Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Answering Some Misconceptions About Homeschooling

I am often asked from people I meet about the demands of homeschooling, or more importantly the costs, both in time and finances. I find that many people have some real misconceptions about what it takes to homeschool and why many homeschooler's have chosen this path. I remember when Joy was born. The last thing on my mind was homeschooling. But God has a way of changing our hearts and I am so grateful that He changed mine in this area. So, here are some of the common misconceptions I have found among those questioning homeschooling, or just trying to better understand it. Hopefully, this will give some insight into the often misunderstood world of homeschooling.

Misconception Number One: "I could never homeschool my child. I didn't go to college to be a teacher!"

Often when people find out that I have a degree in English teacher to be exact...they smile and say, "Well, see, I don't have a degree, so I could NEVER do that. You were trained to teach!" Well, yes and no. I was trained to teach English...but not reading, (students already knew how to do that when they came to me)...definitely not math, (my worst subject in the world ever!), not science, history, art...and the list goes on. I have been learning along with my children. One very wise person said that to homeschool, you only need to stay one day ahead of where your children are! That is so true! Some people just learn right alongside them. I have often said, I was never so educated as when I began educating my own children. I have a Master's degree in Library Science and I know more just from homeschooling my children these seven years than I ever learned in all the higher education that I received. You do not need a degree to homeschool your child...just the desire. The reason many homeschool children outperform many of their public school peers, in my opinion, is because the parent who loves their child is actually more interested in seeing the child succeed than even their teachers are. Amazing things can happen when someone who has a child's best interest in mind is also the one teaching them.

Misconception Number Two: "I could never afford to homeschool my children."

Once again, we make sacrifices for those things that are most important to us. When Jonathan and I first began was literally the time in our married life when finances were most lean. He was going to seminary full-time, working a full-time job and we were renting an apartment there on campus. I got odd jobs that I could do at home and worked it around my family life. We got most of our clothes from a clothing closet at a local church, or a free ministry among the seminary students. Times were lean, but we knew this is what God had called us to and He would provide. We have also found out that the most expensive and flashiest curriculum is not always the best. We have found a good Christian curriculum that is extremely advanced and grounds the children in God's Word. It is also extremely inexpensive. It does not have all the bells and whistles, but what does that matter anyway? It is the content that is most important, not how it is packaged.

Misconception Number Three: "Aren't you concerned with socialization?"

I have to admit...I LOVE THIS ONE! Of course I am concerned with socialization! That is why I homeschool! It is really quite comical that many believe that proper socialization is to put your five year old in a room with 20 or more other five year olds and that is proper socialization. No where else in society, or in their lives will they be in this same type of "socialization." Even if your children go to college, they are apt to have more ages in the same classroom. I would much rather have my children "socialized" by many different ages...peers we choose, adult interaction, siblings, and members of our local church. The problem with many children today is that they are being socialized by their peers who do not hold the same values as their parents do.

Misconception Number Four: "I will forever be tied down to the schooling of my children and never have anymore "ME" time."
This is probably one of the more legitimate concerns of many young mothers, especially those with many young children at home. However, many times all that "Me" time just makes us more selfish. Jesus did not call us to a life of happiness, but rather holiness. My life is not about is all about HIM! He has given me the grand task of raising a generation of children that loves Him...where am I more apt to do that? Will it more likely be while sending my children to the public school that does not honor God, or will it be more likely to be in the confines of my own home where I can truly walk alongside them in this spiritual journey we call life? I have often looked at other mothers and lamented the fact that I don't have the time for this and that because I homeschool so many young children. But, by God's grace, those times hardly ever come now. He is teaching me to see the grand plan through His eyes...the great privilege that He has given me by having His precious children in my care for a little while. When I stand before Him, He will not be concerned about the jewelry classes, the quilting classes, the scrapbooking that I did or did not do, but what did I do with the children He entrusted to me? And for those who do have many littles...I am finding, now that I have a twelve year old daughter that is taking more and more responsibility...I am finding time for more and more things. It may not be great blocks of time, but it is time that we are spending together...knitting our hearts closer and closer.

Misconception Number Five: "I don't have enough patience to homeschool my child! It is better that we are separated for a portion of the day!"
I used to think this too. There are times my patience is still one of my greatest struggles. But, you know, God has given me every bit of the Holy Spirit that I need to tackle this problem. And when I read my Bible, patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit that I have been given. Having children at home all day has confronted my lack of patience and therefore, God has a perfect opportunity to work on that much needed fruit in my life! Many times I have found that it is all about expectations. When I expect to have MY time, when I expect to have my children behave a certain way, etc...that is when I am most disappointed, and therefore become the most frustrated. I need to look at this job of mothering for what it is. This is a training time. Children are not born knowing it all...acting correctly all the time...etc. For that matter, mature Christians never get to that point until God calls us home! So, why do we expect more than we should from our children? Because it is incovenient for us, that is why. And that, of course, goes back to the whole selfishness issue.
Is homeschooling challenging? Absolutely! But what a challenge! It is also one of the most rewarding "careers" one will ever take on. I do not regret our choice to homeschool in the least. And I praise God for the fruit He allows us to see on a daily basis because of the choice we were led to make. I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions others may have about homeschooling and if for no other reason, to help many understand the heart of homeschooling from the perspective of a homeschooler. I pray you have a great day in the Lord!

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