Yes, You Can!
Encouragement for New Homeschoolers
Making the decision to homeschool your children can be a little scary. That decision was a few years back for Cyndy and me, but I still remember what it felt like.
Making the decision to homeschool is a little bit like making the decision to have children. I remember being very overwhelmed at the prospect of being a dad. In a lot of ways, I still am. Sometimes those decisions are forced on us before we’re quite ready for them. If we waited until we were ready to have children, I’m not sure we’d ever have any. Sometimes God forces our hand. And that’s a good thing. God calls children a blessing, and they are. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at times.
Homeschooling our children is a calling and a blessing as well – even if it often feels like (and is) work. Actually “raising” our children is a calling and a blessing. Many of us have simply made the decision that homeschooling is a remarkably useful tool as we seek to raise our children to be Godly men and women. The goal then, is not to be “great” at homeschooling. The goal is not even to be “great” at parenting. The goal is to raise up Godly men and women. So, I write to offer a word of encouragement to homeschooling parents.
You CAN educate your children yourself. Even if you don’t have a teaching certificate, you CAN educate your children yourself. Even if you didn’t master certain subjects when you were in school, you CAN educate your children yourself.
How do I know this? Because I know three things about you without even having to meet you:
No One In The World Loves Your Children More Than You Do.
Why is this important? Because all teaching is inherently relational. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear here does not mean “terrified by,” it means to have a proper awe, respect, appreciation, and acknowledgement of who God is. God cannot teach us unless we acknowledge Him as God. God cannot teach us unless we give Him the respect He is due. Our knowledge, respect, and awe of God are rooted in our knowledge that He loves us. No teacher can teach students anything unless they establish some kind of relationship with them. A contemptuous scornful attitude on the part of either student or teacher will make learning impossible. And here, the family has huge advantages over the classroom. Our children know that we love them, and we know that they love us. This makes learning possible.
You Are The World’s Leading Expert On Your Children
Here, I will let you in on a little secret – the public schools have a one-size-fits-all set of expectations. And the second part of the secret: One size does NOT fit all. As homeschoolers, perhaps our greatest asset is the freedom and ability to adapt the course of study to fit our children.
The educational experts are not nearly the experts they think they are, or would like to be. The educational experts have piled up research and books and doctorates and schools of education for over a century now – but it’s time for someone to point out that the emperor has no clothes. In spite of a century of learned experts, the schools have not gotten any better. In fact, the schools (or the government-monopoly factory public schools as John Gatto likes to call them) have gotten demonstrably worse.
Would you keep going to a doctor who consistently made the patients he treated sicker?
Why would we listen to the education experts about how to teach our children? It’s not like they have a demonstrated track record of success. In fact, it’s just the opposite. All of their innovations and research have only made things worse.
So why should we follow their prescribed scope and sequence?
There’s a second, powerful reason why the government-monopoly factory public schools should NOT be a guide to how we conduct our homeschools; they don’t have the same goals we do. They continue to educate children out of inertia (and to keep the members of the teachers’ unions employed), but they don’t really know why they’re doing it anymore. At best, they will mumble something about educating children for the global workforce. And that underscores the sad truth about public education in this country. It has de-generated into little more than just vocational training. But that is NOT the purpose of education.
As Christians, we know that the purpose of education is to help our children grow up to be Godly men and women. For the public schools, the purpose of education is to train our children for a job. Which goal should we adopt?
Why again, should we take the public school experts’ advice about how to teach our children?
We know why our children should study Bible, History, Literature, Art, Mathematics, Science and Foreign Languages. The public schools can’t figure out why our children should study anything if it won’t help them get a job.
So, do NOT be tyrannized by the experts. They don’t share our goals for our children. They don’t love our children nearly as much as we do. And they don’t know our children as well as we do.
God Never Calls Us To A Task, Without Also Equipping Us For A Task.
Especially in grades K-8, you don’t have to have mastered an academic subject to teach that subject to your children. You just have to be willing to learn along with your children. In fact, some of the BEST homeschooling experiences happen when mom or dad don’t know the answer to a question and set out to find the answer with their students. That’s when your children get to learn how you find things out for yourself. How do you research things on the internet? How do you evaluate sources? How do you use the public library?
One of the great blessings of homeschooling our children is the opportunity it gives us to go back to a subject that may not have mattered much to us when we were young and examine it again. Learning with our children is one of our greatest joys.
And I am deeply confident that God meets parents and enables them to educate their children – if they continue to turn to Him and ask His help and guidance. Begin your school year with prayer. Begin your school day with prayer. Include prayers for your school time when you ask a blessing at mealtimes.
Be ye not overwhelmed! Take a deep breath. You do not need to do it all. The sky will not fall if you do not complete every lesson plan or finish every textbook.
Think back over your own grammar school and even high school days. How important now was any particular day’s lesson plan then? Did you finish every textbook in every class every year? Were you academically crippled for life because a teacher skipped over one of the learning objectives, or left something out? Of course not. The teachers we remember and the academic experiences we remember weren’t about completing every checked box on a sheet. They were the teachers who loved us, who challenged us, who helped to shape our character, or who ignited a passion for a subject that went far beyond a one-hour class session.
So it is, and will be with our students. They won’t remember a particular lesson plan, or even necessarily a particular textbook. They will remember time spent with mom and dad.
Be reassured, your children are learning far more than will be immediately apparent. Most of all, your children will be learning that you love them, want to spend time with them, and think that they are important. There’s no substitute for that. No classroom teacher can come close to what you can do!
Rob Shearer – Proud husband to Cyndy, dad to three sons, eight daughters, two daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren (so far!)