Why Are You Home Schooling?
By David Crank
After teaching your children at home for a few years, you may be feeling like quitting. Home schooling can be a lot of work and a heavy responsibility. There are even times when it seems nearly impossible – you are worn out caring for a baby and other little ones, or you have been continually sick with morning sickness for months, or you are struggling with caring for an elderly or ill parent or with the demands of a home business.
It can be even more discouraging when one or more of your children no longer wants to home school. Your child may have decided that public school is the place to be to have lots of friends, to enjoy certain sports or extracurricular activities, or to become part of the "in" group of kids at church. Home schooling can be hard enough without having to deal with a complaining child who may also be trying to do as little schoolwork as possible. Or you may have a child who is having real difficulty in an area, such as being very slow learning to read.
Wouldn’t you just love to pass these problems off to someone else to solve? But there is no guarantee that the public or private school teacher will do any better than you have. School teachers have many students to teach and can only give a limited amount of direct attention to any one child.
As the parent, you are accountable for the raising and educating of your child. You may hand over the job of educating your children to others, but you can’t hand over your responsibility. You are still accountable for the result.When you are feeling these frustrations and pressures, it’s time to review WHY you are home schooling.
Some of the Key Reasons to Home School
1) Safety & Protection. Dangers come in many and varied ways in school settings, especially in the public schools.
a) Physical Dangers. Crime is rampant in many schools. Even rapes and murders occasionally take place on school grounds. More common are fights and bullying, threats and ridicule. Cruelty is common among groups of children from all sorts of backgrounds and with little effective adult supervision. Out of control children are today very common within the schools. In some areas gangs are also a serious concern.
b) Bad Peer Influences. Peer influences are very strong when your child is constantly grouped with others of his own age. As parents, we must be concerned about our children taking up with foolish and bad companions. (Prov 13:20) These can potentially lead them into all sorts of sin and foolishness. Peer influences can also lead your child into following the fashions, fads, music and slang of the youth culture – a culture that is not centered around God and that encourages teen rebellion and a separation from families and older adults. Peer influences often encourage early romantic attachments and even fornication.
c) Addictions. Many youths of today become addicted to cigarettes, abuse alcohol and experiment with or become addicted to drugs. Placing your children within a school environment where a number of their peers are doing these things, increases their risks of being tempted and led into the same.
d) Bad Teacher & Curriculum Influences. In the public schools, most of the teachers are not Christian and some try to influence your children to adopt their own beliefs and views, convincing children of the error of their parents’ ways. (For example, indoctrination in animal rights, liberal politics, acceptance of gay lifestyles, acceptance of promiscuity and abortions, and their own godless philosophies.)
Similarly, the curriculum of the public schools completely leaves God out, while teaching philosophies and theories contrary to God (humanism, relativism & lack of absolutes, evolution, etc.). Also certain radical groups, such as Planned Parenthood and Gay/Lesbian organizations, are commonly given free access to the public schools for their purposes of indoctrinating your children.
Public high school English classes will sometimes assign pornographic literature (as least in many Christian’s eyes) to be read, or books that are potentially corrupting in other ways (especially so in the classes for the gifted or more advanced students). The public schools are also very ready to provide sex education to your child, in a form that leaves out all morality, and that often encourages sexual activity.
e) The More Subtle Influences. We all have a tendency to adopt many of the values of those that we associate with on a frequent and close basis. Spending six or more hours a day primarily in the company of other children will have some impact. Most of these do not know the Lord. Nearly all have likely adopted many of the values common in our godless society. The extent of the impact on a Christian child will vary based on the friends chosen, that child’s temperament and maturity, and how strong a counter influence is exerted by parents and church, etc.
2) A Christian Education. There is much benefit to be gained by providing a good Christian education to our Christian children. When all subjects are taught from a Christian world view, our children’s faith is reinforced and strengthened. Adding God’s perspective to all study also helps to teach true wisdom and to put more focus on godly character and actions. Worldly philosophies and theories are either excluded or taught with reference to God’s Word – pointing out their faults and errors.
3) Family Benefits. Home schooling offers a tremendous benefit of family togetherness. Usually the mother and children are together in the home most of the time. Close friendships develop and are maintained between brothers and sisters. There is a real cohesive impact on the whole family with the children remaining at home. Older children learn to help with the younger children, even helping with their schooling at times. There is a bridging of the ages that occurs. Contrast this with what often happens when your children first go off to school – they decide their age peers are their real friends and don’t want to have much to do with their younger brothers and sisters.
Home schooling also gives the parents a much greater opportunity to personally teach and train their children in all areas of life. When you send your child off to school, it is the school that gets the bulk of their time and the best of their time. As a Christian parent, concerned with raising your children "unto the Lord," you need time with them to actually do so. What time do you have when they are in school? Very little during five days of the week. You are left with the early morning while rushing to get ready for school, and then the late afternoons (when the children are tired of being cooped up in a classroom) and the evenings (when there may be homework to do or school sports games). Very little time is left to truly know your child and to truly disciple and train him.
The home schooling family also benefits from flexibility. School days can be adjusted to your family situation. You take your school vacations when needed and convenient, whether due to a death in the family, a family reunion, a week that Dad has off from work, etc. Likewise you can be flexible with your daily school hours, even adjusting to a Dad’s schedule when he has to work the second or third shift.
4) Quality of Education. The public schools are taking a lot of criticism for doing a poor job in truly providing a quality education. Of course not all public schools are the same and some children in a school receive a much better education than others (often through gifted classes or special teacher attention).
Home schooling puts the parents in direct control over the quality of education. Home schooling allows for personalized instruction, suited to the specific needs of the student. One-on-one tutoring results in more truly learned in much less time than a classroom situation. Though you may not be as knowledgeable or as skilled an instructor as the professional teacher, the advantages you have of one-on-one instruction, a loving relationship and close personal knowledge of your child, are hard to beat!
With home schooling you can ensure that your child does not move on to the next grade or just the next topic until he has truly learned the present one. Likewise, you can allow your child to work ahead as quickly as he is able. There is no need to hold him back for the "rest of the class" or to keep repeating things already well learned. In fact, you have the option of designing his education specifically with an eye to his needs, talents, interests and abilities – a flexibility that is impossible with a large classroom and pre-established sequence of studies.
Home schoolers, using all varieties of methods and materials, are consistently outperforming the schools in terms of standardized test results. Some mothers are better teachers than others. Some have much more time to teach or have the money to purchase more and better materials than others. Yet even with the wide differences in abilities, methods and circumstances, most home schooled children are doing well compared to their public school peers.
5) A Practical Education. With the advantages home schooling offers, less time is usually required for academic subjects, leaving time for other areas of practical instruction. Many use this time to teach skills such as sewing and needlework, gardening, raising animals, home repairs, managing family finances, working in a home business or even starting a new business. Of course, these same things can be taught by parents of public schooled children – it’s just that there is often so little time to do so. With home schooling, you can even set aside a whole day each week to work alongside Dad or Mom or some other good work/training experience.
The Root Problem with the Public Schools
Though the public schools are "free" (except for our tax dollars) and convenient, they entirely exclude God. God is entirely removed from history, knowledge and life. Many of the textbooks and teachers preach a godless moral relativism. God and believing Christians are often mocked and the Bible is treated as fairy tales or like Greek Mythology. A few teachers will even purposefully try to turn children away from their parents’ beliefs and values – trying to "enlighten" them beyond the ignorance of their parents. Sadly, these teachers may have more time and opportunity to influence your child than you do.
We must remember that education is ALWAYS religious. The very attempt to remove religion from education merely impresses it with another religion, such as that of secular humanism. Following are a couple of good quotes to bear in mind:
Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University between 1795-1817 is quoted as saying, "to commit our children to the care of irreligious persons is to commit lambs to the superintendency of wolves".
"Sending our children to the public school … is tantamount to sending our children to be trained by the enemy." - Chris Klica, attorney for HSLDA.
(Both quotes taken from Chris Klicka’s outstanding book, "The Right Choice – Home Schooling".)
Private Christian School Vs. Home Schooling
A good private Christian school can offer many benefits over the public schools. A good Christian education may be offered with God and the Bible included throughout. Many of the dangers present in the public school may be eliminated or greatly reduced. There may be many more children who are good influences and many fewer who are bad influences.
A lot depends on the teaching staff and the other children in the school. Some Christian schools accept a significant number of problem children – children who may be from Christian homes, but who are out of control and have been getting into much trouble in the public school system. The hope is that these problem children will be straightened out by the better environment and better peer influences. Unfortunately, sin is more "contagious" than righteousness, and they often cause more harm to others than benefits they receive.
A very good Christian school can be a huge improvement over most public schools. Yet it remains a distant 2nd best, when compared with the possibilities of home schooling.
When Your Child Wants
to go to Public School
This is a common problem. As much as we might hope that our children would all so love home schooling that they would never feel this way, some still do, at least for a time. Why is this? There are several common reasons. Many times it is a desire for more friends or to be included in a school social clique that is present in your church. At other times, it is a certain sport or extracurricular activity that is only available at a regular school (or is believed to be better there). Sometimes it is just a desire to be like everyone else, to not be different, to be "normal." The desire to return to public school can also be related to fantasizing the public school experience, particularly the high school experience.
Are these good reasons to go to public school? I don’t think so, particularly considering all of the disadvantages and potential problems that come with the public school experience. Remind your children who is being held responsible by God for their upbringing – their parents. In the final analysis, it is the parents who must decide what is best for the child and what would be most pleasing to God. The child’s desires and the reasons behind them, play a role in that determination, but are not decisive. What is best for your child will often be contrary to his or her present desires. You, as the parents, are totally responsible for this decision.
So how do you deal with this problem? You clearly explain both your reasons for home schooling and your responsibility before God for this decision. Then you stand by your decision and don’t allow further complaining, arguing or pleading. You do what you can to help your child understand why home schooling is better, but then you stand by your convictions, whether there is agreement or not.
So Why Home School?
The Best Option
Is it possible to provide any better overall training for your children than what they can receive at home from you? How else can you so effectively transmit your faith and values and have the greatest possible impact for good on your child’s life? Is there any other way you can do so much to improve the likelihood that your grown children will love and live for the Lord? In most cases, home schooling looks to be the very BEST of all schooling options.
Consider the results you should reasonably expect from home schooling. A grown child who:
1) Is mature in the Christian faith, not easily shaken;
2) Is much less affected by peer influence than others his age;
3) Shows more maturity at an earlier age;
4) Has received an above average education – perhaps greatly above average;
5) Exhibits little to no teenage rebellion, but more family affection and loyalty than most of his peers;
6) Has demonstrated good character and is unstained by much of the sin commonplace with youth of today;
7) Is better prepared for practical daily life, to be a good husband or wife and a good parent; and
8) Is better equipped socially to interact well with all ages than the typical public school graduate.
As parents, God assigned you the responsibility for the instruction and training of your children. This does not mean you must personally teach them everything, but there are advantages to being personally involved in as much of their instruction as possible. Consider also, just how precious is the time spent with your children – doing things together – learning, working and having fun together. Remember that the time passes quickly. How much of it do you really want to give away to others?
Concerned With Your
Ability to Teach?
Research has demonstrated that with home schooling, learning is not dependent on either the education level of the parent, nor upon special teaching skills. Your newborn baby learns his first spoken language, vast amounts of information and a huge number of skills, all while at home being taught by Mom and Dad. Teaching is part of the job description of a parent. You may not have the knowledge or skills to effectively teach a whole classroom of other people’s children, but you do know something about teaching your own child, one-on-one. As your child grows and learns and you continue to teach, you learn how to teach new things to your child by experience. You learn what works with him and what doesn’t.
Sometimes you may encounter difficulties or frustrating problems. Don’t lose heart. Professional teachers encounter problems too. Some children are harder to teach or have special problems with certain subjects. Usually, with most problems, patience and perseverance will succeed in the end. If nothing seems to work or you suspect a true learning disability, you may want to seek advice and assistance from an expert.
But wouldn’t a professional teacher be able to teach your child more than you would? Certainly there are some teachers with a great storehouse of expertise and a remarkable gift and ability to teach and motivate learning, but most of the teachers your child would have in school will likely fall very short of this. What you may be lacking in expertise can be greatly made up for with good textbooks and materials. What you lack in professional teaching skills can be compensated for with your insight into your own child and the relationship you enjoy. In this you have a major advantage a hired teacher does not have. You are more likely to find the approach that truly works well with your child. If a certain method isn’t working with your child, try other methods and approaches – don’t give up!
What about the high school subjects – particularly the ones you did not do too well in or never took yourself? By the high school years and with some previous home schooling experience, your children should learn to teach themselves remarkably well when provided with good materials. As they get older they properly should take more personal responsibility for their own education. Your role may become more one of keeping them accountable for completing the work and learning the material. There are also other sources for help these days. There are video and internet high school courses. There are also home school co-ops where other parents more confident in the subject matter of a particular course, will help teach your children.
"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deut 6:6-7 (KJV)
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Eph 6:4(KJV)
"Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, ..." Jer 10:2(KJV)
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Cor 10:5(KJV)
How can we most effectively live out these exhortations with our children? I believe home schooling is a big part of the answer. You can provide an education centered around God’s truth and one in which you are in the position to truly lead, disciple and correct your child throughout each and every day. V
Volume 3 Issue 5: September - December 2002, © Unless The Lord ... Magazine