Considering Home Schooling

We have friends who have two amazingly smart, well-adjusted and entirely pleasant children, who have been home schooled their entire lives. In standardized testing, they typically score 4 grades above where they’re supposed to be in school. Their eldest, who’s only just pushing at her teen years has already taken PSATs with scores sufficient to get her into pretty much any college she wants.

Having known them since they were born, we haven’t needed much convincing on the benefits of home schooling. However, we’re aware – having known other kids who have been home schooled who aren’t as well-adjusted – that there are also risks/potential problems with home schooling. Social consideration, of course, being significant.

You’re welcome, dear reader, to chime in with thoughts on the subject, as we’re currently gathering such opinions, but its not likely you can introduce any new variables that we haven’t already been considering.

Home schooling is on the rise in the States, one of the foremost reasons given by surveyed parent’s who chose this path being that they desire a better religious education for their kids. I won’t say that’s not important – it is – but I doubt I weight that factor for the same reasons as many Christians. I do not, in fact, want my kids to grow up ultra-conservative. I’d much rather see my kids grow up with an excess of compassion than an excess of indoctrination.

That said, I understand the importance of shaping our kid’s understanding of the world according to Truth, as well as Grace, and acknowledge there are things in the public school system that we would prefer to have taught differently. What I struggle with is that I don’t want my kids to arrive at adulthood without being able to understand, and have respect for, differing points of view. If they learn only our point of view, then how are they going to react the first time they meet someone different than us? How can they be effective on a missions field, or in a workplace, if they grow up without tolerance for differing perspectives? Although we don’t want them to be of the world, we do want them to be effective in it.

On top of that, and the aforementioned (and obvious) social implications, I worry a little bit that our house might become a semi-permanent cradle. With me working at home, Nicole functioning as the in-home teacher, and our little village being a little bit isolated from the 3 neighbouring, larger cities, it would be very easy for our kids to grow up thinking that our home is the center of the universe.

All this is coming to a head because, ridiculously, we have to enroll Benjamin in school now if we want him to attend Pre-K in September. Because his birthday falls at the end of the year, our choices are to either enroll him as too young for his class, or too old. Both possibilities pose risk that, with him at a public school, we won’t be able to determine quickly enough if he’s struggling at school, and why.

I have two theories on my own education (and frustrations with it) that combined suggest to me that if we put Ben in school too late, he might end up frustrated, bored and unable or uninterested in performing according to how he’s evaluated… but that if we put him in too early and he learns differently than the teachers expect, he might get steamrolled.

If our kids learn at home, they’ll have 1 full-time teacher, and 1 part-time teacher available to them to help them learn however they need to, and at whatever pace works for them. And our field trips? They’d be world-wide…

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15 thoughts on “Considering Home Schooling

  1. Sounds like you have really looked at both sides of the coin on this one.
    What about this…the kids will be home ALL THE TIME! Maybe with the kids sent off to school during the day Nic could have some “Nicole-time” or you guys could have some special alone time (lunch date?)or just some extra time to clean the house.
    Plus at school the kids will learn some things you woudnt even think to teach them (4-Square, Stella-ella-ola, new words), maybe not always a good thing but i think a good thing in the end.

  2. ooooh P.S.
    Plus, if you feel like you send them off to school and they may be lacking some form of education, you’re conscientious parents, you can supplement it – like you were saying special fieldtrips etc.

  3. As always, a well-written entry, that demonstrates thought and consideration to both sides of the debate.
    I am a teacher in the public school system, but I went to a catholic school. I am not, and have never been catholic.
    I know many home-schooled families. All of the children who were exclusively home-schooled are wonderful people, but, in my opinion, have a narrow view-point of their world. The kids who were home-schooled for awhile, but who have also gone to a public school are much more balanced. Of these kids, most were home-schooled for their elementary years, but went to a public high school.
    Even though I teach in the public system, I do not intend on sending my kids to a public school. Like me, I want them to have a catholic education. In my experience, this faith-based education was free, allowed my parents to do other things (ie: work in or out of home), and yet I was socialized with people other than my own family, or other very similar families.
    I always enjoy your writing, and I applaud you for carefully considering the future of your children!

  4. Is there a home schooling network in your area? That would allow for some pooling of resources and the opportunity for the kids to spend time with other kids,learn to work cooperatively and require social develoment.

  5. Unfortunately, as much as the catholic system may be intriguing over the public system, unless you have catholic backgrounds, you will not be able to enroll your kids in their schools until high school.

    One of the major knocks on home schooled children is in the end of socialization. In the past, home schooled kids were typically on their own without any friends. Some of that came as a result of the parents home schooled because of religious concerns over their children being in the public system. As for your children becoming one-sided in their viewpoints, that is entirely determined on how you teach them. If you teach them your beliefs along with helping them understand that not everyone sees it that way, then they will be more open to accepting others.

    I think home schooling can work if you can find external ways for your children to socialize with other children their age. There are home school networks, church ministries, sports teams, etc… that you can have your children involved in.

    Home schooling is becoming more and more prevalent and I know many kids who are normal people that were home schooled. I believe its the way the parents do it, not the fact that kids are home schooled that determines what they are like. I know the couple you speak of and they do an excellent job with their children. I think they would be a good model to start with and go from there.

  6. i think nic would be perfect for that. i on the other hand would never even dream of it. eww gross….for me. lololololol. but then again, i am difficult and selfish and nic is not. 🙂

    and as for the early or late part………man i have no idea. but i will be praying for you guys!
    come see us whenever you want tooooo!

  7. Having worked with middle/high schoolers a fair amount, I’d say one big plus of NOT being in the public school arena is to avoid some of the “attitude” that seems to be not only the norm, but also expected, in public school (and I do say “some” because attitude and teenagers seem to go together). In any school, kids want to fit in with their peers, and if giving attitude (disrespect) to the adults around them is considered cool, your kids WILL pick it up as acceptable behavior. The bigger the school, the worse the problem it seems. Just another thing to think about. As to Ben, I’d say send him later. You can always expound on what he’s learning if necessary so that he’s not bored. As to socializing if home schooled, perhaps there are other things to get into, whether it be organized sports, scouts, 4-H, etc. It is extra work, but in my opinion, well worth it. Remember, one of the reasons home schooled kids are so far ahead is because of the one-on-one time. So if you wanted them to be “only” equal to the other kids, you won’t be instructing them all day. The rest of the time you can get them out of the house and see what the real-world is about. No matter what, you and Nic are super parents. I’m sure your kids will flourish no matter what!

  8. Oh man – we understand this issue completely. We have been struggling with what to do as far as education – so much so we kept Noah out of JK cause we just didn’t have peace last year for what we should do.
    There are positives and negatives to both sides for sure. We were worried about sending the kids to the public system because of the influences and such – and honestly the thought of our kids spending 6 – 7 hours of their day with someone other than us is kind of scary! Especially when you are uncertain if their worldviews, ect match yours. We also want our kids to be influencers in their world – we want them to be good testimonies and make a difference and so we kept struggling with Christian school, homeschool, public school.
    For us – we just don’t have peace with sending them to the public school right now. We feel we need to protect and shape them in their very young years, prepare them to make a difference in their worlds…but that’s just us and we know that everyone is different! 🙂 This parenting this just isn’t that easy is it! 🙂

  9. Your thoughts are well put and I would say along the lines of many parents with kids your age. As you know this year we’re experiencing a different aspect of school…the boarding aspect. Many of these kids were homeschooled for their elementary years and now spend their week away from their parents to go to school and be with peer their age and from their own culture. One big thing we’re noticing is something you brought up. Some of these kids (high school) struggle to think for themselves. It has made us more aware that we want to develop in our own kids the ability to think for themselves but teach them truth.
    As for homeschooling vs. other… we’re still debating that, if we were back in N. America. Anyways those are a few random thoughts.

  10. Register the kid. I its like opening a bank account. You don’t have to put any money in it or even use it, but it is there if you want to. Once you have him registered you can take the remaining eight months thinking through your options. If you decide not to send him in September, fine. It is still your decision. Not registering him closes a door.

  11. If you are a Christian, then your first response must always be, “what does God say about this?”

    I’m actually stunned that you said, “I do NOT want my kids to grow up ultra-conservative.” I think you think that “conservative” is some kind of dirty word.

    How about this thought, they will learn what they are taught. The questions are, Who is going to do the teaching and what will be taught?

    I read lots comments citing the pros and cons and it sounds a lot like the following:

    “Well you know, they have good schools in Babylon and they teach the kids with an even balance on many different pager religions, thoughts and traditions. I want my child to have a well-rounded education so they can live successfully in this crazy world and be more tolerant of others and less critical so that they can be at peace with their neighbors and who knows… maybe lead them to the Lord or something.”

    If this is somewhat reflective of your position, then I have to ask – what evidence do you have that makes you think the public schools teach kids in a better way that helps them operate more successfully in the world?

    How about this thought, the education that children receive in the godless public school is largely responsible for the problems we see in the world today. Parents take very little interest in what their children are being exposed to at school on a day to day basis and they are too trusting in the opinion of the state or the government to act on their behalf, in their child’s best interest, and in a way that reflects anything about God.

    I’m not talking about standard academics here. I’m speaking directly to the “socialization” lessons that THEY WILL LEARN. This is on top of the academic lessons that are in direct opposition to God’s word. You are correct however, social consideration is a significant factor. Do you want your children to learn the lessons that Babylon is teaching? That is the real question.

    If you could ask Christ Himself, “what should I teach my children and how should I ensure that it gets done?”, I am sure he would answer from Deuteronomy 6:

    Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

    The big question then is – Do you trust the public school to do this for you? Did the Lord command you to do it or to go and find someone to do it for you?
    The answer is, “NO”. The public school is going to do what THEY think is in the best interests of your child. Does the government teach the Truth from God’s word? I think we can safely say, “NO” to that question as well.

    Further in Deuteronomy 29…
    …Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath…

    “follow the terms of this covenant” What covenant is being referred to? This is not a small deal. This is a WAY-YOU-LIVE-YOUR-LIFE-DEAL.

    Raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Teach them everything you can about the Lord. Set them on a path of righteousness where when they are older, they will seek the Lord with all of THEIR heart, soul, and strength so that they will teach their children. You do it, and do it daily, when you get up, lay down, walking by the way, in everything you do and every where you go – because this is your life.

    You and your wife are smart people and you’ve been given a HUGE responsibility in the raising of your children. Not just teaching them math, spelling, reading & writing. You are to help shape their minds to view the world as God Himself views the world. To see and interpret everything that goes on with a Biblical World View – not a godless world view.

    I’m sorry if that kind of thinking is too “conservative” for you. Ask yourself, “what kind of Christian am I?”
    Are you a part time Christian? A “worldly” Christian? How does Christ want you to raise these kids?

    Here is the answer: Raise them in such a way that Christ will be glorified. How can you do that if you send them away to be schooled by the world?

  12. Other thoughts

    The decision to home school or not should not be based on the potential test scores that will come as a result of their education but what will be the sum total of the finished product. What kind of person will they be when they are done. It has nothing to do with when their birthday falls or summer vacations.

    The terms “well-adjusted” and “socialized” are a reflection of your ingrained worldly perspective. Who says that the kids coming out of the public school are well adjusted? If anything, they are “over socialized” and fully indoctrinated with an anti-God agenda.

    Why would you NOT weigh out “religious considerations” as a prime factor in your decision? What else do you think is more important to your child’s education then a proper understanding of who God is and who they are? Is there a fundamentally more important life lesson than that? The public school system will address this question and they will teach a different answer than the Bible.

    Is it really possible for you to “over indoctrinate” your children? Can you really teach them so much about God that they are not able to function in this world? Is this possible? If anything, I would think our world is going the other way – people hardly know anything about God and when you meet someone who actually has a good command of scripture, you think they are some kind of an extremist. Read the story of Josiah when the Book of the Law was found in 2Kings 22. We are living in similar times.

    What do you mean you’d rather your children have “excessive compassion”? Why do you compare compassion with indoctrination? That’s like saying, “you either really care about people or you know the full Truth”. What kind of compassion does a missionary have if they allow people to continue in their sin knowing full well it will lead to their own destruction and exclusion from paradise? You wondered what your children’s responses would be when they meet people with opinions different from theirs. How do you teach your children to call people out of their destructive behavior and back to the Lord? How do you teach your children to submit their very thoughts to the mind of Christ without filling them with His word? Why do you think doing this will make them “less compassionate”? Remember – faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Compassion that does not call people out of their sin is not any kind of compassion at all. It is deceitful.

    What things in the public school would you prefer were taught differently? Do you mean that God is not real and that they evolved by crawling out of a pool of goo and became apes, and then people? That life has no intrinsic meaning and right and wrong are relative to each person’s own feelings? That in the end you just die and there are no consequences to life? That people’s opinions expressed in the public square are acceptable unless you believe that I am wrong and that what I do with my life will lead to my own destruction. That kind of thinking should not be tolerated. As long as you think we’re both right, that’s ok. I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok. Isn’t that the politically correct way of thinking? The truth is: we’re not ok. We need a savior.

    In the world and not of the world. That is the crux of all of this. Keep in mind – you don’t have to join a brothel to minister to the people there. When your children encounter the people there, what do you want their response to be?

    Choice 1:
    Hey man. I don’t do that but I’m ok if you do. I’m thinking that there might be some better choices, I mean, at least for me. You can choose for yourself what is right. I mean, for you that is.

    Choice 2:
    WOW! What a self destructive place? HEY! Hey all you people in there! I see what is going on in there and I have to tell you that it is not good. Bad things are going to result because of this? Get out of there! Stop doing that! There are eternal consequences to that. Don’t you know that you are defiling yourself and building a wall of separation between you and God. What? You don’t believe in God. I can assure you that He is quite real. Let me tell you how you can be clean. Once upon a time there was a man named Jesus…

    Obviously you can put your own spin on my example words above. But don’t you want their response to be both shock at seeing evil and compassion for the people in there along with a desire to help people get out of their sin rather than justify their staying in it?

    You know, if you do the math of putting them into school, they will be away from your teaching over 20,000 hours during most of their developmental years. That’s 20,000 hours of pagan, un-godly instruction that is counter to the Word. How many hours will it take you to “un-instruct” that?

    Your children instinctively trust you. If you send them to school, they will trust the teachers because you have put YOUR trust in them. Your kids will pick that up and they will believe what they are taught and they will become a product of it.

  13. Thanks Dan. I know others were tempted to say some of those things (me included) but are too afraid to “offend” others. You are especially right when it comes to doing something for God’s glory. Thanks once again.

  14. Hey Dan, not sure that I know you (I know lots of Dans), and I would be a lot more comfortable sitting down over coffee – teh tarik in this part of the world – to talk this over, but that isn’t possible. So while recognizing your concern I am going to do my gentle best to suggest that you have misrepresented a couple of groups here.

    One is my son and daughter-in-law. You seem to be of the opinion that their very reasonable consideration of the educational options for their children amounts to a sell-out if their Christian principles. I know lots of young people (which I define as anyone under 35), but I don’t know many who give Christ such a prominent place in their lives, or seek to please Him in so much of what they do, or consider His plans for them before they make so many of their decisions. I have every confidence that Jon and Nic’s decision will be exactly what ‘Christ would do in their place.’

    I won’t bore you both all the details of my own personal decisions leading to a career in the public system, but you grossly misrepresent us a group as well. I have spent a lifetime – 35 years, to be precise, which is probably more than your lifetime – living out my Christian testimony in front of thousands of young people. I have never pulled any punches concerning my faith, and I have never been asked to. I have met hundreds of teachers, and many of them are fine moral citizens and great examples of their own faith.

    True, I have also met a few idealogues in the school system, who tend to be loudly atheistic. But idealogues seem to send out huge amounts of negative energy that young people are particularly sensitive to, and so serve rather to reinforce the Christian message of love and tolerance, rather than undermine it.

    It is that exposure to the negative message of exclusion and intolerance, and being able to compare that to the message of inclusion and acceptance that makes for strong Christians that are able to take their rightful place as salt and light in a wounded world. This is the huge advantage of the public school system.

    I do confess that at Jon and Nic’s age we erred on side of caution, seeking to protect our children from the push and shove of the public school. In hindsight I wished I had placed more faith in their abilty to discern goodness when they saw it. The world needs Christians who understand their sorrow and their pain and are willing to stand alongside them and walk with them through that fire. Christians who build enclaves and hide themselves inside them are ‘too heavenly minded to do any earthly good.’

  15. I have known Christians who went to public schools their whole lives, held on to their moral and Christian standards, and are missionaries, in ministry or in the secular world as effective, Christ-like testimonies to their peers.

    I have known Christians who were home schooled by good parents with the best of intentions that didn’t last a year in a secular college or work place before abandoning the belief system that was taught to them their entire lives.

    In my (rather limited compared to some of the commenters here) experience, an effective Christian wields both Grace and Truth in their communication of God’s love and plan.

    Grace without Truth accommodates sin, and therefore becomes sinful.
    Truth without Grace is a weapon we sometimes use to hurt others, which is no less sinful.

    We seek to raise our children to find the balance between the two, and would encourage others to do the same — knowing that the life of Jesus Christ provides the best example of what that balance looks like.

    John 1:14-18

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