As each new school year approaches, I often find myself pondering about the reasons that I keep my children home.  This year is no different.  In fact, as I’m thinking about this, it’s helping me to keep the focus on my children and off of the "stuff" that can engulf a family. 

When we first began to home school our children, it wasn’t necessarily with strong religious convictions or the desire to have children who excelled academically.  Our original reason was quite simple actually: we didn’t feel our daughter was quite ready to head off to school.  After our initial debacle, we began to hear the call of God in this area.  I don’t think I could have maintained in those early years had it not been for the knowledge that God had called us to home school.  If I were doing it for the academic excellence I was trying to achieve, I could have easily thrown up my hands and sent her to the nearest "walled world."
 
My reasons for home schooling have often changed, as I too have changed and grown.  It’s now a given that we will home school.  God would have to hit me over the head with a two by four to get my attention if He wanted me to stop now.  Then he would have to head over to my husband and begin wailing away on him.  Home schooling is now a deep conviction in our hearts.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t come up with reasons, aside from the call of God, for doing a task that takes many hours out of my life. As a matter of fact, it includes every waking moment. It occasionally will even invade my sleep, sometimes producing nightmares. I once had a bad dream that I’m standing in front of my class (children) at a chalkboard, writing information on it that is vital to their very existence, only to look back and see they are all doing something else.  

Ashley is staring dreamily out the window, thinking of the next foal she is going to produce with just the right genetic make-up to produce a perfect horse.  Christi has doodled all over her paper.  In a matter of seconds she has created masterpieces, that if on a clean sheet of paper would be worthy of framing.  Cathy would not be sitting at her desk at all, but would be walking around checking to see that everything in the room was neat and tidy, all the while stopping to talk with her brothers and sisters, offering them fresh baked cookies.  David would appear to be doing nothing; but in my dream, his head is made of clear plastic.  As he sits looking dumbfounded in front of me, I can see the multi-colored gears moving at a rapid pace.  They are much like that in a factory and out on the conveyor belt spews invention after invention.  John would be sitting with a smile on his face.  I could almost see the song in his heart.  A tear trickles down his cheek as he thinks about nature and the Creator who made it so perfectly, yet there are many creatures who are in need of help.  John would be the one to care for them.  Briana looks longingly out the window, hoping to eventually be freed to run outside and begin the ascent in the nearest tree.  Erica is thinking of being a star.  She’s conjuring up songs to sing to the Lord.  Finally my gaze rests on Bryan.  He has turned over his desk and is pretending it is an airplane, flying in the jungles of South America.

In my nightmare I begin to rant and rave about the children who will never amount to anything because they aren’t absorbing all that I have determined to be necessary.  I awaken with a start.  I sigh that it was just a nightmare and return to my blissful sleep.

Recently I had the pleasure of a three-hour conversation with a former New York State Teacher of the Year.  John Taylor Gatto is well known for his opposition to the public school system as it stands today.  In fact, he resigned his teaching position on the OP ED page of the Wall Street Journal in 19991.  He stated his reason as being he "could no longer hurt children."