Discussions regarding education are a significant part of our parenting preparations. My husband had an entirely public education while my primary and secondary education occurred at home. I then attended both private and public universities for my continuing education. Between the two of us we have had a broad sampling of academic and social experiences; being a teacher by trade, I am quite passionate about the intricacies of education. Needless to say, our discussions are anything but boring though we hardly ever disagree.
We have had several people inquire about the educational plans we have for our son. Many assume that we will enroll him at the Christian school where I previously taught. We have made the decision to homeschool and this probably comes as a surprise to few. However, this was not a flippant decision made out of fear or bias. Yes, I was homeschooled, but my husband had a rich and successful experience in public school. Yes, we are conservative Christians, but we know many like-minded families whose children attend public school and are doing well academically and socially. Yes, the school where I taught is a delightful place for children to be educated and is reasonably priced as well. Many factors were taken into consideration as we pondered this critical aspect of bringing a child(ren) into the world, but the overarching one was our biblical view of parenting.
“Now this is the commandment, the statues and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them…so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments…all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged…When your son asks you in time come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statues and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?'” Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 20
This is just one of the countless passages where God makes reference to parenting and training up children in the way they should go. Yes, we need to feed, clothe, and clean them; we need to provide shelter and medical care; they need to learn basic life skills such as tying their shoes, washing dishes, and managing their money; children must learn the core academic subjects and how to interact successfully and peacefully with their fellow human beings. We want our children to learn how to nurture nature and care for the environment they are a part of; we want them to be interested in how their community and government operate. We would like them to be passionate about the arts and know how to compete with integrity. But surpassing all of these things is the personal relationship we pray they will have with their Lord and Savior.
We believe that teaching our children about Jesus and what it means to live a life committed to Him is our responsibility. Church is great and Christian friends are wonderful, but these things are merely supplements to the core values we are divinely instructed to instill in these young hearts. The most effective form of teaching is modeling, followed by practicing. This is not something that can occur solely in mealtime prayers and a Bible story at night (again, excellent things). No, modeling and practicing happen when we sit in our house, when we walk by the wayside, when we lie down, when we rise up (Deuteronomy). We must bind them on our foreheads, meaning that they are in the forefront of our thoughts, and write them on the tablets of our hearts, meaning they must become the motivation of all we do. It is clear that teaching our son that Jesus is real and personal can only happen if Jesus is intricately woven into our daily routines, our family discussions, our special activities, how we discipline, and in his academics.
This doesn’t mean that children can’t learn about their faith if they are not home-instructed. This does mean that they will be spending more time away from their parents than with them, which in turn means that the behaviors and worldviews being modeled in front of them will belong to other people. As involved as parents may try to be, they will never know everything that their children have witnessed, heard, or absorbed throughout the normal school day. As they grow older, children will recognize the differences in the worldviews they are being confronted with, and they might not be able to fully verbalize the conflict this is creating in their hearts. How much better if they are introduced to alternative worldviews through the guidance of their parents so that their parents can guide them in discerning truth from untruth.
Home education is a magnificent, and often daunting, undertaking. We want our little guy to learn everything! It provides us with ample opportunity to do just that. We can tailor his instruction to meet his learning needs; we can move his classroom outside if the weather is gorgeous or have study time in a tent made from chairs and sheets when it’s raining. Field trips can be every week or all summer, and we can finish two grades in one year or skip a grade all together if he is eager to learn, or we can repeat grades if he is struggling with a particular subject. We want to fill his life with inspirational social interaction, ample cultural exposure, and memorable service opportunities. But above all else we want to lay within our son’s heart the undeniable, unshakeable conviction that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God, and Jesus is His best friend. The secular world is already waiting to tear that conviction to shreds, and he will have countless worldview battles to fight. Why not be sure that he is fully prepared to fight those battles with all that is within him? Why not have his God-given parents be the ones to love, guide, and prepare him? Why not homeschool?