Meeting God's Requirements for Our Children
- Friday, October 27, 2006
Earlier this year, we graduated our first homeschooled student. I have loved this time with her, and the blessing of having her at home. She began her first job this spring, and has done very well, receiving a promotion within two weeks of being hired. Her boss praised her for the hard worker she is, and her friendly personality. During the interview he had expressed concern about her homeschooled status, the old "socialization" issue rearing its ugly head. He soon realized those fears were unfounded. As she began her first job, having her gone for large chunks of time left me with an ache in my heart. Although I miss her when she's not here, I am so thankful for the years we have had with her at home.
Our oldest child, also a daughter, was homeschooled for four and a half years, but graduated from public school. How I wish we had continued homeschooling her through high school! How I wish we'd have had the time with her that we've now had with our recent graduate.
When we began homeschooling in 1987, the grassroots movement was just beginning to take off. We joined the small, growing number of families who were venturing out of private and public education. We sensed a deep conviction that we were to raise up our children to know and serve their Maker, and believed that homeschooling provided the most fertile environment for that. We also observed that the public schools were failing.
We began our homeschooling adventure with anticipation and excitement, our only child at the time entering 5th grade. I must have had some silly notion that just because we signed up for this expedition, life's problems would make way like the parting of the Red Sea. That did not happen, and eventually I allowed doubt and discouragement to get the better of me. I was making homeschooling much more difficult than I would later learn it needed to be, practicing school at home rather than pursuing the more flexible methods I use today. I gave up homeschooling halfway through her 9th grade year. Today, we strongly believe that this was a mistake and regret the decision, as does our daughter.
The three education choices are basically private school, public school or homeschool. Today I understand that when we delegate the education of our children to someone else, we remain responsible to God for the education they receive. I did not fully understand that at the time. Rather, I felt a great relief in putting our daughter in school. I was now "free" from this burden. Different burdens, however, would come as a result of these choices, which our daughter would mostly bear.
We attempted a private Christian school at first, soon thereafter placing her in the public school from which she would later graduate. There were issues and challenges with both of those options, some predictable and some quite unanticipated. In each of those options, a "cram for the test and forget it" education was experienced.
The public school district where she attended is one of the best, placing in the top 25 in the nation. We were also comforted by the fact that our daughter had just met some Christian teens who attended the same school. We later discovered that their Christianity was fairly nominal in the public school setting, as would our daughter's gradually become. During those years, I managed to shake off conviction for the misconception that "I just couldn't continue homeschooling." As other children came along (we would have four more), and the laundry pile grew, I felt buried in babies and housework. Homeschooling seemed more than I could handle. Shamefully, there was an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. While I carried on with my life at home, our daughter was taking the brunt of the choices we had made.
The public school arena took in a plethora of concerns, from irrational, unreasonable teachers, to co-ed sex education with an agenda. The incidents that I could list just underlined the bigger issue: Our daughter was getting an education that was far from true, from rewritten history to evolution taught as fact instead of theory, to situational ethics and relative morality. This was far from the "fertile environment where our daughter could be raised up to know and serve her Maker." At its worst, this education of falsehood can—and often does—lead our children astray. At its best, it wastes our children's time when they could and should be learning the truth concerning His-story and all He created.
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