I used to think that people who homeschooled their kids were crazy. Just flat-out denim wearing, extended van driving loons who wanted to doom their children to a life of …well, I never actually thought that far, but I was sure that there was something seriously wrong with homeschool. So when my wife and I started to have kids we had no plans to even consider anything other than the public school or catholic school educations that we were tortured in growing up. Sure, it was miserable and scarred us for life, but it was just what you do if you don’t want to be weird. Suck it up kids!
Even after we came to Jesus and began being exposed to actual homeschool families and found them to be mainly weird in good ways (Honey, it was so weird they looked me in the eye when talking to me and they were serving in church — freaks!!!!), homeschool was just not on our radar at all and we thought that was peachy. All was well with the upwardly mobile dual income family in suburbia until God stepped in and changed everything, again in a good way. In brief, here is how it happened — if you pay close attention you will see where we got issued our denim. Just kidding!
Note — insert all schooling as lead by God disclaimer here. If God has your kids unschooling, public schooling, private schooling or living in a yurt making yak milk cheese it is all good with me. There are many ways to do the Christian life. God directed our path and we are happy with it. I pray that He has done the same with your little ones.
So back to it — my wife and I are both professionals with advanced degrees and both had specific plans about what would happen once we had kids. The wife would take off to have them and then get back to work once school started so we could afford the all important things in life like…. string cheese, Direct TV NFL Ticket and maybe a boat or at least a BMW. What sort of madman would live without any of the above.
When our oldest two hit school age, we dutifully and really without any thought sent them off to the local public school, best in the state woohoo!, and watched over the next 4 years as the light was slowly drained from our little guys day by day. Even in third grade, my oldest went from outgoing and sweet with a joy that just shined from her to reserved and unsure of herself. The joy was still present, but as the days went on it was a like a fire that was flickering and got weaker and weaker replaced by a hardness that we had never seen before. We felt pain sending them off to school and saw the damage being done but thought this is just what you do. It seemed wrong to send a little one barely out of diapers out of the house every day, but I did it at that age and I only cry in my sleep about being called “cootey boy” every once in a while now.
At the same time, I truly repented of my ways for the first time and Jesus changed my life completely. As a result, I started to actually seek what the Bible said about crazy things like how to raise our kids and how to teach them how to follow God. I know, crazy right? Still did not question public school, but both my wife and I began looking to the Bible for answers to life questions. In the process, I came across Deutoronomy 6, and it completely changed our path and blew my doors off.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
After reading these words, I sat back and asked myself or perhaps more accurately God asked me, “How can I teach the ways of the Lord diligently to my kids and teach them all day long if I am giving them to the state for 6-7 hours a day?” Put another way, how could I really claim to teach them to follow me following Jesus as parent if I gave them to someone I did not know and who in all likelihood did not follow God or care. I am going to have to give an account for the ones in my care, can I let them go to someone else to teach them for most of their life?
I was done from that moment on. It took months for first me and then my wife to actually trust God on what He was saying and then months more to learn a completely different world (what in the world is Abeka?, who in the world is Charlotte Mason? Are you people speaking English?) but I know the answer for me to the question was that I simply couldn’t.
Seeing how powerful the pull of the teachers at school was during the first couple of years, the pull of peers and their parental influences and how little time was actually left after school, work for me and homework, I realized that I would be in an uphill battle to teach godliness with forces that don’t want good for my children as God defines good. I may screw up my kids and be responsible, but at least I am judged by my best effort and trying to follow Jesus.
So yes, two verses from the Old Testament, tons of prayer and an awesome God changed a lifetime of planning one way. Now, years into this weird adventure where making butter on a trampoline in science class makes perfect sense, I am grateful for how wrong I was and I would never have it any other way.