Concerning Homeschooling

As a grown-up product of home education, I'm asked about homeschooling and my personal experience pretty frequently. And I could go on and on forever in idealistic youthful terms about how I think children should be raised--boys and girls. All from the perspective of one who has not done. Several recent e-mails reveal something of my philosophy of education--and the value I place on my "education."

She wrote:
We really feel led by God to homeschool so it doesn't really matter what anyone says, but the only remotely valid argument against it that anyone has come up with is that they were led to Christ by another child at public school, what about the kids needing to be at school to witness to others, etc. I don't feel like its worth it to possibly sacrifice my children's relationship with God, morals and education on the hopes that they may overcome the negative influences and be a light in the schools?? I'm just wondering how you feel like being homeschooled has made a difference in your life and helped you to be a better witness to others by not attending public school.

My enthusiastic, though not very well-organized reply:

I get excited any time I hear of someone planning to homeschool. I've heard all the objections, including the issue of being a light in a dark place, and I think you're hitting right on in your concerns. Christ called for believers--mature disciples--to be salt and light, not children! And he said a pretty big woe to anyone who causes one of His little ones to stumble. Psalm 127 says the children of your youth are like arrows in the hands of a warrior--but no warrior sends his arrows into battle until he's carefully shaped and sharpened them and given them fletching so they can fly straight! It's a detailed job! The influence in a public school can go the other way--I have a friend who grew so depressed by the pressure of an atheist friend in eighth grade that she became addicted to cutting and nearly destroyed her relationship with the Lord. The other day she declared that she intends to homeschool. :)
Some of the best info to reinforce your decision and share it with others are simple statistics--Have you heard of HSLDA? I'll give you some links to check out. There have been several surveys/studies done that are pretty outstanding. My dad keeps a neatly organized file of studies which he pulls out to show any objectors--he's a fact man. My experience agrees with the statistics showing that 75-85% of Christian kids in public schools forsake their faith, compared to 94% of kids in homeschoool who are still in church and respond that they believe basically the same as their parents. Many of the young people I know who are serving the Lord today were either homeschooled or met the Lord in their college/young adult years (with some very encouraging and godly exceptions.) As for socialization...we've got adult homeschoolers at 88% community involvement while general population is at 50% and voting a shocking 76% involvement for homeschoolers with only 29% involvement from the general populace. But, you didn't ask for stats, you asked for my personal experience.
My dad once told someone that Jesus said His followers were like vines--which are pruned to bear more fruit. He felt that child-raising should be similar. With the homeschooling model he was able to prune away activities that were distractions from the Lord and channel our energies into activities that were of greater value. Sports were not a high priority, although we all spent much time outside and did play some recreational sports. We all love tennis. :) And he was able to give us opportunities to be trained in real life, instead of just text books. We had a fairly classical education, with some added dynamics--nearly all of us were encouraged to be entrepreneurs. Nathaniel raised chickens on the side, and later contracted inspecting fire extinguishers. I've catered tea-parties, done graphic design and advertising work, freelanced writing, cleaned houses, sewn/altered clothing and am now a photographer. My parents also set aside special time for me to learn domestic skills--budgeting, sewing, cooking, making menus. Josiah...he can pretty much do anything with no resources. And we had the flexibility to decide what was important at each time for each child. Another thing my parents encouraged was service--learning to serve others as an expression of love to the Lord. My mom is an amazing servant and hostess. Interestingly, serving is not often encouraged these days, but it's value is immeasurable! A servant will be welcomed wherever he goes! We also learned to bear with others--siblings are likely some of the hardest people to live with! LOL My dad sought to disciple us, instead of simply educate us. Proverbs says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." My parents sought to bring God's word into our lives, and also to teach us holy living. You know, Paul spent 14 years in Arabia being discipled by the Lord (see Galatians 1) before the Lord turned him loose as a missionary, and I think discipleship and foundation is important before anyone is sent out to share the gospel. Did you know I taught abstinence in the public schools after moving to AR? I was scared. :) Public schools are evil. J/K But what I saw reminded me of the value of Romans 12--"Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Public schools are simply set up as places of conformity--in order to get anything accomplished, they have to require a certain amount of conformity, which leads to conformity pressures. And where is the chance to have minds renewed? No where! Why would we send our children into a place of conformity with the world? At home we were taught to renew our minds with the word...and then we were sent out. For those who want to outreach to children--open their homes! Children need to see godly homes to understand godly order and submission to God. It has seemed to my family that the most powerful time of outreach, though, is to college age and young adults--those who are trying to figure out their identity and how they will live their lives. But either way, I believe God created individuals and placed them in families and that He intends families to be epic centers of outreach. Scripture says godly religion is to look after widows and the fatherless--there are many spiritually fatherless, but it isn't so much another child that they need as a family! A father!
You know, honestly, much of what people see as "anti-social" is non-conformity. It's true that homeschoolers don't always dress like everyone else, or talk like everyone else, or read the same books, watch the same movies or enjoy the same things. We laugh at dumb jokes. We really do. And sometimes we don't enjoy people our own age as much because we don't have a lot in common with them. But the social skills that are valuable in real life are these: love, service, humility, ingenuity and listening skills. Oh yes, and ability to work through conflict. Those are the foundations for interacting with people who are created in God's image and for His glory, whether they know it or not. Where is love taught in a public school that teaches survival of the fittest? Where is service taught in a public school that teaches that the weak are servant of the strong? Where is humility in a public school that encourages competitions in beauty, talent, strength? Where is ingenuity in a public school where "no child is left behind" (which really just means we push them all through at the same rate regardless of their needs)? Where are listening skills taught when no one tells the truth and truth is silenced? The public school environment is simply not conducive to true "socialization"--only to conformity--socialism. Why? Because it ignores the Creator of society and the foundations on which He built society.
There's an old saying "Children learn what they live." The idea is that children will learn what is in their home. The fact is that most children spend more time in school and around peers than with their families--they will be like those with whom they spend the most time. I'm grateful for my parent's careful guidance in choosing friends and activities. Even as an adult, I have to be careful to balance relationships. It's never healthy for a believer to be immersed in the world--we're to be in it, but not of it. It's never healthy for a believer to be fed all kinds of worldly information and advice. Instead of being conformed, we're to be transformed--it's something that happens in our minds. To be a good witness of Christ, I must live like Christ, and to live like Christ, I must know Christ. I know Christ through time spent in His word. I am so thankful to my parents for immersing me in the word! And it's knowing Christ that spills out--that's what people see and hear that draws them to Him. So often we are told that we draw people to the Lord by blending in with's not true. People are drawn to the Lord when they see that His ways are different...but better.
Well...I didn't mean to preach you a sermon. :) Can you tell I feel strongly about the advantages of homeschooling?
Another mother wrote to me some thoughts regarding the education of her young daughter:
So, what is this subversive, counter-culture thought of mine? ... Why not raise her as a godly young woman in training? Why push scholastics above real-life training? Can't she get the academics she truly needs from her reading and her real-life training?

My response:
I've been mulling over the whole concept of the "classical" education anyway. It seems to me that, while what we usually think of as education is important, we often glorify it above basic capabilities--like diligence, work ethic, creativity, relationships, homemaking and real life issues. I say "go for it!" Especially since she is so young. A child DOES need discipline and structure--responsibilities and requirements, but being able to regurgitate correct answers doesn't make them prepared for life at all! I think you and Ty are creative and could do an excellent job of teaching her life skills--most of life is problem solving, and any child that can read and problem solve will be able to learn ANYTHING else that they need to know. I'd encourage you to keep training her that way, provide her with good books/information, require some basic math and keep her busy. When she's older she may want to do something that will require more education and she'll have the motivation, character and basic skills to learn it. Nathaniel and I both had a very classic education--and did fine because we both are visual learners. Josiah had a much harder time and struggled and struggled. More recently my dad has allowed him some more freedom and encouraged him in many of his creative paths. He's working on electronics now and he tells me he understands it because he can think of it in terms of water--so the flow makes sense to him. He still has to learn in terms of what he can get his hands on. I'm seeing more and more how unique each person is and how the Lord has given each unique abilities. I think if we cultivate character: diligence, creativity and a desire to serve and be useful, we'll find that our children are more quickly able to find a useful "occupation" and enjoy what they do! I also see that practical skills and disciplines are much better acquired young--and will always make room for a person.

Her thoughts turned into a very excellent article series that you can read here:
Raising Daughters Pt 1
Raising Daughters Pt 2
Raising Daughters Pt 3

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