My oldest daughter is turning five in just two months’ time. (How is that even possible??)
And as she has gotten older and closer to starting Kindergarten, her future schooling has become the natural course of polite conversation with the adults in her life.
Each time it’s brought up, I cautiously help her relay that we will be homeschooling her next year, a reality that she only partially comprehends. And each time, I am greeted with a warm and truly surprised reaction. People are genuinely curious to know what brought us to this decision.
The first few times I was asked to explain our thinking, I hemmed and hawed trying to come up with some actual “reasons” –but I could not present them with any great conviction.
However, as I searched within myself for these answers over the course of several conversations, I eventually realized that there was only one real reason for this decision: I believe that God is calling me to do this.
It all started several years ago. I don’t know why I began to consider this option –my husband and I both went to public school and had positive experiences –but I did.
I gave the idea some thought, and I did not like it –not at all. My husband didn’t like it either. We were just a little too cool for that.
But as the years wore on, I could never quite shake this concept of homeschool. I brought it up in conversations with my husband many, many times. I said I wouldn’t like to do it. I said I wanted “freedom” from our kids to pursue other things, like writing. I said I wasn’t structured or disciplined enough to make it work. My husband said he didn’t want our kids to be socially awkward. We both said, “We live in a great school district, we should take advantage of it!”
However, the fact remained that I couldn’t shake the idea, no matter how I reasoned. I could find no peace with the idea of sending our oldest daughter off to Kindergarten, so I decided to give home education a trial run with her preschool year, just to see if it would even work.
It has gone amazingly well. My daughter and I have meshed easily in these roles, and we’ve discovered many shared passions as a result. She is a sponge, and easy to teach. That is very rewarding for me!
I began to see how it could work, and in my heart, I knew there was no other option for us. But I also know that it would be essential for my husband and I to be on the same page.
So, I laid my hesitant desire to homeschool Kindergarten before him and asked him to make the final decision. I omitted the “I think God is telling me to do this part,” because I knew God would work it all out if it was indeed HIs will. I didn’t want to “manipulate” the situation with those words.
To my great surprise, my husband chose to support my wishes unreservedly without hesitation or further discussion. (Say what?!)
The decision was made.
Since that moment of submission, that tiny “yes” to God, I have felt incredible relief and peace.
What’s more, after the “yes,” He unleashed vision, joy, purpose and excitement in me for the coming year! This has been absolutely inexplicable, and something that has served as a massive confirmation for me personally.
This is the adventure of life with God! I don’t know how it will all play out long-term, but I do know, next year, we’re diving in!
- So, do I think God is calling everyone to homeschool? …No I don’t. You must seek Him and be responsible to Him alone for how you live your life and raise your children.
- Will we homeschool every kid for every year of their education? …I don’t think so? But I really don’t know. I’m committed to following God’s leading in this area.
A Few Reasons Why I Like the Idea
I’m learning to die to self
One of my major objections to homeschool was the loss of freedom and margin for personal pursuits and dreams. Isn’t “when the kids go off to school” when I’m supposed to get to live for myself again? To have a career? To have financial freedom?
However, somewhere along the line, with God’s help, I’ve let go of some of my expectations and learned a bit more about what Jesus means when He says that real love is to lay down our lives for others.
I’ve learned that I won’t literally die if major decisions don’t revolve around my will. In fact, God has a way of adding every other thing to our lives when we make it our business to seek His kingdom first and to follow Him where He leads. I already see it happening through this blog! …but that’s a subject for another post.
I’m grateful for God’s continuing work to set me free from myself, and I’m grateful for His rich and abundant blessing when I do reluctantly lay down my interests for the sake of His calling.
I’ve adopted an eternal perspective
I’m not saying either of the following options are bad! But…
which of the following are more important—
- Having a fun, easy life OR taking up our cross to follow Jesus?
- Having a premiere education and great sports opportunities OR learning to love the Lord and people?
- Being “up on” pop culture and socially hip OR growing in the disciplines of prayer, worship and service to others?
I think all of the first things are wonderful, and I hope them for myself and my children. I know God can use these things for His kingdom work… BUT, in and of themselves, they don’t matter. They are utterly fleeting and meaningless, and when we value them over the latter and teach our children to do the same, it’s to our folly.
Through hard seasons and deep times of introspection, God has taught me to shift my eyes to eternity and live my life according to this metric. This changes everything.
The home stays as a more prominent influence
The home is the greatest influence on a child’s development no matter what, but there is no doubt that other influences creep in –sometimes to the detriment of the child.
As parents, we (hopefully) don’t have to be helpless victims of this! It’s our job to be the gatekeeper for our young children. This looks different for different situations, but for us, homeschooling will be part of our strategy in these early years.
The simplicity and flexibility
You know I love simplicity. Homeschooling provides that more than I realized it would. We don’t have to build our lives around public school schedules. The time it takes to achieve the same result at home is FAR less than at school so far (speaking from my very limited experience! …this may change over time.)
I am amazed how far a one-on-one education can stretch! Through doing about 1-2 hours of formal “school” per week during this preschool year, my daughter is on pace with children a year older than her –children who are going to public school Kindergarten 35 OR MORE hours per week.
Less hours to achieve a similar result definitely adds some flexibility to our family life! With this extra margin, we are hoping to find one great weekly enrichment for her to do (perhaps sports, gymnastics, music lessons or ballet).
What’s more, my husband has an unusual schedule. He works every weekend and has only one day off per week, which is Friday. I value our time together as a family very much, and I desire for our kids to get lots of exposure to him. He’s a great dad! Homeschooling will accommodate our unique situation.
I get extra time to enjoy and build my relationships with my children
Hanging out with my kids is more fun than ever. I truly enjoy getting to know who they are and taking full advantage of my chance to guide and shape them. I am fascinated by how God made them, and it’s exciting to reproduce all my “best stuff” into them. Having more time with them will hopefully lend itself to more relationship.
The opportunity to further nurture and maximize these relationships is something I count as a privilege!
I get to use my skill set
In college, I studied to become an elementary teacher. I worked hard and became very interested in the process of teaching and learning. I excelled, and went on to get a graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I eventually taught fifth grade for two years. I loved many things about my job, but the pressure and stress of paper work and testing and dissatisfied parents often felt overwhelming.
I’m not longer teaching, and I don’t have any plans to go back to it. The process of becoming a teacher amounted to a lot of hard work, effort, and money that hasn’t fully “paid off.”
However, now I get to see God bring my former expertise and passion full circle! He is working in ways I never could’ve imagined when I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees. It’s exciting to utilize this knowledge and skill I worked so hard to amass in a context with so much freedom. I can tailor most things to my own strengths and interests.
It is amazing to see how God brings everything together. I look forward to watching our story unfold in the coming years. He is so gracious to provide the means for the call.
So, where are you with your children’s education? Do you clearly know what God is calling you to do, or is this a matter for prayer?