Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Why Homeschool, part 2
You can catch up on part 1 here.
When I began homeschooling, I was asked fairly regularly why I had chosen to do so. The answers I gave were probably the same answers you've heard given before: the schools are bad/overcrowded/underfunded, I want my kids to have a Christian education, I want them to have one-on-one attention, I don't like the methods the schools use for academics, I don't want my kids exposed to some of the things public schools would expose them to.
These answers never felt quite right to me, though. I felt as though I was coming up with acceptable excuses for homeschooling, rather than giving the true impetus for keeping my kids at home. Believe me, all those things were true, they just weren't the real reason.
The truth is, many of us choose to homeschool by default. We see that the school system is failing them, or that many of our friends or fellow church-goers are doing it, and we think, 'well, that sounds better than my other option, so I guess we'll try it.' The problem is, we're coming at the issue from the wrong direction. We're making our decision backwards.
What we should be doing is sitting down and figuring out our long-term plan for parenting - what kind of people do we want our children to become? And then, how do we help them get there?
Do you have a mission statement for your children? Do you know how you want them to turn out? Most of us have vague ideas about our kids being 'good' and 'happy', but few of us really know what kind of product we're trying to produce. Imagine a sculptor sitting down with a piece of marble and beginning to chisel. Before he makes a single cut he knows exactly what the finished sculpture will look like. If he were to begin to carve without a specific image in his mind, but only a general idea of the end result, chances are good he'd end up with a mess rather than a masterpiece. And once those cuts have been made, they can't be undone.
We have done a lot of thinking and talking about the type of people we want our kids to become. This doesn't mean we are deciding their careers or how many children they'll have; it's all about their character. We want our children to grow into fully mature, Christ loving people who serve others. We want them to contribute to society. We want them to be caring, to be active, to participate in life. We want them to have a good understanding of the world, and to always be learning, discussing and maturing.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Once you have a solid grasp on the end, you can begin to take steps to get there. The question then becomes, "What is the best way to get my child to that end?"
Only you can answer that question. It's possible public school is the best answer for your family. (We knew a missions-minded family who put their kids in public schools because they saw it as a mission field and wanted their kids to be out sharing the gospel). Maybe private school will put your kids on the right path. Maybe homeschooling is your answer.
The purpose of all this is not to convince you that homeschooling is the best way, it's to encourage you to think, pray and discuss until you find your child's best way. To encourage you to go after your child's education intentionally, not just taking the path of least resistance.
For us, homeschooling has been the answer. I'll discuss more about why we made that choice in part 3.