Thursday, February 11, 2010

the problem with homeschoolers

I snagged you with the title, didn't I? :)

I'm a reader. I just love to read anything. Magazines, books, the back of cereal boxes, blogs, whatever. I've read a lot about our educational choices and responsibilities as Christian parents and I've yet to come across an article, book, or blog post that I agree with 100%. Imagine that. So after much thought, here goes my uneducated, probably horribly flawed, opinion.

We home school. Why? Because we are afraid to send our kids into the big bad world of public schools? Because we think they'll get a better education at home? Because we are crazy?

Well, actually, no. You see, I always thought I'd home school my children. Even before I had kids, this was the plan I hatched in my head. I would birth them and school them and we would all live happily ever after. The only problem with that was, it was my plan. My husband was on board but I think I had just assumed that God was on board, too.

Then I had children. They came out with all sorts of different personalities, talents, weaknesses and strengths. Kids are fun like that. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that maybe there is no one size fits all, God approved education for every child. Imagine that. Maybe, just maybe, we should pray about what God would have us to do to.

So we prayed. And we keep praying. I pray daily that God would make it abundantly clear what he wants us to do with these children that he's loaned us to raise. I cannot find any verses in the Bible bashing public schools, or private schools, or verses that say as long as you live in a "good" school district then it's ok to send the kids. I've heard sermons that disagree with me. I've read a lot of books that disagree with me. They say there is a Biblical mandate for homeschooling. I have trouble believing that. I know what side the statistics are on but I also know wonderful, Godly kids who graduate from the public school system. I also know home school graduates who have walked far away from their parents' faith. I have learned that there is no right answer. I just know that God has told us to keep Maggie home for the past year and a half. I don't know yet what he will tell us to do for next school year or the years after that.

I have enjoyed having her home and learning with her. It's given us precious time together. Time that we needed to bond. She was the oldest of 4 children born in 5 years and her needs tended to get put behind the younger children. I am thankful that we've had this chance to connect. That's not to say that I don't have days where I really think it would be nice to have one less thing on my plate and a little more free time for me. That's also not to say that the other children won't be marching off to kindergarten at the local public school. I don't know what He has planned for them just yet.

I take my job as her educator seriously. I had her tested in Oct. by a first grade teacher and she will be tested in April again, just to make sure she's on grade level. We use amazing curriculum. I know she's getting plenty of time with her peers and she's not sheltered. I also make sure she is meeting SPS's instructional goals here. God's blessed me with a wonderful mentor and an amazing support group of fellow homeschooling families. All of whom I know would understand completely if we told them that God was leading us in another direction in the future.

Here's my point. I really do have a reason for sharing my heart on this issue. I think there is a great divide in Christian social circles when it comes to educational choices. Home school groups tend to be a petri dish for legalism (quote from Mark Driscoll, love him!). Public and private school parents feel judged from some homeschoolers. Homeschoolers feel judged by some public and private school families. I've personally gotten a lot of negative comments, many from close friends and family members. I'm sure you all have, too. All the judging makes us put up walls of defense and then it becomes an awkward subject. Here's the deal, I fully support you and your family's decision, whatever that might be.

This is probably the last heavy post I ever write. At least I hope it is. I like to keep things lighter around here.

It's 5:00am and I should probably go to bed.

12 comments:

coacher said...

i enjoyed reading this post.

LauraD said...

Great perspective! Love you!

Hillenblog said...

You should get a grammar checker for these posts...

admin's wife said...

Rachel! I couldn't have said it better myself!!! I've been praying intensely the past two weeks about the matter because I'm starting to feel led in another direction... we'll see, we're still praying. I've been up a few nights lately thinking about this very issue.

We really should have hung out last night! Ha!

crystal said...

Well said, Rach. You are a great mom and a great example. I am blessed to call you friend.

Chad Watson said...

Thanks for posting this Rachel. Skyler and I are looking forward to what the Lord has for our kids. We count it as such a privilege to have you and Matt as friends who can share wisdom with us in areas like this. Keep posting, please!

Hillenblog is... said...

Of course I was joking Rachel...your thoughts are well presented and your writing is always impeccable. Its almost like you graduated from College and I am the idiot that ...wait a minute. Never mind.

OK...so although I get the rap that I don't like Home schooling, is not entirely true. I just like to make fun of home schooled kids...But I like to make fun of Chandler too and he is not home schooled. So I guess I'm pretty equal opportunity that way.

I think that Matt and You are seriously the best parents that we know and I know you will make the right decision. Maybe half home schooled and half schooled in the devils classroom is the right approach (ha)

I do appreciate it that you have singlehandedly brought back the blogs! Thanks Rachel...can't wait til Valentines night...

Andrea said...

I was taught both at home and at a private school. Looking back i feel like my parents did what was best not only for us but also the family at the time. I think it's so wise to just take it year by year, child by child.

Heather said...

Rachel, we've taken it year by year with our kids. They've been in public school, homeschooled, private school and this next year we're back to public school. I always felt uneasy about hopping around, but the Lord has been good to us, the boys are secure and happy in who they are and He's given us peace in every decision we've made. We pray about this constantly and it's been amazing to see God direct our steps. That's the key...letting Him guide you. It's a guaranteed winner!

Anonymous said...

Rachel, you know I will support what ever decision you make. I'm just so thankful for the wonderful two years Maggie has had under your teaching. I don't think you will ever regret all the hard work that has gone into this endeavor or the bonding you've been able to achieve. Maggie is ready, I feel, for more homeschooling or public school. I'm so proud of you as a teacher, but most of all for the incredible mother that you are. Love, Mom

Hillenblog is... said...

Annonymous mom... That was so touching and heartfelt... I can't imagine how touched Rachel would be if she knew who you were.

Liz said...

Rachel, from a Mom who had her kids in private school and then home schooled, you have a wonderful perspective on the whole school issue. The bottom line...no matter what you do, love your kids, raise them to love and serve the Lord and know what they are being taught if you aren't teaching them. Don't assume anything either. It's your responsibility, no matter what you decide.