On Homeschooling: Ann Voskamp

From A Holy Experience:

What do you think of homeschooling? Why do people homeschool? What are its strengths?

Why would anyone be crazy enough to homeschool?

So a series of questions land in the inbox for a print article on homeschooling, asking how a Christian family makes educational choices for their family? {Why would anyone really be crazy enough to homeshool?}… And I smile and nod… and tentatively, prayerfully, attempt to meander through some of these queries…. but only with no small trembling, and this humble preface:

I don’t write specifically about homeschooling often, as I’m concerned that the topic can sadly be divisive and too we are still deeply in process … by His grace, still growing, changing.

So to say from the outset, that I do not think in any way that homeschooling makes a family virtuous — and there are other very good options to homeschooling.

Homeschooling is not a formula for perfection, nor is homeschooling a panacea for all the sin in this world.

We’re all messy and fallen and sin-scraped. We and our children are born sinners.

Homeschooling will not fix any of that. Only Jesus and His grace can.

Three of my closest personal friends and our respected pastor, all ardent Christ-followers, have each chosen the public school route; please know that I answer these questions only because of reader queries — so this is descriptive of our lives, not prescriptive for anyone else. I humbly and fully believe that Father Himself leads each family…With that preface, seven quick questions… with some not so quick thoughts…. ~warm smile~

Read more at the link above.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.travismamone.net Travis Mamone

    I have nothing against homeschooling in-and-of itself. It’s when evangelicals say that homeschooling is the ONLY way to teach your children that I get ticked off!

  • Tim

    I differentiate between personal and cultural reasons for Homeschooling. Personal reasons can be anything really. Perhaps the public school district you’re in is substandard, for instance. I have family in Chicago that are particularly worried about this and are looking to Homeschool.

    But there are cultural reasons as well. Specific to Evangelicalism in America, it seems much of the impetus behind Homeschooling is to shield one’s family from the “materialistic” and “Darwinian” teachings of the Public Schools. Much of the curriculum out there marketed to Evangelicals wishing to Homeschool is heavy on Creationism, essentially presenting it as the only “theory” consistent with the “evidence”, while attacking straw-man arguments for Evolution.

    They also seem to engage in an unacceptably high degree of historical revisionism, essentially presenting the Founders of our country, and the principles upon which our Constitution is based, as far more Christian in orientation than is true. Due to the above, I tend to view the Evangelical culture of Homeschooling as one of extending indoctrination even further into the home.

    Pair that with immersing you child’s social life in Christian youth groups and send them off to a conservative Evangelical college like Liberty University, and you’re essentially done. You should have been able by that point to create a mind-vault for your child strong enough to shield them from any argument or exposure to reality when it conflicts with the “truth” in which you’ve raised them.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja

    [ahem] I homeschool my children and have since they were in 2nd grade and kindergarten. I do so for personal rather than cultural reasons. However, I live in an area that has one of the largest homeschooling populations in the country and it is primarily evangelical Christians although there are more and more non-Christians choosing the option these days. I choose to associate with the non-Christians and have co-ops, field trips, etc. with them for exactly the reasons that Tim stated. I have experienced that reality twist among my Christian friends and cannot abide it. I can’t change them, but I don’t have to buy into it either. So I choose my own path.

  • http://eatingasapathtoyoga.wordpress.com Eating as a Path to Yoga

    I think having CHOICE (homeschool, private, public) is the key. Keeping Judge-y McJudgerson at bay is imperative. We need to have respect for people’s choices, even if we don’t understand them.

  • Susan N.

    Tim @ #2 – you have made some valid points here. Over the past year or two, we began to really question some of the content of science and history curriculum materials marketed toward homeschoolers, and in honestly evaluating the bias of the authors/vendors, came to the conclusion that these views are not ones that we can affirm or even tolerate. We’re a fairly eclectic family and have had no longstanding loyalty to a particular vendor or group throughout the years we’ve homeschooled (oldest going on 15yo now). But…over time, it is easy to lose one’s perspective when surrounded by an exclusive group. I acknowledge your concerns, and have lived “in the belly of the whale” for a time.

    I admire Ann Voskamp so much! Her gift of writing and photography… She speaks well for the homeschooling lifestyle. The “reasons” that resonate the most with me are being together with my kids, committing to doing life and learning with them, creating a holistic atmosphere for growth, and avoiding the artificial segregation of ages. Funny story — my 10yo son is an extremely social being. After 5 years in our home, he knows every boy around his age within a 2-block radius (his boundaries). Our immediate neighbors have younger boys (2nd/3rd grade). At first, when my son attempted to play with the younger boys, a few of the parents questioned what was wrong with my son that he was hanging around with kids two grades younger than him. It has taken a few years for the neighbors to embrace the “homeschooling weirdos” next door, but my son counts the boys on our block as his best friends, and vice versa. One little boy said to my son last summer, “I wish you went to my school.” Which made me kind of sad in a way, but the very likely possibility that if my son did go to school, he wouldn’t be the same socially healthy kid that he is today. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a typical 10yo boy and gets into mischief now and then, but he is turning out O:K, if I don’t say so myself. The hardest part of homeschooling is remaining calm when things are not going well, and you begin to second-guess whether you are, in fact, crazy to have thought this could work! I believe all parents feel this way sometimes? Help me, Lord! (and He really does.)

  • Richard

    The author of the original post seems to me to be very different from my experience of homeschoolers my area (which has an active county wide homeschool assoc.). It also seems that many of her answers are being explored by those looking to reform our local public schools – re-emphasizing learner-centered development, creativity, relationship, etc.

  • David

    It seems that there is increasingly a stereotype applied to home schoolers, especially evangelical ones, that I find myself defending as a home schooling father. As with any stereotype, there often a seed of truth that germinates into the image. I am often as embarrassed by some of the home school families I meet, just as I am embarrassed by rednecks I meet here in the south that live up to every “Cousin Eddie” image you can imagine.

    We home school for many reasons, in no particular order: The overall failure of standardized education (a la Sir Kin or Seth Godin), the violent school district we live in, the early sexualization of kids in culture, the ever increasing pressure – pushed even to early childhood – to engage in the culture of overindulgent capitalism. NOTE – it has nothing to do with creationism vs. evolution, revisionist history, etc. I assure you that we strive to teach our kids a balance on every issue we can. It has to do with our continuing hope of building a new creation in the midst of the old, by teaching our kids to look at the world more critically.

    Even as I read this to myself, I know there are plenty of words and phrases that can lead you back to those home school family stereotypes. I think that if we sat and talked over dinner, you’d find us weird, but in a much different way than the stereotype applied.

    Grace and peace.

  • Susan N.

    Richard @ #6 – you would, I think, be amazed at the diversity among homeschoolers. In my experiences over the years, the ones who are most theologically/politically conservative are the most vocal and, often, better organized. That is why, I think, this is the dominant representation of homeschooling, just as it is right now in American evangelicalism. Many homeschoolers are highly motivated academically (and advocates of intellectual integrity), versus strictly faith-based indoctrination and isolationism. The “flavor” of homeschool group that you might encounter depends a lot on the overall local demographic; that’s what I have found moving around to various regions of my state.

  • Holly

    Ann is a personal friend of mine. She writes beautifully and articulately as a representative of home education. She and her husband are working toward the present and coming Kingdom of God every day in the hearts of their own children and then – for people around the world. They exhibit a missional life, if ever I’ve seen one.

    It is worth mentioning that many home-educated children begin learning Latin in Kindergarten. They’re not all ill-educated hicks. (That’s something that you’ll pick up if you read Ann’s link, or blog. The education quality and level is sky high. She’s a wonderful, humble role model.) In fact, home schooled kids score amazingly high scores on all standardized tests (an average of 30 points higher)….across the board, regardless of income levels or educational levels of the parents.

    See: http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200908100.asp

    It’s also worth noting that Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, has been on the New York Time’s Best Seller’s list for 9 weeks! (I’m so proud of her!)

    I love how here, in this linked post, Ann seeks to unite not divide. She knows this is a very divisive issue among Christians – but it doesn’t have to be. The homeschooling community is BLESSED to have Ann’s creative and beautiful voice.

  • Jjoe

    I considered homeschooling but ran aground on my qualifications. To put it bluntly, there are people out there who are better at teaching than me. That is not my gift.

    I am an engineer but I look at my kid’s honors geometry material and thank God I don’t have to relearn it :)

    I also wonder about the natural tendency of teenagers to rebel against their parents. Mine is at the age where parents are incurably stupid. If my wife tried to teach my teenage daughter ANYTHING, sparks would fly. I can barely live in the house with them bickering at each other now.

  • http://chezman86.blogspot.com Kevin Chez

    whatever we decide, hopefully all of us parents will be actively involved in our children’s education.

  • Leslie S.

    I strongly considered homeschooling and love Ann Voskamp’s books and blog. Our family decided that we are our children’s primary educators even though we send them to our local public school. We have chosen to utilize lots of read-alouds and even some homeschooling curriculum in the evenings, weekends, and summer to address items we feel aren’t covered by the school curriculum or that are children are interested in. I have also chosen to impact our local school community by serving on the school board.

  • Patrick Hare

    David @7, Susan @8 – Do you have any curricula you can recommend which avoids the anti-science, “God bless the USA” conservative patriotism of so much of the Christian homeschooling materials out there? Some of the literature I’ve read is quite frightening, substituting one form of idolatry for another.

  • Susan N.

    Patrick @ #13 – you could look at Susan Wise Bauer’s ‘The Well-Trained Mind’ for a classical model and recommended resources that hold to intellectual integrity that seeks to hold matters of faith in balance.

    Some science materials that we have used in the past and which I am revisiting for at least my middle school son are available through Gravitas Publications – Real Science-4-Kids. For high school history, math and science, for the first time in our homeschooling “career”, I plan to use some secular textbooks as the “spine” or core for these courses, in order to escape the conservative evangelical bias found in the popular homeschool sources. We have used many Christian homeschool teaching resources over the years, and to be fair, many are excellently written. Ann’s ‘A Child’s Geography’ was beautiful — used it with my son in his 3rd grade year. In other cases, we have experienced one product from a particular vendor being wonderful, and another from the same vendor being not so terrific. You really have to evaluate each resource carefully. Sometimes, we have found as we use a given material, discussion points in what we agree or disagree with in the presentation. Critical thinking is so important…not just being fed information and regurgitating it as received, but analyzing it and forming one’s own view… Accepting to some degree that nothing is absolutely perfect (secular or Christian), and using the weak areas to teach what is right and true, has helped mitigate our frustration with unbalanced “agendas”. This is my humble opinion…

  • Randall

    Having homeschooled our three children I can say that it isn’t the right choice for everyone and my wife and I probably learned as much from the experience as our children did, maybe more. My wife describes it as humbling, I can relate to that comment. I think the best education is to get out of the way of learning while trying to protect the process if possible.

    Sure, there are folks that do it for crazy reasons; but, would this not apply to virtually every facet of life? I believe it does.

    As to protecting them from the decadence of our culture, I’ve always desired that; but, honestly, there are errors, failures, and flaws our children may pick up from me that are just as dangerous and I’ve given all of that to God’s control.

    Our decision was primarily due to our, or my own, deep distaste for our current state of public education appearing largely to be little more than telling kids what to beleive rather than helping them develop the talent for thinking. I quess Bertrand Russell is describing part of my reason for homeschooling in this quote, “Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.”

    Penalizing young people for the questions they have and their unorthodox ways of understanding things I think is injurious to subsequent learning as we wanted to try and negate some undue pressures of group-think. Where I went to school simply thinking differently comes at a price and eventually that will have to be paid in the marketplace; but, when young impressionable minds are on the receiving end of this exchange, I think people come to mistake conformity to arriving at truth.

    But, as anything, it costs something to do this and it isn’t a silver-bullet that procures peace-on-earth or some transcendant state.

    Would I recommend it to someone? I suggest people consider it alongside any of several alternatives. If you don’t want to learn then don’t set out to teach another. The increased interaction with your own children also increases the opportunities for friction and we took advantage of several of those occasions. I enjoy it now for the adult-adult aspect of my dialogue with my kids, we know how the other has come to where they are at. That was worth the price of the ticket for us.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    It’s still odd for me to see homeschooling framed in religious terms. After my Mom’s second husband (a great stepfather) died and before she married my Dad, we lived on a farm in Mississippi for a few months when I was in 4th grade and my brother was in 2nd. When she discovered the nearby public schools were still segregated (fall of 1974, I think), she chose to homeschool us instead of placing us in that environment.

    A little later when we lived inside the loop in the Montrose area of Houston, she used part of the money she had inherited (along with scholarships and such I think) to send us to a Catholic school a block away from our house because of the violence at that time in the public schools we would have otherwise attended. (I found it kinda fun being a non-Catholic — and if somewhat Christian, hardly exclusively Christian at that time — at a Catholic school, but I’ve always a little perverse that way.)

    When our older son began to get embroiled with drugs and such, my wife and I considered homeschooling as a way to change his environment. But we were unsure what to do or how to handle it and things had spiraled way beyond that point before we knew it. We did make it clear to our younger kids that we would act a lot more quickly and decisively if they gave us reason to do so. I guess homeschooling became a pretty effective threat for them.

    But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the mindset that sees homeschooling as a “Christian” thing.

  • http://www.faithautopsy.com Ben Dubow

    FYI… One of the best blogs/reflections on homeschooling and why do it (and why not) — from someone doing it for a non-Christian, non-religious reason — is http://www.learnmeproject.com — anyone interested in homeschooling should check it out and join the discussion.

  • Calebite

    We make our decisions based on the individual child and the current school/location. We have sent them to public school, Christian school and homeschooled at various locations. Currently, we homeschool one, send one to public school, and one to a private school. That’s what has seemed best for each individual child at this time.

    I think the key is this: parents have a God-given responsibility for the education (especially in terms of faith education) of each child. It is not ultimately up to the public education system or government. This may be done by homeschooling, or by supplementing like #12 above (who mentions being the ‘primary educators’ even though using public school) or by being informed enough to know your school is adequate.

    As for curriculum, we use a ‘faith-based’ one for our 2nd grade son, but will be using the K-12 online publicly funded homeschool option for our 6th grade daughter next year. (A public homeschool option – that’s a little oxymoronic!)

  • http://www.themissionalmom.com Helen Lee

    I entered into homeschooling kicking and screaming; I had never even considered it for our kids, we live in the city we do in large part due to supposedly quality schools. But when my son was in 1st grade, I started to notice things that bothered me. Not very much math, certainly not nearly as much as I did when I was a child. “Homework” that often seemed more like busywork than anything else. Still, I did not even consider homeschooling, until God clearly called us to this route. (Long story, but you can read about our transition here: http://trilliumacademy.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html.) For me it has been a huge leap of faith to leave behind what I always assumed would be the proper way to educate our children, and two years later, although I still have my doubts and my struggles, I can see in hindsight why it has been a good choice….for our family. I am not one who believes it is the only way to educate kids, or always the best way. But for us, it has been a huge blessing in numerous ways. We don’t homeschool as a way to separate our kids from society, and we encourage a great deal of social interaction between our kids and other children in the neighborhood. We do homeschool as a way to gear their educational experience to their strengths and weaknesses, and because we also appreciate the classical approach as laid out in The Well-Trained Mind (which #14 Susan N. references above). And we also homeschool to generally have more control over what our kids are learning rather than abdicating those decisions to a public school.

    What I love most, though, is that homeschooling now opens up a whole host of options for us; we are not bound to live in “safe” neighborhoods with good schools. We can go wherever God calls, and that is an exciting freedom to have.

    Homeschooling is not an easy decision and for me, a solid introvert, the challenge of being surrounded by my kids all day can sometimes drive me batty. But the blessings overall have been worth the challenges. So onward we go.

  • BradK

    Patrick #13,

    We use (along with our own variations and modifications) a Charlotte Mason curriculum called Ambleside Online. You can check it out here…

    http://www.amblesideonline.org/FAQ.shtml

    It definitely does not fall into the anti-science, “God bless the USA” patriotism model. I’m not aware of any Charlotte Mason-based curricula that would be like that, though I guess there could be some. In general one of the good things about home schooling is that you basically get to choose exactly what your children are being taught.

  • http://solacegirl.blogspot.com Amy

    We homeschool because we want to be with our kiddos. We enjoy being together as a family. We started out in the public school system, but when our son was headed toward 6th grade we made the decision to home educate. We don’t believe that homeschooling is the only way to go with education. It has to be the right fit for a family. We prayed about it for a year and a half before choosing this path. It is a huge blessing for us, and we feel that we know that our family is knit together in a deeper way that ministers to others. We don’t keep to ourselves. We spend time in our community and in our church. I love living life with my family.

  • MatthewS

    I’m not sure we ever do anything with completely pure motives. Our desire is to have a positive rather than a negative posture in home-schooling. Having said that, I am glad that my son doesn’t have to fight the labels of a normal school environment. I thoroughly agree with other commenters that the main issue is that parents are involved whether it’s home, private, or public school.

    We lean heavily on the Bauers’ “Well-Trained Mind” for our son’s program of education.

    We are part of a home-school cooperative that has classes 1 day per week. Our son gets social interaction there as well as in 4-H, Boy Scouts, and various church programs. We appreciate these opportunities for him to be required to follow directions set by someone else and be judged by someone else besides us, his parents.

    I enjoyed watching him at age 11 carry on a meaningful conversation with a staff member at the Chicago Field Museum about the Egypt exhibit. The lady was impressed with his knowledge and enjoyed conversing with him. I think this demonstrates a strength, that it gives more individual freedom to pursue things that interest him and to make them his own. This is above and beyond the standard required courses, of course.

    It’s a full-time job for my wife and while she insists on the respect due a teacher, as much as possible, she adopts the attitude of an excited co-learner with our son. For us, it’s a lifestyle that reflects a family value of learning.

  • http://annsphillips.wordpress.com Ann Phillips

    When my kids were small, my older sister sent me a book on Unschooling to encourage me to homeschool, as she had with her two youngest, the last through 8th grade. I was quite frankly horrified at the idea that anyone would expect a child to receive an adequate education by doing whatever interested them with no goals whatsoever. So mine went to the award winning neighborhood school.

    But in 2nd grade, he was struggling. The teacher assured me he was bright and understood the material, but he would not do his assignments. So, I started reading a number of books on homeschooling, wanting to know something about what I was doing if I pulled him out. As it happens, I didn’t pull him out until 5th grade, when he didn’t want to go into any of the 3 available classes. I figured if he already hated the teachers, it was time.

    My support was through the public schools, so we had all the books, but they are not at all geared for home schooling, so I ignored them and tried this and that. I hoped to make a real reader out of him and get him past his fear of math. I was unsuccessful on both counts, though I think we did make progress. I also wanted to teach him about my own faith and how to study the bible. I’m not sure how much sunk in, but we had a good time with that. I have to admit, that my experience with kids in public schools is that by the time they have finished their boatload of homework, they are not interested in sitting down with mom to learn things the schools do not require.

    After 5th grade, he wanted to be back with all his friends, so he went back to public school. But I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. It completely changed our relationship. He learned to trust me and there has been an openness in our communication ever since. Given that I had to begin taking care of my mother, in the middle of it as well, and refused to give up even though it was exhausting, I think he realized that he was a priority to me.

    My daughter had home preschool and entered kindergarten reading on a second grade level. Home schooling could have been an option, but she was so clingy, I felt she needed to learn that she could function just fine without me. She ended up in GATE classes and has been an A student all along. It’s good to know that she is appropriately challenged, however, as noted above, we have not found time to pursue other interests as much as either of us would like.

    If the ongoing budget cuts were to gut all her programs, I might consider homeschooling again, but so far that hasn’t happened, though they did cut out the one day enrichment program (mine was in the full time program).
    My biggest beef about the schools here is that, due to other more challenged student populations, they are in program improvement. NCLB requires way too much lockstep learning, and sometimes doubles up on say math, when these kids do not need that. The teachers are frustrated and so are the students. They and their parents did petition them out of one special program that was eating up all the time they needed for enrichment in certain classes.

    So, I have to say, I am with those who say, it all depends on the child’s needs, the parents willingness to do it or not and all the options available locally. One thing I did learn from both my reading and experiences is that homeschooling changes the family dynamics, usually in the direction of closer relationships. That said, the older they get, the harder it is to make the change. If the kid is not on board with the concept, it’s not likely to work.

  • AHH

    Patrick #13,
    The American Scientific Affiliation (professional organization for Christians in science; I’m a member but have no homeschool experience) has a project started to evaluate the scientific content of homeschool materials. They have not gotten very far yet, but here is the website:
    http://asa3online.org/homeschool/

  • Barb

    my thoughts on homeschooling come from being a public school parent.
    1. I wish that those who put their energy into homeschooling would instead put their children in public school and put there energy there to help all children have a better education. Our daughter was in a multi-grade public school program that required parents to volunteer. I wish that parental involvement was more the norm than the exception. –I’m sure the readers of this blog all belong to the “exception” side.
    2. Many (not all, but most) of the homeschooled children that I encountered were not well socialized. Some were extrodinarily arrogant about their intellectual abilities and lorded over other children (this was in our church’s sunday school and youth group setting)
    3. My daughter attends a Christian college with many homeschooled students. From her reports many of these students have a very unrealistic outlook on life and have a harder time adjusting to college.
    4. Our area had a lot of Mormons–they don’t homeschool–instead they get very involved in the school on every level. Their children are quite successful and also are taught at home and at church the Mormom doctrines/values.
    5. No good parent leaves all education to public school teachers. I spent many hours working with my daughter as she went through school–also providing her with as much total enrichment as I could.

  • Susi

    We HS our children when we moved here to the states. Germany doesn’t allow HS so our 2 older ones (they are 27 and 25 now)finished 3rd and 5th grade in Germany. When we moved here we didn’t know where we would end up so we didn’t put them in public school. We also thought that their English knowledge wouldn’t be up to par for 4th and 6th grade. We got any material we could afford and suplemented their curiculum with the library. We discussed every year if they wanted to go to public school or continue HS. We ended up HS all the way through. Our oldest majored with 2 degrees from the UO and our middle child is at OSU. Now our little one (7 now)we started to HS with the as #18 Calebite calls it oximoronic HS program– ‘public home school’. Wish I would have had that 17 years ago. All material is paid for and they have a beautiful curiculum and she takes her tests online. Plus you can add your faithbased teachings to it. We have the flexibility of HS but the structure and responsibilty to end work in a timely fashion. She loves it. In the beginning when we first started it was more time consuming however as the year progressed it got easier for parent and student and you have more free time. That would be something for # 1o Jjoe to look in to. If I as a German can teach our children I am sure you would be able to help guide your older children if they were interested in HS. I think the older you get the more independently you can work with the public homeschool program, but yet you have the chance to be more involved then when you send them away for 8-9 hours a day!

  • Susan N.

    It’s encouraging to read so many different families’ adventures in education. I’ve felt especially thankful today, reflecting back on our years of homeschooling.

    Barb @ #25, I feel bad that your encounters with homeschoolers have been so negative. As Ann wrote in her post, homeschooling doesn’t make us or our kids perfect. Speaking for myself, I know that learning to love more like Christ is a day-to-day process…fall down, get up, keep asking God to forgive and help us work out the kinks. We have had experiences of being hurt (unjustly insulted and excluded) by non-homeschoolers, and even by some homeschoolers. But then, there are those moments of fellowship and encounters with very broad-minded and generous souls who restore one’s faith in all that’s good in the world and help us to see that differences don’t have to keep us from getting together on some level. Man, do I appreciate these people in my life :-)

  • http://studyinbrown.com tonia

    @Barb
    We are homeschoolers who came out of the public school system (and I did spend an awful lot of hours volunteering there! *smile*) We eventually left because it just wasn’t working for our four children. I think there are a lot of poorly behaved people on all sides of the coin, but it becomes easy to blame it on the fact that someone is homeschooled or public schooled or what have you. The same goes for poor social skills. I’m always surprised that public school families don’t seem to have any awkward, socially inept kids in their schools. I sure did when I was in public school! (I think I was one of them, actually.) Again, so easy to blame it on the schooling and not just being weird, period.

    (As to Mormons…in our area nearly all the mormon kids are homeschooled. So I guess it depends on the area you live in.)

    I am in total agreement with Ann Voskamp. God leads each family to the place He wants them and there is no room for finger pointing or dismissing entire groups because it doesn’t work for you personally. I’m thankful for public schools and the time we spent there and I’m thankful for the freedom to homeschool. We’re blessed!

  • Steve Leigh

    We have tried both, and have had limited success with home schooling, but I see the following as the pros and cons, off the top of my head.

    Pros –
    a. You can free your child from the programmed factory child education and empower them to be more self directed.
    b. Children are less likely to get sucked into the social morass of school where peers define the importance of clothes, friends and sports.
    c. You can regularly remind your kids that they are bigger than grades, and what the system defines as important.
    d. You can construct a far more creative and engaging educational experience both in and out of a classroom environment.
    e. Students often interact with students of other ages in homeschooling groups and with siblings, to take advantage of a teaching/learning environment which helps to build confidence and enjoyment.

    Cons –
    a. You are more likely to pass on your dis-functions and weaknesses to your kids as you will pursue the subjects and ideas you prefer and eschew those you don’t.
    b. You give kids the impression that they don’t need to do the hard things or deal with hard people, but rather you can construct a life which is safe and controllable.
    c. Your kids do not have to face the range of world views and points of view that God calls us to face and they lose the opportunity to make moral choices and form theological points of view within the context of these competing ideas.
    c. Your kids may feel they are different and develop the fear that they don’t have what it takes to be successful in a public school environment.
    d. They are probably not exposed to as many activities they may not be aware of, sports, drama, art, wood shop, literature, etc… and may simply stick with what they enjoy. They may benefit from being in an art class, for example, a subject which they thought they hated, and discover that they like it.

    Just my two cents.

  • dura mater

    I will answer the three questions you pose, Scott, in order. As background information, I offer that my husband & I have homeschooled our two children, now 18 & 17, since they were in 4th & 2nd grade, respectively. My husband & I are both physicians; he is a product of public schools, & I of private & prep schools.

    We chose to homeschool because our bright son was failing & depressed in 2nd grade at his Montessori school. He wasn’t learning to read, and walked around saying he was the dumbest kid there. A gentle kid, he was getting in fights. I tried to visit the local public school, but they never returned my calls for an appointment, & then, when I went in, they wouldn’t let me observe 2nd grade.
    I visited the Catholic school, and my son went for a trial day; he took one look at the school and burst into tears, refusing to get out of the car.

    So there wasn’t a lot of choice.

    And then, once we started, it turned out to be A BLAST, and we have continued.

    We did not start to homeschool for religious reasons, but once we decided to homeschool, we chose a Christian curriculum. It has turned out to be an enormous blessing for our family, creating, as Ann Voscamp so eloquently describes, an integrated, holistic life.

    For us, one of the strengths has been the opportunity to provide the kids with the right “nutrients” for their talents and interests, as well as their weaknesses, in all spheres, academic, personal and spiritual. Even though all we really meant to do initially was to get our son reading, homeschooling allowed us truly to disciple both our kids.

    In a couple of weeks, our older child will graduate. She will be attending St. John’s College, in Maryland, in the fall. Our son, for whom we began this adventure, is a high school junior. He is taking honors Physics at the local high school, and next year will take two courses there, & one at the local university. Homeschooling has allowed him to develop his interest in computers, including security. For the past 18 months, he has been operating an on-line business, selling programs, which he makes, which allow the users to modify their X-Box games. (Allowing him the latitude to explore the on-line world required, and requires, soul-searching, dialogue and prayer regarding his groundedness in the Gospel, our trust of him, and continual intercession for his protection.)
    He has learned a colossal amount from this venture, which is financially thriving:).


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