He Says, She Says Saturday: Homeschooling

(aka HSSSS:HS)

c. December 20, 2007

Pippa's first rendition of her own name. c. December 20, 2007

Well, you’ve waited a long time for an installment of your favorite husband and wife bloggy duo doing what they do best, so this week, we aren’t going to disappoint.  We are tackling possibly our biggest (and certainly most potentially controversial) topic yet.  Oh, yeah, and it’s timely, too!

We have just this very week begun the process of sticking a little toe in the pool of homeschooling, and we have no idea whether we’ll be spending the next who-knows-how-many years in the pool or just doing a quick lap, finding the water a little too chilly, and hopping right back out.  (Uh, sorry… metaphor taken way, way too far.)  Last night we ordered this pre-K curriculum for me to start with Pippa this school year.  At this point, we are planning to start her in public school for kindergarten next year, but we are open to being totally swept off our feet by our “experiment year” and deciding to stick with homeschooling for as long as we feel it is the best thing for her and for our family.

Homeschooling is something Trevor and I have thought about and talked about for longer than we’ve had children, but as the time to make a definite decision grew nearer and nearer, we have found ourselves with more questions than answers.  I thought that the more I looked into homeschooling, the more certain I would feel that it was a perfect fit for us.  It certainly does look good, and I see so many good reasons to do it, but I still see a few pretty good reasons not to do it, and that’s where I am right now.

The Pros:

  • I am a trained, certified teacher.  If I am going to be at home with children, why wouldn’t I be their teacher?  Why would I send my children off for someone else to teach, so that I could go and teach someone else’s children, all the while wishing I could be with my own instead?  I love the thought of being the one to witness those great Ah-ha! moments: learning to read, learning to add and subtract, learning how a transistor works in an LDR circuit (okay, so part of me is still thinking long term maybe).  Is that a selfish reason to homeschool?  Maybe.  Let’s move on.
  • For pre-school, it’s cheaper, even the way that we’re choosing to do it, which is at the more expensive end of the homeschool price range.  Unless this year is a total disaster, we are planning on using the same material to teach Romilly and Beatrix before they start school, too.  And the new one, come to think of it.  That’s less than $100 per kid.  Bargain.
  • Homeschooling would keep the girls primarily in an environment in which I control their influences.  I can see and deal with heart issues as they arise without having to wonder if new behaviors (or turns of phrase) have been picked up somewhere else or just from their own sinful little hearts (or learned from mine for that matter!)
  • Homeschooling , at its best, gives kids a foundation of loving to learn and sets them up to be lifelong self-teachers.  I really do believe this.  As much as I loved my public school experience (I truly did, and more on that will follow in the Cons list), I can look at who I am and know that I have been trained to be deadline driven and very motivated by the praise of others (read: grades).  Now that no one is requiring me to keep to a certain schedule or marking my performance, well… let’s just say I would not be a straight-A student anymore with my current syllabus of cooking, cleaning, and planning fun and enriching activities for my children.   Low B’s if I’m lucky, except for the cleaning – you already know about that.  A lot of that is probably my personality, and just plain human weakness, but I can’t help but think that that the qualities that I’ve seen in homeschooled adult friends (namely self-motivation and stick-to-itiveness) serve them very well in whatever they pursue in life.
  • No having to unteach and reteach the subjects that are being taught from an unbiblical point of view in schools.  I was amazed when I was a science teacher at just how pervasive the evolution mentality is.  The foundations are laid early, and in more topics than you could ever imagine evolutionistic ideas being relevant to.  But even the evolution can of worms is secondary to the implicit, relativistic no-one-is-right-no-one-is-wrong morality that colors how almost every subject is taught.  Schools make a great effort *not* to teach morals, but nature abhors a vaccuum, and in this age of political correctness, I absolutely believe children are getting the message loud and clear that “whatever I think is okay, is okay for me.”  And that’s *not* okay for me.

The Cons:

  • Clearly, I am not the most organized girl in the world.  I believe I can rise to the challenge of staying on top of things and keeping the necessary records, but it will be a challenge.  To that end, I will not, as I once thought I might, be doing Pippa’s pre-K year from scratch.  Yes, it might be cheaper and even more effective to write all my own lessons and get all or most of our books from the library.  Maybe I will get there someday if we stick with this, but in order to give this a fair shot at working, this year we are using a very structured pre-packaged curriculum that I have heard good things about from several people.
  • I am *not* going to list “lack of socialization” among my cons (I mention it here only because it seems to be everyone’s number one point against homeschooling), except to tell you why I don’t buy it.  Homeschooled kids are, in my experience, at ease with people of all ages because they have been living life with their families rather than being cooped up in the company of only children born the same year as them.  In the grand scheme of life, spending forty hours a week or so with people exactly your age and who have spent their lives (for the most part) living within a few miles of where you’ve spent yours is not a realistic scenario.  I’m not saying it’s damaging or that it’s a good reason *not* to send a child to public school, just that I don’t see socialization with peers to be the be-all-end-all that it’s made out to be.  What a wealth of wisdom and life experience there is to be gained from accompanying a parent on daily interactions with others: errands, church activities, visiting neighbors or elderly friends (hmm… maybe I should have listed this as a Pro…).  Not to mention that there are *ample* opportunities to get homeschooled kids together with other kids.  It just isn’t an issue.
  • But here is the one Con that continues to niggle at me and make me question the whole thing.  As Christians we are called to be salt and light to the world.  We are to be in the world but not of the world.  Our lives are mission fields.  At what age in the life of the young believer does all this come into effect?  I can safely say for my girls “not yet”, since I don’t believe any of them has truly understood the gospel yet, though we pray each day that they will.  But suppose, by God’s grace, Pippa at age nine is a growing, thriving young believer with a true sense of God’s purpose for her life?  At that point, I think I would want her to be in her mission field.  I would not want to deprive her of the faith strengthening (though trying) experience of seeing how the world lives and what makes us different as God’s children.  Nor would I want to deprive public schools of the (hopefully positive) influence of Christian children.  Junior high and high school were incredible times of growth in my own life.  In part because of the wonderful youth group God placed me in at the time, but also, I believe because it was a time of becoming aware of what others believed, and claiming my faith as my own.  I can remember discovering in middle school that a long time friend, raised Jewish, was now calling herself an atheist.  It shocked me to my core to see how the world had already pulled her away from what she had been raised to believe, and I wanted desperately to talk her out of it, to defend God’s glory somehow.   I tasted my first tastes of mocking and labelling, and I learned to cherish and cling to my faith.  More importantly, I know that even at such a young age, God is able to use a believer in the life of another, and I want that for my kids.  It’s hypothetical and probably a few years off, but therein lies my one glaring objection to homeschooling.  And I think it’s kind of a biggie.

I would absolutely love to hear anyone’s thoughts or experiences on the subject.  What decision did you or will you make for your own children and why?  What other arguments (for or against) have I overlooked?

Most of all, I’m looking forward to finding out what he says about it, and I’m sure you are, too!  Don’t let me keep you.

10 thoughts on “He Says, She Says Saturday: Homeschooling

  1. Hi Jodi!

    I admire your desire to homeschool. At one time I was going to homeschool Brooke, but decided that I need a break. At first I felt bad about it, but then I figured that I am human, and we all need breaks, but that is a personal choice. Of course I am in a huge different situation then you are too.

    I wanted to do it, because of fear. I was afraid of another Columbine tragedy, and I wanted to shelter her from drugs, alcohol and sex. But I decided that no matter what I did, I couldn’t shelter her completely. Though, I am no longer “religious” one thing that keeps echoing in my mind is…”train up your child..”. Sometimes kids that are sheltered, whether homeschooled or not..will go the opposite way, this happens a lot with PKs. (Not generalizing, that is just personal experience). Plus I feel that sometimes when we shelter kids too much, we keep them from temptation, and allowing them to strengthen their ground on which they stand.

    So instead of spending the 4 days a week that I wont be working on homeschooling, I am going to look for the safest and best school district around and will move to there. It wont keep her 100% safe, but it will give her the opportunities to stand up for what she believes safely.

    Again, this is just why I decided not to homeschool. I think homeschool is great..as long as it is utilized properly.,

    Good luck in your decision!

  2. Hey Jodi
    I have been waiting to hear the contents of this post for some time 🙂
    Homeschooling is not really a option for us, unless we down size and I stay home. But your take on the socialisation point is really good. I think homeschooling could be a great option and the teacher in me would love to do it but I often chat with friends about it and the social thing always comes up! Your point is really good!
    I think the main con of homeschooling is your last point. How can we teach our kids about living out their faith but never allow them the challenges they need to grow and learn about putting their faith into practice. I think that one sways it for me just now.
    Looking forward to hearing how next year goes and what final decision you make.
    BTW: we missed you on saturday when we went out with S&I for a Curry. It should have been on the living room floor of Walker Drive!
    Love to you all
    Lx

  3. Good points, Jodi! I just don’t know what I think about homeschool. Honestly, my interaction with homeschoolers (coming from a former Children’s Pastor who got to see LOTS of families) it was always one of two extremes: you could pick out the homeschoolers in an instant b/c they were either AWESOME or totally weird. Some would be above grade level and others couldn’t read.

    I think THE MAIN THING is that if you are homeschooling it’s not based on fear. I already have that tendency with Lydia. I feel like I can control her life if I have her in my sites at all times. But WHAT IF???? she’s at school? Then what? What will become of her? (I’m exaggerating…)

    I have to continually tell myself, it’s NOT up to me. I raise her as best as I can, but it’s really God who’s leading her. Even as a 2 year old. If she goes to public school, he’s already been there. He knows her kindergarten teacher, the girl that will sit next to her and the boys that will make fun of her.

    I’m rambling. It’s something I never thought I’d think so much about!

  4. Thanks to you (and Trevor) for opening up this subject! I appreciate your thorough and balanced (as it looks to me!) perspective. Mikey and I have always wanted to send our kids to public (now state!) school. But then when I talk to friends that have made the decision to homeschool I start 2nd guessing myself. This summer I found out a friend in England is going to homeschool. As we’ve thought and prayed about the decision again this summer, we’ve been reminded that there is no “right” way-it’s a family decision and maybe even an individual decision for each child. Here are some good articles that articulate this:
    An article by a friend of ours, “Home, Private, or Public School?” http://www.sfpulpit.com/2008/02/05/home-private-or-public-school/,
    and great 2 part series, http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/some-people-see.php,
    http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/-here-are-the-c.php.
    And here is one to ward off those CRAZY people who think that homeschooling is a biblical mandate: http://www.sfpulpit.com/2008/02/13/does-the-bible-mandate-home-school/. Happy reading!!

  5. You said: “I don’t see socialization with peers to be the be-all-end-all that it’s made out to be. ” And let me say AMEN!!! It’s NOT all that it’s made out to be. I saw a sig on the HSing board that said “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” I can’t imagine sending my Elizabeth off to school all day every day – which is why we’re homeschooling kindy. Katherine (my 4 y/o) is going to private preschool 3 hours a morning, five days a week, like Elizabeth did before her (and they went on MWF when they were each 3). I’ve found a fun preschool curriculum online for Annie that I’m using (letteroftheweek.com) – we just started that last week.

    Regarding our kids being salt and light – there really is ample opportunity for that even in the homeschooling environment; at least that’s what I’m finding around here. 🙂

    I’m very organized about some things, but with four little kids, my organizational skills have gone to pot. I was worried about organization w/Elizabeth’s schooling. However, I’ve found that using curriculum has helped with that a lot! And I’m betting you’ll find the same is true with you and Pippa. Homeschooling has required that I regain organizational control of my life and honestly, I love it. My husband and I were talking the other night about moving in a few years – he was going on and on about a better school district. I finally looked at him and said, “Can’t we just build a house that has a room I can use for school?” I’m surprised that I said it, but I can see us homeschooling for the long haul. I’m loving it and we’ve only been doing it for a few weeks.

  6. First I want to say thank you for not including socialization in your arguments against it. That one gets tiring after you hear it a million times (OK so I am slightly over exagerating LOL). I really appreciate it :).

    Second about the salt and light issue. To me that is for adults that are fully trained to be salt and light of the world. Children (again this is my opinion and that’s what I am giving. Not judging 🙂 ) are not ready to be full light and salt to the world. With homeschooling you can slowly introduce them to be light and salt to the world. Not totally sheltering them but letting them understand what it means to be the Salt and Light.

    I am not trying to convince you to homeschool. That is a personal decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I just wanted to give you my take on it. I don’t thing public school or private school are “evil” in any way and I may have to send my children to public school some day. I really am Ok with that. Just something for you to think about :).

  7. “As Christians we are called to be salt and light to the world.”

    My opinion is young children are not ready to be missionaries, and the government school environment is stacked against them. The teachers are required to teach many things that we find wrong.

    I want my children to share the gospel, but I first want them to be grounded in the gospel.

  8. Oh Jodi – you read my mind. I’ve been having this exact ongoing disucssion with my husband, and he’s just not buying it. I’ve never spent a single day in a public school having done K-12 in a Christian school, and the thought of putting James into a world that I don’t know scares me beyond compare.
    Not to control every aspect of his life, but at this point, I still NEED to know what he is exposed to. I NEED to know who his is interacting with and I NEED to be the one that is calling the shots as to what is important for him. I think it is important for him to learn a second language, but I don’t think it’s important in Kindergarten (as it is part of the curric. here). I know that he doesn’t regularly hear the words: mine, can’t, not or hate. …and a large part of me wants to keep it that way.
    All that being said – there are days when he pushes me to my very limit and I can’t imagine spending one extra day having him home than I absolutely have to. HUMPH! But like you – I think I’d like to give it a try and make the decision, informed and as a family. …………so there’s my novel!
    Good luck with whatever you decide!!!!

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