It is the time of year when many parents are making decisions for the next school year. I have a number of friends who are considering homeschooling and have asked me two main questions.
- What are the pros and cons of homeschooling?
- What curriculum do you suggest?
Since I have been giving so much thought to these questions lately, I thought it appropriate to share my answers here. I will start with a list of pros and cons, which could be quite lengthy. I will try to condense it to those things I consider most important.
I will write about curriculum choices in an upcoming post but will start this post by listing the CONS of homeschooling.
- It's a lot of work.
I would like to water this one down a little and tell you that the work is always enjoyable or not very taxing. But that just wouldn't be truthful. Sometimes the work is fun. At times it is lighter than others. But, there are things that must be done, want to or not, and sometimes they are a headache. Even if you find a program where your children basically self-teach, there are still papers to grade, input to give, schedules to supervise….
BUT, before you let that deter you, please consider this. Have you EVER done anything worthwhile that has not required effort on your part? Can you think of any cause more worthy of your best effort than the discipleship of your children?
- If I do not keep a proper perspective, the weight of the responsibility can overwhelm me.
Any time my child struggles to "get" something or does not measure up to my expectations, I am tempted with feelings of failure. I also face the temptation to measure my success as a homeschooler against other homeschoolers as well as public and private schools and to wonder if my children would be doing better if in the care of a teaching professional. I have had these thoughts and I am a teaching professional.
Grace is the only answer for this. Homeschooling is an exercise in faith. It requires trusting the Lord with these things moment by moment in order to resist these temptations. Otherwise, they can suck the life out of me, my children, and our homeschool. Pride is the problem, and the Lord is using homeschooling to rid me of it.
I have to be gracious with myself, too, and understand that my children will have trouble areas as they learn and that I am not always to blame. I must be gracious with my children and create an atmosphere where mistakes are okay and where if at first we don't succeed, we will try, try again.
- At times, I feel the homeschool stigma.
Many people don't understand homeschooling, and sometimes it wears me down or just plain hurts. Some people are very nice and encouraging, but some people act uncomfortable around me. I have to find ways to break the ice and build bridges with these folks, which is not something I do naturally. Others can be down right rude or hostile. Again, the answer is grace. God always provides His grace abundantly in these situations and uses them for my sanctification. Similarly, these situations can open the door for talking about the Lord and sharing the Gospel.
- There is a cost, and it should be counted.
I do, in part, mean a literal cost. There are books and supplies to buy; however, we spend much less money educating at home than we would on private school tuition and believe the cost difference over public school is worth every penny.
There are also the costs of the previously named cons that I would advise parents to consider. At the Olive Plants Academy, we homeschool in the name of Christ and face a spiritual battle as well. Many people enter homeschooling with the notion that it will be perfect and lovely and that it will be a cure-all for the problems faced at school. Do not wear rose-colored glasses while making this decision. The enemy shoots his fiery darts at Christian homeschoolers, and we must be equipped with the full armor of God when entering into this battle.
Now for the PROS….
- I have been present for moments I would have missed if my children were in school.
This is huge for me. If my children were taught by someone else, I would be jealous of their teacher. I LOVE that I have hundreds of memories of my boys having "a-ha" moments. I have had a front-row seat to one of the most beautiful events ever, watching them grow in grace, maturity, and ability.
- I am developing a deep relationship with my children and enjoy the fruit of it a little more each year.
It is rocky at times. Hysterical at others. Frustrating. Enjoyable. And wonderful. But good or bad, happy or sad, we are together, and they are learning commitment, respect, trust, and the importance of family. Each day with my children, causes me to reflect on Jesus' relationship with His disciples. Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to follow the Master Teacher and teach my children like Jesus did His disciples.
- Homeschooling opens the door to a myriad of educational opportunities.
I have been able to pick curriculum to fit the individual needs of my children. I have accelerated their studies when needed and have slowed down and re-taught a number of times. We take as many field trips as we like, work on projects, take on educational hobbies, and basically, allow the boys ample opportunities for discovery.
- We have never been asked to leave our faith at the schoolhouse door.
I am involved in the public schools and know that there are Christian teachers who love and nurture the children in their care. I know they are cautious about what they teach and try to be a witness to those who are not in Christ and build the faith of those who are Christians. I know this because my husband is one of those teachers. I used to have that job, too, and took my responsibilities very seriously. I also know families who navigate the murky public school waters well and train their children to be "salt and light" through that journey.
We decided to homeschool, however, because we did not want to navigate those waters at all. We believe that job is much more difficult than the work of educating at home.
We believe the homeschooling process should serve to make salt saltier. We worship together each morning. We read our Bible as often as we want. We study all subjects from a Christian perspective and learn to defend our worldview. We make mistakes along the way and learn to confess and to forgive. We seek God's grace in all these things. Basically, we spend the day in fellowship with each other and the Lord in our home so that when the time is right our children will be prepared to be a Christian influence in the world.
There is much more that could be said, but these are the biggies as I see them. If you are considering homeschooling and have questions, please feel free to email me or leave your questions as a comment.
Grace and peace,