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May 19, 2011

Homeschooling Series Response to Question

I think I have run out of ideas to post about in this series. So, unless you have other topics you would like me to cover, this will be the last post in this series.

In this post I will attempt to answer Lori Mayo's question.

I would like encouragement and insight to over look all the comments on...
"Where is lil-Jonny with math- etc"? You know when a family has un-saved family and all and are wondering if... "our children" are up-to date with the rest ie grades and all? Do you know what I mean? This type of added pressure!

First off, thanks for the question Lori. I think we have all come face to face with those who are very skeptical of homeschoolers in general. And I agree, there is a lot of pressure out there from friends, strangers and even family members. 

I think the first thing we learned was we had to be confident and firm in our reasons for homeschooling our children. If you don't know why you homeschool, you won't be confident in answering the skepticism that comes your way. 

I used to have a problem telling people that education isn't the only or main reason we are homeschooling because people would gasp and say how horrible we were for not putting our children's education first. I guess back then it was a thing I knew in my head, but it wasn't really in my heart.....and time has made me understand how true this statement is. The main reason we homeschool our children in not so they get a good education. Rather the reason we homeschool, and I mentioned this in previous posts, is so that we can be the primary influence in our children's lives and in doing so, we can deal with character issues that come up during the day. And our goal is that they would develop a love for learning and most importantly that God would be the focus of our lives, not education.

I have alway disliked the stigma that is out there of a child needing to be in a certain grade at a certain age. Who thought this up? For one things there a big difference between individual kids and even between girls and boys and the way they learn. So putting an age on this seems somewhat unfair. The great thing about homeschooling is that if I see my child is having a hard time in the level he is at, or it's too easy, I can either push them forward or hold them back! And I am not into starting my child in school or putting them in the next grade just because they are a certain age....rather I wait until they are ready. In doing "school" this way, we have found that our children come away with a love for learning! An example would be with Nathan this year in school. I started to teach him to read. We got over half way through his book and I could tell he was getting overwhelmed and frustrated. Now the teacher in me would have said, "Push through, keep him going, we have to finish the book"! But instead the homeschooling mom in me said, "Let's give this a break and come back to it in a few days, weeks, or even months, when he is ready. And here is what happened. We took a break and in the last couple of weeks he has been coming to me with books, wanting to read to me. I can almost guarantee this would not have happened if I had pushed him through the book. He would have turned off and maybe even turned out to dislike reading. But now I can see a love for reading and books developing in him. 

Now in saying this, as much as we don't believe it is right to push a child when they are not ready, it is equally wrong to allow a child to give up just because it's "too hard"! Because we all know that in life that there are times when we have to push through and persevere when things get tough. And I believe this attitude can be fed or broken at a very young age, and schoolwork is a great tool to bring this about. So it takes watching your child, knowing their personality and using your judgement if your child is really overwhelmed or just plain lazy about their schoolwork. Often a child who is lazy in their schoolwork will also be characterized by laziness in other areas around the home as well.

As Christians we know that it is not man's measuring stick we are to measure ourselves up to, but rather God's. So we need to know His Word to us and what He asks us to teach our children. There are everyday things in life that God tells me to do and it  may be different than what He tells you. And that's OK! Our children all have different talents that God has given them. So it would be unfair for me to say to you, "This is the WAY to do it." Rather I encourage you to seek out God's will for your family and how He would have you teach your children.  

In saying that I also would say that there are absolute values in teaching our children. One absolute would be that we teach them to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind.
(Deut. 6:7) We believe God gave our children to us to train, disciple and nurture them day in and day out rather than to send them away for hours in a day to be taught by someone else.

Now people will tell me that they can't homeschool for one reason or another. For example, I know that there are some wives who want to homeschool but their husbands do not agree to it. And I believe that the wife should honor her husband in this. (BTW....More often than not,  I find that the husbands do not want to put an extra burden on their wives because they hear how frustrated, overwhelmed and tired the wife is as they walk in the door from work. So sometimes (not always) I think this may be the case of a husband wanting to protect his wife) Another reason people give is, "I don't think I would have enough patience to teach my kids." Well let me tell you, when I wake up in the morning I don't know if I will have enough patience for the day either.  But I see this as an opportunity to grow in Christ and have Him refine me. Honestly, there are times during homeschooling our kids where I feel like I want to pull my hair out!!!! But God gave us our children and I am so thankful that they have, in so many ways, forced me to grow out of my selfish, self-seeking ways. 

Then there is always the argument, "If we don't send our kids to school, who will evangelize to the lost in the schools?" Really???? Is this really what is happening? Every time someone says this to me I think of a situation that I had when I was in high school. A friend and I were witnessing to a girl and over time she accepted the Lord. We were elated!!!! And for a few months we continued to disciple her. But one day we got a note from her in which she said she couldn't be a Christian anymore because it was too hard to be a Christian when her parents weren't. We were crushed, how could this happen. Well many years later I think I know how this happened. God has ordained it that the parents would bring up their children in the ways of the Lord, not peers, not teachers, but parents. So I wonder what would happen if we would put all of the money, time, and resources we put into schools and instead put them into developing relationships with families and reach them together. I know again that some will tell me that they witnessed and converted someone in school and it worked out, and to this I say great! But I think this is the exception rather than the rule.

Anyway, looking back on Lori's question I see that I kind of went on a rabbit trail. Sorry :)
I hope this answered your question Lori!

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