The World of Christian Home Schooling
Whenever people ask me what it was that made me consider home schooling in the first place, I am a bit embarrassed. Within the Christian home schooling community, some of the responses one hears to this question include:
- We wanted to shelter our children from the negative influences of school.
- We wanted to teach them our (Christian) values.
- God told us to.
Compared to the above, my answer is so lame: I didn’t have a Driver’s Licence at the time, so I thought home schooling would be more convenient.
Now that you’ve wiped your coffee off the screen…
You might be happy to know that I do have a Driver’s Licence now. (So why am I still home schooling, you might ask.)
So, why do parents choose home schooling?
Sometimes Christian home-schooling parents will give academic reasons for their decision to homeschool. Perhaps the child had been in school, but was not flourishing, and so the parents pulled him out to home school him. Or, the parents feel that home schooling affords them the ability to tailor things to their child’s educational needs (this is my reason). But, by and large, in my experience, it boils down to doing it for the reasons outlined above. In other words, these parents were doing it for religious reasons.
Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong per se with the above reasons. As parents, we are supposed to protect and shelter our children. We are supposed to teach them values which we think are important. And if God has indeed told you to home school, then in the words of Annie Lennox, ‘Who am I to disagree?’
However, I think there is a difference between being a Christian who happens to home school and a Christian home schooling parent.
When we decided we would give this home schooling thing a try, we weren’t sure where/how to start. I talked to another home schooler and she said that she would be happy to get me on to the curriculum that she used. She said she could help me order the workbooks and she would lend me the Teacher’s Guides (all four huge three-ringed binders of them).
That curriculum, while good – it is one of the most popular among home schoolers – just wasn’t a good fit for us, mainly because (I feel) the level I bought it for (Pre-K) was very scripted and meant to be used in a school setting with one teacher and a classroom full of five-year-olds. After that year, I decided to switch to a different curriculum. (I believe the work for the older grades can be used by students independently and not so teacher-led, but I still felt it would be better to look elsewhere.)
In my search for a home school curriculum, I learned a lot of things and made new discoveries. While before, I agreed with the idea that parents are supposed to protect their children from negative influences, I soon learned that ‘the world’ is truly an evil place and that it is my Christian duty to limit my children’s exposure to ‘wordly’ things. While before, I believed that it is important for parents to impart their values to their children, I soon learned that it is imperative to do so lest they fall away from the faith. While before, I felt that God may have called certain people to home school, I soon learned that God mandates that for all Christian parents. In other words, one must home school out of fear and obedience.
In my interactions with other home schoolers, both online and in real life, one thing has stood out to me, and that is that Christian home schooling parents believe one or more of the above in varying degrees. (NOTE the words in italics. It could be 0.001%, it could be 100%.)
To the Christian home schooling parent, home schooling is the most – some might say ‘only’ – godly educational option available and Christian parents who don’t home school are somehow disobeying God’s decree.
To the Christian home schooling parent, it is not enough to ‘merely’ educate children. One must do so with a Bible-based God-honouring curriculum. When looking at curriculum choices, that is the benchmark. Everything must be taught from a biblical perspective/worldview, because the alternative is just too horrid to contemplate. Science must be from a young-Earth Creationist viewpoint. History must be biblically supported. Handwriting must involve writing out Bible verses in the King James Version. Language Arts means reading the Bible and books with an clear Christian message.
One must continually assess curriculum choices by asking, ‘Is it Christian?’ I remember making a suggestion to a home school curriculum supplier here that they should look into perhaps carrying the Singapore Mathematics curriculum among their product range. The reply I got from them was, ‘Is it Christian?’ [My initial thought was a rather uncharitable, ‘What the heck??’] They explained that some curriculums were more God-honouring than others. Ironically, they carry the Saxon Mathematics books which is not technically ‘Christian’. Their excuse? It is very popular among home schoolers, and while not explicitly Christian, Saxon is not anti-Christian. When I said that the Singapore Maths series could also be described that way, I was told that ‘ungodliness’ can be very subtle. Isn’t that nice?
And finally, to the Christian home schooling parent, it is not enough to shelter their children from ‘the outside world’. That is only the reactionary part. One must also be visionary and actively seek out friendships with other like-minded families, encouraging each other to this great call that God has laid upon their hearts. It is not enough to join the local playgroup. One must join one that is for like-minded Christian home schoolers – with a Statement of Faith to boot, in order to weed out the undesirables. I was part of a Home School Playgroup. It was in its start-up stage and some members wondered whether a Statement of Faith was a good idea. I quit going after a while (not because of the Statement of Faith thing) so I don’t know what has happened since then.
Sports? Same thing (although the Statement of Faith maybe dispensed with). Christian home schooling parents want to have sessions that are just for home schoolers.
Home school support group? Definitely with like-minded families.
I am not saying that all home-schooling Christian parents are this way. NOT AT ALL!! But I believe most (if not all) home-schooling parents would have encountered such attitudes described at one point or another in their journey. Whether they have fully embraced that lifestyle or not is another matter.
Recommended Further Reading: Scared. Conned. Mined.