Question: My husband and I are planning on homeschooling our children. What are your main (and maybe some minor) objectives in home schooling your kids, and what are some practical examples of how you are trying to achieve those?
Response: That’s a great question, but let me start with a few disclaimers. I don’t think you have to homeschool to win with your kids. Many parents have not homeschooled, and have done well with their kids. There are also many homeshoolers who have not won with their kids. Homeschool is not the key to good parenting.
For some people homeschool may not be ideal, or may not even be an option.
I also want to add that there can be elements of homeschool that leave a bad taste in my mouth. While we know many homeschooling families who are well balanced, we also know of some that are not. Some homeshoolers can be elitist. Others struggle with being separatists. A few may even be accused of being outright weird. Like any group of people the members of that group are wide and varied in their vision, convictions, beliefs, gifting, and personalities. We need to give each other a little grace in whether or not we homeschool and in how that may look in a given home.
That said, we would not be going down the homeschool path unless we felt it made it easier to accomplish some of our parenting objectives. Here are some of the objectives we hope to accomplish with our children. While we hope your share these objectives, you may have different means of achieving the in your home. These are just OUR strategies for OUR home.
1) We want to limit the influence of our children’s peer groups.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." NIV
We certainly believe that it is healthy for our children to interact with other children, both Christian and non-Christian. However, we’d prefer to limit that interaction so that it occurs under primarily our supervision. When that is not possible we would like to be able to limit the amount of interaction to a level that we can keep up with in terms of discussing, guiding, and processing through with our kids. If they are out of the home for 7 or 8 hours a day, that makes for a lot of peer interaction that occurs outside of our guidance, and more than we would like to debrief them on daily.
2) We want more time with our kids.
We plan to homeschool until junior high or high school. If one of our children went to school outside of our home from kindergarten through junior high, they would be away from us for roughly 11,500 hours! (172 school days/year x 7.5 hours/day x 9 years (rounded)). I would like us to have an additional 11,500 hours to teach, train, guide, and love each of our children.
3) We want be the visionaries, and the ones that execute that visionary plan.
Parents have the God given responsibility for raising their children. In their best judgment parents can use whatever resources they feel are best for their kids. They can use public, private, or Christian schools, but the schools are not ultimately responsible—the parents are.
There are many good teachers in the school system. As good as they may be, and as much as they love kids, they are not going to have quite the same heart, passion, love, and vision for my kids that my wife and I have.
Let me put it this way. I love the movie called ‘Miracle’. It’s about the 1980 US hockey team’s amazing defeat against the professional Russian skaters. The coach, Herb Russell, handpicked a group of amateur skaters, personally trained them, and single-handedly shaped each individuals thinking to help him achieve the mindset of a champion. Now, I’m sure coach Herb had lots of assistants who were also well trained coaches with their own great set of skills. However, do you think coach Herb would let the assistants take over while he took a two month vacation before the Olympics so that he could rest up? Of course not. Nothing against the assistants, but the responsibility of the team was his. The vision of training the team was his; and the execution of the vision was his.
No one else would have quite the same plan as Herb or quite the same execution of that plan.
For the same reason, we want to be actively and intimately involved in every aspect of child raising that we can be. For us, this includes education.
4) We want to impart a Christian worldview.
I do not believe that most school systems are anti-god or are consciously trying to minimize religion. Like my own teachers, most are just trying to teach and help kids. However, the government demands that public schools act in a neutral way towards religion, which usually translates into very little meaningful mention of God. A worldview without god is…well, godless. Again, I’m not saying it’s some sort of evil conspiracy. I’m just saying that is the way it is. The kids don’t hear much about God, the teachers don’t say much about God, and the texts are void of God as well. A child could easily form the opinion that God is irrelevant to real life, and is only permitted and significant within certain circles.
While there are specific areas of instruction that I would have particular concerns (like creation vs. evolution), my greater concern is that I want my kids to be saturated with a worldview in which God is the crucial player.
5) We want to shield our kids from battles they are not ready to face.
We want our children to be life changers. We have no plans on secluding them from the rest of the world while carefully guarding the secret of eternal life from those who are perishing. However, we don’t expect our younger ones to be ready to stand up to all the pressures of life until they are adequately trained.
I once saw an article about Steve Irwin, also known as the Crocodile Hunter. He was coming under scrutiny for feeding a 13-foot crocodile while holding his one-month-old son, Robert. In explaining his actions Irwin said that his children “have to be croc-savvy”.
Here’s what I might say to the Crocodile Hunter, “Good point Steve. In your line of business I suppose that is true. That is central to your life mission. Your children must be trained to work with dangerous animals. But just maybe a one-month-old is not quite ready for that level of croc involvement?!”
In a similar way, I want to train my kids to influence the lost because that is central to our life mission. However, I want to equip them and guide them and let them become exposed to the world at a rate that they can handle. For us this includes not having them in public school until they are teenagers, or maybe even until high school.
I’d say those are our main objectives. Our education objectives are important to us, but these objectives are crucial to us. While these may not be as practical, they are certainly foundational.
I hope none of that comes off as being too strong. These are OUR convictions for OUR kids. Each family needs its own convictions.