Many parents might be tempted to answer that question by considering how it went this past year. Were the kids engaged? Did it go smoothly? Did Mom feel comfortable teaching? Was a good co-op available for socialization? Do the kids want to continue?
While those are great questions, there may be other considerations which need to be brought to the table. If you’re a Christian, may I share some things I learned as a young homeschool mom?
First, let’s take a look at what God says about the education of our children.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
Isn’t that a lovely passage? I don’t believe I ever paid attention to it until after we started homeschooling. Highlighted by numerous homeschool speakers during the 1990’s and early 2000’s when we were educating our three daughters, it helped cement my resolve to homeschool. Yes, I wanted to teach my children diligently at all times – when we played in the yard, when we sat at the table, and when we did math. I began to realize that I wanted them to see God in everything! That was actually pretty exciting for me.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:11)
This verse was life-changing for my husband and me. Not only is it basically repeated two other times in Scripture, but this truth is pretty plain to understand. Unless we start with respect for the Lord, with serious regard for His thoughts and His ways, my children can’t even begin to be truly educated! And doesn’t that make perfect sense? If we genuinely believe that God created everything, and it’s all for His glory and ultimately for His purpose, then can we learn anything in depth without recognizing Him first and foremost?
And you fathers…bring [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Here again, this verse is pretty simple. For me, it meant that it was foolish to send my children anywhere that God could not legally be recognized for who He is – the beginning and end of everything. Much less could I send them to such a place for seven hours a day, five days a week and then hope that Godless instruction could be countered with three hours of church on Sunday. The statistics about kids leaving the church when they grow up make perfect sense when we look at the plain facts from this perspective.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child… (Proverbs 22:15a)
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
These verses put a different twist on socialization for me. Did God intend for children to hang out with a myriad of other children, whether physically or virtually, for most of their growing-up years? Or is it healthier and more natural that they get together with a few children at a time along with some wiser Titus 2 adults? I certainly remember my own school experience, when I cared more about what my peers thought – even though I wouldn’t have admitted it. Let’s face it: God created us for relationships and acceptance, and part of us wants to fit in. We’re not dying to become like our teachers as much as we want accepted or to be “popular.” In order to fit in, kids either become popular – whatever that takes – or they react to the popular kids and seek alternative reputations in order to survive.
But that’s not desirable socialization, is it? No. It produces kids who party, take drugs, get date raped, bullied, change genders, and experiment with sex. Sadly, we are surrounded by the fruit of such unhealthy socialization. It’s like playing Russian roulette. Occasionally it’s fine; usually it’s not.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
Woe. Homeschool leader Brian Ray1 asks a sobering question, “If a Christian parent puts stumbling blocks in front of his child, is the parent guilty?” Ray further asks, “Why would a Christian ever seriously consider a system of education that was never ordained by God and focuses children’s minds and hearts on nearly everything but God?”
Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. (Galatians 6:7)
Pure and simple, I know that God impressed on us that if we failed on everything else, the thing that mattered most was what had eternal consequences.
All these issues aside, you may ask, what about academics? Isn’t school about academics? The impressive academic statistics that we take for granted these days – the ones where homeschoolers do much better than their public school counterparts – came primarily from homeschoolers educated in the “plain Jane” way. Prior to dual enrollment opportunities, before fully computer-based or internet-based programs, long before sophisticated coops and communities, and when only limited curriculum choices were available, those early homeschoolers flourished academically. They began winning spelling bees and gaining acceptance into Ivy League schools – and community colleges for that matter. They were the ones who paved the way for those of us who came after. And most of those early families were homeschooling for “religious purposes.” Do God’s ways work?
We should have trusted the obvious answer to that question even without the impressive statistics. Even without the cool options we have now, homes discipleship still works!
Should you stop homeschooling? That’s a question only you can answer. But perhaps turn the question around:
- How does God want you to educate your child?
- What’s the best way to prepare your child to be a God-honoring adult?
- What is the wisest educational method for a child given in trust to Christian parents?
- How logical is it to expect our children to become more Christlike as the result of secular training?
- If we continue to homeschool, what should that look like?
Those were the questions God impressed on us.
1Brian Ray, “Change the Paradigm: Why Did You Ever Stop Homeschooling Your Child?” The Old Schoolhouse, Winter 2019-2020, p.20-22.
Kim and her husband Don homeschooled their three daughters full-time starting in 1996. Like all other parents, they messed up many things. But they look back now very thankful that they listened to what God asked of them – even when it made little sense. If nothing else, they learned that God’s ways do work! He is trustworthy.