accomplishing more together than they could alone.

I am so privileged to be home with my children right now. I love hearing their stories, laughing at the silly things they do, and watching them develop new skills. Maybe it is selfish, but I do not want to give up these moments by sending them out into the world. I want to be the teacher who helps them learn to count, to add, to read, and to write. I trust that I am qualified to teach them because the Lord gave these children to my husband and me, not to any school district or tutor. I know that homeschooling will be stressful and challenging at times, but I also know that the benefits will far outweigh any doubts that may creep into my mind. So long as the law and my husband allow it, I intend to continue teaching my own children, because in doing so I can spend the precious moments of each day filling them not just with knowledge, but with the knowledge of the Lord.

Note: For another compelling reason to homeschool, check out this discussion of the "socialization" issue at Pursuing Titus 2.

1 comment:

  1. As a homechooling mom I must say that it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I will always remember watching my daughters when reading "clicked" and it just lit up her face. Or the first time she realized that counting by two was the same as 2+2 or 2+4. I would never give up seeing my child take their first step why would I give up these precious moments.