Home-Schooled and Home-Schooling

Yup, that’s me. I was in the first generation of American Home-Schoolers who branched out bravely in the late 70’s. They helped form laws and prevent laws that would prevent parents rights to educate their children at home.

My parents helped found our state’s home-school group and my brother and I graduated in a class of 7 from that group. We knew nearly everyone in our city who home-schooled.

If my mom had to take us out during regular school hours, we were always asked if school was out. When we explained that we home-schooled, people did not know how to respond. I even remember my mother being told by a grocery clerk that she didn’t know that was legal.

Nearly everyone who home-schooled in the eighties home-schooled for religious reasons. Home-schooling was usually accompanied by a set of faith based standards. My parents held such a conviction to home-school that they were prepared to move out of the state or even out of the country to keep our education at home. They believed everyone who was a Christian should home-educate their children. They believed home-education biblical choice.

Home-education rose in popularity, and by the time I graduated, there were many joining our home-school group who were secular.

Poor academic standards in public schools, rising costs of private school, school shootings, bullying, and more special needs awareness…multitudes of reasons to home-school brought on the rise of disatified parents home-schooling.

Home-education also became widly accepted and Moms and Dads no longer feared legal difficulties.

Now, home-schooling is everywhere. My un-churched neighbor is a second grade school teacher in the public school at the end of our street. She is going tp home-school her daughter next year. Her daughter has an unusual walking and running gate due to childhood arthritis and her Mama is afraid of kids being mean to her in school. She expects to put her back in for high school.

I have another friend who is raising a daughter to be a profesional ballerina. Home-schooling allews her the flexability to dedicate to practice and performances.

The standards of public education continues its downward spiral and that, combined with poor parenting, is forming continually unpleasant education environments.

Now here I am with four little minds in my care, and we are home-schooling.

Why are we home-schooling? I honestly don’t know why, but that is what God has for us, and I am very much at peace with it, despite the days that bring me tears.

Unlike many in my parent’s generation, I can’t say for us it is a biblical conviction, other than we are each to be sensitive and humble to God’s calling on our lives. My husband and I do not feel home-schooling is the right choice for everyone who is a Christian. Each of us must raise and educate our children how God lays on our heart and directs our paths. For someone to home-school who God is leading to public education would be just as wrong as for me to send my children to public school.

I do have friends who keep an open mind to how they educate their children and re-address it every year. Or say they are doing this for now, but are open to whatever God has for them in the future. Nothing is wrong with either of those aspects.

That is not us. I have always hoped to be able educate my children at home. Since I was a little girl I played school with siblings and friends, or just my stuffed animals. As I grew older, I wanted to start a boarding school and wrote out ideas in a book. Education has always been important to me. My mother was an educator. My grandmother was an educator. And my Great-Grandfather was a school principle. Education runs deep in my veins. My husband is also an educator as is his mother. We thrive on teaching and embrace every teaching moment. Home-schooling is a perfect fit for our family. And it is amazing to see how God not only prepared both of us to embrace the task of educating our children at home. Every story and every family is truly different, and that is another marvelous aspect of God’s creativity and grace as well.

Why Charlotte Mason? I have always wanted to nurture little brains with more inspirational methods than the molds and curriculum of traditional education allows. I fell in love with Charlotte Mason the first chapter in her book “Home Education.” I knew that is how I wanted to teach my children and began using her methods of inspiration even when my children were tots. I also value the techniques of Montessori and have incorporated those as needed. Classical methods of education are timelessly proven in their effectiveness as well. So, we do some fact memorization, recitation, and copy-work. I have gotten to the point that everything sounds so good it is easy to question the path I am on. So I get the struggle every teacher faces as we try to wisely choose methods and tools of instruction that will be most effective for our learners.

Will you home-school forever? What is meant by that question is, until my children are graduated. Honestly, only the Lord knows the answer, but I hope with all my heart that we are able to do that. I would love to be able to walk with my children all the way through those high school years. I feel privileged that God has asked me to pour my life into my children in such a practical way.

What about socialization? Are you part of a home-school group? I have been asked those two questions by people with great intentions as well as those who are scared for home-schooled children. My answer is “Look at them…they are socially balanced, not shy, and have friends of piers as well as other generations.” In fact, I would venture to guess that children who interact with multi-generational groups are often more socially balanced than those who are only close to piers on a regular basis. I love listening to the vibrant conversations between my children and other people. But aside from a social concern, I rely heavily in God’s grace and sovereignty to have placed my children in our family, knowing exactly how they would be raised. He can also fill in the gaps of my parenting and teaching with His grace. I had to learn social graces in college, but I did, and God provided the grace in my life to grow in that way. If my children were in a public school or private school setting, there would be other gaps that would have to be filled by God’s grace.

What about sports? What about sports? My husband and I are not into much. He loves Nascar, but other than that, we never watch sports. Sports aren’t everything. In fact, they can be a very much God-distracting affection. I am perfectly fine not having my children participate in any team sports. In fact, team sports are a fairly new phenomena in this century. I am not saying that they are wrong in any way. I would certainly support my child in a team sport if he or she was so inclined, but it would be them doing it for their interests, not being involved in a sport because Mom or Dad wanted them to participate.

How Do I Balance Being a Teacher and a Mother? I chuckle at this question, because anyone who asks it has no idea what being a mother is. I would say a huge majority of mothering tasks are teaching, even if a mother is unaware of it. Because all children, whether at home or in a school environment are learning…always. What difference does it make if that teaching it is potty training or reading lessons? All mothers are teachers. I do not have a mother hat and a teacher hat. I am mothering while I give lessons, and teaching while I mother. It is all the same thing in my opinion. Now every mother chooses how much academics she will teach her child. Some, choose to entrust much of that teaching to others, some, like me, simply know we are the ones meant to teach our children academics.

What about the arts? Fine arts are my first thrust. I honestly value fine arts to an incredible degree. My children are being raised listening to Mozart, Handel, and Beethoven. We study artists and their masterpieces as part of our daily lessons. I encourage creativity and individualism in our home as much as I am able. My children, from, kindergarten, are well familiar with the Stories of Shakespeare. I am teaching them to memorize poetry. I want them to be inspired to learn by meeting the arts. I also see an increasing future for anyone who can come up with something new in any field. We live in any ever changing, easily bored society, and anyone who can think in innovative, creative ways will do well in this fast paced world.

Hey, I am scared for my children! Has anyone ever considered what courage it takes to be completely responsible for ones children’s education? Am I going to adequately prepare them for the life God has for them? Am I good enough a teacher to meet their learning needs? Do I challenge them enough? Too much? Are they going to be smart? Are they going to be God fearing adults? My children’s future hinges so much on the next twelve or so years. But here also enters God’s abounding grace. I lean heavily into His grace. I seek His wisdom as I prepare to teach each day. I truly find myself no different that any other godly mother in the burden I have for the precious, precious souls entrusted to my care, for a very short time.