Homeschooling: Not a Formula

I’m a homeschooling nut.  Maybe to a fault.  It’s more than “school” to us–it’s life.   I love it, and because I love it so much I think everybody should get to experience it.  That zeal that frankly many homeschoolers have is good, but comes with a caveat.

In our defense, the culture has been so anti-homeschooling for a while (though warming up now) that we might feel we have to go overboard singing its praises to combat the negative cloud surrounding it.  After all, we’ve experienced it, and on this side we really see its benefits and know that you can have well-educated, socialized, adjusted kids.

Admittedly, there is some defense when others who have never homeschooled or maybe hardly know a homeschooling family begins to explain to us why it won’t work.  It feels a bit like I imagine Bill Gates would feel if my grandmother told him all the reasons there was no future for him in the computer industry–as he counts his fortune.

So, the caveat.  Homeschooling does not come with any guarantees. It can be tempting to think that once we’ve taken on the title, our children have somehow been ushered into a “safe place”.  Now they’ll be geniuses, they’ll never get into trouble, and they’ll serve the Lord.

Homeschooling is nothing, in and of itself.  It’s simply one tool.  It doesn’t make us better, or our children better.  Now I’m not saying I don’t believe it has positive effects in our physical realm–you know how I feel about that.  I could post all day about the benefits I believe homeschooling can afford.  But spiritually, we are wrong if we elevate it beyond what it is, and put faith in the act itself.

Homeschooling families sometimes lose their children to the world.  Does that mean we just throw up our hands and decide it doesn’t matter how we raise them?  Of course not.  We are still called to walk faithfully, seeking as earnestly as we can the best way to disciple and point our children to Christ.

But we must put our faith where it belongs–IN CHRIST–and not take for granted that it is HIS work in our children’s hearts that brings them to Him.

It’s easy to get unbalanced on either side of this issue.  Some parents are prone to think it really doesn’t matter what we do with our children since God is the One who works.  I disagree.

But I think often Satan has used pride to come in the back door of our Christian homes and do just as much damage as he could do with any other sinfulness.  We are not immune to this deadly sin.

Scripture gives us clear practical guidance about *how* to bring up our children.  And at the same time, we acknowledge that it is only by His grace that they grow to love and serve Him.

We must hold both in our hands.  Obeying and doing all we can to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but placing all of our trust in His work, and not ours.

In a nutshell? It’s not homeschooling that we are called to.  We’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing…

“You shall teach them [God’s commands] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6

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Are you a homeschooling mother who worries that you aren’t “doing enough”? Are you thinking of homeschooling but feel afraid that you aren’t qualified? If so, read more…

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18 Responses to “Homeschooling: Not a Formula”

  1. Erin says:

    I’ve often had the same thoughts, thank you for articulating them so much better than I can!

  2. Heather says:

    I can attest to the reality of the danger of the “homeschooling-makes-me-a-superior-Christian-parent” trap.

    Having homeschooled for the past 9 years, I never even realized until fairly recently that I had that vague sense of smugness. I doubt anyone but God and I ever noticed…but it is embarrassing to admit. God’s definitely been prompting me to burn a lot of idols these days.

    It is so true that keeping the children out of the government system is in no way a guarantee of anything. In fact, I’ve seen parent’s efforts backfire several times when their previously *over*protected children left home and entered (unprepared) into the general population. The slide into worldly thinking/behavior can be alarmingly swift and thorough.

    While I believe it is important for parents to protect very young ones from being pressed into a worldly mold, I do think it is wise to allow older children to get a supervised “taste” of what they will encounter when they leave the nest.

    Yes! we are to be daily training our children in the ways of the Lord. It should be a top priority for any believer, whether or not they homeschool. The upside of educating the kids at home is that we are around each other so much more than if they spent 6 or 8 hours away for 5 or more days a week. So, we don’t have to constantly relearn who they are and how to communicate with them.

    One facet of homeschooling that I think gets overlooked is that the PARENTS often learn from interacting with our children. I believe God uses my kids to point out areas of sin in my own heart–selfishness, laziness, hypocrisies etc… Those things I would not likely recognize or feel a need to change if I wasn’t constantly around little ones who are being visibly affected by my attitude. Besides, I like our kids and treasure our time together. They enjoy it, too (except when math is involved)!

    My homeschool “motto” has become:
    Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Mar 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

    Unless my “knowledge” is rooted in a reverence for the Lord, and a love of His truth, it will ultimately profit me nothing. Having intelligent, well educated children can do a lot to stroke one’s ego, while here on earth. Making sure the kids get “proper socialization” and “a well rounded education” is useful “fitting in to society” and for getting a good job (which allows them to feed the desire to accumulate “stuff”) …but meaningless if the focus is to simply be successful in this life.

    So, now that I’ve unpacked my brain, I shall be slinking back into the depths of cybyerspace. Hope you have a lovely day :0)

  3. Word Warrior says:

    Heather,

    So very well said…and this–“I believe God uses my kids to point out areas of sin in my own heart–selfishness, laziness, hypocrisies etc”

    could not be MORE true…I’ve often thought raising children (and being with them all day) is a lot more to do with God’s plan to chisel ME, rather than my imparting something to them.

  4. Dana says:

    My dh and I were talking about this the other day, how homeschooling is not some magic “formula” that can guarantee that your child will turn out to be godly. I think the key is found in applying Scripture to child raising and lots of prayer. That said, we really believe homeschooling is what the Lord would have for our family so we definitely do support it. Satan loves to attack and I think pride and complacency is what he can use to undermine homeschoolers, causing them to trust in the system they are using instead of in God Himself.

  5. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, for exactly the reasons you’ve described. I set aside my work life because I realized I was pursuing it not only in the interest of money we didn’t absolutely have to have, but for the recognition and praise that I was receiving, at the expense of my family. It was all about me, not about the service I was supposed to be providing. I’m VERY aware that this is a flaw of mine that the enemy loves to play to….I think I might actually be a better homeschooling parent if my kids would be very, very, average. Of course, again, that’s about me. Kelly, your point is well made and well taken.

    Satan is just mean, isn’t he? Sometimes I’m just flabbergasted by it.

  6. That’s interesting and thank you for sharing that. We always have to watch ourselves for pride, etc.

    As you know, my children went to public school. However, we started them out in private school, and guess what? I found myself being very smug and prideful. Not all private school parents are like that, of course, but I was horrified to find that I was!!!

    I was horrified to find the elitist attitude among many of the private school parents. When the subject of vouchers came up (this was in the mid-90’s), I thought it would be a good idea — you know, give government-subsidized vouchers to parents to use to pay for private school, since they were already paying school taxes for public school.

    When I mentioned to another private school mom that I thought that would be great, she was horrified and said, “NO! Then all the riff-raff will be over here. We’re paying money to get away from those people and we’re happy to pay the money to get away from them! We don’t want them to have vouchers — then they will be over here with us!!!”

    Well, then we moved and could no longer afford private school, so it was down with the rank and file in public school. What a comedown for Little Miss Mary, and I learned some humility.

    In those days, fewer people homeschooled, and it was thought that homeschool had to be a clone of a regular private school — with a special room set aside for a school room, with a chalkboard on the wall, a flag in the corner that you saluted every morning, recess, music lessons, tests, and the children called their mother “Mrs. Smith” or whatever.

    Very daunting. Not being very disciplined or regimented, plus already being over 40, knowing my limitations, and not so willing at that age to jump into something that seemed experimental and faddish, I didn’t do it.

    My children were able, however, to go to country schools in rural areas in the middle-school and upper grades where the teachers and superintendents were our neighbors. Only 12 students in my older son’s graduating class.

    I’m horrified at the stories I hear about public schools in other areas of the country or in cities. Better “no school” than that!

  7. Dee says:

    I often think of homeschooling as a “dirty rag” in the eyes of the Lord. It’s something my husband and I have been called to do, but, it is nothing compared to the sacrifice of Christ. So the verse regarding being a filthy rag, applies to us. We homeschool and pray, but, we still are not worthy of the Lord Jesus. We may fail, we may succeed, all we can do is plant and pray. The Lord waters. Even homeschoolers fall sometimes, and Grace picks us up. We don’t even deserve it, it’s a Gift. Blessings – Dee

  8. Taunya says:

    Great post Kelly!!! I agree 100%, we have just completed our eighth year of homeschooling and we absolutely love it. I could not imagine raising my children in any other fashion.

    That said I think way to many of us give into pride when it comes to our families and the plans and decisions we make for them. I think way to many of us unknowingly begin to put our faith in these plans instead of in Christ. When we see fruit in our children we are quick to say “it’s because we don’t go to government schools” instead of “it’s because of the grace of God.” We reference our husband’s vision, instead of the Lord’s and we talk about our 200 year plan instead of the grace of God.

    I think we all need to remind ourselves of what you wrote in your post. There will be some of us who homeschool, home church, and practice courtship and yet sadly we may loose a child to the world. the children may still choose the world. While a single, unsaved mom in the heart of the inner city ghetto will raise another Voddie Baucham despite sending him to public school with little to know sheltering or guidance.

    The bottom line is God is sovereign, it does not mean that you and I should not continue to raise our children as we are, it just means that we should do so always remembering that it is God who saves not our best laid plans.

    Once again great post!!!

  9. Rebekah says:

    Fabulous post! Great reminder!

  10. Mrs W says:

    I’m all FOR people’s right to home school, and it should not be regulated by the government. However, I do get entirely sick of how the home schooling community treats non home schoolers. Home schooling is NOT the be all and end all of life like a lot of people think it is. I’ve had some home schoolers be extremely rude to me because we don’t want to have to home school our kids, if we do it will be a “necessary evil”.

    In my experience, which may not be typical, I don’t know, I personally know of many more home schooled kids who got so bitter about what they “missed out on” in life that they are no longer serving the Lord. However, I know MANY products of public schools who are very passionate about serving the Lord.

  11. Kim M says:

    I think you have made a very good point. You can build a fancy building and use all the right tools, but if the wood is rotten it will crumble.

  12. Kelly Fox says:

    I just listened to the Voddie Baucham sermon you posted last week, and I couldn’t help but write you to say that you’ll never know how much your blog has encouraged me in these last few weeks since I found it. I think I’ve read almost all of your archives and am encouraged to “press on” through this time of all these crazy transitions our family is making. You see, my husband and I recently decided to have his vasectomy reversed, among other important decisions (my husband is a youth leader at our church and we’re feeling God’s promptings to get out of this particular ministry…but we’re not sure what He wants us to do next). We’ve had little-to-no support about many of the changes we are making. My mom (a Christian) called me today to discourage me from the reversal. Only 2 other families at my church homeschool and none of them, including our pastor, support letting the Lord give you children as He sees fit.
    Anyway, I am begging God for a more tangible support network of wiser women, but in the mean time, He has comforted and taught me through your blog (and a few other like-minded womens’blogs) and various books by Nancy Campbell and Mary Pride. Please keep writing…God is using you to minister (at least to me!)!

  13. Word Warrior says:

    Kelly.

    Wow…how encouraging! I DO pray too that God will lead you to find some people who will encourage you. It helps so much to be surrounded by people who respect your decisions.

    Thank you for writing! And I pray God blesses the reversal as well!

  14. Lucy T says:

    Kelly Fox
    I could have written those very words myself.It sounds like we attend the same kind of church.People at my church have asked my husband when he’s going to get fixed.I was just rocking my sweet baby and thinking how sad it is that I have to resort to a blog to feel what I believe, is valid.I thank God for Kellys willingness to be used by God in what I think is a mighty way. I have many many life long friends who I know love me and sometimes say they don’t know that the way we choose to live is wrong but they think it would be to hard for them.
    I will remeber to pray that your reversal will be a success.

  15. Kelly L says:

    Oh Kelly (WW),
    How I have missed your posts while we were out of country. You really have a great ministry!
    Hugs and MORE Blessings….

  16. Cathy says:

    I think trouble comes when homeschoolers believe that homeschooling is the only way, and that it is sin if a family doesn’t homeschool. I’m not sure what you personally believe, but there are many homeschooling families who believe that way. If they believe that the Lord is directing them to homeschool, then it would be wrong for them not to follow God’s directive. I don’t believe that you can make a Scriptural case for it, although I am aware that many in the homeschooling community believe that they can.

    Cathy
    http://www.declarehisgreatness.com

  17. Hello! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My site goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

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