Why do you homeschool? Why do you bother? You spend your days trying to instill the joy of learning into kids that find little joy in learning. You work hard to find captivating and compelling curriculum, you try to instill confidence and inspire greatness. You strive to help them overcome their weaknesses and to capitalize on their strengths. You love them so much. Then, when school is over, you still have the house work, cooking, laundry. You have church ministry. You have sports and lessons. You have your marriage relationship. Is it really worth it?
None of it seems to come easy. There’s a constant battle with self and with the other “selves” in your family. Even the sweetest, most motivated kids, the best church family, the strongest marriage, and the most exciting homeschool doesn’t fully alleviate the hard work involved in homeschooling. So, why do we keep on doing it? Why do you homeschool your kids? I started thinking back to all the reasons I homeschool and ended by rejoicing: I am SO glad my kids are homeschooled. Sure, it’s hard; but it’s SO worth it.
Just spend a few minutes reminiscing with me. I graduated from an award-winning public school in a conservative suburb over 30 years ago (I graduated in 1980). During my years of high school, I was quiet and shy, and a very committed Christian. I was smart and pretty. Despite all that I had going for me, during my high school years I experienced the following:
*Ridicule from fellow classmates:
- I was teased because I was a Christian.
- I was teased because my legs were skinny, I smiled like Mickey Mouse, and I had facial hair – and I was considered to be one of the pretty girls! Imagine what the not-so-pretty girls went through!
- I was teased because I was smart – I supposedly was teacher’s pet. I was even teased because I actually did my homework.
- I was teased because I was a virgin. The girls wanted to teach me how to win a guy; guys wanted to remedy my “situation.”
- I was teased because I wasn’t good in sports. I was the last to be picked for teams and “ruined” the game for my team.
- I was teased for deferring to and obeying my parents. (Only total nerds obeyed their ‘mommies and daddies.’)
- I was even teased by other Christians because my beliefs differed from theirs. I was labeled “heretic” and “of the devil.”
*Exposure to ungodly curriculum:
- I was taught about sex, and how to have it “safely” with condoms – in a mixed-gender class, with a banana as a model.
- I was taught about women’s lib and the homosexual movement, and how just and normal these causes are
- .I was forced to take metal shop and learn to weld because equal rights demanded that I have the same education as a guy; I wasn’t allowed to opt out.
- I was taught meditation and relaxation techniques through yoga and getting in touch with my inner child.
*Pressure from teachers:
- I was singled out for being a Christian by my social studies teacher and publicly ridiculed. I was made to defend my beliefs repeatedly before the entire class – me against the teacher. (I did not volunteer. The teacher deliberately singled me out for public ridicule.)
- I had a lesbian gym teacher before whom we were supposed to change and shower before and after each gym class. Thankfully all the female students were upset and rebelled against this policy.
- I had a drama teacher who insisted there wasn’t time between the acts of the school play to go to the dressing rooms to change. She told us that we were mature enough to just change backstage in front of each other (guys and girls). I was made to feel shamefully immature when I insisted on changing in a dressing room. I was made to feel as if my standards were neither healthy nor normal.
- One of my teachers tried to seduce me, inviting me to his house (along with some of my friends) and giving me gifts. I was too innocent to realize what was happening, but one of my friends and my mom understood – and put a stop to it before anything happened (though the teacher did contact me via mail).
(I was told by this same teacher that there is something incredibly captivating about sweetness and purity. In other words, the very fact that I was sweet, joyful, and pure made me a target for those who’d never experienced such things.)
*What I was exposed to:
- Kids beating each other up; those that were weak or different at the mercy of the “strong.”
Kids (at least twice) carried out by ambulance because of drug overdose.
Teachers (twice) losing their tempers and attacking kids. (My metal shop teacher slapped a girl across the face; my English teacher took off his dress shoes and threw them at the head of a student – and hit his target. Both teachers were fired.)
Drugs (a joint was even left on my desk once as a joke: the Christian kid with a joint – haha).
Illegal drinking (I was invited numerous times to participate).
Promiscuity; classmates sleeping around with each other; and several got pregnant. Many guys offered to “teach me how.”
My Bible was ‘stolen’ and thrown in the trash – just so the other kids would see how I’d respond.
Kids would get down on their knees in the school hallway and yell “Hail, Jesus! Here comes Jesus!…” when I walked by.
A teenage boy pressed himself up against me sexually as I was standing in the lunch line – much to the delight of his friends.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to battle was the idea that all of this was “normal;” if I wasn’t participating in “normal,” I was ridiculed. I had to be strong enough to embrace the reality of being labeled “weird,” and the attempts (by students and teachers) to conform me to their idea of “normal.” My life in Christ depended on believing and accepting that I was a stranger and an alien, a fool for Christ. It was a constant day-in-and-day-out battle. I have good memories as well, but public school is brutal, and many of my Christian friends didn’t make it through unscathed.
So, this is why I homeschool. None of my kids are “normal.” Some have learning challenges. They aren’t the most attractive, the most athletic, or the smartest. They aren’t spiritual giants. They’re kids. I don’t want them destroyed because of their weaknesses or differences. These “weaknesses” and “differences” are beautiful gifts of individuality that God can use to showcase His strength. I want my kids to be grounded in their faith before they are released into the world so that they can truly be a salt and light. I’ve taught my kids to look up to and respect those in authority in their lives. How difficult when you are taught as a Christian to respect those in authority over you, and then to have to teach against that very respect (“No, dear, don’t listen to your teacher.”).
I want the knowledge that fills their heads to be truth. I want the Bible to be a core text that they absolutely rely on. I want their time to be spent in wholesome activity. I want to shield them a little longer until they are old enough to “put away childish things.” I don’t want them to have to choose between acceptance (via moral failure) and rejection (via moral excellence). Those things will come in time, but preferably not when they’re so young.
So, yes, homeschool can be hard, but I truly cannot think of a better gift to give to my children. This gift is one that we may never be thanked for, but I am thankful to God for it. Remember back to your high school days and let us rejoice together that our kids have this wonderful God-given freedom to homeschool. So, why do YOU homeschool?
Thank you, Father, for the gift of homeschooling. Thank you that my kids’ innocence is protected, their purity celebrated, their wonder of creation is preserved, their uniqueness is delighted in, and their love for You is fostered and “normal.”