The Excuses Before Homeschooling
I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard another mom say, “Oh, I could never homeschool my kids. That would never work for us.” I’ve heard a myriad of excuses: “My child doesn’t listen to me”; “My kid and I just can’t get along”; “I don’t think I could stand to be with my kids all day.” I know every excuse, because I used to give them myself. Whenever someone asks my children where they go to school and my children say that they are homeschooled, the response is usually, “Oh. . .” And then the attention turns to me. The looks I get from people speak very loudly—they say, “You must be crazy!” And then come the comments.
Sometimes the response I get is a patronizing one: “That’s wonderful. You must be a saint.” Some even go as far as saying, “I wish I could do that.” But then the excuses start. It never fails. The worst part of it all is that I get those same comments and excuses from Christians! Church leaders, worship leaders, and even children’s ministry workers invariably make those same comments and give the same excuses. Homeschooling is definitely not the norm—in the world or in the church.
I was a product of our nation’s educational system—from grades K – 12, college, and then as a public school teacher. I used to think homeschoolers were crazy, too! I actually believed that homeschooling was a form of child abuse because the children were kept from mainstream society and peers. Well, that was before I had children of my own. My oldest child went to public school through the 2nd grade; and with each passing day, my husband and I became more and more unhappy with the “education” our son was getting at school. I couldn’t stand the thought of my child not being able to go to the bathroom when he needed to because it wasn’t “bathroom time.” I was incensed when I found out that lunchroom monitors would call for “silent lunch” if they thought the children were getting too loud. The children were being herded around like a bunch of livestock. I hated knowing my son was being treated like that. That was when we made the decision to homeschool.
The Explanations While Homeschooling
I remember feeling as if I needed to explain myself and my reasons for homeschooling to everyone I met. I would explain to the cashier at the grocery store that I homeschooled my children (who were out in the middle of the day) and that we would be hitting the books as soon as we got home. I felt safer at the library because homeschool families are fairly commonplace there.
As time went by, I became more and more relaxed. I realized that homeschooling really brought a great deal of freedom to our lives. We could go places and do things during the day when there were no crowds. We didn’t have to hurry. We could talk about whatever we wanted, stop and look at whatever we wanted, and open a book whenever we wanted. After a while it became evident to me that homeschooling was much easier and more relaxed than “real school.” I hear other moms complain about the amount of homework they have to help their kids get through each night. Families miss Wednesday evening activities at church because of needing to complete school assignments. Not only that, but oftentimes the projects that these kids are doing leave me wondering, “Why? What’s the point?”
The Enjoyment of Homeschooling: No Longer on the Defensive!
Homeschooling became a way of life for my family, not just a way to “do school.” Equipping my children for successful, productive lives became my purpose. Over time, I also became more and more comfortable just being with my children. I found out that I actually enjoyed being with them. We could carry on intelligent conversations without the word “whatever.” We could read enjoyable books together. We could spend sunny afternoons outside together. Dare I say—I could have fun with my children!
I must be crazy indeed. What kind of mom spends time with her own kids when she doesn’t have to? Isn’t it bad enough to have them home in the summer? And what kind of mom enjoys doing things for her kids? What kind of woman really likes being a housewife—planning meals, doing laundry, being home all day with rotten kids? I don’t know who would want to be with rotten kids all day, but isn’t it a mom’s job to teach her children to be pleasant and respectful? Aren’t we supposed to help our children be people that we like? Don’t we want our daughters to be lovely in word and deed, and don’t we want our sons to be thoughtful and courageous? How can we ever expect anyone else to enjoy being with our children if we can’t even stand to be with them?
I ran into a neighbor last night in Wal-Mart. She stopped and asked how our homeschooling was going. We told her that it was going well. And then she said, “I have a child who would love for me to stay home and homeschool her.” I really wanted to ask what was keeping her from doing that. I suspect I would have heard something about not being able to give up a paycheck or not being able to teach her own child. But in the back of her mind, I’m sure she was thinking, “You might be that crazy, but I’m not!”
I wonder what would happen if homeschooling became the norm for families in America. How would the world be impacted and even changed? What if more parents accepted the call to educate their own children? What if more children were educated in the comfort of their own homes? What if more children could have their lessons tailored to fit their learning styles and areas of interest? What if “school” was actually intertwined with real life? What might America look like then? Maybe if more American families were “crazy enough” to homeschool their children, businesses might be run differently, technology might have gone even farther than it already has, more diseases might have been cured. I suspect that the world would be much better off if homeschooling were the norm.
Something else I suspect is that homeschooling families have a much greater chance of staying together. (As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard of a homeschool family breaking up). Folks who are willing to make the tremendous commitment that homeschooling requires are also the types who take their marriage commitments very seriously. Not only that, but families who are together day in and day out are usually more respectful of one another, are more supportive of each other, and are more tolerant of one another’s differences. There is a team spirit in homeschool families and less cutthroat competition among family members. There is family loyalty. Homeschooling families learn to work together like a well-oiled machine, with each member doing what he or she does best. Dare I say that homeschool families often work the way the body of Christ is intended to work—much more so than many churches do? If I have to be “slightly off” to have that kind of family, then call me crazy!
We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that
“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise.”
The wisdom of the world would have us believe that our children should be in schools with their peers, being taught by professional teachers who have been trained in the latest and best educational techniques. According to the world, it is foolishness for us to believe that we homeschooling parents can educate our children better than professionally trained teachers. It is foolishness for us to raise our children within the walls of our own homes in the midst of our own families. It is foolishness to expect children to actually enjoy learning, not just endure their schooldays doing what it takes to make it to the afternoon bell. It is foolishness to expect children to think for themselves and to do things simply because it makes sense. Well, I say, “Call me a fool!”
I have to admit, I don’t really mind being thought of as crazy. I’m not here to try to fit the world’s idea of what a good mother is. I don’t need to be a “regular” mom. It is truly an honor and privilege to be able to teach my own children. I enjoy nothing better than helping my children learn—being part of those “aha moments.” I love knowing that I was the one who taught my children to read. One of my favorite things to do is to sit and read a good book with my family. I love that I have the time to do that. I love being a crazy mom—crazy about my kids!
Tina James is a homeschooling mom of four. She is pro-homeschooling, pro-life, pro-adoption, and pro-family (the old-fashioned kind).
This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr 2009 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Learn more at www.HomeSchoolEnrichment.com