Recently, I’ve been thinking alot about homeschooling friends who plan to send their children to conventional schools for the coming school year. A part of me was feeling down because I felt that they SHOULD keep homeschooling. I was trying to present to them reasons why they should stay the course, why their kids would be better off, why they should really think through the pros and cons before making a final decision.
As a die-hard advocate for homeschooling, it is often difficult for me to accept the reality that not every family will choose to homeschool. In my mind, it seems simple. Homeschooling is better. Homeschooling is the best way to prepare your children for life success. Why would parents want to do any differently? How can people not see it?
But, God reminded me that homeschooling is not one of the 10 commandments. The Bible doesn’t say “Thou shalt not send thy offspring to a conventional school.” And if I am not careful, I can come across as a fanatic for home education – a legalist who believes that parents who don’t homeschool are somehow “not spiritual,” less loving as parents, less pleasing to God. Whoa! This perspective cannot be right! It is outright cultish!
After sitting through the TMA Homeschool Graduation last Friday, a realization came to me. As each family came up on to the stage and each graduate read letters they wrote to thank and honor their parents, there was a line that kept coming up again and again. The kids would say, “Thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me to love God.” That’s it!, I thought…Who parents are and what they teach their children is far more important than whether they homeschool or not.
If parents homeschool but fail to teach their child to love God and follow God, that’s not success. If parents send their child to a conventional school but remain intentionally involved in training, discipling, and teaching their child to love and follow God and their children do so, that is success. (There will definitely be greater challenges with this option, but I will talk about that another time)
At the end of the day, the command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…and teach this diligently to your children as often as you can, whenever you can, for as long as you can.” (Deuteronomy 6:5,7 paraphrased)
My encouragement for families who decide to stop homeschooling is, don’t forget to still make this your priority.
And for those who want to start homeschooling or want to keep going, here is the truth we must all come to accept. NOBODY CAN HOMESCHOOL WELL. NOBODY CAN BE A SUCCESSFUL PARENT…APART FROM JESUS! We are all the same. I’ve come across hundreds of families and I’ve done all kinds of research over the years about homeschooling and guess what? Everyone feels inadequate and flawed at some point.
I look years into the future and think to myself, how in the world am I supposed to remain patient every single day as I homeschool? How come I can’t be consistent with a schedule? What’s going to happen when the topics and subject matter escalate in difficulty? I think of other families and I ask similar questions like, how in the world can parents really teach their children and do it successfully?
Well, the bad news is, we can’t do it. The good news is, “I (we) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (us).” (Philippians 4:13)
The key is – through Christ. Christ has to be the center of your life, the center of your family. Edric and I believe in God’s command to love him and teach our children to love him, and we believe homeschooling is the best way to raise Christ-centered children. But when Christ isn’t controlling us, we do a bad job at both homeschooling and parenting.
Remember, when God is removed from the picture, homeschooling does not save a family from the consequences of sin or guarantee that children will be protected from worldly evil and influence. It does not solve relationship problems within the family or cure the character flaws of parents and kids. Homeschooling doesn’t automatically make a person prioritize their spouse and kids. Homeschooling is not even the hope of the world or the solution to raising future leaders who will fix the problems of society.
The only real hope and answer in the world is Jesus. He is the one who changes families and changes the world through families.
So to settle the argument in my mind about whether families should choose to homeschool over a conventional school or keep homeschooling, here’s the conclusion: Whether you homeschool or not, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and raise your children to love and obey God. Will you be condemned if you send your children to a conventional school? Of course not! But will you be held accountable for teaching and raising your children to know and love God? You bet. There is no escaping this reality as parents. Homeschooling is not one of the 10 commandments but loving God is the first and foremost of all. And it is our responsibility to pass on this truth to our children in the best way we possibly can. Are we doing so?