Educating your child is the most important job you have as a parent. There are many ways to educate a child. Most people choose to outsource their child’s education either to the state, letting their child be educated by the public school system, or to a private institution, or to a professional individual, such as a private tutor.
The ideal solution is to educate your child yourself.
I say ideal because I believe that there is no one more qualified to teach a child to be the adult they are destined to be than that child’s own parent.
Who better knows the ins and outs of how your child’s brain works than yourself? Who better understands the idiosyncrasies that makes your child the individual they are? Who better knows what motivates or demotivates your child?
Of all the individuals in the universe, who was miraculously bestowed, by God, of the responsibility of parenting your particular child?
This is not to say there aren’t circumstances where educating your child yourself at home is not ideal. Maybe you’re a single parent, the sole provider for your family and you don’t have time to homeschool. Maybe you and your child butt heads and the conflict is noticeably hindering their educational progress.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the educational options listed above, depending on your goals for training up your child in the way he should go.
Goals… that’s the key. What are your goals for your children, and does the educational route you’ve chosen for them support those goals and help them achieve those goals, or do they hinder and set back your child?
Our goals for our children are to teach them how to be godly, productive, compassionate adults who know what they believe, why they believe it, and can defend and lead according to their beliefs.
With that in mind, here are the reasons we chose to educate our children ourselves:
We Don’t Like the Goals of the Public School System
The goal of the public education system is to churn out college material, and the goal of the colleges is to churn out workers for the work force.
Not only is this not a path that we necessarily want our children to take, but it is an outdated model founded on the modern industrial revolution, established by the tycoons of old who needed properly trained managers of laborers.
The companies, positions and jobs that most college degrees are preparing people for have all moved overseas or have become automated. The business world has moved on from the industrial age, but the education system is still stuck in the nineteenth century.
If our children choose a career path that requires a college education, then fine. We’re not against higher education, but we don’t want them coerced into believing that a college degree and a job, working for someone else, is their only ticket to a happy life.
Our goal is for our children to have a versatile and useful education that fosters a life-long love of learning and molds them into thinkers and leaders.
We want them to be self-motivated trailblazers, and wise stewards of the life God has given them.
The right kind of home education moves them toward that goal.
Our Children Can Have a Personalized Education
Every child learns differently.
We have six children and each one is unique and has their own way of obtaining and processing information.
George Leonard says in his excellent book Mastery:
The typical school or college classroom, unhappily, is not a very good place to lear. “Frontal teaching,” with one instructor sitting or standing in front of twenty to thirty-five students who are sitting at fixed desks, is primarily an administrative expediency, a way of parceling out and keeping track of the flood of students in mass education. It’s sad that over the past hundred years almost every aspect of our national life – industry, transportation, communication, computation, entertainment – has changed almost beyond recognition, while our schools remain essentially the same.
Educating at home allows us to teach each child according to their strengths and weaknesses, ensuring they are getting the best opportunity to learn, and retain what they learn.
The Disciple Will Become Like the Teacher
Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
This is the main reason we homeschool our kids.
Whoever you hang around is who you become.
I firmly believe you only have about 12–14 years to bend the tree of your child. After that, any attempt to bend them will break them.
Why then should we give over those formative years to someone who does not hold the same values as us, and is not interested in the character development of our children like we are?
Paul Graham published a fantastic post on his website called Why Nerds Are Unpopular. Here is what he has to say about the formative years of children and grouping them together during that period:
Around the age of eleven, though, kids seem to start treating their family as a day job. They create a new world among themselves, and standing in this world is what matters, not standing in their family. Indeed, being in trouble in their family can win them points in the world they care about.
The problem is, the world these kids create for themselves is at first a very crude one. If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn’t get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid.
Like I said, you become who you hang around.
We want our children to build solidarity with their siblings and parents. We want them to learn how to be adults and how to interact with their peers from us, and educating them at home drives us toward that goal.
Why We Don’t Homeschool
I wanted to mention one reason that didn’t factor heavily into our decision to homeschool.
Many parents homeschool their children in an effort to merely protect them from harmful influences. While that is a bonus for educating at home, it is not a prime motivating factor behind our decision.
Sin lies in the heart, and we don’t believe it is helpful to shelter our children from all outside influences. We would much rather address issues as they arise and teach our children, “We do not do that because…” or “We do do this because…”
With the church having less and less influence in the world with each passing day, and the ways of the world becoming more and more mainstream, it’s becoming nearly impossible to completely protect our children from carnal knowledge that used to be held from a child until they were more mature.
Even going to the bathroom in public is now a cultural and moral lesson, whether you homeschool or not.
After all, our children may not be of the World, but they certainly live in it, and I think over-sheltering a child can certainly lead to a cultural shock when they are released into it as adults.