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Friday, August 24, 2012

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool


By Dina Sleiman

I originally posted this article in 2010 as our first ever "Current Events" installment. It seems fitting that as we prepare for some format changes, I post it again as our last ever "Self Help." This article got great response and lots of shares because every parent wants to do what is best for their children. They just aren't always sure what that is.

With the beginning of the school year, as is so often the case these days in Christian circles, parents all around me are agonizing over their decisions to homeschool or not to homeschool. Homeschooling is a great thing and a growing trend. However, in response to that positive trend, I’ve noticed people homeschooling their children for the wrong sort of reasons, and this causes me great concern. Perhaps the word homeschooling brings to mind multilingual 3rd graders doing calculus for fun, but it rarely turns out that way.

I sent my children to Christian school for three years, I homeschooled for five, and now my children are about to enter their sixth year of public school. So, I have seen the pros and cons of all the choices. That’s exactly what it comes down to. Pros and cons. Each system of education has advantages and disadvantages. No one should feel pressured by anyone else into making a choice that doesn’t fit their family. I firmly believe that schooling decisions should be made year by year and child by child according to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. However, if you are struggling with your choice, I’ve put together some checklists that might help you discern God’s will in this area.

Good Reasons to Homeschool
1.Peace and faith that God is calling you to homeschool
2.More quality time with your children
3.Flexible schedule and relaxed educational environment
4.Individualized educations for your children
5.You love to teach
6.Your child is involved in a time consuming extra-curricular activity
7.Making relationships with other homeschoolers
8.A chance to help your children grow in the Lord
9.The cost of private school in your area is excessive
10.Your area’s public schools are particularly dangerous or blatantly promoting an ungodly agenda

Bad Reasons to Homeschool
1.Fear for your child’s safety
2.Fear of the financial pressure of private school
3.Fear of the “liberal agenda”
4.Desire to shelter your children
5.Desire to be the only influence in your child’s life
6.Pressure from church, family, or even spouse
7.You think it will fix your relationship problems with your children
8.You will feel guilty if you don’t
9.You don’t really see the need for so much education, especially for girls
10.Desire to impress others with your self-sacrifice

Good Reasons Not to Homeschool
1.God is not calling you to homeschool
2.You have peace and faith about a different choice
3.You can not adequately meet your child’s needs at home
4.Your child desires more socialization
5.There is no homeschool community and support system in your area
6.Your child needs special education or advanced opportunities
7.Your child needs a structured environment or experienced teacher
8.God’s calling on your life conflicts with homeschooling
9.You have great public schools in your area
10.You have great Christian schools in your area and God has provided the finances or the faith that he will supply the finances

Here’s what it comes down to: the Bible says whatever is not of faith is sin. If your decision for this school year has been based on fear, guilt, pressure, laziness, or pride—it’s sin. Turn back now while you still can!!! If your decision for this school year has been made based on faith, love, and hope, then proceed with confidence that God will supply your needs, and that where you are weak, he will be strong.

Yes, there are specific school districts that are truly dangerous, or that purposefully promote an ungodly agenda, but these are few and far between. At the end of the day, the vast majority of teachers, principals, and administrators in this nation place the well-being and education of their students as their first priority. And where they might have weaknesses, God’s strength can see your children through. Homeschooling should be a lifestyle choice and a response to God’s individual call for you and your children for that specific school year, not a theology or political agenda.

If you do decide to homeschool, for the love of all that’s holy, do a good job at it. Your child should receive an equal or better education at home than they would in the public school system. Otherwise, you are withholding opportunities from them that they deserve. No matter your personality or the personalities of your children, God can give you the wisdom to be a good homschool parent. And he will do so, and give you strength in your weakness, if this is something he has called you to do.

And remember, while your children should be your first priority, you should also give consideration to your own health, well-being, and calling. You are just as precious in God’s sight as your children. If you are depressed, unfulfilled, or overwhelmed, not only will you not be a good homeschooler, you won’t be a good mother or wife either. So ultimately, you are serving your children’s best interest by taking good care of yourself.

I loved my homeschooling years, until I didn’t anymore. I felt called to homeschool for a time. When that season was over, I put my children into public school with faith. Our experiences have been great. My children loved homeschooling during that time, and now they love public school. As I mentioned, the two oldest even went to Christian school for a season and loved that as well.

And so, let me close with a list of tips that will allow your children to succeed wherever God might call them.
1) Plead the blood of Jesus and angelic protection over your family daily
2) Pray that your children will be salt and light in a dark world
3) Teach your children to always be a blessing and encouragement to their teachers and friends
4) Teach your children to see the best in others and not be easily offended
5) Teach your children to extend God’s love to everyone
6) Teach your children that while we respect the beliefs of others, God’s word is our personal standard for truth
7) Make time each day to disciple your children in the word of God
8) Take ultimate responsibility for your children’s education
9) Encourage each of your children to be the individual God created them to be
10) Nurture the unique gifts and callings God has given your children

What school memories would you like to share with us today? Do you have kids in school this year? Any thoughts on homeschool, public school, or Christian school?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, is now available at amazon and other online and ebook distributors. Her latest novel, Love in Three Quarter Time, will be the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

17 comments:

  1. Solid info for helping parents decide!

    I asked a homeschool kid if he enjoyed it. He said, "My mom says I enjoy it more." More in relationship to going to public school. He didn't overly convinced.

    Sometimes I wonder if homeschooling parents ever ask their kids what they want to do.

    I asked mine if they wanted me to homeschool them. They screamed and ran from the room.

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  2. A great post, Dina, and one that should provide guidance and ease concerns for those considering home schooling. We did it all. . . Public, Christian,Homeschooling, Parochial - and finally military academies. They all survived and thrived, and are successful in their chosen fields.

    Blessings

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  3. Just have to throw out there that there is now a 4th choice in education, University Model Schools. I believe there are over 70 now in the US and are a wonderful blend of private education and homeschooling. The children receive formal instruction in the classroom, but there is more time at home than with traditional schooling. We're entering our 5th year at Oaktree Academy here in Virginia Beach and have had nothing but a wonderful experience. This model has worked great for our entire family. Their website has a nice video explaining this type of school.

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  4. I appreciated this post when it first appeared, and I appreciate it now. We haven't been called to home school at this point, but we're open to God's leading.

    The prayers are wonderful, Dina.

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  5. Gina, it's funny, when my kids were homeschooled they wanted to continue to be homeschooled. But they quickly adjusted to public school, and now the older two have zero interest in going back. Youngest is slightly curious because he's been in public school since kindergarten, but overall he's happy right now.

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  6. Thanks for the support, Janet. I do think taking it kid by kid and year by year is absolutely the best plan.

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  7. Is anonymous Charity Luiskutty? I agree, university model is cool. It's sort of the best of homeschool and Christian school combined. If we ever decided to keep the youngest home, we might look into that. He is the most sensitive of the three, so we're watching him closely as middle school approaches.

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  8. After homeschooling for many, many years, my #3 opted for public school for his junior/senior years in HS. My youngest (tired of being home alone with me) begged to go to public school last year. He just started his first year in public high school. Interestingly, both of them have been able to recognize benefits they gained from homeschooling I would never have noticed. That makes all those years worthwhile!

    A homeschool mentor-friend told me when I was just starting out to pray, be open to God's leading whatever it is, and take one year at a time. God is God in our children's lives whether they go to public, private, online, parochial, military OR homeschool! That's probably the most important lesson ANY of us can impart as parents. : )

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  9. Niki, my daughter went straight from homeschooling into the highest level classes possible for her grade. So she saw those benefits, but now public school is giving her advanced opportunities I never could have offered, and she's top of her class.

    Contrast that to my second son, who we later found out had a learning disability public school doesn't treat for. The individualized education I was able to give him at home saved him from some really rough years. By the time he went to school he was old enough to articulate the problem, and we were able to privately get him the help he needed.

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  10. Looking back, I wish I had homeschooled my son, but he was an only child and I really felt he needed to be around other kids. Plus, I wasn't sure I was disciplined enough to keep him from wiggling out of doing schoolwork. It's one of the few things I wish I could go back and do over.

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  11. Suzie, it sounds like you actually had good reason not to. No point in regret, it's a pretty useless emotion. I would just trust God to restore and heal any damage done during his schooling years.

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  12. Great article.

    Like you we sent our girls to Christian school. Ours were special needs children. Not outwardly challenged in any way, but we adopted them at ages 6,7 and 9 out of the foster care system. They were totally understimulated intellectually. The youngest one had a complex vision problem that had not bee addressed propery which caused her not to be able to focus in school. Thus a very bright girl was placed in 12-1-1 classes, the most remedial.

    Christian school taught them self-discipline. Something the oldest two fought tooth and nail. The youngest loved the calm of the Christian school environment. Once she began wearing eyeglasses with the proper perscription her grade jumped up from the 20th percentile to a grade of 72. The following year in Christian school she had a 76.

    The first Christian school closed for financial reasons and we sent them to another Christian school which also closed for financial reasons. We sent them to public school for a year and the oldest two rebelled, took up with the kids who were skipping school and failing. The youngest tried, but her grades began to slip.

    That's when I decided to home school. The youngest took to it beautifully. She was in 6th grade, but I was able to tailor the work to her needs. We went all the way back to 3rd grade work in math and brought her up to speed. We filled in all the gaps the NYC schools omitted. Like how relevant the founding fathers are to our present society and how important the US Constitution is.

    The older two were still in rebellion. The youngest entered 8th grade and it was tumultuous. As we'd heard, in this NYC public high school there were physical fights on a regular basis. One of our daughter's friends got beaten up by a boy.

    Her grades were excellent and she was selected in the "first round" to attend one of the city's oceanographic high schools. This is a small school that is affilitared with the NY Aquarium. She can even take college courses there in her senior year if she qualifies.

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  13. Nike, every child and every situation is so unique, isn't it.

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  14. You're absolutely right, Dina. Regret is useless. Kind of like not forgetting after forgiving. It's that same old merry-go-round. Best to just LIGMO! Let it go, move on. ;-)

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