I read article today called The Tyranny of Socialization, and while I agreed with content, I bristled at the tone. It's a tone I often find comes out when homeschooling is discussed by homeschoolers. It's a condescending, holier-than-thou, "us vs. them" tone that lumps all homeschoolers into the "good" camp and schools (usually of the public variety) into the "evil" camp. I find this quite troubling on several fronts:
- Such attitudes don't represent me accurately as a homeschooler.
- The "us" and the "them" are ill-defined categories.
- Barriers are promptly erected that may prevent someone from ever considering homeschooling.
It makes me sad. What saddens me is the reality that it's easier to be mean, condescending and make assumptions than it is to be compassionate, considerate, and ask questions. (I know this because I know my own heart and what the Bible says is in our hearts!) Naturally this happens from both sides, there are some "holier-than-thou" non-homeschoolers who look proudly down their noses at weirdos like me, making all kinds of assumptions about who I am, why I chose homeschooling, how my children will likely turn out.
But the fact of the matter is education will not save our children, only God can. How does the Proverb go? In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (16:9)
We need to make wise choices on behalf of our children. We need to consider where they will receive the "best" education. We need to pray and ask God for guidance. We need to stay connected to our kids' lives. Certain educational options may give our kids opportunities they won't get with other options, but the outcome of their lives is not entirely dependent upon where the attend school. Our God is MUCH bigger than that!
I'm quite convinced that schools are not the problem with our children, home is. Prosfessionals cannot do what parents need to and are called to do: nurture, guide, discipline, and protect their children. Teachers (God bless them) train to instruct students in specific areas of study, not how to rear 25 children at a time for only one to six hours a day! But unfortunately, somewhere along the line, parents have been told only the pros can educate their children. So from day one, we're convinced that we couldn't possibly provide what our kids need - we send them off to preschool for short periods of time as early as 2 years and 9 months! On the flip-side, you could homeschool your children, yet do very little to nurture, guide, discipline and protect them, despite providing them a stellar classical education.
I will not let this blog become a homeschooling blog, the sum of me is much more than the way we've chosen for our children to receive their education. (And for the record, I'm not convinced that I am the "best" education for them - but I am convinced it is the right thing at this point in their lives.) Nevertheless, this blog is a place where I write about things that are on my mind for the edification of my readers. I need to be human here. I want you to know that I struggle with where I am right now, how to navigate the opinions and judgments that swirl around me and within me.
Homeschooling is a beautiful option for any family; I encourage you to consider it. (It IS reasonable to feel that there's something not quite right with sending our kids out of the house for 6 hours a day at 5 years old!*) But if you don't, I promise I will not be a jerk homeschooler about it. I cannot follow Jesus and refuse love my brother.
If you are a parent, wherever you kids do or will go to school, my primary advice (that I've received from others) is to invest in your kids. Study them: learn what makes them tick, how they communicate, how they feel loved, what breaks their hearts. Nurture their tender souls, introduce them to the God of the Bible, guide them through difficulties and failures, let them be themselves. Discipline them so they learn not only what is wrong but also what is right; discipline is not just punishment and consequences, it's teaching and guiding along the right path. Protect them from things they don't need to see/hear/experience until it's appropriate, if ever. Your children want and need YOU, even if they act like they don't. Love them, right where they are, as they are.
With that kind of secure foundation, your little ones will always be able to find their footing, wherever their doing their math, reading, science, social studies, etc. :)
I am thinking of writing a brief post about the most common responses I get from people when they learn I homeschool our kids: "I wouldn't have the patience." and "Oh, well, you were a teacher...." I'd like to share my thoughts on these, because I feel the need addressing. Stay tuned.
And, by the way, if I ever start being a jerk homeschooler to you. Please, call me out on it. Call me out on it good!
*We actually began homeschooling because our district only offered full-day K; it seemed silly to me to only have Elizabeth for the hours she was tired and cranky. There were no wonderful, holy reasons here - only practical. I find God often guides my way like that; I guess He knows how to speak to my heart, given that He made me!