Photo by Nirzar Pangarkar on Unsplash
You can homeschool!
It’s foreign and strange in our day in age (although it’s becoming less foreign and strange all the time), but homeschooling has been the norm for almost all of human history.
Whether parents were teaching their children to read and write, or teaching their children to farm and hunt, it is the historical norm to have your children with you during the daytime! While pagan societies, by and large, have not viewed literacy as a priority for any but an elite few, Christians—and Jews who were in Christ through faith in ancient times—have long esteemed literacy.
So I say again, You can homeschool!
With that said, if you’re jumping into homeschooling for the first time, you’re in for a lot of surprises, good and bad.
But forewarned is forearmed!
To prepare you for the best—and the worst—of it, I present the Top Ten Myths about Homeschooling (in two parts).
Myth #1: I Can’t Homeschool
Have I mentioned this yet??
But seriously, this bears repeating. Almost everyone I meet who doesn’t homeschool very sweetly says to me, “Wow, that’s so amazing! I could never do that!”
Now, I have a sneaking suspicion, when people say that, that some of these folks are just trying to be nice, while they’re really thinking, “That’s crazy, and you should put your children in a real school.” But even when we say things we don’t mean, after we say them enough times, we start believing them. So, whether people mean this or not, this is the Number 1 Myth about homeschooling, and it’s got to be addressed.
Yes, you can homeschool.
Homeschooling takes time (see Myth #4). Homeschooling takes effort (see Myth #2). But every parent is capable of educating his own children.
How do I know this? Because the Bible tells parents to teach their children.
And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt rehearse them continually unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou tarriest in thine house, and as thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up…
When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments and the rest of the books of Moses, He commanded parents to teach their children all. the. time. Parents can’t do that if their children are away with other people all day long, five days a week.
Some people assume that this meant children would be illiterate, because if parents don’t send their children to school, then the children will be illiterate. But this is a false assumption. God’s Law and history are written, so if parents are going to obey God’s command here, then they’re going to have to teach their children to read.
Objection: What about parents who can’t read or write?
Throughout Christian history and to this very day, when pagans are converted, one of the first changes that usually occurs in their lives is that they start learning to read, so they can read the Bible. Parents who are committed to obeying God’s command to teach their children God’s Word in their daily lives will be enabled by God to do it! This might look different for different parents. Every person is unique, and God gives us insight according to His own counsel in each of our lives. Some parents might learn to read, and then teach their children. Some parents might get outside help, and learn to read alongside their children. Some parents might hire a tutor to teach their children, with the parents still maintaining the primary role in their children’s daily lives. Solutions abound. When we commit to following God’s way, He always gives us the wisdom we need to do it.
And, besides, you already know how to read, so that clearly isn’t a problem for you.
Myth #2: Homeschooling Is Easy
I’m not sure how it is that the most two common myths about homeschooling are that I Can’t Do It and that It’s Easy, but… there it is. Most folks think that homeschooling moms have it pretty easy, compared to the stresses of a full-time job. But most homeschooling mothers I know used to have full-time jobs, and every one of them will tell you that homeschooling is harder than any job she ever had in the past. Add in the moms who homeschool and work to provide an income for their families, and those are the true supermoms, not the ones with the perfect facebook family pictures (but I digress).
Yes, it’s true that we could stay in our pajamas all day (although I don’t recommend it).
Yes, it’s true that we don’t have to be at a certain place at a certain time every day (although I do recommend that).
But by the time you keep the children on track with their schoolwork, feed the family, and keep the house in order… wait a minute, it’s already 1 am, and you didn’t even get those things done.
So now you’re thinking, “I can’t homeschool,” again. Don’t do it! You can homeschool. But I’m not going to lie to you and pretend like there isn’t a cost.
There is a cost. It’s going to be hard at times. It’s also going to be tons of fun at times! And, above all, this is natural and good!
Remember, forewarned is forearmed.
It’s not easy. Be prepared. Pray to God to help you figure it out. Ask homeschooling friends how they handle certain difficulties. (You’ll be amazed at how much help your homeschooling friends will be; they’ve got great ideas!!) It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, and you can do it!
Myth #3: Homeschooling Takes 8 Hours a Day, Plus Homework
Great news! You’re used to your children going to school for eight hours a day, and then having homework, and you’re thinking homeschooling will take that much time. Not so!!!
A huge portion of your child’s time at school has been spent standing in line, switching classes, waiting for a classroom full of children to get focused, going to the bathroom, waiting for children who don’t understand a concept to have it explained a few more times, etc. The reliable estimate seems to be that, in an 8-hour schoolday, 4 hours are spent on these sorts of non-learning activities.
To teach your children the same material they were being taught at their school will probably only take a few hours a day. If they were having a lot of homework before, then that amount of schoolwork would be unchanged, of course. But that assumes that you’re going to keep teaching your children the same stuff the public schools teach (see Myth #9).
Myth #4: I Can Keep Doing All the Things I Was Doing Before
See Myth #2.
Myth #5: My Children Will Hate Homeschooling
Okay, there might be some truth to this. Depending on how old your children are, they are used to going to school every day! They have friends that they like spending time with at school. Learning is fun, and they’ve been (hopefully) doing that at school. There are lots and lots of extras the schools add in, to make children enjoy going there every day, from recess and games to dress-up days and school pride. The library, extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and incredibly nice (expensive) sports equipment are all fun “free” benefits your child is used to enjoying, and he will miss them.
God designed your child to spend his daytime hours, every day, with his family. The schools are designed to separate families. God designed your child to spend most of his time with people of all different ages. Father, mother, older siblings, younger siblings, and perhaps the rare twin, is the social context God designed your child to spend his life in.
If God had wanted children to be raised in crops of children all of the same age, He would have had them be born in baby patches, like the Cabbage Patch Kids when we were little.
But He determined that each child should be born singly, into a home with people who are older than he is, perhaps with younger people to come later on. Because being with people of all different ages is healthier. For all of us.
This is what is natural for your child, and because God designed it this way, it is what is good for your child.
Still your child might, indeed, complain about being homeschooled. You are going to make all of the difference. If you encourage that attitude, he’ll probably learn to hate homeschooling. But you are his parent. God gave him parents because he is going to have lots of wrong ideas, and God loves your child enough to put someone in his life who is much older, and much wiser, to point out those wrong ideas to him and show him what the right idea is. You’re probably going to want to keep this Bible verse handy:
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments [necklaces] about your neck.
Continued here: Myths 6–10.