Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why I homeschool, and the answer to an even tougher question

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I wrote a post several years back about why I homeschool. It was a good post, I think, and reflected my feelings at the time, and to some extent still does. But I think the question has changed now from why do I homeschool to why do I choose live the life I live-which includes homeschooling, but also so much more.

My homeschooling journey began before I even had kids, and for very practical reasons. I was in college, about to get married, and my fiancé and I had decided we wanted to serve as missionaries overseas. So I decided to study elementary education because for one thing, teaching is a common job for foreigners overseas, and secondly, when I had kids I could homeschool them myself (bear in mind this was long before I realized one did not need a teaching credential to homeschool!).

Later, when my first child was nearly 3, "everyone" was putting their kids in preschool and I began to feel the pressure to put him in too, at least part time. But after visiting several schools, something wasn't right in my spirit, and I knew he needed to remain home with me. There was no spiritual or deep reason for this; I just didn't feel "right" sending him off to school. So, with me he stayed.

He and his sister grew and learned, and soon, they had learned everything a kindergarten student would learn in school and then some. Now I felt I would be doing them a disservice putting them in school; how bored they would be! Not to mention the kids and teachers they'd be exposed to, whose values were often directly opposed to what we were trying to teach them. At this point, I knew we were homeschooling for the long haul, even if we stayed in the States. But again, no real spiritual epiphany here. Homeschooling wasn't an issue of faith for me, but one of pragmatics; keeping them home would be better for them academically, socially, and would support our value system.

Fast forward several years, and now I am the biological mother to a nearly 8 year old, a 6.5 year old, and an infant, and an adoptive mother to a 1 year old. We had been doing the homeschool thing for quite a while. My kids were smart, "ahead" for their age, and happy. And we all loved homeschooling. Homeschooling was a major way that we could be together as a family, and for us, family life has always taken center stage.

That is, except in church. After all in church, each one of my children was separated from me and from eachother, each learning something different from someone different. And this is where my homeschooling journey, and my why question changed.

I knew why I homeschooled--because sending my kids away from me didn't feel "right" (among other reasons). But if that was true, why did I send them away from me in church? And why did I delegate my and my husband's duty to train them up in the instructions of the Lord to the church? I read this: "So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up". (Duet. 11:18-19), and this "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord," (Eph. 6:4), and this, "Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children" (Joel 1:3) and hosts of other verses saying the same thing. Over and over again I saw that the Bible commanded PARENTS to train their children in the faith.

At once I realized why sending them away from me each day felt so wrong. Could it be that God was commanding parents to train their children at home? No, he doesn't specifically say to homeschool, but it does say to teach them His words, each day, all throughout the day, and wherever we go. How could I do that if I sent them to school each day? The kind of school didn't matter, whether private, Christian, public, Montessori or any other. How could I train them and admonish them in the Lord while at the same time relinquishing my authority to another person who may or may not share my values, and who definitely isn't commanded by God to teach MY children? The truth is, I couldn't. So yes, I began to see that homeschooling was the only way I could follow the commands to train my children in the Bible. (For those of you whose eyes just bugged out of their heads when I used the words "only way"and "homeschooling" in the same sentence, please rest assured, my beliefs regarding this relate only to our family. I'll let the Lord lead you and yours how He sees fit!!).

Now here comes the but: For many years when my oldest children were small, my faith took a back seat to keeping house, changing diapers, and just staying afloat. Yes, we homeschooled, but homeschooling alone does not a disciple make. Oh no, plenty of people homeschool and have no faith, or like us, homeschool, and teach the Bible, but don't integrate it into every facet of life, as these verses command. To put it bluntly, my faith, though strong, had gone flat. It was who we were, but it had little to do with what we did and how we raised our lovely children day by day.

Then, I saw this movie, and it changed me. So I showed it to my husband, and it changed him too. This movie made me realize that while homeschooling is great (for those wondering, this movie doesn't mention homeschooling at all, this is just what I learned from watching it), alone it doesn't suffice for the kind of child training I now felt God calling us to in scripture. Homeschooling, education, had to take a back seat to discipling. And the life of our family had to integrate our faith in every way possible. After seeing this movie, in the words of my husband, "we could not turn back". Our children needed to worship with us when we sat at home, and when we went to church, and when we walked on the road, and every other time.

This was the beginning of our venture into family integrated churches--churches where there is no Sunday School, no nursery, no age segregated activities. Just families (and singles, and young marrieds, and widows, and children) worshiping the Lord together. And at home, the expectation is that the fathers would lead their families in daily discipleship.

As it always seem to go, one new thing leads to another, and another. And it was no different with this venture into a family integrated church. Prioritizing family worship every.single.day. is something that family-integrated churches really believe in. I wish all churches would encourage this more, but, I digress.  The point is, that was something we had never done before.

Months before, I had started reading this blog and more specicially, these posts, and was SO incredibly inspired by the dedication of this mom to have daily family worship time. My husband has caught the vision too.

Yes, it's new. It takes practice. And we are having to hash things out as they come. But the truth is, I have never felt more like I am doing just exactly what God is calling me do. And that is why I homeschool, and that is why I live the way I do. :)
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Anonymous said...

i'm excited to watch the video. danny and i love worshiping as a family and have felt the same calling, but haven't found a way that sticks yet. i'm encouraged from your blog to keep trucking and not get distracted , thank you! It really is all about discipling our children and our job to teach them in the way of the Lord spiritually and educationally.

Angela said...

It is interesting you should post this. A few families and my family have been doing a family intergrated Bible study. During this study we have really all had it laid on our hearts in one way or another to keep our kids with us, and possibly find a family integrated church.

Dionne said...

Don't you just love it when you feel that you are doing what is right for your family and what God is calling you to? Right now...I am feeling what you have about homeschooling...I just don't feel like my oldest child is ready to face the world and I am not ready either. As far as the church thing goes, I find this idea of worshippiing together really interesting. I agree that it is our job to teach our children about the Lord. I think churches don't allow kids in service since most would be bored by the "adult" material and well, let's face it...toddlers have short attention spans. Glad to have found your blog!

Value Hearing said...

Appreciate all of the information here. Your site is excellent. Thanks.

Sobia - PhD by Publication said...

I love reading inspirational posts about why people homeschool. I have been really debating on the whole homeschooling front. I want to do the homeschool but I am not sure that I will be awesome at it. Thank you for your wonderful post.

Lynda Schultz said...

You've put into words exactly what has been on my heart. Thank you for sharing this.

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