The first few months of this school-year, I really was struggling with my ability to homeschool. I have all seven children "doing" school this year and it's a challenge. Truth be told, my five year old is still not having school everyday. As we don't have to report our students here in NY until they are six, I seem to be putting that on the back-burner for now.
As I mentioned in my last post, my two oldest children's science was really a stress factor for me this year. Trying to figure out this subject took me right back to my high-school days when every day was a struggle for me in math and science. I was faced, again, with the fact that my brain does not fire when it comes to these two subjects. I was feeling unintelligent & inferior. Compound that with trying to juggle all the other children and their subjects along with household chores, and a few outside commitments, I really had to take a good hard look at why we were even homeschooling to begin with.
In our case, it's NOT because we think our kids are getting a superior education. Ok, I don't think they are. My husband thinks they're doing just fine. I know my limitations and those get passed down to my children. Many people can tell me that my kids are doing much better than their counterparts in public school. I know for a fact, due to weekly exposure to our city schools, that this is true. However, comparing my kids to the Rochester City Schools and a few peripheral districts is not a good and true comparison. I know that there are, indeed, good schools out there where the students seem to be doing work far more difficult than what mine are doing. I tend to compare myself to these schools and my children to above-average students. So, my conclusion: we are not homeschooling for the "superior" education.
We are NOT homeschooling to keep our kids safe. I think this is a fairly weak reason to homeschool. Yes, my kids are safer here at home and, as the years pass by, it is evident to many that the schools are a less safe place to be. However, crime and accidents can occur anywhere. We do not homeschool to keep our kids in a safety net against physical harm.
We do NOT homeschool because it's fun. Quite frankly, it's not. For me, anyway. Granted, we have made some good memories and we have had fun along the way. But, it is often grueling. I often feel like a drill-sargeant getting my kids to stay focused. There are tears, complaints, and weariness...mine and the kids'. "What a WONDERFUL way to raise your kids!" is a comment often heard. Most often made by people who have their kids in school for 8 hours a day. No matter what styles I have used, I don't believe my children will ever admit to having a love for learning. I do see that they love to learn new things, but formal school is a bit of a drudgery. They don't dive into new chapters of their history with excitement and zeal. They (& I) look at the work as something they need to get done before really having fun. Homeschooling, in and of itself, is NOT fun.
So, why are we homeschooling? My firm conclusion is this: we homeschool for the spiritual growth and protection of our children.
Sending my kids into a public or Christian school will expose them to a world they are not yet ready for. Some of my kids would do better than others as some of mine will do right no matter what while others are followers. But, do I seriously want my kids to have their spiritual hearts that are still growing and planting roots to be bombarded by the wickedness of this world for 40 hours a week?
[I include Christian school because I went to one. While the teachers did their best, things still happen when 10-20 foolish, immature, "Christian" young people get together. I saw, heard, and learned things before I probably should have. "But you turned out ok." I want better than OK for my kids. And, you don't really know me.]
"But," you say, "they will be exposed to it sooner or later. Better to get them prepared now before they really fall on their faces." Really? I see the other kids. I see their hairstyles and clothing reflect the world's values and not Christ's. I hear the disrespect they have for their parents and siblings. I see the desire to be accepted by their peers at school (and understandably so) rather than by a God they cannot see.
My kids are, indeed, exposed to the world and it's ways. We go to a city school every week and teach their counterparts about God and play with them. My kids hear and see some things, but realize that this is the way the world is and they see it as evidence that these kids need God. They are not immersed in it where it becomes "normal" and a part of their own lives.
I do not make my kids look away when they see an immodestly dressed person or cover their ears when they hear rock music. They have come to realize what is right and wrong - because they are immersed in the teachings of God at home - and they've learned how to deal with these things the right way. We don't run away from situations, though we are cautious what we expose ourselves to - my husband and myself included. Our kids DO have many opportunities to minister to and reach the lost.
We homeschool to get our kids ready for this world as soldiers of Christ. We prepare their minds and work-ethic to be able to hold a job and support a family. Dumb homeschoolers are not a good testimony. However, we are not sacrificing 40-hours a week to allow them to learn the world's ways. That's like trying to teach someone to swim while holding them down under the water. They may fight and struggle and eventually succeed, but they will become a better swimmer when the obstacles are made clear and slowly introduced once they master the basics. It takes hours of practice to be an Olympian. I will not sacrifice those hours of Godly training to an institution that will just hold my kids under.
Will homeschooling our children ensure that they'll never turn their back on God or get themselves in situations that go against His word? I would be a fool to think so. We are just trying to give them the best training. Just as the swimmer trains, in the end, it is up to him to go for the gold or to leave it all for another hobby or occupation. However, the coach prepares him for what the swimmer needs in the hopes that they will be a champion. That is what my husband and I are doing.
The ONLY reason we homeschool is to give our kids the best possible opportunity to succeed as godly men and women who please the Lord in this world.