The Homeschool Decision: How the Lord Changes Hearts and Minds
- Deborah Wuehler Senior Editor of The Old Schoolhouse
- 2011 6 Jun
“We know without a doubt it is God’s calling . . . . We homeschool just as we breathe.” This was just one part of a response from the question of how one family was led to homeschooling. As I asked the question of other homeschoolers, I was incredibly encouraged and overwhelmed with the rich answers that were given. Although all the answers were very different from one another, they all pointed to one God Who orchestrated every event in their lives to bring them to make one of the most important decisions they could ever make—that of home education.
Following is the story that started it all; this is what led me to start asking others about their own stories of how the Lord led them to homeschooling. Listen in as Chrystina shares how the Lord changed her heart:
. . . All of last year I had quiet impressions to start homeschooling my children. I never, never, ever desired to homeschool my children. I love them but felt that school is where the trained professionals know how best to teach children. I can quote all the reasons I never thought of homeschooling, but I know that you have heard them all. Nevertheless, as the year went along the Lord nagged at me continually. I finally knelt in prayer and said that if I was to do this, He would have to perform a miracle, as a true change of heart is what I needed. The thought came into my mind that I knew virtually nothing about it, so why not at least look into it. I had only heard the negative, never the positive of homeschooling.
I checked out every homeschooling book our local libraries had, and between the two there were 13 books. I read them all with my journal in hand, writing down what I liked or would improve upon if I was homeschooling my kids. I prayed to the Lord again and asked for His help since this seemed to be the course He was calling my life to travel on. I was told to first teach of His Word, and then follow with the rest of their schooling. I was reminded why public school was wrong for my children: the Lord is not allowed to reside within its walls. I know what I am doing is the right thing, and I believe that I can do this. I thank you all for the courage to speak the truth, help teach those you have never met before, and comfort and strengthen those of us in need. ~ Chrystina Swain, Killeen, Texas
I was so touched by Chrystina’s story that I became curious as to how the Lord drew others to homeschooling. I received more stories than I can possibly print here (however, you can find all of the stories in full on our website here).
Within these stories were numerous reasons given for facilitating the decision of home education. Let’s look at a sampling of those reasons and hear from homeschool families worldwide:
Crime in Public Schools
...I started reading terrifying reports about the crime in schools and I knew that there was no way I’d send my child out “among the wolves.” South Africa has a very high child abuse rate, and I just didn’t feel right leaving my children with strangers . . . . Then we read some books about true Christian education and realised that no school we knew of held the same values we have, and so we made the tentative decision to homeschool until the end . . . . My children are only 5 and 4 years old, but I can already say with assurance that homeschooling is the best for them, and I will continue to do it. ~ Thandi Nkomo, South Africa
... Alex began begging me to homeschool him. He would cry occasionally on the way to or from school, telling me his horror stories from school . . . . So, in the summer after first grade, I began to seriously consider homeschooling Alex. We already had some curriculum at home, so we “did school” for a month over the summer break. He did great! Yes, it was new and scary for me, but I had a feeling once we got in a groove it would be worth it . . . . I believe God drew us to homeschool through my son’s (and then daughter’s) repeated, emotional pleas to do so. God speaks to us through others, and I’m glad He does. ~ Christine Drumm, Channahon, IL
Public School Turned Older Children Away From God
The Lord started my homeschool many, many years ago. I have two grown daughters. They went to private Christian school and to public school. I must say public school was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. I was a single mom at that time. The Lord brought a wonderful Christian man into my life after being single for 12 years. We married when my older children were 16 and 17. I saw how public school turned them away from God. From that moment on, we knew we were going to homeschool any children we had. Praise the Lord—He gave us a beautiful girl . . . . She is almost 11 now and she knows nothing but homeschooling. We know without a doubt it is God’s calling; it is not a year-to-year thing;, it is a lifetime. We homeschool just as we breathe. ~ Nancy Timbrook, Pensacola, Florida
...Going through our many boxes in the attic, I came across a box from my public school experience. I found many copied worksheets that I had saved and I had written on them as a young girl, “Homeschool.” I shared them with my husband and we started talking about our experiences in public school. . . . I used to beg my parents to homeschool me . . . . I made copies of my worksheets and kept them all those years. My husband and I had plenty of time to decide, since our first child was still an infant. But as time went on and we were blessed with another son, we were determined to homeschool and felt that was what the Lord was calling us to do. Today, I am so blessed to be at home with my three children . . . . This is our 4th year into it and yes, we do have some rough days, but we cling to Jesus and He reminds us of why we are here and where He will take us. ~ Jamie Tvedt, S.H.I.N.E. Academy
Change of Heart
...I had no intention to homeschool. That was for “them,” not me. As my son started kindergarten, I assumed the local public school would be where he’d begin first grade, so my mind was set, and that’s what I planned. Speaking through my husband, the Lord said, “No, you will not be placing your children in public school.” . . . I really struggled, dragged my feet, and tried to convince hubby that if we placed our son in public school I promised to be very involved in our son’s classroom, would join the PTA, etc., so his tender, innocent heart would be “protected” at all times by my presence. Hubby kept saying, “No.” I’m not always a submissive wife. But I knew I had to obey my husband, and God. Reluctantly, I agreed to do it. But I didn’t want to. My mother-in-law was very supportive . . . and investigated and researched curriculum, and I also did some searching. Near the end of that summer, we had chosen our core curriculum. . . . Six school seasons later, I occasionally struggle and drag my feet. I’m teaching a 6th, 3rd and 1st grader, but even with heel marks on the floor, I have homeschooling through high school in “my” plan, which looking back, is evidence that the Lord did indeed change my heart. I’m thankful He did! ~ Sydney Hennessy, Tacoma, Washington
Because of the “System”
...The whole idea would take me several years to get wrapped around this brain of mine. I spent nearly all my life wanting to teach . . . . I finished high school and went to college for Education. But, when I was in the end of my first teaching experience, I monitored a study hall. Many children were “herded” in and seated and I had a bad feeling about the whole thing. I decided then, I really didn’t want to teach in the public field—not because of the children but because of the system. . . . In short, we’ve had six children, 16–8 in ages, and we homeschool. It took me 7 years or so to finally say, “God has called me to homeschool; I love being home; teaching my children is the hardest job but I wouldn’t do it any differently, as long as I have the choice.” ~ Danell Pribis, Phoenix, NY
Desire to Teach Own Child
Long before kids were a possibility in my life, I wanted to be home with them . . . raising my kids was of utmost importance to me before they even existed. In my mental plan, I would return to an awesome, satisfying, and successful career once they were school age. . . . I fell into teaching . . . at a private school,. and my child could attend there, tuition-free! As I taught my students, . . . I made mental notes of what the kids liked and what helped spark learning because I wanted to teach my son this way. He was learning, just a few classrooms down the hall, but I was missing out on being part of his “a-ha” moments. . . . After 2 years, I began daydreaming about being home with my son . . . . The seed was planted and watered. . . . I prayed, . . . “I am sometimes very slow to recognize where You are pointing me to, Lord, so please, please make it so obvious a sign that I can’t miss it.” Towards the end of that year, the school announced it was closing after some 40 years! Imagine my shock. No job and no school for my kid—God does have a sense of humor. God is good . . . and for me and my family, that was the door opening that led us on our homeschool journey. ~ Liliana Hense, Palo Alto, CA
Special Needs Child
...A guest speaker talked with us about homeschooling. She made homeschooling seem do-able and rewarding. The Lord spoke to me through that veteran homeschooling mom, and I knew that my son would never go to public school. When my son was six we got the devastating news that he had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease that causes progressive muscle wasting. God knew that our son had this disease and we believe that He led us to homeschooling before we knew he had it. Our son suffers from frequent falls, inability to get up once he falls, inability to climb stairs, and an inability to run. That coupled with physical therapy twice a week would make public school a challenge. It hurts my heart to think of my child sitting on the ground and waiting for a busy teacher to notice and help him up. Our children belong at home and they deserve a God-centered education. ~ Angela Gilbert, Dierks, Arkansas
We were heading overseas and were faced with the choice of boarding school, which we couldn’t afford, or the national schools. . . . We weren’t sure about homeschooling for two reasons: college and that oh-so-important socialization. I went to a picnic with a mom and her five children at our new church. I met her oldest son, who was very polite and talkative. I asked his age, and after he informed me he was 6, I asked if he was in first grade. “No,” he said, “we homeschool, so I’m in second grade.” For some reason, my first thought was “I’m going to homeschool.” After reading every homeschooling book in the library and talking to my new friend, I was discussing how to teach someone to read with my sister-in-law who had just gotten her elementary teacher’s license. Should I do phonics, or whole words, teach through word lists or what? She looked at me really funny and said, “You just follow the teacher’s manual.” I thought, I don’t need a teacher’s license to do THAT! That clinched it for us. To date, we have two children in college who have 4.0 GPAs, and wonderful social skills! Three more to go.~ Sarah Berke, Zamora, CA
...In August 2009, I lost my position (at a Christian school), which was our tuition. . . . So the first opportunity my husband and I had to discuss the facts, I mentioned that I could either get a part-time job, go to work full-time, or maybe we should consider homeschooling. He told me that he would like for us to begin homeschooling. . . . I just knew he would ask that I go back to work full-time. (Wow! Did he surprise me!) So we notified the school and withdrew them both. . . . About six months after we began our homeschool journey, all four of us realized that we absolutely loved this! . . . Homeschooling has been the perfect fit for our family . . . ; it has tripled our family time! It has deepened and strengthened our family unit, with one blessing after another! We are so thankful The LORD has made this change for us that was originally unexpected and unwelcomed. I don’t believe we would ever have changed what we were doing, had The LORD not done so. ~ Carrie Denham, Independence, Missouri
Child’s Health Challenges
God moved our family into homeschooling through our oldest son’s health challenges with asthma. The summer before he was to start kindergarten, a friend mentioned that they were homeschooling their children. This was a shock to us since we were pretty close friends and they had never mentioned it—a characteristic of those who home educated in the 1980s. Parents deliberately kept a low profile. . . . We reasoned that limiting our son’s exposure to other children and their germs might improve his health, so we decided to try it for a year. After just a few weeks, we were hooked. It was so much fun to witness the academic “firsts,” as he learned to read, do math problems, and comprehend the amazing world God created for us. . . . Our nineteen years of homeschooling were wonderful, difficult, exhilarating, and maturing years. We figured up one time that in the first nine years of homeschooling alone, we were privileged to spend an additional two and one-half years of waking hours with our children that would have been lost if they had left home for their schooling. Homeschooling allowed us to be full-time parents with full-time influence on our children. ~ Keith & Marcia Washburn, Fort Morgan, Colorado
Searching the Scriptures
...I had wanted to teach, or thought I did, but a gig as a substitute teacher showed me that I really didn’t like the ways of the public school system. So, if I was to be a teacher, who was I to teach? What was I to teach? Where was I to teach? As had become my habit, I began searching scripture. I saw that I was to teach my own children . . . the things of the Lord. The answer to “where” was not really answered as there was no specific “place” mentioned. It just said “as you walk along the way, or sit, or lie down.” I took that to mean in life in general. In scripture the families were together. My conclusion was that I was to teach my own children the ways of the Lord in a family setting/unit. I knew absolutely nothing about homeschooling at the time. Had never met anyone homeschooled or homeschooling. I just knew that was what the Lord instructed me to do . . . . Later I met the man that was to be my husband and father of my children. He felt the same way . . . . As there was no doubt in my mind that homeschooling is the Lord’s will, I have never had the question of “are we doing the right thing?” . . . If I put my focus on the goal of teaching the ways of the Lord, . . . and think of homeschooling as a way of life, it all works out and I know that I am in the Lord’s will. ~ Alissa Kiker, North Carolina
Desired a Christian Worldview
I think one of the main reasons why we felt led to homeschool had a lot to do with my own educational experience. I was raised in both public and private Christian schools, and neither of them seemed to fit the educational goals that my husband and I had for our own children. Even with church, Sunday school, and youth group, my Christian worldview was really lacking. My academic experience could have been better as well. I attended 3 different Christian schools, which each had their own positive and negative aspects. One of the biggest negatives was the homework load, and the fact that the teachers there, like in public schools, still have to teach to the ability of the average child. . . . I managed to keep my faith through my public high school experience, but I was not the example of salt and light that so many Christian parents hope their children will be. “Peer dependent” was my middle name, and something that followed me a while into my young adulthood. My husband and I made the decision to homeschool when our oldest son was very young. We wanted to give him and his brothers a better chance to focus on what God thinks rather than what their peers think. . . . We are learning the academics together, and more importantly, we are learning more about our Creator together. ~ Lisa Mandere, Redding, California
Critically Ill Child
At 14 months, Eric was diagnosed with leukemia in July of 1991. His sister was to start school that fall. We knew several families who homeschooled, and we had been praying about it. . . . Now here we were with a critically ill baby. The thought of trying to homeschool seemed overwhelming at that point. But we felt that it was something the Lord was calling our family to do. . . . In the end, Eric having leukemia became the deciding factor. We knew he would be healthier during his treatment if Emily wasn’t bringing home childhood illnesses from her classmates. So the decision was made: We would homeschool! But how? The unpredictable world of leukemia ran our schedule. . . . Instead of homeschooling at home, I packed a bag. Sitting in waiting rooms, emergency rooms, and hospital rooms, we “did school.” . . . It became something everyone looked forward to whenever a doctor’s visit was necessary. . . . Now I can see that from God’s perspective everything was in order and working as planned. . . . This taught us a valuable lesson . . . . When things get tough or even seem impossible—we don’t look for a way out. Instead, we ask the Lord to help us get His view, His perspective. He’s the best consultant available—and He’s always ready and willing to help. ~ Phyllis Sather, Avon, MN
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
...Rose became frustrated when the teachers in second and third grade would not let her do more work. The parents just complained about their kids. . . . I knew of homeschooling and have always been told I would make a great teacher. One day I was showing a group of my daughter’s Brownies troop how to do a math problem. I used angels as an example and one of the leaders said I could not do that. I said that the children were enjoying doing math with angels. She took her child away. Right then, I prayed to God to give me a sign that I could teach my daughter using God’s Word. Later that week on a website I found The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The Lord led me to homeschool. I signed my daughter out of school and we have never looked back. ~ Michele Morano, Brick, New Jersey
To Honor God
...I read about the reasons people were homeschooling their children . . . . What hit me hardest were the parents who said they homeschooled to honor God. After reading the scriptures and praying, these parents were convicted to homeschool their children to keep God at the center of their homes. I felt that conviction almost immediately after reading their stories. I knew the most important gift I could give my children was a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Would that happen if I let them spend 6–8 hours a day away from my home? Maybe, maybe not. Those odds were not good enough for me. . . . I am halfway thru our first year of homeschooling and the kids and I both love it. We have an opportunity to start our day with Christ without rushing out the door to school. I am sure this is what God had planned for us from the beginning. It just feels right!~ Heather Etcher, Berryville, VA
...By the time I gave birth to my firstborn, my spine was falling apart. . . . Not realizing what there was for me at home, I took a part-time job in a bank with health benefits. I was beginning to lose sensation in my left leg because of the pressure on the nerves in my spine. I opted for more surgery . . . and then my scoliosis began to pry the screws out of my vertebrae and infection set in. . . . I was in so much pain I could no longer work. As so much fell apart around me, I realized how precious and few were the years with my child. What could I do with my life now that I had no job? Then it struck me—homeschool! . . . I didn’t know anyone else who knew anything about homeschooling. Honestly, I did a Google search. The Lord directed my path. Then at church there was . . . a veteran! She was (and is) so helpful, sharing her experience, and her resources. She doesn’t have a college degree, but my own degree doesn’t qualify me to teach, the Lord does. Not only did I suddenly want to homeschool, I knew I could! That was four years ago. Now I have the opportunity to teach my youngest how to READ! Nothing I ever achieved with my business career can compare to that! I was forced to stay home, but He was there all along with a plan... ~ Sandra Baron, San Jose, CA
Personal Public School Experience
When I became a Christian at the age of 15, the Lord led my family to a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church. . . . I had my worldview turned upside down! I actually became angry about all the lies the world had taught me . . . right in the classroom. I knew that if I ever had kids I wanted to homeschool them . . . to protect them from early sexualization, habitual disrespect for authority, rampant materialism, and many other things that were taught with force to me in the school system. . . . My church not only ran a good private school, it also supported a strong homeschooling community. . . . I was solidly sold on homeschooling now . . . [and] the Lord has shown me that everything He taught me about homeschooling is true. My children still have their innocence. God’s Word is being written on their heart. Our academics easily surpass the average public school classroom. I’m so glad God led me to homeschooling. ~ Katrina Carmack, Plainfield, Illinois
The seed was planted about 4 years before it actually blossomed. I met a mom of two exceptional teenagers. I had never seen such well-behaved daughters who adored their mother and had servant hearts. . . . That seed began to slowly grow as I met other women who were home educators. . . . They all had a calm about them, unlike myself, as I rushed to and fro taking my preschooler and toddler all around the city. . . . My husband even joined the bandwagon and began to express his disdain for conventional education. . . . One of the moms said I could home educate my children, even though my husband worked 2 jobs, if I had a strong support group. So I began to research curriculum and the journey began. . . . The journey of homeschooling is not one that I would have originally chosen. It has been brutal to face myself each day. My faults are ever before me. I wonder if the Lord led me to homeschool to teach me how much I need Him to change more so than to actually teach my children about reading, writing and arithmetic. Even though it has been, and still is challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way.~ Mahogany Murphy, Carrollton, GA
Many similarities have been shared here, in the overt and covert ways that the Lord orchestrates people and events that lead to the decision of home education. We have seen convictions mature to realize God’s intention that the family unit be undivided in learning, loving, working, and growing together. We have seen the vision clarified that God never intended for us to give our children over to an ungodly culture.
Why is God leading so many parents to take back the education and discipling of their own children? What is His purpose for the future? Well, I can’t pretend to know the unknowable future, but I do know I can find past, present, and future truth written in His Word. He desires of us what He has always desired. He wants children who are like Caleb of old, whose hearts are fully His. He wants Daniels who can take on a king and a kingdom and stand strong in the midst of ungodliness. He wants Josephs who, although they are falsely accused and put in places of confinement, are Godly examples of excellence and service to the King of Kings. He wants Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos who will not bow to the idols of the day, even in the face of death. He wants obedient Esthers who are not afraid to trust their God for miraculous deliverance. He desires Timothys who are bathed in the Scripture from infancy and ready to preach the Word and serve the Church at an early age.
God desires that the hearts of fathers be returned to their children and that the hearts of mothers come back home to be joyful mothers of children, so that a Godly heritage might be raised for His glory and purpose.
May His desire be our desire as we continue to keep those children Home Where They Belong.
Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, Spring 2011.
Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com to view a full-length sample copy of the print magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at [email protected].