Friday, December 11, 2009

Why do you homeschool?

Today I am going to answer some of the questions and refute some of the often made comments related to homeschooling. People have many reactions to homeschooling, some are supportive, some are disgusted, some are just plain bewildered when they make the following statements:

"Good for you, schools are so dangerous now!"
I do not homeschool because of the "danger" in public schools. After the rash of school shootings many parents became convinced schools are dangerous. We will discuss the true dangers of schools later, but for now understand that I am not worried about my kid getting shot at school.

"They don't learn anything in public schools anymore."
As a former teacher, I hate these reactions. I spent my teaching years working in the school system that my children would now attend, and I have to say I don't think there are many out there that are better. The staff and parents are wonderful. The teachers work hard. They score well on state tests (although frankly that is another can of worms for another day!)

I do not homeschool to try to give my child a "better" education (in the world's eyes). I have worked with many of the teachers that my children would have right now and can tell you without a doubt many of them are far better teachers than I ever will be. Most of them love their students, have taught for years and know every trick in the book. I doubt I could do a better job than most of them.

"At least you are a teacher so you know what you are doing."
It is not easier for me since I am a teacher. In fact I think it may be harder. I have expectations that others do not. I discovered my first year that you can not run a homeschool class of 2 kids like you would run a kindergarten class of 18. It just doesn't work.

Many people operate under the thought that since you have to have a degree to teach in public school, you should have to have a degree to homeschool as well. What I find amusing is that in my state you do not have to have a teaching degree or license to teach in private schools. Funny isn't it. People will spend thousands of dollars on private school tuition to send their kids to a better school, where they don't have to have a teaching license to teach, but think parents aren't qualified to teach their own children.

"What about socialization?"
For those of you that worry about socialization, you can stop worrying now. When my "small group" meets monthly, those 6 families bring 22 kids. Homeschooled children have the great opportunity to interact with children younger, older and their own age. They also learn to interact with adults, not just in a classroom student/teacher situation, but in a group discussion setting. They are more likely to be encouraged to work with adults on projects from cooking dinner to cutting and delivering firewood to a friend in need. Don't you worry about socialization. We socialize more than any group of people you know! Perhaps you should worry more about over-socialization.

"Good for you but I could never do it."
Honestly, we all think that. Sometimes daily. That is when you use your "phone-a-friend" option. And fortunately in the homeschool world, you aren't limited to the number of those you get!

Yet, no matter what reaction I receive from people who first learn that I am homeschooling, nobody ever understands why. Unless that is you happen to homeschool yourself.

So...

"Why do you homeschool?"
If those are not the reasons, then why do I do it? This is a tough one to explain. It begins with the simple answer. I believe God wants me to. I believe that God has placed it in my heart, in the heart of my husband and very clearly models it in the bible. Do I believe God is calling every Christian to homeschool? I believe that is between them and God. I know he has told my family to do this and that is what we stand on.

Now it gets harder to explain. Why would God want you to homeschool? Public school works out for everyone else, besides, wouldn't it be easier? Heck ya! It would be way easier! Until I had to undo the damage done to my children that is. You see, when you send your child away for 8-9 hours a day (depending on bus time) and they sleep 8-9 hours a day you are left with 6-8 hours a day to model for your children what you want them to be become and unmodel what you don't want them to become. Realistically, that time is more like 3-4 hours, maybe.

Let us take an average day in the life of a public school kid. You get up, scarf down some breakfast, get dressed, leave for school by 7:30. You spend all day surrounded by children who don't respect their parents being taught evolution and the big bang as facts, and hearing materialism being worshiped in the form of "Look what Johnny has!" You get home from school at 4:30. You have a snack, and do your homework. You eat dinner at 5:30. After dinner it is a bath, TV time and off to bed at 8:00. That is a perfect ideal world, where nobody is in sports, scouts, piano or band. As a parent, where in there do I have time to show my kids the things I want them to know? Where do I have time to remind them that the big bang is a theory, not a fact? When to I teach them that evolution is a theory that contradicts all of the rest of science, even science supported and believed by the very ones spouting the theory? How do I undo hours of my child hearing the worship of stuff?

You see, I do not want my child to spend the majority of his day in a world that when he comes home, I am going to tell him is wrong. I don't want him to make all of his best friends at school and have to say to him that their behaviors, choices and values are wrong. It isn't a matter of not allowing my child to be friends with kids who are different from us. It is a matter of not allowing my child to believe that everybody else lives their lives differently. I don't want them to feel isolated. If everyone else is doing it, why not us?

I want my kids to know the truth. I want them to know there are many, many people who believe as we do, who walk as we do and who live as we do. They know that not everyone believes in God. They know some kids don't go to church. But for them, that is odd, not the norm. As they get older, they will be more able to handle the fact that the world is big and there are a lot of people who think we are wrong. They will have to make their own choices and live with their decisions. But you cannot tell me that at five years old, when they are still chasing bad guys with their cap guns, they are old enough to begin to make those choices. They are not big enough to defend their hearts from the evil in the world, the evil that seeks to undermine the truth of God's love and parents' authority. Until they are big enough, it is my job to guard their hearts. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

So I guess the answer to why I homeschool is "To guard my children's hearts until they are mature enough to guard it themselves."

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