There was a time when homeschooling looked crazy and dangerous. I was convinced that it harmed children, and I was sure it could never work.
But, here I am, 27 years later, still teaching reading, writing, and enjoying a host of amazing experiences with my 15 children.
I’ve homeschooled a lot of different types of kids, from those who couldn’t sit still to those who begged for workbooks, and I’ve used a little bit of every method and type of homeschooling, from canned curriculum to unit studies to unschooling.
What have I learned through all of this?
Well, first of all I learned just how well I had been brain-washed and programmed by my own education. In school I had learned that the “haves” were to be admired and followed, that learning was secondary to being liked, that God was irrelevant when it comes to intellectual pursuits. There were teachers who puffed us up as “intellectuals” and then foisted all sorts of propaganda, such as, “Question everything,” and “The Bible is so contradictory,” and “Your parents are not as enlightened as you are.” I was so eager to please my teachers that this hidden curriculum became a great cloud over my mind. Even though I had been saved at the age of 12, I still carried the message, the agenda, of the public schooling with me wherever I went, even into my prayer closet and my Bible reading.
Where the public school propaganda left off, the culture stepped in. I took my cues from the experts, the magazines, the TV shows, and even popular preachers. I looked everywhere but found nothing of substance. I was demoralized; my education and my immersion into post-modern culture left me feeling more like a number than a person.
My married life was marred by what I perceived in my little “educated idiot box.” My actions and reactions were not governed by the Word, they were governed by certain pre-set attitudes and expectations. My husband suffered from this as well. We were a mess.
Then we were blessed with a precious little girl–she was so beautiful. She had little wispy curls on the top of her head and sparkly button eyes. Looking at her changed everything. My husband says you have to become worthy of children, and I so wanted to become worthy of her.
I was drawn to other mothers who knew the special secret of loving and cherishing their young. I watched them and begged them to talk to me about all there was about mothering. One of these dear ladies was going to homeschool her child and I thought she was crazy! I clearly remember, to my shame, arguing with her and trying to get her to abandon her weird ideas, but I loved her and I couldn’t help but be drawn to the warmth and the life of God that I found in her.
Then, when it was time to send my little girl to school I just couldn’t do it; I couldn’t surrender her. So we stayed home.
Over the years I spent hours and hours reading, researching and repairing the damage done to my own mind, will and emotions. I began to see the whole world through a different lens; the lens of hope that a God who loves us created the world in six literal days, and that there was meaning and a reason to live as a beautiful woman, a wonderful wife, a loving mother.
My view of education and culture is so very different now–so comforting and peaceful. I rarely give even a thought as to what others may think, but I am so consumed with pleasing my Father in Heaven that everything I do that there is just no room in my mind for anything else.
As many of our children have grown up I have been seeing a pattern that has allowed them to be successful (not perfect, still human, but just more fully human). Wherever they go people are amazed. I can’t tell you how many times their employers have told me that they are the best workers they have ever had. When my son went out into the workplace at the age of 16 he was quickly able to do the job of a 40 year old and his coworkers and bosses alike were amazed. They are the leaders and the creators and true friends, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers.
It has truly been a miracle, considering that their parents started out so far behind. But within this miracle there were some important ingredients:
- Mentoring from good old Mom and Dad
- Freedom from outside expectations
- Looking at all of life as learning–and exploring and learning all of the time
Public schooling just doesn’t allow for much of these things. The time consumed each day precludes most of them, and then the system and curriculum itself take care of the rest. Parents would have to be awfully vigilant to keep these things in place while having their children in school (but I do believe there are special circumstances in which God could grace a parent to try and accomplish most of them–if the laws are bad, there is death or illness, etc.).
Originally we tried fitting our homeschooling into our lifestyle, which was stressful and unnatural, and then we found out that it was so much better to build our lives around our learning experiences. Subsequently, we discovered a richness and a beauty that has been lost in today’s world. This is the most wonderful thing about homeschooling; it changes the way we look at things, not just educational things, but everything.
- We slowed down.
- We rediscovered each other.
- We rediscovered God as involved in every aspect of existence.
- We began to appreciate and esteem our children in a profound way.
Yes, when I first heard about homeschooling I thought that it was a very dangerous idea; that children could not possibly be prepared for life by living at home. Maybe this is how you are thinking. Maybe you can see only obstacles in your way when you think about the subject, or maybe you are being discouraged on your journey; either by the input of others, or by your own thoughts and comparisons.
I can tell you this–homeschooling is worth fighting and persevering for. Not because it turns out perfect, godly little geniuses, but because it transforms your life and brings you more in line with God’s purposes in private and profound ways that cannot be fully expressed. You grow as individuals, and you grow as a family.
This summer, as you are considering your options, take another look at homeschooling.
And even if you are planning to homeschool this year, be open to the new things God has been planting in your heart and mind. Even if they are not at all what you are used to, or what everyone else says you should be doing.
And if perhaps you should run across a homeschool family that seems rather odd to you, you will stop a moment and consider that they may not be strange at all, just finally real.