Why I Homeschool and the Effects of Homeschooling on Family Life
I was asked to speak at a homeschool workshop on the affects of homeschooling on family life. I am not yet finished with this HUGE part of my life and anytime I am asked to speak on the subject, I take it very seriously. It always helps me to hear other speakers as well as strengthen my own convictions for homeschooling. It is such an exciting adventure!
I am at the finished line with my oldest son. He is a biology major in college and has surprised me with his ability to maintain an A average his freshman year with courses that I could never excel in: calculus, physics, biology I and II, chemistry I and II as well as his core history and English classes. It is quite interesting at the beginning of those classes he has said, “I don’t think I am going to make it in this class,” but he always finishes it with excellence. Update: he is in his 2nd year in Dental School and loves it.
I don’t tell you this to brag, but to show you that if I can do this, you can do this. I tell you this to encourage you that even if you don’t think you can get to everything, God will multiply your attempts. It reminds me of the passage in Luke where the little boy willingly gave his meager amount of fish and bread and Jesus multiplied it. As I do as my Father asks and give my best effort, God is the One that brings the results He chooses for each child. God has plans for your children and has given your children to you to raise, guide, and lead and He will direct you in their education.
I am now at the beginning and middle and tail end of homeschooling my 6 other children. I have a pre-schooler, a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, a 6th grader, an 9th grader, a 12th grader. They are all very different. God has different plans for them all. It is amazing that you can have 7 kids and have 7 VERY different personalities, gifts, talents, likes, and dislikes, yet they all mesh and play a big part of the family dynamics and now an emerging business. We couldn’t do without any of them.
Any family that home schools will be affected, but every family will be effected differently because each family has different reasons for homeschooling and each homeschooling family will have a different vision. I believe those reasons will be the determining factor in how your individual family is affected by the homeschooling experience. For me, my beliefs to the commands of God for me as a wife and mother and following my husband’s desires are what dictates the effects of homeschooling on my family. The effects on my family will look very different from someone whose decision to homeschool is based solely on academics, sports, or temporary reasons.
For example, a person solely basing their homeschooling decision on financial reasons are going to homeschool very differently and be affected very differently from a family basing their decision to homeschool on a core belief. One is basing their decision on temporary situations while one is basing their decision on a their world view. To the one, homeschooling will be a part of life, and to the other, homeschooling will be a WAY OF LIFE, A LIFESTYLE.
There certainly is nothing wrong, and actually very right, about homeschooling because you want to develop scholars or want to use money in different ways than to pay for private education, but these reasons will not “get you through the tough situations. You probably will doubt at some time that you have made the right decision about homeschooling and you will once again look at your determining factors. Your world view and core belief will see you through these times, but anything else may just not be enough unless those reasons go to the very core of your being. I have known some folks (they were both educators) who have major conviction that homeschooling was the ONLY way to create true scholars; I think this went to the core of their being. Interestingly enough their kids ended up going to Harvard and excelling!
Scott and I have had the conviction since our oldest was born that homeschooling would be the best way to carry out God’s will for educating our children. We do not think that everyone has to do this to be obedient to God; it just happened to be our conviction. I am certainly not writing this to make anyone feel guilty, but just to share our journey. God has plans for each individual family and who am I to say what that plan is? Dueteronomy 6: 6-7 is a command to us as far as educating our children goes. Sure, you could go to school and still carry this out, but we did not feel it the BEST method for carrying out the the raising, guiding, and educating of our children.
Logically, Scott and I concluded that homeschooling was a way of life and the easiest way to carry this out was to be with our kids. Yes, it is possible for kids to go to school and to carry out this command, but since we continue to have the freedom in this country to carry out our children’s education the way we think best, we choose to keep our kids with us during the day to teach them everything we knew and to lead them to the materials that would enable them to pass us up educationally.
DEUTERONOMY 6:6-7 is a foundation for not only the reason we homeschool, but in the way that we carry out home education. It says, “AND THESE WORDS, WHICH I COMMAND YOU THIS DAY, SHALL BE IN THY HEART: AND THOU SHALT TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY UNTO THY CHILDREN, AND SHALT TALK OF THEM WHEN THOU SITTEST IN THINE HOUSE, AND WHEN THOU WALKEST BY THE WAY, AND WHEN THOU LIEST DOWN, AND WHEN THOU RISEST UP. This is also repeated in Duet. 11:19 (must be very important) This seems to me that it is all throughout the day and it makes sense to me that being with your children all throughout the day would be the best way to accomplish this very important command. I didn’t want to do that in a car going to and from school or many other lessons. Yes, we have had various lessons (tennis, gymnastics, piano, guitar, ballet), but for a season.
We also knew how important it was to God that we raise a Godly heritage and what a huge responsibility this is that we did not want to err in this. GENESIS 18:19 shows us that Abraham was chosen to be the Father of many nations because “…he will command His children and his household after him and shall keep the ways of the Lord, to do justice and judgment…” That was THE REASON God chose him! Amazing.
Furthermore, Scott and I wanted to help our children become what God had created them to be. EPHESIANS 2:10 says, FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP, CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS UNTO GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD HATH BEFORE ORDAINED THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM. We knew that we needed to lead them to Christ at the very earliest age and teach them to pray, read and memorize scripture, and hear God. We couldn’t tell them what to be or do as far as God’s purpose for their lives, but we have a huge responsibility to lead them to the One who would lead, guide, and teach them in the way they should go. (Psalm 25)
All parents want their children to be successful. Often and more times than not, success is a result of education. How you determine success will define how you choose to educate your children. For Scott and I, We believe that the way to success (God’s definition of success – it may not look like what you have envisioned in your mind) is stated in Joshua 1:8 “THIS BOOK OF THE LAW SHALL NOT DEPART OUT OF THY MOUTH; BUT THOU SHALT MEDITATE THEREIN DAY AND NIGHT, THAT THOU MAYEST OBSERVE TO DO ACCORDING TO ALL THAT IS WRITTEN THEREIN; FOR THEN THOU SHALT MAKE THY WAY PROSPEROUS AND THEN THOU SHALT HAVE GOOD SUCCESS.”
Another factor in my decision to homeschool is based on God’s command to me as a wife and mother in Titus 2:1-5, 1Timothy 5: 3-13, and Proverbs 31:10-31. I felt that educating many children, caring for a husband, and managing my home would be more efficient of I was actually at home and not in the road for a major part of the day. I wanted to be available to Scott and felt that it was my job to help him in every way in life; in family, business, and recreation; I learned to love the hobbies that he enjoyed and to teach the kids too as well. This has served our family very well. We now have a family business associated with his hobbies. We are writing books, videos, and creating DVD’s on Sustainable Living and Living Off the Land. I find that in the daily grind of school, work, and play the children also learn to serve others and to love other personalities different than themselves. This should take them very far in life in working with others.
I believe the family is a microcosm of the relationship of Christ and the church. He sets up marriage in a hierarchy. I am to be a help-meet to my husband, to love my husband, to love my children, and to be a keeper at home. In carrying out my priority as a help meet, I teach the children to serve their dad as well. As they do this they gain confidence and learn to love what their dad loves and they aid him in his purpose until they become men and women and have their own. They are better equipped for whatever it is that God has for them.
I believe that the parents determine the effects of homeschooling on the family. No two families are going to have the same vision, ideas, or reasons for homeschooling. Each family really needs to purposely determine what they want to gain from homeschooling and what effects they want homeschooling to have on their family, then determine the “how” of homeschooling. Just like no two families will have the same reasons for homeschooling, there are NO two homeschooling families that educate the same way.
I had many many reasons for wanting to homeschool. I wanted my kids to be thinkers; to think for themselves and to be able to reason. Academics is very important to Scott and I. Scott is a dentist and I am a lawyer. We know what it takes to make it to higher education if God calls our children in that direction. We know that it takes a lot of self-motivation and study skills. We feel they need more than just books to be self-starters and to learn to work hard without an immediate reward. Sometime that means building projects that take time which encourages problem solving, motor skills, logic, and more. Since books don’t always teach this they need time to pursue other “difficult” tasks.
I also want them to learn to work hard using their bodies and being active throughout the day. I want them to have a love for learning and not learn just to take a test and then forget it.
I want them to be the person who GOD wants them to be and not follow the “coolest” thing at the time.
If they are interested in a topic in science or history and want to research it longer, I want them to be able to spend extra time on that and not be rushed to move to the next topic.
I want them to be self-starters and managers of time without having to have someone breathe down their backs to get a job done.
Most of all, I want to KNOW my children and BE WITH THEM. It just didn’t seem natural to me to hand them over to others the better part of the day. I also do not think that government run schools should take my God-given responsibility and privilege to educate my children away from me. I also want them to have plenty of time with extended family. Grandparents can teach your children a lot and those relationships are very important.
As we committed to homeschooling, we began to realize that EVERYTHING is education. I began almost unintentionally incorporating HOMESCHOOLING into LIFE and LIFE into HOMESCHOOLING. This is what I mean by “homeschooling is a way of life.” You teach as you live. Every moment is a teaching moment from your response to your favorite table being written on with indelible marker to the moon being as close to the earth today as it will be all year.
You are living life with your children, teaching them everything that you know, researching together what you do not know, learning more about your child and what makes them tick which enables you to help your child as he gets older to find what purpose God has created him to accomplish. THIS IS THE MOST NATURAL WAY TO LIVE. IT IS SO NATURAL THAT IT JUST HAPPENS.
How does this look in reality? I have shared a bit of the effects on our family already as far as family relationships, having the same interests (yet each of them specialize in a particular area in their interests making things more interesting), the kids are thinkers (makes for entertaining discussions!), they have learned how to serve one another (most of the time..), learned to work very hard, and they have a desire to be around one another. I can’t say that for many families.
As far as education, all of life is education. We do “do school” and use curriculum and notebooks in that many things cannot be learned otherwise and it helps with accountability, but if we do nothing else, Bible and family time with the Lord is a must each day. If your children develop this habit and have their own relationship to God, God will take care of the rest. Your children will develop integrity and the character they need to carry out God’s plan for them.
I think that life events are the very best way to teach. Starting with pre-school, let your children get into the habit of writing thank you notes to show thankfulness and appreciation for others. Have them make brownies for the family or someone in need and measure the ingredients and understand fractions. Have them build a knife or some other tool. All of these activities are two-fold. They learn how to be useful, how to encourage, write, care for others, calculate all at the same time.
Go on the rooftop and look at the stars. You are incorporating God’s creation, family experiences which ties strings with your kids, and constellations. Go for a walk and count the tires on cars. Then ask questions to your toddler.
With the bigger kids build a chicken tractor or something else that will aid your family. They can also keep the books of a family business or their own business; pay the bills, help with school with the little ones; learn in depth something of interest. For my family, my oldest son learned every native plant and tree in the Southeast at 14. My other son wrote one of my most read blog entries which is referred in many publications.
When given the chance, they will develop interests that will most likely take them into their careers. Pray that God will give that vision to them early.
Everyone is going to have different reasons for homeschooling, therefore the effects on each family will be different. You wives will all have different husbands. I encourage you to find out what he wants, what he likes and be his helper even in his hobbies. Join your kids in with that as well. My husband loves to hunt, fish, garden, and is full of new ideas all the time. At first in our married life, I tried to buck him in some of these areas. The Lord showed me that I was made FOR HIM and that I needed to bend with him. This one decision has afforded all of my kids to love what my husband enjoys and developed into a family business When you give up your life, you will find it.
The effects of homeschooling on our family result from our core belief that God has a plan for our children and that parents are the ones to help them find God and have a deep relationship with Him that will enable them to KNOW HIS WILL FOR THIER LIVES. We believe that God guides us into all truth and that he leads those with the young. This verse means a great deal to me: Isaiah 40:11 says, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” When you wonder if God is going to show you what to do about a situation in academics or otherwise, keep this verse in your mind. God knows your frailty and he gently leads those that are with young.
Homeschooling is a passion and a way of life for my family and I am very grateful we still have the freedom in this country to live out our religious freedoms in this way.
Each family has to determine their core belief as it pertains to homeschooling. I believe that those whose decisions are based on anything less can have success, but I do not believe that they will pass this way of life on to the next generation. The impact of homeschooling will be very different from those who have the firm belief that home education is the best way achieve the desired vision of the family. Happy Adventures.
Update as of 2017. My oldest son graduated Valedictorian in Biology and Chemistry from college and is now a dental student in his 2nd year at UAB. My 2nd oldest son is at the top of his college class majoring in Economics and Biology and my oldest daughter just started college and is majoring in English. I am still teaching the other 4 children 2nd grade, 5th grade , 9th grade, and 11th grade. I have learned a great deal throughout the years and hope I am a better teacher than when I first began.