The Real Reason Why We Homeschool

"So, why did you decide to homeschool?"

I've been asked this question many times over the last several years, and sometimes it feels like a loaded question.  My standard answer has been that I was homeschooled myself and always knew that I wanted to homeschool too.  It's my non-confrontational, let's-not-get-too-far-into-this answer.  People can potentially get pretty fired up over educational choices, so I've fallen back to citing my own experience in an attempt to not rock too many boats.

But the truth is my standard reply is not really a real answer.  It's not a real "why".  "I always knew I would homeschool" is not a reason that gets you through the hard days when you wonder if it would have been easier to just put them on the big yellow bus.

If you know a homeschool mom, even one who grew up homeschooled like me, homeschooling is not the default choice.  You have to be a little bit of a rebel to homeschool, and you have to have a reason why you think it's better.  That might ruffle some feathers, but I do think it's a necessary ingredient to homeschool successfully.  As a homeschool parent, you have to have a solid reason why you think homeschooling is the better choice for your family in order to stick with it, because it's not easy.  That reason might vary from family to family, but you need one.

It occurred to me that maybe I’m not doing anyone any favors by not getting into the full reason why we homeschool.  So in this post I wanted to be little more up-front by sharing mine.

The main reason why we homeschool is because it is very important to us to protect my kids' childhood, and to train our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  And we think homeschooling is the educational choice that is most conducive to those goals.

There are a lot of reasons we choose to homeschool and think it’s beneficial, but this is our most important one.

First, let's talk about protecting our kids' childhood.

Your mind probably jumps first to protecting their innocence, and that is part of what I mean here.  With things like comprehensive sex education and a rampant por.nog.raphy problem among younger and younger kids, if I can "shelter" my children from those things from a while, you bet I'm going to.  But there are other aspects of a childhood to protect as well.

To me, homeschooling is more conducive to protecting childhood in the matter of simple time.  I want my kids to have chunks of their day with time to play together, to read books for no other reason than interest, to explore God’s creation, to build something with their hands.  I want them to have time to connect meaningfully with the rest of the family each day, to be creative, to get bored, and time to just be.  To be a kid.  

I knew from my own homeschool student experience that homeschooling takes much less time (I found the estimates in this post to be pretty accurate), and there is obviously no homework.  That leaves my kids more time in their day to experience all the fun of childhood.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.

My second reason is that I want to train my kids up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

As a Christian parent, I believe it is my duty to train and instruct my children in the faith.  This is backed up by Scripture.

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

We will not hide them from their children, but will declare to the next generation the praises of the LORD and His might, and the wonders He has performed. Psalm 78:4

There is no shirking this duty to teach the next generation about the Lord, whether our kids are homeschooled or go to public or private school.  My greatest desire for my children is that they would repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior, and that they would want to serve Him with their whole lives.  My goal as a Christian parent is to do everything I can to bring my kids to Christ and encourage them in living their lives for Him.

In my experience, homeschooling is more conducive to training my children in the faith because I have the freedom as a homeschool parent to integrate this instruction into every aspect of their education.  Every subject they are learning is an opportunity to also point them to the Giver of all knowledge.  

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  Proverbs 9:10

It is a huge perk to me that homeschooling allows us to start with a biblical foundation for our kids' education and build their faith along with their studies, as long as I am faithful in teaching them this way.

A Few Things I Am Not Saying

You should know that I am NOT saying that if you send your kids to school, you are not doing a good job training your children up in the faith.  I don't believe that at all.  I know many godly, Christian parents who don't homeschool and are doing a great job with their kids.  But it also can't be denied that there is a more limited window of time in which to train them up in the faith when they are at school most of each weekday.  I don't believe education is neutral - all instruction is guided by a worldview, one which may or may not be biblical.  You can be successful in training up your kids in the faith with any educational road you may choose, but some roads are going to have more obstacles to work around than others.  Personally, I would rather go with the road with less obstacles.

I am not saying that if you don’t homeschool your kids won’t have a childhood.  I am saying that it might take more vigilance and intention and effort to protect innocence and time to be a kid when they are at school for much of the day.

I am not criticizing anyone for making a different educational choice, and I’m not criticizing teachers.  I'm fully aware that not everyone is able to homeschool, and I personally know many public and private school teachers who care about their students.  Parents I respect may come to a different conclusion about what they should do about their child's education, and that's ultimately up to you as a parent.  This post is not meant to be taken as a criticism.  I’m only hoping to share a few of my honest thoughts about an educational choice (homeschooling) that is certainly not the road of least resistance, though I may have given that impression with my standard answer in the past. 

When it comes down to it, I think people ask me this question because homeschooling is a novelty still.  Public or private school has been the default option for many people, and they wonder why someone would choose something different.  My hope in sharing my honest thoughts here is to bolster anyone who may be thinking about homeschooling, and to provide more meaningful insight as to why someone would choose to homeschool for those who have not thought about it seriously before.  You may disagree with my reasons, and that's fine, but this is why we have made the decision to homeschool our kids.

Maybe I should turn the tables next time and ask "Why did you decide to send your kids to school?"  That might make for an interesting conversation, ha!

If you are a homeschool parent, what is your main reason for homeschooling?
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Lois said...

I’m a new homeschool mom and still learning how to answer that question without inwardly cringing and getting self conscious! I’m going to have to try asking the reverse to someone next time! I love that idea!!

Amanda said...

I definitely think everyone should make the choice they feel is best for their family. There are situations such as having 2 employed parents or having a single parent, for examples, where it's not even possible to homeschool if someone wanted to. I also think not everyone wants to or is interested in homeschooling even if you are a SAHM. A good friend of mine is a SAHM and her kids go to school, and she felt really guilty about it, but she really did not desire to homeschool, and it wasn't something God had put on her heart. I have someone in my church group currently who does homeschool, but they are reconsidering schooling for next year for a few reasons. I can say from my own personal experience having my kids in daycare full time since they were babies that I do have to be intentional about making sure they have play time at home and making sure I'm sitting down to talk with them about their day, what they are learning, and things they might come home saying or doing that Jordan and I aren't super happy about. I've heard homeschooling moms (not you) say things about how sending your kids to school is the easy route, and I don't think that's true at all. Both have positive and negative aspects. I LOVED the Risen Motherhood 3-part series about education on their podcast that they did last year. They focused on private, public, and homeschooling one per episode, and I thought it was really well done.

Meghan said...

This is super interesting, Callie. As a public school teacher that loves teaching and having my kids at school with me, I have always wondered why others would choose to home school. I definitely hear your thoughts and can understand your convictions. Very enlightening. More power to you, Momma. I can imagine how challenging it would be to balance it all on your own. Your children are lucky to have such a dedicated mom.

Chantel said...

I couldn't agree with this post more! I actually gave up teaching to homeschool my kids and don't regret it at all. It does mean we need to make different financial choices than the majority of our town that has two income families but homeschooling is something we are intentional about prioritizing. Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

I was interested to read this post when I saw the title since you do always talk about being homeschooled yourself and always knowing you wanted to do it. I wasn't homeschooled but had a SAHM and I know that made me want to be a SAHM too. I agree with your reasons for homeschooling based on protecting their childhood and giving them more playtime. Some people say it's hard for an introverted mom to homeschool because she's never alone, but for me it would be scarier dealing with teachers and administration and homework! Homeschooling in another country gives me more control over their education, but I still want them to be immersed in their second culture, too. My husband had a big say in deciding to homeschool. First I wanted to homeschool and he didn't, but then once our son got older we couldn't imagine putting him in public school in Russia. Even with all the materials, homeschooling is still less expensive than private school. Meanwhile, my simple answer is that I want to homeschool because I like learning myself! It's basically my dream life to read books all day and then explore the world. Some parts are harder, but in general it's enjoyable, not something I have to force myself to do.

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