The following is a repost of something I wrote down in May of 2005 in response to Rebecca and Haley’s request that I post my thoughts on this. Ashley now wonders too, so I’m hereby re-offering my first draft attempt at articulating my thoughts on this.
I used to say that I planned to homeschool my children because I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and I felt sufficiently qualified. I don’t say that anymore, because I don’t believe it to be true.
Yes, it’s true that I have the ECE degree, but the untruth is that holding said degree qualifies me. I have a piece of paper which says I completed all the appropriate coursework and practicums in this area, but if I were to walk into a 2nd grade classroom today, I would be barely treading water. I would be green and terrified and starting over, learning how to teach and what to teach, and I would be doing that every day.
So, as I don’t homeschool my children because of my qualifications, neither would I choose not to homeschool them because of my lack of them. I homeschool them because of my heart.
From the day each of the girls entered our family, certainly from the time we discovered they were each on their way, but more tangibly from the time they physically joined us, I have felt this fierce need (and desire) to provide the best for them that I possibly could in all possible areas.
This began by my not pursuing a career of my own after graduating from college. I had observed too many newlywed couples sharing an apartment, but not a life. I wanted to be purposeful about investing the majority of my resources (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) into my marriage. I don’t write this to say, “Wow, look at us. We had the perfect marriage.” We didn’t (don’t). But I do know myself well enough (and knew myself well enough then) to understand that seeking a teaching job would have divided my interests to a degree I wasn’t willing to do. I just tried to be very intentional about my goals for my marriage.
So it was (and is) with my parenting. I won’t go into all of my parenting philosophies and practices in this post, most of them are self-evident anyway. But when it came time to think about educating my children, I believed (and still do) that the best possible thing I could do for them was (is) to teach them at home.
Craig wasn’t necessarily on this same page with me regarding homeschooling right at first. Most of Craig’s experiences with homeschoolers were with those that give homeschooling the negative stereotypes that everyone who homeschools has to deal with.
Without trying to recommend husband manipulation (indeed, it is a sin) I did what I now refer to as “stealth” homeschooling. My thinking was that if I went ahead and started teaching them when they were too little to be expected to go to a “real” school, then he would see how wonderful and beneficial homeschooling actually was to our family. I also prayed like crazy that God would either move Craig’s heart to desire this for our children as well, or that he would move mine to decide to put them into Howbert (the elementary school in our neighborhood in Colorado Springs).
After many lengthy discussions between us about what we should do and what each decision would look like, I started crying one day and I said, “I can’t give you all the educational philosophies or scope and sequence charts or a logical debate on socialization (I have views on these now, but won’t go into that here either), I can just tell you that my heart burns to teach our girls at home. I feel called to do it.”
And there it was. The truth at that time was that I couldn’t give a dissertation on all the evils of public school (or any school) – I just wanted to do it. I still do.
One of our friends mentioned at one point during a year they were homeschooling their oldest (who was Kindergarten age at that time) that they felt like she hadn’t developed a grid for discernment yet. That really stuck with me. I look at Maddie and as sweet as she is, most of the time, I wonder how much of her heart we would lose if we said “good-bye” to her at 8:00 every morning and didn’t see her again until 3:00 in the afternoon.
The reality of that is that she would be tired from school and need some time to decompress. She would probably also have homework to complete. Then we would have dinner and the ritual of preparing for bed and for the next day would begin. How much true time would we get with her, especially in the context of a 6 member family? I don’t subscribe to the “quality time” over “quantity time” thinking. The majority of her time would be spent with another adult who may or may not share my worldview and even if he/she does, would not be at liberty to share that in the classroom.
Her time would also mostly be spent with 25 or so other same-age children. I have a hard time seeing how this is in her best interests. The goal-driven, creative 6 year-old we have now could very possibly give way to the “strongest personality in the pack” (this either came from Susan Bauer or Sproul Jr. – I can’t remember, but I agree with it). Whichever author who said it said something to the effect that when children are in a situation like that day after day after day, they either become odd or acquiesce to the strongest leader in the group (this is a serious paraphrase, but you get the idea). And what kind of a choice is that? Given the two, wouldn’t we rather that our children become the odd ones? But why should we have to choose one of those?
There is another way.
So, the short answer to this is that I homeschool my girls because I want to. I feel called to. I believe it is in their best interests by way of preserving their hearts, and developing their character and love of family. Incidentally, I also believe I can do a much better job educating them in a one-to-one situation where I have a vested interest in meeting them each where they are, as opposed to assessing a group as a whole and teaching to the lowest level in the class (a practice of Howbert elementary, according to “the tale of three witnesses,” er, parents).
Ashley – thanks for asking. I’ve been having trouble staying focused this week and my defaults are always: put the girls in school and hire Merry Maids. The first I don’t want to do, the second I simply can’t do. I needed to go back and read through this again, so I’m glad you asked the question.