Sunday, October 3, 2010

Warnings for Homeschoolers: Making the Decision

Why homeschool? My wife and I got this question back in 2008 when we began homeschooling our two eldest children. It is not a decision one arrives at lightly.

Let me list what I believe are not key reasons to choose to homeschool. They may be "contributing factors" to such a decision, but should not be the "key reason:"

  • Money: Either the cost of homeschooling materials, or the cost of alternatives, such as Christian school, is often used as a reason to homeschool or not to homeschool.
  • Personalities: I don't like so-and-so at that school/I don't think so-and-so is that good of a teacher.
  • Convenience: Homeschooling can be convenient: The schedule is flexible, you won't need a lot of gasoline, and snow days aren't really an issue.
Here is what I believe is the key question around which the decision to homeschool centers:
  • What is, in the will of God, the best option for providing quality Christian education to my children?
"Quality," in line with a post I wrote several weeks ago, implies that the education is both thoroughly Christian (i.e., from a Christian, Bible-based worldview) and academically challenging.

Some people have no other quality Christian education option in their geographic area, so the decision to homeschool may not be difficult. Others will have one or more Christian schools from which to choose. This is where the "best" part comes in. It may be that a local Christian school will be able to provide a more thorough, educationally robust Christian education than the parent can. And that's OK.

Most importantly, the will of God must be discerned through prayer and counsel.

My parents provided an excellent example of this. They had Christian school options. They realized that neither of them really knew much about teaching or education (in an academic sense), so they never gave homeschooling much thought. They knew that, in the will of God, the best thing, for their three children to get a quality Christian education, was to send them to a local Christian school. They sacrificed to get the money, they didn't let personalities interfere, and convenience wasn't allowed to be an issue. For this, I and my brothers must be ever grateful.

Two years ago, when it came to our turn to make this decision, we went a different route: We concluded, in the will of God, that the best decision for our two eldest children, for them to get a quality Christian education, was to homeschool them. For our two youngest, we continued to keep them in a local Christian school, for the same reasons.

And now that we have moved to a new state, the decision has changed again: All four children are in an excellent Christian school, where they will get a quality Christian education. We believe that, in the will of God, this is the best choice.

Who knows? Maybe this will change again some day, but we will always be looking for the will of God to be done, so that our children can get the best quality Christian education we can provide.


Brenda said...

Kudos!! I applaud your thoughts here on a surprisingly controversial subject. Too often parents do what the crowd at their church or the community around them does without putting much thought into this. Including Christian School, Public School, and Homeschooling. What should be the deciding factor in ALL decisions a Born-again Christian makes, especially concerning his/her family? What does the Lord want? What is His will in this area?

With that being said, if a parent knows it's the Lord's will that they homeschool their child, what are they to do if they really don't know much about curriculums or the best teaching methods? They learn as they go along. They pray and ask the Lord's direction. There are several very good homeschooling methods that all have a myriad of resources and curriculums available. So you have to research and maybe even experiment for a year or two until you find the right fit for your family. But when a parent truly desires to please the Lord, and truly is tender to what God has for their family, the details will all fall into place.

Alastriona, The Cats and Dogs said...

Many Homeschoolers use secular materials to educate their children, and are NOT interested in indoctrinating their children with a thoroughly Christian Bible-based worldview. Most homeschoolers make it a point to educate themselves on the newest scientific and historical findings. You do not speak for all homeschoolers and you should not pretend to do so.

Ken said...

Ah...perhaps I did not make it clear enough that I am a Christian, and that my remarks are intended for an audience of Christians. Of course, all of us are welcome to study the newest scientific and historical findings, and that can add much to the educational experience.

Crimson Wife said...

God places each family in a different situation; while He will provide for our true needs, the personal financial situation may not be such that we can have everything we may want. So I do think finances can be a legitimate reason for choosing homeschooling over private school, even one that provides a high-quality Christian education. Assuming that the family is not squandering the financial gifts with which God has blessed them, it really isn't up to us to question why He has placed us in the financial circumstances we find ourselves in. As Christ reminds us over and over again, it isn't the material wealth we have now that matters; it is the spiritual wealth that He offers all of us.