Why I DON’T Homeschool…

Well, it’s back to school week!  We had our meet the teacher day today, and we’ll jump into a FULL day on Friday!!  Katie Beth is beyond excited and ready for the year to begin.  In honor of school starting, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a hotly debated topic.

I’ve wanted to write this post forever, but it’s hard to figure out how to word it.  Homeschooling vs. Public School is such a touchy topic in our culture these days.  I read SO MANY blog posts – especially in adoption circles – of people that tell why they are homeschooling and share their passion for it.  I think it’s great that these moms have a calling from the Lord and the courage to obey. 

The only thing that bothers me in some of these posts are the varying themes of how horrible public schools are, homeschooling is the only option if you are REALLY a Christian mom or want REAL Christian kids, if you REALLY love your kids and want to spend time with them you’ll homeschool, if you’re not a lazy mom you’ll homeschool, etc, etc, etc.  Those aren’t verbatum quoted messages, but they are kind of an underlying tone of many of the pro homeschool posts.  I think most homeschool moms don’t intend for that to happen, but I’ve talked with LOTS of public school moms who get that message.  I don’t understand why it seems to be okay to put down public schools when pointing out the positives of homeschooling.  When reading someone’s “Why I Homeschool” post, I occasionally think I’m supposed to feel that I’m an “inferior” mom after I get finished.  I know that’s not what ANY of those moms intend (I hope).  I do believe that 95% of them are just so passionate about what they are doing that they would like everyone to grasp hold of it.  Or they want to encourage those wannabe homeschool moms that think they can’t do it to show that they really can.  And I totally get that.

But somewhere in there, I’d like to speak up for public schooling.  I have some good, solid reasons about why we are NOT homeschooling – some will agree with them and others will not – but I feel like moms who are choosing to do public school should have the encouragement that it can be a great choice for your kids.  You don’t HAVE to homeschool to be a great mom or to have kids with a strong faith.  In fact, there are lots of benefits in sending your kids to public schools.  So, I’d like to try to share those reasons for those that may feel a little guilty for not homeschooling.  But my intention is NOT to bash homeschooling either. 

All this is my little intro to say that I’m just giving another perspective.  I have MANY close friends who are also wonderful mothers who homeschool.  I have seen successful homeschool situations produce some effective and insanely wonderful Christian leaders in our society.  So please don’t think I’m against homeschooling.  I’m not.  But I do want to share the pros of public schools.  So, here they are, the reasons we DON’T homeschool:

1)  I grew up in public schools, and Jason grew up in a Christian private school.  I didn’t stay on the “straight and narrow” during high school, but that had much less to do with my peers than it did with my lack of a strong early Christian foundation.  As for Jason’s history, he has a very clean testimony, but it didn’t mean all the kids at his “Christian” school did.  He in fact didn’t get saved until he was 17, and he was in Christian school and church all his life!  I’ve taught high school girls for almost 15 years and have seen many homeschooled kids come through.  Some have great stories from their high school years, others not so much.  Jason and I believe that bringing up a strong Christian kid comes much more from the type of discipline and grace you receive at home than it does the environment you’re around during the day.  Children get their idea of who God is from their parents.  A kid who wants to rebel and look for trouble is going to find a way to do it – keeping them in the home and not exposing them to the world around them won’t prevent that – whether it comes now or later.  If the child is homeschooled all the way through high school, and I’ve heard of some even doing college at home, at some point, no matter how long you delay it, they will still enter “the real world” and encounter the darkness of the world!

2)  Jason and I both taught in public schools.  We have 5 public schools and 11 years of teaching experience between us.  Not to mention that we are still enmeshed with a wide range of kids on a regular basis.  Jason is a children’s pastor, and I still work with youth.  We see a LOT of kids. 

I know one argument against public schools is that there is so much “wasted” time.  Why send your kids off for 7 hours a day when you can get the work accomplished in 4- 5 hours at home without the homework?  I agree that this is correct – school does take longer than homeschool.  But those extra 3 hours aren’t just sitting around doing nothing.  Yes it would take me longer to do my lessons as a teacher of 30 kids than it would if I was teaching 1 child (or 5!).  But, a lot of the “extra” time involves some serious life lessons.  It’s time spent with other kids who MIGHT NOT be just like my kid.  They may have vastly different backgrounds, vocabularies, and (gasp!) they might not even go to church.  That’s okay!!  Kids have to learn how to work with people who are NOT like them and who DON’T share the same beliefs as they do.  I know when I went off to do my first jobs, it was not with people who were all white Republican Christians with godly language and godly lifestyles.  Some of them I downright didn’t like, but I knew how to work with them because I’d had 13 years of public school to figure out how to deal with those that are different from me BEFORE I entered the real world.  The “extra” and sometimes called “wasted” time spent at school is not wasted.  It’s time where kids learn how to cope in a world FULL of people that are different from them. 

Katie Beth is going into 2nd grade.  She’s had kids in her class already who have very different home lives from her.  She doesn’t see all of that yet, but she does see that they “act different” in class sometimes.  But I would not trade in a second her coming home and talking to me about those differences that she sees and the amazing conversations we have about how we as Christians are called to stand out and be different.  Some on the homeschooling side argue that Kindergartners to 4th or 5th grade is too young to be salt and light.  But, Katie Beth is not having to be salt and light to drug dealers and gang bangers who party and drink it up in their parents’ basement in 1st and 2nd grade.  Her big differences now may be some different words or seeing that someone’s home life is different from hers or a child who hasn’t learned the same manners or values about how to treat one another.  I’m okay with her being exposed to that in an age appropriate dosage.  I pray regularly for her mind and heart to be protected from the things she isn’t ready to hear. 

I really want her to see the difference now in what our family is called to vs. other families.  I want to have those discussions bit by bit.  And discussions where you TELL your child what other families and kids are like vs. them actually SEEING and EXPERIENCING it for themselves are very different.  I feel like those lessons are learned at an age appropriate time through an age appropriate schedule as they go through school. 

3)  For the above reasons, I know many parents who homeschool early elementary years and then put their kids in public schools by middle or high school.  When I taught in Ft. Worth, I spent two years at the middle school right by the seminary.  Parents were moving to the area and were often forced to send their homeschooled children to public schools in order to work to pay for seminary, etc.  During my first year at this school, I got a formerly homeschooled kid in my class mid semester.  That poor kid.  Not only was he in public school, but he was in a low income, 98% Hispanic school with known gang activity, and a lot of students with English as their second language.  Talk about some culture shock.  I don’t think he talked for a good month.  But the thing that made me physically hurt for him was that he was even behind those lower income ESL students academically.  His mom had been homeschooling him for seven years yet he was not up to par academically.  Now he could read and write, but he wasn’t accustomed to the school’s format of test taking, he wasn’t taught the same ways to comprehend reading – maybe from a different curriculum or something – I don’t know.  But he didn’t get it and was one of my lowest students all year.  And that was just one student.  I taught 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grades, and over and over I saw kids who came in who just weren’t where they should be academically due to homeschooling.  The gaps aren’t that big in 1st grade or 3rd grade.  But by middle and high school, the differences can be seen more clearly.  I know this isn’t with all kids, but I’m just saying I saw it A LOT.  And it can be overcome, but I think it can often be really hard on the kids.

I think the reason for this is sometimes people aren’t born to be teachers.  God gives everyone different gifts, and I do believe teaching is a gift.  Some homeschool parents I have talked to, when I really listen, seem to be making the homeschool decision based upon fear.  Fear of the culture at public schools, fear of what their kids will encounter, fear of their kids “leaving them”, and often the fear of not knowing what to do with themselves when their kids are out of the house.  (BTW, God alone is to be feared Ps 76:7, Lk 1:50, and God tells us MANY MANY times not to give into fear Is 41:10, Is 41:13, 1 Pt 3:6, 1 Jn 4:18, and we are called to not have a spirit of fear Rom 8:15) – more on that in the next point.  But, someone who is not gifted to teach and who doesn’t know or have the passion for a subject matter is not necessarily the best person to teach.  All that to say, the decision to homeschool (or do anything) based solely on FEAR of any kind is wrong.

I LOVE to teach.  I went to school to learn to teach.  And I love reading and writing.  So that’s what I taught primarily.  But sometimes I had to teach Science.  And I hate Science.  I really hate teaching science.  I did not teach science with the passion I should have.  So every year but one, we traded classes, and I taught all of the reading, writing and social studies while another co-teacher who had the knowledge base and passion for science taught it.  It worked out great! 

There are amazing, gifted teachers in our public school systems that work their rear ends off to not only teach the necessary knowledge but to give our kids passion for that subject matter or material!  Are all teachers passionate?  No.  But if you are blessed enough to live in an area with a great school district and great teachers, why would you trade that?  I’m not going to home-doctor or home-dentist because I’m not experienced in those areas.  And I honestly believe that teaching is a similar profession.  Now some moms thrive at teaching their kids.  I’m not saying you have to have a teaching degree to teach.  I’ve seen MANY non-teachers blossom into creative and gifted teachers when they are called to homeschool.  But I’ve seen lots and lots of moms who weren’t gifted teachers.  I’ve seen “homeschooled” kids who spent a lot of time doing anything at home BUT learning.  And their kids suffered!  Homeschooling is a LOT of work, and I think successful homeschool moms have to work really hard to do it right.  It’s totally doable, but I wish more potential homeschool moms knew how much work it’ll be going into it and were committed and prepared for that.  I know moms that hook up with other moms to plan and work on curriculum years before they even start homeschooling – that’s great!  Get ideas from other moms and teachers.  And just be ready to work hard at it and give it your all if it’s something you commit to!

4)  And now onto fear.  Sending your kid to school is SCARY!!!!  Do you think I didn’t flip a little when Katie Beth headed to Kindergarten?  Oh yeah I did.  She was my baby!  She still is!  As committed as I’ve ALWAYS been to public schooling and as passionate as I am about it, I even had some moments where I considered homeschooling, but I knew for me it would be a fear based decision and not what was best for her.  But it was still so hard to send her!!

Her first day that I didn’t walk her in and had to drop her off in the carpool lane?  CRAZY!  Could she get all the way to the door?  What if she fell and nobody saw her?  What if someone grabbed her?  I let her get out and then whipped down the carpool lane and then into and back up across the parking lot so that I could watch and make sure she got in.  And then I put my head on my steering wheel and cried.  And prayed.  And read here about one of our first days of school and what I thought about it.  It’s not easy!  But, I know in my heart of hearts of hearts that it’s right for her.  I see all the ways she’s grown, and I’m so glad I didn’t let my fears deprive her of those things.

I just read this paragraph in Grace Based Parenting and thought it fit:  “Speaking of fears, if your child attends the public school system, a grace-based family makes it easier for him or her to succeed because you aren’t intimidated by the inherent shortcomings inside the public school system.  And if you aren’t afraid of what’s out there, it’s a lot easier for your children to thrive spiritually inside the antagonistic environment they might encounter at school.” 

5) Some of my favorite verses since high school have been Philippians 2:4-6,  Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”  As Christians we are to SHINE like stars in a dark world.  If my kids are with Christian kids all day long – within our family or within a homeschool co-op or at homeschool activities or at church – they’re with a lot of other stars!  I want my kids to shine in the DARK!  Stars don’t shine when the sun is out, where it’s light.  And we really believe they have to learn to shine a little bit at a time in a little bit of dark at a time.  I don’t want to throw them into the dark once they are 12 or 15 or 18 if they’ve never experienced much dark.  I want them to grow their light gradually as the dark around them grows.

And this quote says it best about what we believe (from this Focus on the Family article about Dr. Kimmel, author of Grace Based Parenting):  

“Dr. Kimmel believes today’s postmodern society has caused Christian parents to allow their fears of losing their children to the world to define how they raise their kids.

“Many families see how corrupted the culture is, how evil Satan is and how fragile the kids are,” he explains. “That’s when your fears define your strategy. But it is a bankrupt plan: it’s a contradiction to everything we say we believe. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we should be the last people afraid of just about anything!”

He says Christian parents are “scared to death” of public arenas like Hollywood and the Internet and he believes the detrimental message this fear sends to kids is that God is not big enough to protect them.

His alternative? Raise kids in the midst of the world, instead of teaching them to fear it. The most important way children learn to exercise grace with those around them is to see their parents do it with confidence that the Lord will follow through.

“Your actions should say, ‘We love our unbelieving friends,’ ” Dr. Kimmel prescribes. “When kids are younger, we protect them more. But as they grow, we need to bring them up to speed and trust that ‘the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). We want to raise our kids to glow in the dark and show people how to love others and be gracious.”

6)  I think homeschooling should be a kid-based decision not based on what the parent wants.  What is best for YOUR KID?  I have one friend who sent her oldest son to school for K and 1st grade.  He just wasn’t succeeding for various reasons.  So she pulled him out to home school, and he’s thriving – he loves homeschooling.  But she has a second child coming up, and she’s sending her to school this next year.  She’s sending her because she’s social and loves that interaction with other kids.  And she says that she’ll decide year by year, kid by kid, dependent on the school district they are in, whether or not she will homeschool, and which kids she will homeschool.  I think this is really wise. 

For our kids, Katie Beth is very social and loves the interactions at school with friends and other adults who pour into her.  She LOVES it and has just blossomed more into herself these two years.  She also is semi-strong willed and doesn’t always give a flip what I have to say.  She and I working together at home on WORK wouldn’t be a good combination.  So often she’ll come home to do the dishes or take care of something I’ve worked on her about for years because “my teacher said it was a great idea”.  I love that.  It just sometimes means something coming from someone else they respect.  And Katie Beth has had two amazing godly teachers so far that she ADORES!  What blessings!

Everett however is the opposite.  He’s not quite as social and really doesn’t love the idea of school.  He could stay home all day, everyday, if it was up to him (playing Wii for sure).  For that reason, he NEEDS school too.  School (right now just pre-k) helps him come out of his shell and gain confidence in lots of areas.  Nolan appears to be like Katie Beth so far.

Would I go so far to say that I will NEVER homeschool?  No.  There could be a point in one of our five children’s lives at some time where they aren’t succeeding at school and need to be home for a period of time.  I really am open to that and pray about each upcoming school year as it comes.  I don’t think anyone should make any blanket statements regarding, well… anything.  Anything that involves an “I’ll ALWAYS” or “I’ll NEVER”, well just watch out is all I’ve learned on those types of statements.  If you believe it, I once actually said, “I’ll NEVER go to Africa.  I just don’t want to.  I’ll go anywhere else but not there.”  And I meant it.  Three months later?  We were on a plane to Africa for a mission trip.  And look at us now adopting from Africa with a passion to help the many poor there.  Yeah, I don’t use “I’ll never” statements anymore and try to guard against those attitudes in my spirit.

I could seriously list a thousand more reasons why we believe in public schooling.  But this post is long enough already.  For us, and granted we’re only two years into public schooling, we have made it work in our family.  There are things we give up to make it work – we don’t do a lot of weeknight activities during the school year.  Jason tries to go in early and get home earlier so that we can have a good 4-5 hours of family time each night.  If one kid is playing sports, we all go to the practices so we’re together.  We don’t watch much TV.  We don’t do a lot of date nights, by choice – many of our date nights happen when we put the kids down a little early at 7:30ish.  We watch a movie, have a special dinner, play games, whatever.  We have our times out, but we don’t do once a week.  We don’t let the kids do a lot of weekend days at friends’ houses. Everett and Nolan go to pre-K at church, and so on MWF, they don’t do a lot of play dates because they have their social interaction on TR.  I want to have them on the other days.  Jason and I don’t go to a lot of weeknight things like Bible studies or evening workouts.  During the school year I often clean Katie Beth’s room for her so she doesn’t have to spend time when she’s home doing that.  I help her with homework and if we’ve had a crazy night, and she’s done mentally I’ll send a note saying we didn’t get it done.  I’m involved with the school as much as I can be - that’s hard with other little ones at home.  But I wouldn’t hesitate for a SECOND to talk to a teacher about something I didn’t feel was appropriate for our kids that happened in the classroom.  And if talks with the teacher didn’t work, I wouldn’t feel bad about talking to the principal (please don’t ever go to a principal until you’ve tried to work it out with the teacher!!!).  We do have Bible verses we work on at home to memorize.  We talk about the scriptures and ways to apply it to our lives at opportune times throughout the days.  I really try to focus summers on teaching and expanding what they are learning at school and church.  We aren’t as consistent with formal family devotionals as we could be, but we have lots of informal ones.  I’m okay with that – I think it SHOULD come naturally.  I allow school friends to come here, but I wouldn’t let Katie Beth go to someone’s house with whom I wasn’t completely comfortable.  I depend and network with other parents I trust in Katie Beth’s peer group to determine what activities are ok or not.  As our kids get older, I PRAY these parents will not hesitate to help parent my kids with my commitment to do the same for theirs.  I think ABOVE ALL, going to school with kids that are involved in the same church is essential.  We purposely chose schools that are closely involved with our church, which also has a strong growing youth group.  I won’t back down on that because kids need accountability and as many friends as they can get that go to their church. 

I know some people are called to homeschool because they are passionate about it and they have kids that have some special circumstances where they need to be homeschooled.  I support many of my friends that are doing it.  But, I think there are many valid reasons for public school too.  I think there should be more mutual support between the two camps.  Do what you’re called to do and recognize that others are called to do different things.  Don’t judge if someone is not doing it “your way” or doing what you’re called to do.  And let’s all be careful about how we voice our beliefs about our passions.

I’ve been really working on this verse this week – working on it permeating my heart – and my mouth.  Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  I pray our words regarding our passions (homeschool vs public school, adoption, politics, stay at home vs working moms, etc) will bring healing and unity and not hurt and dissension.

****Add on comment from me:**** Can I just add that a sweet friend sent me a message shortly after writing this that made sure she had never offended me – oh please please believe me when I say that I’ve never been PERSONALLY offended by anyone regarding homeschooling.  I’m really not an easily offended person.  I even said in the above post that I felt like I was “supposed” to feel inferior about homeschooling.  My sweet friend said she was glad for the reminder to have some sensitivity and to remember who she’s around when she’s talking about homeschooling.  But, my friends’ homeschool talk doesn’t bother or offend me!  I like the ideas sometimes and will use them!  I like hearing how it’s going.  It intrigues me when homeschooling is done well!  So please, if you’re a homeschool friend of mine, don’t think you’ve offended me – I PROMISE you haven’t.  Don’t not talk about homeschooling – I want to hear about your experiences!  I really am just giving a voice to the “other side”!!!

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52 thoughts on “Why I DON’T Homeschool…

    • I just read it, and that’s a great post too! I tell you, the ministry schedule is a big one that would motivate me to homeschool. Whew! But, Jason’s summer is his busiest, and so far we’ve been able to do a lot of that with him. He’s more flexible during the school year and gets to do pick up on some days and is in the schools a lot too being a children’s pastor. I laughed out loud at several of your comments – this one in particular: “And, if it our existence was some kind of locked-down Christian bubble that taught Braeden & Collin that life is a tiptoe through the tulips as long as they go to church every time the doors are open & stay away from anyone who doesn’t listen to Christian radio & name-drop inspirational authors, you’d be right.” HA!

      Thanks Mark!

  1. Very well said Sarah, you have a gift for writing too not just teaching. I agree with I think everything you said. I have nothing against homeschooling either. I firmly believe that we can’t shelter our children from this world. If we hang with only Christian people how can we ever impact someone else’s life for Christ? How can we further His kingdom by living in a bubble? You made so many great points!! I want my kids to be a light for Christ in this dark world!!!! It is scary but whom is our trust in??? I think too often parents think that because our kids are in church they never hear anything bad or aren’t exposed to anything we wouldn’t expose them to, we both teach/taught youth and we know that isn’t the case!!

    I love your heart friend, and I loved this post!! Thanks for sharing with us!! I love you friend!!!

  2. Sarah, Thanks for sharing that… I will say from the other end of that (I hope I NEVER made you feel inferior in any way by anything I ever said) I appreciate you sharing because I, and I am sure many other homeschool moms don’t stop to think about how they sound when defending or explaining their passion… and that’s important to know… because whether we homeschool send our kids to school (christian or public) stay home or work whatever it is… we are called to support and encourage one another… not tear each other down!!! or judge one another…we get on to our children all the time for doing that but don’t stop to think about how many times we ourselves do just that!!! Anyway, Thanks for sharing!!!

    • And Mindy, NO!!! NO offense ever taken – I added a comment above. I NEVER felt inferior, just felt that maybe I was supposed to feel inferior. But I do know some moms that struggle with it. I really have NEVER been personally offended at all with ANYBODY’s homeschool talk – REALLY!

  3. What a great post Sarah. I always wonder how come some moms are called to homeschool and others (like me) are not. I would love to have my kids home but that is because I want to. Like your friend it is on a year by year basis. My daughter adores school and everything about it. She has had excellent teachers and is thriving. My little guy liked school last year and is excited to get going again. With his ACC we will see how things go for him as school progresses.

    I had a conversation with a friend in Oregon who homeschools. She sent her little guy to school but hated having him away from home so long. She started thinking about homeschooling and praying about it but was fearful. She and her husband made the decision because God said don’t worry to her fears. She was not told “homeschool your child” but “don’t be afraid”. So often I wonder if it is fear that makes people homeschool rather than hearing God say to homeschool. And I am one of those people that feel inferior because I wonder why God is not telling me to homeschool. Maybe it is because we are at an amazing public school with many Christian teachers, maybe it is because I am not afraid for them to be in public school…who knows. I want my kids to grow up to be apologetically strong people who know what they believe and why they believe it. When they can talk to us about issues that come up at school I believe it gives them a strong foundation.

    All that to say, great post and I look forward to seeing what kind of comments you get.

    • It is interesting how God calls some people to it and others not. Strong Christians or not strong Christians – there are both on both sides! I think it’ s a lot personality of parents and personality of kids and the plan God has for that kid and that family! I honestly get just as excited about public schooling as others do about homeschooling! And it’s not that you’re NOT called to homeschooling but if you’ve prayed about it and don’t feel that’s where God wants you then you are CALLED to be in public schools! We don’t often think about it that way!

  4. Great post, Sarah. I usually don’t make it through long blogs, but this was well worth it! I often wonder something similar to what Karen was saying about God “calling” us to homeschooling or public schools. Is it God or is it personal preference? Same thing with adoption, does God “call” you to a certain country or does He just call you to adopt and country is wherever you want? Some questions I’m not sure can really be answered on earth but I’m sure you have better insight!!
    It’s nice to finally see a blog about why your choosing public school. I feel the same way you do! We have been introduced to so many unbelievers and it was neat to see Channing’s heart really “feel” for those kids! Love you, friend!

  5. Sarah,
    It’s been interesting to be exposed to both sides of the spectrum. I grew up in public school, went to a public university, taught in the public school system here in Hendersonville for 6 years (1st grade) and now God has called us to homeschool – something I swore I’d never do after seeing so many ‘homeschooled’ kindergarteners come through my classroom – CrAzY! :)
    I too don’t have many qualms with public school and LOVE that there are godly teachers and students being light to those in need of a Savior.
    I get looks from former colleagues and even a few family members when they hear that I’m going to homeschool Cole. . . almost as if I’m turning my back on what I once embraced. That’s not my heart at all – I fervently support families that send their kiddos to public school and will always strive to have a sensitive spirit on BOTH issues. I’ll need all the grace I can get when we begin schooling in two years!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  6. I’m a teacher turned stay at home mom who has a daughter going into grade two at a public school (and a 4 yr old boy). I went to Christian school and then to public school for high school (the Christian school only went up to grade 9). I had a number of friends who were homeschooled and yet I heard of the same issues I heard of in public schools — some got into drinking, some into drugs, some premarital sex. Homeschooling didn’t protect them from the world. I also saw some less than quality learning — some parents catered to their kids instead of pushing them that tiny bit out of their academic comfort zone. Some kids never read a novel and couldn’t write an essay.

    Thank you for writing this. I have at times felt like I’m *supposed* to feel inferior for either not homeschooling my kids or for not sending them to a Christian school. I like how you said some are called to send their kids to public school. God has instructed us to be IN, but not OF the world and for my family, right now, that means public school. My daughter is in situations where she can talk about what she believes to non-Christian friends and to teachers.

    Personally, I know how hard teaching is and I don’t think I could give 100% to being my kids teacher and 100% to being their mom. I think one or the other would suffer.

  7. Sarah, great post! I totally agree with you that it really is kid and family dependent. Because of my parents being missionaries, we had to homeschool (and there is a difference between choosing to do it and having to do it). Before that we did public and then I finished in a Christian private school. I thrived better in the public and private school settings, the interaction with others and the competition drove me to want to do better. I didn’t have that with homeschool and therefore wasn’t as motivated. I think people forget that children are different and that what works for one might not work for another. You are a great writer! Thanks for a different perspective that what you usually see.

  8. Love this! Obviously I’m not a mom so it’s hard to relate to this is some senses, but I will say that sometimes even I can feel inferior for thinking I might not want to homeschool my soon to be children. Thanks for this! Also, I wanted you to know that I’ve copied down the quote by Dr. Kimmel. That spoke to me on a totally different level – not even about schooling. I can let fear take over me when I think about having kids one day and all that entails and God really used this quote to speak to me about that.

    Thanks! Love you sis! (miss you too!)

  9. Great thoughts! It’s helpful to be reminded to check what our fears are and then not “take counsel” from those fears. I didn’t like science when I was in grade school, and have never felt I could encourage my children well in that direction. My husband, on the other hand, has a great aptitude for such things, so it’s likely some of our children inherited that, and I wish we’d managed to have him more involved in passing along more of his knowledge in something like physics. I have not homeschooled very much, but do think there are many ways we can supplement the public school experience if we think clearly about our parenting goals.

  10. Thank you SO much for writing this blog. I totally agree with you.

    I think it is SO important to teach our children discernment. If they are always sheltered, there is much less discerning that takes place.

    Also, some people aren’t gifted in teaching academics. I will admit that I am one of them. I love my children dearly, but I would struggle with the child who didn’t “catch on” as soon as I think he/she should. I love the constant peer interaction, the sibling break, and the independence public schooling provides as well.

  11. Nicely put Sarah!! I didn’t know you had a blog until now. I home schooled for 7 years before we moved here mainly b/c we lived in Memphis and well…ya! We lived in Memphis. LOL! The schools there and the politics there are horrible so I really felt lead to do it and I had a HUGE support system. Several friends of mine from church did it too so that made it so much easier!! I actually put my oldest in public school in Kindergarten but he changed so much the first week there from the influences that I decided the next year I would start and so we did. They all did very well and we had such a huge support group that had teachers do different things like teach science classes and art classes and so on that you could really get too involved in things outside of the home. we didn’t do them all of course but for that season it was great! once we moved here I home schooled them the first year until we found a church home and they felt comfortable with everything from us uprooting them away from “home” and all of their friends but going from a 1300 sq ft house to about a 4000 sq ft house (my grandmothers) I was sooo overwhelmed that I decided to put them in the next year plus they didn’t have many friends yet and they needed that big time!! We don’t live in a neighborhood anymore so they were lonely! I had already looked at the school system before we moved up here and there grades as schools are so awesome and so I knew that I may be doing that eventually and God showed me really quick what He wanted us to do and I must say it was a little scary but they have really excelled so much being in school!! I mean…straight A’s excelled!!! Now that’s not to say that my oldest didn’t have one of the hardest years ever b/c of his age mainly I think. He was in 8th grade at the time and has ADHD. He isn’t hyper but very hard for him to stay on task b/c of the distractions in a classroom and impulsive and things like that so going from a one on one perspective to a huge classroom his grades started showing it and socially he was introduced to the world BIG time!!! He came home asking what words meant all of the time and had all of these girls flocking over him and telling him their problems all of the time and how they cut themselves and stuff like that! It was crazy!!! He wasn’t used to being around all of that b/c we were always around our christian groups. I mean we lived in a neighborhood full of lost kids that he learned things from too but in middle school– wow!!!!! they do things and say things I don’t even think I did at that age and I was not a good Christian girl at that age even though I was “saved”. Anyway, I grew up in school all my life and I didn’t turn out too bad myself so I thought they will be fine and I knew I needed to just let go and let God do His work through them. This last year was great and I am very excited a/b this year b/c they all love their schedules so far and teachers so it is going to be a good year and they are all social bugs so they have really missed their friends!! I just take it year by year as well and if I ever need to pull one out I know that I can and have that capability now! I am entering a new world this year having all of my kids in so I am anxious to see how that goes. :) Thanks for your wisdom. When I was in Memphis, I saw some people who home schooled and didn’t do very well at it too. I was just talking the other day with one of my best friends from there and she hs’s hers and she was telling me ab this lady that does it but her kid is the same way as the one you were talking ab not knowing very well how to read and write. Its really sad that those people are so afraid to do what the child needs the most that they are really holding them back!! It is so frustrating!! and the ones who bash public schools are just wrong and give the rest of us a bad name! Anyway, just thought I would share my experience with you too. :) I totally agree with everything you said b/c I have been on both sides too. :)

  12. I’m a psych major and am researching homeschooling for an argumentative paper. This article/post is amazing! I grew up being raised by a single father my whole life and we were far from having any sort of godly faith. I started drugs in middle school and most of my free time was spent walking around town with friends doing really stupid stuff. Sophomore year of high school, I ended up making some new friends, a lot who were Christian and a lot who were homeschooled and by junior year I was pretty much done with my old friends and life.

    Anyway, two of my best friends (I’m twenty and a follower of our Lord for a little over a year now) were homeschooled (they are siblings and children to a pastor) and almost daily I notice that they have these somewhat warped views of society and the people around them. They, along with my other homeschooled friends, also seem to be very indecisive in majority of matters and can’t seem to independently think. If they hear or read something, they decide almost immediately how that lines up with their current views and go from there. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but to put it simply, they don’t ever look or think deeper into matters that they seem to have such strong opinions about.

    In terms of social identity, they struggle immensely with holding their godly grounding (the brother, whom I live with, doesn’t even try anymore) and as soon as they got into college, they changed almost completely. It seems as if they are modeling the stuff they saw on TV and are just overly trying to be the stereotypical “cool kids”. There is a lot of gossip, insulting, cursing, and a lot of attitude. Another friend, whom moved to Anderson University (Christian college) got into marijuana, started smoking tobacco and drinking, and became sexually active, all during her freshman year. She said that if you get caught having sex on campus, you just pay a $50 fine, like a parking ticket.

    Therefore, watching those homeschooled friends over the past few years has made me realize that being homeschooled really does do something to a person beyond effecting textbook education. I hope to get the opportunity to conduct studies when/if I get my doctorate or phd to elaborate more on this.

    Sorry for the ranting. I’m just now starting this essay and I kind of just gave you a prospectus without completely realizing it. Thanks a ton for this information! Unfortunately any faith-based religious beliefs aren’t allowed in my class, so I will have to try and take out the good stuff while keeping the essence.

    Thanks again. This is really good!

  13. Ryne – as a psych major, I’d encourage you (and anyone else reading this) to be very careful about the difference between anecdotal evidence (what you have personally experienced) and actual research.

  14. Wow mark, that was a fast reply, but i was going to say something similar. While those are a couple of examples that would seem to support that homeschooling is a bad option, there could be other reasons why they reacted that way in college, etc. Someone else’s experience with the home-schooled people around them could be all positive, which also wouldn’t definitively support that homeschooling is always a good option either. In summary, even widely observed “patterns” of home-schooled or public-schooled kids must be supported by factual unbiased data to “prove” one way or the other. I think it could be impossible to prove either way, but that’s just my opinion. I think it works for some and doesn’t for others and that it should be a calling, not something done for flippant, fearful, or selfish reasons.

  15. I’m very aware of the differences, hence why I’ve started research now. I also apologize if I made it seem as if I assumed that those statements were facts and/or that all homeschooled students were that way. I was merely stating what I’ve observed. Incidentally, I feel that it can’t be denied that a person who is homeschooled their whole life will differ, in most part socially, than someone who grew up in public schooling. Those thirteen years are an extremely vital part of a person’s development, especially considering they are going right into yet another very developmentally vital time of life (college). If you alter the k-12 time, then I feel it must have some effect on the schooling right after. I would also like to add that all of the homeschoolers that I know did have social lives. The more complex of their studies involved them meeting as a group/small class, they occasionally attended public school sporting events, some would be in extracurricular activities, a portion of them had public jobs, and a lot of them had public school friends (like myself). That still doesn’t compare to what effects being in the school itself has.

    In terms of faith, one of the two friends mentioned earlier (the sister) went to Ozark Christian College in Missouri and left after a year because she felt like she had been in a bubble her whole life. She said that, although she is who decided to go to the bible school, she decided because of her parents, not because it’s what she really wanted, although she didn’t tell them that until the year was over. She said that being there made her realize that she didn’t develop her own relationship with God, but that of her parents. Also, after 18 years of being raised in the church, she was still in the Christian community and had never really had her faith tested in ways that a lot of other people her age has. Pretty much, she felt like she wasn’t really doing her duty to Christ to help the world and grow wise through experience. She spent 18 years of her life in a Christian community, rarely witnessing how devious the world really is and having to go through the sinful struggles that having a mass amount of peers gives. So, although I’m aware that this isn’t necessarily a righteous thought, it seemed as if she felt like she wasn’t really living her faith out because she had never had to deal with what she considered “real” struggle. It had always been a lot easier in the “bubble”

    Despite all of that, I’m not saying that home-schooling is definitively good or bad. I’m also aware that it is better, or even sometimes essential, for some families. I was just bringing light to the fact that it definitely can have its very big effects on a person. I also did not intend on offending anyone if that has happened.

  16. Hear! Hear! I really appreciate this well written post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. It is not often in the blog circle I read in that I find Christian parents whose ideas about public education line up with my own like yours do. Thanks for writing!

  17. Very good post. During high school I attended both a public high school and a Christian high school for a time. I was spiritually much sharper and bolder in my faith during my time in public school. I got spiritually “lazy” while in the Christian school. When we had our first child, we had every intention of sending her to public school because we thought it would be a good experience for her to see the real world and for her to be the salt and light. She did attend public school for kindergarten, but due to special education needs, we are now homeschooling. Believe me that was not my plan, but when you receive recommendations for intensive one on one instruction in a classroom size of 5 or less and low distractions and noise levels, you learn to be flexible and change your plans. If you are ever faced with the need to home school any of your children, I am sure that your experience will help you keep your children exposed to what they need to be and allow them to still be light and salt to other kids.

  18. Thanks for posting. I struggle with those feelings of I should be homeschooling my daughter and boys. I wholeheartly believe that its independant/individual decision based on the child’s needs and readiness and even family dynamics and choice in schools available. I homeschooled my daughter last year but this year sent her to public (which is a great school). I believe it would be good for her socially and because I had a baby due in August and felt at the time that she would not get the attention that was a must for school, but also God’s timing is everything, I had a sister passed away in November and helped my parents a lot for the next 2 months. Needless to say my daughter would not of gotten the schooling she needed if she was homeschooled. I might again in the future with her but for right now its working out great. My son does great in school, and honestly can’t picture homeschooling him unless needed academically. My other son is a social bug and after doing preschool at home with him I will most likely send him to school because of his desire to go to school and how social he is. I will see with my youngest but she is only 8 months, lol. Thanks again for posting and reassuring others who do choose public. And it would be great if all of us mom’s encouraged every hard decision, since we need all the encouragement we can get.

  19. Excellent post. I have known quite a few families who home-school (including my own parents) and I have seen very few families succeed (including my own parents). Conversely, the only common denominator for families who raise healthy kids (public or home-schooled) seem to be families with strong relationships – few other variables seem to matter. Just a few observations.

  20. Pingback: Our Neighborhood Public School Works for Us! « The Earthling's Handbook

  21. Great post. I came across your site/blog while browsing the internet about “empty nest” syndrome. My children are 20, 18 and 13. I am beginning to feel a bit of the empty nest and was seeking info about this, anyhow, I stumbled across your post and agreed 100%. I sent all my sons to public school and even worked myself as a substitute teacher for 3 years for the school system. The Lord has used my all of my sons to plant seeds with teachers and students and be a “light” many times on sujbects like “evolution”, “Abortion”, “Homosexuality”, etc… and teachers have even chastised my sons for standing for the truth in class and have even called me at home over it and very angry! I praise the Lord for this because it shows that by raising my sons in the Lord, they are (and have been) taking bold stands for the Lord in the school system and now in the job situations! As a substitute teacher for 3 years, the Lord allowed me to plant seeds with fellow teachers and some students… so, we cannot hide our children from the world and still expect them to be a light. Light cannot be seen without darkness. It’s just a fact both in the natural world and in the spiritual realm. Amen to your post.

  22. Thank you so much for this post. I attend and work for a wonderful church. We’re pretty small (less than 200) but 90% of the moms homeschool. Just on that alone I feel like I’m not doing the Christian thing by wanting our daughter to go to public school (we have a wonderful Charter school nearby) and she is only 2! My friends high-five each other when another mom chooses to homeschool and I don’t think they are aware of the message that sends to others who choose a different route. Our daughter is so friendly, outgoing, sweet and bring so much joy even to the grumpiest old man in the Walmart checkout line. I prayed these things for her while she was being knit in my womb, but not that it would result in putting the lamp under a bowl but that she would shine to a lost and dark world! I feel so much more encouraged and more sure of our own path. Thank you!

  23. I came accross this article from another blog. Let me just say I agree with EVERYTHING you have said here. I esp like number 6- yes, you need to pick any schooling based on the child! I hear so many people say that they homeschool because public school was such a horrible experience for them. Well, alot has changed in education since today’s parents were still in school. Yes, stuff happens but I think today’s parents are better equipped to handle it.

  24. I am a homeschooler and have been humbled by your beautifully diplomatic post. Thank you for your perspective. I totally agree. I think I am one who wonders why more don’t do it but love what you have to say. I know my heart and mind were very damaged by public school but I did not have parents like you are. Love how you prayed for your daughter’s heart and mind to be protected. Powerful!

  25. Great post! I’m another homeschooling mom who might get overly passionate when talking about education. This gentle reminder was a good one.

    It was particularly interesting, to me, was the idea that people keep their children home out of fear. I had never considered that. When I felt inspired to bring my kids home from school and begin homeschooling them, I was scared to NOT send them to school. It took a leap of faith on my part :)

    Love perspective. Thank you!!

  26. So thankful for the encouragement! It is such a lonely thing to watch so many Christians abandon public schools. Imagine what would happen if all the homeschool moms poured a quarter of that time into public schools…

  27. Just one thing to add. There are other options than public school or home schooling. I am in a good sized city (Spokane WA) and have one kid in kindergarten (girl). I am brilliant and successful,if I do say so myself, but I am not a teacher. I am even good with kids but I am not a good teacher at all. If an average person watched a real teacher teach they would see that teaching someone to sort by numbers is TOTALLY different than showing a child some numbers and making them memorize them. We considered sending her to a catholic school. It was affordable, it went all day, and was near my work so I could easily pick her up on time. In the end we settled on a special program called SPICE. I am sure the same thing exists everywhere but maybe under a different name. We pay a small amount to the SPICE program at a public school ($100) and parents are also required to spend at least 40 hours per year in the classroom. So every Wednesday I teach kids math based on the lesson the teacher shows me 5 minutes before class starts. It takes about 2 hours and I get to see how the classroom works and how real teachers teach. Imagine being a part of your child learning from a professional! All kids in the program have parents who care. If they didn’t they wouldn’t pay the nominal fee and would not spend the time in the classroom.

    So look for creative solutions is you are not sure what to do. It is REALLY hard to know what to do especially if it is your first kid. I didn’t even know when to register for a school. The one thing that made the most sense in the posting above was the story about leaving your kid at school when you basically don’t know anyone. Just be sure you don’t make a choice because of ignorance or fear. Oh and getting up every day after day to get your kid to school by 9am is HARD. If I were lazy I would home school (kinda just kidding about that).

  28. I get plenty of discernment in my neighborhood. Then Monday through Friday around 8-3 the neighborhood clears up. We live in upstate New York. Our local district is so bad it is literally a waste of your time to get your kids ready for school just to go and not do much all day. Sometimes it IS the public school that causes parents to homeschool. And as far as learning about other people there are plenty of adults that act out regularly in public, sometimes I stop and point out situations to my child and tell them what is wrong, you don’t always need other kids for yours to experience the bad behaviors of some humans. On occasion when appropriate I point out news articles. Kids learning about how to handle situations doesn’t always have to come from a school yard, or a bully beating the skin off them. That doesn’t mean I shelter my child, I just refuse to make him live under state controlled abuse, where it’s wrong to defend yourself, from teachers and the like. In kindergarten a teacher refused to allow him to use the bathroom while he was sick and he had an accident so bad that I threw away the clothes they sent home in a sealed plastic bag. They were completely covered in fecal matter, white socks were brown. I fail to see how parents homeschooling are sheltering their kids, more like protecting them from a state and federal system that is designed to care more about funding rolling in to protect jobs and retirements.

  29. Just stumbled across this blog and it sooo resonated with me because I was frustrated after reading on facebook a tirade from a homeschool parent and/or their child against public school in general. You spoke my thoughts exactly! I’m more than a little tired of it. We each do what we feel is best for our kids, within God’s guidelines!

  30. Thank you so much for writing this post. Today, I feel like it was meant for me to read! I have three children, almost 16, 9 and 4. I just came from a lunch with a friend and pretty much cried the entire way home. (Pulling away in my Honda accord and not a mom approved minivan did not help my frame of mind.) I have experienced exactly what you shared about not homeschooling. On top of that add in the fact that my friend knows that I look forward to the day when I will return to work part time Many of my friends do, and I am glad that they feel so strongly about it and are happy with their choice, and I support them fully. I left my lunch feeling just the way you described, discouraged and doubting myself almost like I wasn’t doing good enough. I am okay with my choice not to home school, for exactly the reasons you shared here, and simply stated I don’t believe the Lord has called me to do so at this time. The reasons you stated for not homeschooling are the same reasons I have chosen not to. I am good with my children being in the public schools for now (gasp!) We have had the opportunity to have many teens at our house who have never heard the Gospel sit and share a dinner with us, and pray over the meal and talk about our days. You know what, they come back! over and over again… because… there is something different… something different they want to see more of. Thank you for sharing this. I felt encouraged that it is really okay, I am okay and still a good mom if I send them to public school. It is really okay, after all, GOD has my children in his hands.

  31. Thank you so much for your post! I really needed to hear this! Encouragement for the journey ahead… public school here we come!

  32. I stumbled upon this blog post while doing a search on another topic, but homeschooling related. I have received negative feedback from many people, (including a pastor from the pulpit) for homeschooling our children.
    I would like you and the other parents that agree with you on public schools to really research the facts on this topic and not base it off of being a light to the world, which little sheep have not yet been fully equipped to be to their peers.
    According to Barna Research “94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after the high school years. But a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation.”
    Is that a risk you are willing to take? Would God have had the Jews send their children to Babylonian schools? Being sent into Babylon was a curse, not a blessing.
    Also check out the facts from John Taylor Gatto, a former public school teacher who is now against it http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/
    Many homeschoolers I have met recently have not been Christian families, but they are concerned parents, what message are we sending to the world when we say “it’s ok to teach our kids evolution and many other lies”?
    My children have some neighborhood friends that are Christian and attend public school. They recently started school for this year and I have already seen a negative change in their behavior.
    I felt like I needed to present the facts here and not things based on feelings. I hope you will seek this out further. God bless :)

    • God bless? With a smiley face? Did you read this post all the way through?

      I HAVE sought this further. This post was written three years ago, and I now have THREE children in public school (gasp!). AND I’m back to being a teacher/working mom (double gasp!). But I still pray every single year about where the Lord would have us!

      I could state statistics about homeschool kids that represent the other side. I could REALLY give you some personal statistics that our individual church has done to track our students – where they are 5 and 10 years after graduation. The numbers of kids that are not only in church but serving in ministry and/or serving in another country is STAGGERING. And I don’t go to a small church, but I attend a “mega-church”. You don’t know my neighborhood or my church or my schools. You can’t make suggestions to me based upon a number.

      You imply with your response that I haven’t prayed “enough” about my decision. You imply that you know better than I do about my children, my family, and my schools/neighborhood/church. You imply that you have a better and more unique ability to hear God speak to you than I do. To be frank, your response and attitude is EXACTLY why I wrote this blog post. You feel that you have made your decision and that you are superior in your “holiness of homeschooling” than any other moms that choose to do public school.

      The whole point of the post was for people to have respect for other people and their decisions. And my prayer is that people on both sides of this polarizing issue within the Christian community could recognize that God may call you to one thing and me to another. We are sisters in Christ who are both being obedient to what God has called us to do and can also have a mutual respect for one another without judgement. I hope that’s something we can accomplish together.

      • Thank you for responding to that! I pray every year for God’s guidance on schooling for my children, especially this year since there are so many new standards and tests underway. I understand your thoughts and have experienced many similar things in my church community.

  33. You’re response is very emotional, when I said I was here to state some facts. People in Christ are required to sharpen each other or even rebuke if they see they are doing something unbiblical. I am not going to debate with you, but I would love you to post the statistics you said you have from the other side. I am all about learning new things, so please share it. I like to smile. We are called to even bless our enemies (which I did’nt say you are), so again, God bless :)

  34. Thanks for sharing this article. I totally agree! After 2 years of homeschooling, I chose to place my children in a charter school. The Lord dealt with me about my fears and reminded me, I was to trust Him with my kids, no matter where they are schooled. I enjoy praying over them while driving them to school each morning.The Lord also dealt with me about my attitude with homeschooling. I had believed that every Christian family MUST homeschool if they want their kids to do well and to grow in their relationship with God. That goes back to trusting God and following His direction, not an ideal of our own.
    God is good and so far my kids are doing well. Praying each morning makes a difference!

    God bless!
    Nancy

  35. My wife is a former teacher who decided to stay home and homeschool our child. She knows what the public education is all about – a complete joke.

    Our child participates not only in our church programs, but non-church (secular) things such as ballet. She is part of a home school group and socializes with other children.

    She is two years ahead in math and one year in reading. She is not gifted, we just push math a little harder as well as science. She learns about creationism but also knows about evolution.

    As for me, I teach her programming and designing websites (I work in the IT field). She is currently enjoying “robot kits” where she is programming them using PBasic. Her skill set is HTML, CSS – and PHP is what she usually programs in. WordPress is her CMS. And she’s only ten!

    I’m not saying homeschooling is for everyone. We are just fortunate because we can afford to have my wife stay home and teach our daughter, one on one, education she needs to get her ready for college. I come home and teach her the techie stuff.

    She doesn’t know who Lady Ga Ga is – and I think that’s great. She’s not exposed to the crap that public schools offer. It’s better to be sheltered than bombarded.

    If someone wants to send their kid to a public school – hey, that is their right. If somone wants to send their kid to a Christian school – that’s also their right. But our family has every right to homeschool our child – period.

    btw – you heard of Tim Tebow? Yeah, sure you have. This guy is a walking testimony for Christ. He was homeschooled…

  36. I just stumbled across this post, and i love it! I feel strongly as a believer that we need to send our kids out to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who may not know Him. If they are always around churched kids, how will they do that? They are never too young to be salt and light to other kids their age. Even my preschooler prays for kids in his preschool class that we are certain don’t know Jesus personally. I have several friends that homeschool and I too often get the feeling that they can’t believe I’d send my kids to public school. It’s hard, but we just all need to continue to do what we know we’re called to do. Thanks for a great post!

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