I hope the following "top ten" list gives you a reason to smile. These may not be actual reasons that families choose to homeschool, but they sure are some of the real life benefits you can enjoy. Drum roll please.

  1. Your kids never miss the bus.
  2. Reading the Bible and prayer are allowed in the classroom.
  3. You don't have to make up snow days because you never miss school due to bad weather.
  4. You don't need a note for the teacher when you visit the doctor.
  5. You can wear pajamas all day long if you like.
  6. Recess can last two hours on a nice, sunny day.
  7. Your children don't have to read until they are actually ready.
  8. Playing with Legos®can count as learning.
  9. The principal and teacher can kiss and hug in front of the students.
  10. You get to experience God filling in gaps so big that a school bus could drive through them.

According to several research organizations, the current homeschool population in America is estimated to be 1.5 to 2.0 million students. In a recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of homeschool students grew 77% from 1999 to 20071. While the growth of the homeschool population is worth noting, a pressing question is "why?" Why are so many families choosing this educational alternative? The NCES study has collected data on this subject.

Reasons People Homeschool
According to the NCES study conducted in 1999, the top reasons people gave for homeschooling were: 1) a desire for higher academic excellence, 2) a desire to give religious and moral instruction, and 3) concerns about the social environment of public or private schools.2

In 2003, these same three reasons made the top of the list. When asked to give the number one reason to homeschool, survey respondents answered as follows:3

  1. Concerns about social environment (31%)
  2. Religious and moral instruction (30%)
  3. Academic excellence (16%)

Notice how this list changed in the most recent 2007 study:4

  1. Religious and moral instruction (36%)
  2. Concerns about social environment (21%)
  3. Academic excellence (17%)

Did you observe what happened? Concern about the social environment was the number one reason people were homeschooling in 2003. This was big news when the results of the study were reported in late 2004. Finally the typical question about "socialization" could be answered with an emphatic statement that it was not only A reason to homeschool, but it was actually THE reason to homeschool (emphasis added).

The New Number One Reason People Homeschool
As much as I thought the 2004 report had results worth getting excited about, this most recent report has me really smiling. Why? Why am I happy that the new number one reason people choose to homeschool is because of religious and moral instruction? I'm smiling because many families may now be realizing that God's truth is more important than anything else. I'm smiling because family discipleship may be getting more emphasis than it did in previous years. I'm smiling because homeschooled children may have an opportunity to be equipped for today's battles, which are between truth and lies, light and darkness, good and evil, love and hate, blessing and curse, life and death.

All education is about whose knowledge, understanding, and wisdom will be imparted. According to the truth found in God's Word, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom begin with the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Psalm 111:10). God is sovereign, mighty, holy, awesome, full of glory, and God is to be feared. If you are studying theology, philosophy, worldviews, or apologetics, you need to fear God. If you are studying general science, physical science, chemistry, biology, or physics, you need to fear the one true God who created it all. A creation-based, God-centered approach to learning science, math, history, or any subject is vital if children are to receive a Christian education. The heavens declare the work and glory of the LORD (Psalm 19:1). Stand in awe of what He did. Look, learn and study with a proper fear of Him.

The reasons a family continues to homeschool may be quite different from the reasons it started homeschooling in the first place. I know my own reasons have changed dramatically in the course of thirteen years. I hope that religious and moral instruction stays in the number one spot (with a higher percentage) when the next report comes out in four years. I pray that more families will look to Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and teach their children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. I trust that many more moms and dads will diligently teach their children the ways of God in the course of family life (i.e. as they sit, as they walk along the way, as they rise up, and as they lie down). Is this not a beautiful picture of family life? I hope it brings a smile to your face as you consider the possibilities.

Christ as the Foundation of Education
As a homeschooling parent, you have an amazing opportunity. It is also a huge, God-given responsibility to educate and disciple your children. What are your goals and priorities? What are your reasons for choosing this lifestyle? I would encourage you to make the knowledge of Jesus Christ paramount. As a matter of fact, Harvard's "Rules and Precepts" from the year 1646 included this statement: "Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore lay Christ at the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."5

Scripture tells us that His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3). In Acts 4:13 people were astonished that the apostles spoke with courage and clarity. Then they made the connection that these men had been with Jesus. First, know Christ and make Him known. Next, fear God and love Him with all your heart. Then teach these things to your children with all the passion, energy, and diligence you can muster. The homeschooling journey is one full of adventure as well as trials. You need God to help you persevere and to keep it all in perspective. Make Christ an integral part of the whole process as you live by faith. It will be worth it and your kids will be blessed eternally.